Viewing posts categorised under: Meeting

Why Hold A Business Retreat?

by Morgan

12 15, 2016 | Posted in Meeting | 0 comments

stanfordcamp01Holding a business retreat can be invaluable for your business, whether you’re a small operation or a large company with a strong corporate culture. Through our extensive experience helping others host successful retreats Stanford Sierra has been able to observe why a business retreat is an invaluable tool in any manager’s kit. Firstly, a business retreat allows team members to break away from their regular routine and offers an opportunity to reflect on operations and strategy from a different perspective. Approaching strategic business problems from new angles in a focused environment is a crucial element of a retreat that is hard to capture in the office. Business retreats also allow employees to develop a stronger sense of community. Having the opportunity to be in a new environment and out of one’s comfort zone with fellow employees creates an immediate bond. Having retreat time free to spend with each other at meals, socializing, and engaging in outdoor recreation allows employees the opportunity to connect over hobbies and interests they might share outside of work. Having a more well-knit and collaborative team is invaluable for a business of any size. Finally, business retreats can serve as fantastic places for continuing education. The focused and intimate setting help people feel comfortable asking questions and working collaboratively to learn together, further helping a team become more tight-knit and productive back in the office. The facilities at Stanford Sierra offer housing for 30-180 people, 5 separate meetings rooms of varying size and prearranged dining options, taking all the work out of planning. In addition, the expansive natural setting and intimate lodge-like feel allow for collaboration, team-building and focused group activities, successfully facilitating strategic reflection, a closer-knit and more well-educated team. We see these as crucial elements to the success of any business. We’d love to welcome your business to Stanford Sierra and Fallen Leaf Lake!  

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Feedback Needed!

by SierraMerril

10 16, 2014 | Posted in Dining, Lodging, Meeting, Special Events, Uncategorized | 0 comments

One of the best ways for a company to improve and grow is through feedback from its customers. Feedback with praise lets a company know what they’re doing right, while negative or constructive feedback tells a company about problems or issues (ongoing or new) that can be improved.

Groups may choose to have an outdoor barbecue lunch or dinner. A majority of the main courses and sides are gluten-free.

Groups may choose to have an outdoor barbecue lunch or dinner. A majority of the main courses and sides are gluten-free.

At Stanford Sierra Conference Center (SSCC), we give all of our guests an opportunity to supply us with feedback about their stay. After a group departs, we provide them with one of two ways to let us know how we’re doing. A handful of our program attendees receive paper surveys at check-out while we email electronic surveys to attendees of most events. Almost all of our departments benefit from these surveys, especially our kitchen, maintenance and housekeeping. Having a guest mention a squeaky door, a tree branch scratching a roof, a burned-out light bulb or a running toilet is a great way for us to gain knowledge when it comes to general maintenance and upkeep. While we do our best to keep an eye on everything around Camp, without actually sleeping in a cabin, it’s hard to know what small details can make someone’s stay better.
Wireless internet is available throughout Camp. In the past two years, it has gotten faster and is available in more areas of Camp.

Wireless internet is available throughout Camp. In the past two years, it has gotten faster and is available in more areas of Camp.

Over the past few years, we saw two things continue to appear on our surveys as items for improvement. The need for stronger and more consistent wireless internet was the most mentioned, while providing more gluten-free food options was the second. SSCC has made big strides in both of these areas. In the past two years, SSCC has added four more T1 lines, bringing the total to eight. T1 lines increase bandwidth, making internet faster. In addition to faster internet, cabins on the east side of Camp have had Ethernet cables hardwired to them, which increases signal strength and helps to eliminate dead zones in cabins. More improvements will continue next year with the last set of cabins becoming hardwired. In the dining room, gluten-free bread is now readily available at breakfast and our hiker bar. In addition to increased bread options, most entrees on the buffet hot carts are gluten-free. Our chefs have made purposeful changes to many of their classic dishes to limit the number of items containing gluten on the hot cart. Our staff will be happy to point out items that do and don't contain gluten. Surveys are also a great way to boost staff morale! SSCC prides itself in having professional, helpful and friendly staff members. Weekly staff meetings include shout-outs for specific staff members from surveys as well as overall staff compliments. Praise for a job well done is always motivation to continue providing the highest level of service.
A group of staff take a break from swimming on one of Camp's floating docks off of Baby Beach.

A group of staff take a break from swimming on one of Camp's floating docks off of Baby Beach.

Looking back at the last season of survey responses, I see quite a few that are helpful. Our website could include better information for individuals who need ADA accommodations, and tips for combating altitude sickness would also be helpful.The expression “It never hurts to ask,” is what comes to mind when I read some of our survey responses. And it’s true-- it never hurts to ask, but there are some things we just can’t control. Suggestions like “heat the lake, ” “more chocolate!” and “less wind” always make me smile. So whether it’s negative feedback, positive feedback, or a rather large request, let us know! We can't make any promises, but we'll try. Our surveys help us to improve our facilities, our service and our overall programming.  

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Going the Extra Mile for Your Guests: The Coordinator Checklist

by SierraMerril

08 21, 2014 | Posted in Event planning, Location, Meeting, Preparing for your visit, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Conference Coordinators should be sure to schedule free time for their participants during their stay on Fallen Leaf Lake.

Allowing your guests free time to explore the Fallen Leaf Lake area can be inspiring, reenergizing, and a welcome break from meetings. Views like this on the Clark Trail are only a 30-minute hike from Camp!

Are you planning a meeting, wedding, retreat or conference at Stanford Sierra Conference Center? Camp’s staff takes care of most everything while you’re here, but there are a few extra things you can do prior to your arrival to make sure your participants have the best experience possible while at Fallen Leaf Lake! As hosts for several conferences a year, we also go through this coordinator checklist to make sure our guests are prepared for a well thought out and planned event.
  • Look at your agenda and make sure you’ve scheduled free time for your guests. Attending a conference at Fallen Leaf Lake, but not having time to paddle on the lake, hike, or relax and read a book just isn’t right! While the main focus of your stay with us may be work, free time can inspire and reenergize your participants.
  • Give your participants a packing list. We’re happy to provide a basic list for you and your guests, but do they need to bring specific items for the conference? Slides for a presentation? A nicer outfit for a formal dinner? Their best 70s garb for Disco Bingo?
  • Provide your guests with clear directions for getting to Camp.  Your first visit to Stanford Sierra Conference Center can be unnerving. We are at the end of a winding and narrow, but beautiful road. Watch our driving video and share it with your guests so they know what to expect on the drive into Camp.
    Tote bags are great conference gifts! As a coordinator, think about what gifts a guest might use while at Camp.

    Creative Camp participants show off their new tote bags!

  • Create a #hashtag for your event. Use your social media hashtag to advertise your event and connect your guests before and after their stay. You’ll also have access to your guests’ great pictures. Be sure to connect with us (@stanfordsierra) and tag us on Instragram and Twitter so we can see how much fun you had!
  • Create gift bags or schwag for your guests. Everyone likes free things. Even better? Free useful things! Think about what your guests may be able to use during their stay. Hats? Sunscreen? Flashlights? We’re happy to hand your gifts out at the front office when your guests check-in, or have them waiting in their rooms.
  • Have a craving for a special menu item or snack? Be sure to let us know if you’re hoping for something special at your social hour, coffee break, or any one of your meals. Our baker, Steve, receives several requests a year from repeat groups who can’t wait to enjoy his seven layer bars!
  • Request selected wine and beer. The Fountain, Camp’s store, is stocked with a variety of beer and wine. But are you looking for something special? Perhaps a few cases of wine from your favorite Stanford affiliated vintner? Let us know and we can ensure your group has all of your favorite beer and wine on hand.

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Working, Living and Playing In Tahoe

by SierraMerril

06 26, 2014 | Posted in Lake Tahoe area, Location, Meeting, Recreation, Staff members, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Stanford Sierra Camp and Conference Center sits at the base of Cathedral Peak on Fallen Leaf Lake.

Camp sits at the base of Cathedral Peak on Fallen Leaf Lake.

When I tell people that I live and work in Tahoe, the most common follow-up question is: Do you work at a ski resort? While it was a ski job that originally brought me to South Lake Tahoe in the winter of 2010-2011, I have since found myself working at the end of a five-mile road with no outlet and no cell phone service, but gorgeous views of mountains, ridges and Fallen Leaf Lake. Stanford Sierra Camp and Conference Center isn’t a rustic set of tent cabins, nor is it a four-star resort, but it’s somewhere in between. It’s a place where families enjoy mountain activities, city residents relax in the woods, and companies host conferences and retreats outside of traditional office or conference spaces. As the reservations assistant manager, I work year-round in a two-person department that corresponds with guests and takes reservations for Stanford University alumni programs and summer family camp. I also take reservations and assign housing for several retreats and conferences that are not affiliated with Stanford University, but have been coming to Camp for many years. After several seasons of assigning housing for conferences, I’ve learned quite a few quirks and perks of the 64 lodging units at Camp. People always ask, “What is the best cabin or area of Camp?” You would think that would be an easy question, but it all depends on what you’re looking for! Lake views, peace and quiet, sunlight and proximity to the lodge are different for all of our units. Individuals and families have different priorities and needs, which makes this question so hard to answer!  
While cabins in the "Hills" area of Camp can be a bit of a walk, they get some of the most sunlight and offer a different view of Camp and the lake.

Cabins in the Hills area of Camp get some of the most sunlight and offer a different view of Camp and the Lake.

Throughout the year, I stay busy preparing guests for their stay at Camp, whether it’s for two nights or seven. I simultaneously help prepare Camp and our staff for the abundance of guests that descend upon Fallen Leaf Lake when the weather warms, the snow melts off the mountains, and the lake is calm, beautiful and a bearable temperature. I am part of a management team that works hard to create memorable experiences for families, couples getting married and conference attendees. While most of my work is at my desk; sending emails, collecting money, ordering cakes, and working on housing assignments, I also have the pleasure of enjoying Fallen Leaf Lake and Camp's mountain surroundings. I get to have weekly barbecue lunches outside during the summer and greet guests when they arrive at Camp. After having worked here for the better part of three years, I’ve paddled the lake, looked down on Camp from Angora Peak and Cathedral Trail, explored Desolation Wilderness, watched the sun rise from over Lake Tahoe and set on Gardner Mountain.
Mt. Tallac is one of the Tahoe Basin's tallest mountains and can be a day hike from the Tahoe conference center.

Mt. Tallac is a long hike from Camp, but the views of the Tahoe Basin and Desolation Wilderness are unbeatable from the top!

    My life as reservations assistant manager is filled with paperwork, emails, small details and customer service, and it is enhanced daily by a constant flow of wonderful guests, a workplace filled with active coworkers and Desolation Wilderness in my backyard.

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Use Excel and Google Drive to Coordinate Events

by stanfordsierra

02 12, 2014 | Posted in Event planning, Meeting | 0 comments

We host about 12 events during the spring then again in the fall each year. Before each event, I work with the group's coordinator to identify needs for their visit such as meeting and activity times, how many attendees, what room set up and equipment is needed, etc. I then package the information to share with our managers, so we can provide what the groups needs, when they need it. The process starts at least two months prior to the scheduled event when I send overview information to the group coordinator. Lately we've been sharing documents on Google Drive. Here is our fact sheet shared on Google Drive

Our fact sheet shared on Google Drive

I also share planning guidelines plus our A/V, wine and hors d'oeuvres lists. The group contact can then use this information to complete an Excel schedule spreadsheet which I also share on Google Drive. Here is a sample schedule from our alumni creative camp, Creativity in the Wild
Daily logistics schedule

Daily logistics schedule

Once the schedule is completed, the coordinator and I review it together item-by-item. The schedule is color-coded by department, so each manager can quickly see what they need to provide. Every Friday during conference season I review each event with our managers. Usually a few more questions come up during the logistics meetings, so I get back to the coordinator to clarify these final details, then I print a final logistics schedule which we post in the office. During events, we rotate as manager-on-duty so each of us know that we can go to the master schedule in the office with any questions. It's inevitable that changes occur during an event, so I'm sure to update the schedule and create a change form to notify managers of the changes. Before I go on my days off, I share the schedule file with Nichole, our assistant office manager, so she can make any changes that occur on those days. The process works well and events at our business conference center run smoothly. We're always looking for ways to streamline and improve our systems, so if you have ideas or suggestions, let me know!  

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Bring Your Meeting to Camp

by stanfordsierra

01 24, 2014 | Posted in Event planning, Meeting, Recreation | 0 comments

Each summer for over 50 years, we host Stanford alumni and their families for one week of blissful summer camp on the shore of beautiful Fallen Leaf Lake.

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A typical summer day at Sierra Camp

Our summer program is hugely popular with Stanford alumni, who wait up to five years to secure a spot for their family. The key components of the program are outdoor activities in our amazing setting on Fallen Leaf Lake, quality educational programs including faculty speakers and fun activities to get the group interacting. You can incorporate these successful elements of our summer family camp into your group event at Stanford Sierra Conference Center. Many groups hold meetings in the morning and evenings to have afternoons free for fun, outdoor activities. Excellent options are either a guided hike or boating. Maybe a kayak relay race? We can help you plan your activities and schedule a staff member or two to join your group for a hike or to run your boating race.
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A group gathering for a hike

For an overview of hiking in the area, watch our hiking video. During the day, plan plenty of breaks for the group to relax and network together. Weather permitting we hold coffee breaks outside on the deck overlooking Fallen Leaf Lake. The serene setting seems to put meeting attendees at ease.
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Coffee break on the Old Lodge deck

For evening activities we have two good options to borrow from summer camp, a bonfire and sing-a-long on the beach with s'mores and disco bingo. If you have guitar players or singers in your group, encourage them to bring their instruments to lead your group in singing camp songs together. We can provide the bonfire on the beach, song books and s'mores. If you don't have any musicians in your group, we can recommend local groups you can hire for your bonfire sing-a-long.
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Summer bonfire on Baby Beach

Disco bingo is a Sierra Camp tradition that continues with guests maintaining their enthusiasm for it year after year.
Stanford Sierra staff leading disco bingo

Stanford Sierra staff leading disco bingo

Disco bingo is bingo, with disco music (costumes strongly recommended) added. Maybe your bingo caller will play "Dancing Queen", then all female attendees get up and dance. Some beer and wine at dinner can help get your group in the mood to boogie! We can provide the enthusiastic bingo callers in disco attire. You can add other summer camp activities to your Stanford Sierra meeting including yoga classes and lunch or dinner barbecues. Contact us and we can help you plan your event and suggest activities so you meet your event goals and your attendees have a relaxing and fun visit to Fallen Leaf Lake.

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Add a Golf Outing to Your Lake Tahoe Conference

by stanfordsierra

01 16, 2014 | Posted in Location, Meeting, Recreation | 0 comments

When planning the schedule for your Lake Tahoe conference at Fallen Leaf Lake, build time for a golf outing before or after your meeting. There are a few courses in South Lake Tahoe offering a variety of difficulty levels and prices. The most affordable course in South Lake Tahoe is the city-owned Bijou Golf Course in the center of town. 2013 green fees for the nine-hole course are $17 and club rental is $15 (rates will probably go up slightly for 2014). Bijou is a good course for beginners or a warm up for more advanced players to get the golf muscles going and keep up with your stroke. From the Bijou course golfers have great views of the surrounding mountains. Expect the course to be in better shape in the fall versus the spring.

Bijou Golf Course

Bijou Golf Course

Experienced golfers will want to consider Lake Tahoe Golf Course. You can play the William Bell-designed championship course for $65 midweek or $85 on the weekend. Club and cart rentals are available and proper golf attire is required. If you don't have time for nine or 18 holes and just want to get out and swing the clubs, Lake Tahoe Golf Course has a putting green, chipping green and driving range available. Group or private lessons are available from PGA teaching professionals and there are a pro shop, snack bar and full bar onsite.
Newlyweds at Lake Tahoe Golf Course

Newlyweds at Lake Tahoe Golf Course

For a first class golf experience on one of the most scenic courses in the world, visit Edgewood Tahoe located on the shore of South Lake Tahoe. The course was designed by George Fazio and rated by Golf Digest Magazine as one of America's top courses. Spring 2014 green fees range from $110 to $160. Rates go up in summer then drop late summer, and drop again in late fall. If you are not a golfer, Edgewood is worth visiting for the excellent bar and restaurant and to enjoy the amazing lake and mountain views. Edgewood is one of my favorite restaurants to celebrate a special occasion and Brooks bar is a great spot to meet friends for drinks and appetizers.
Aerial view of Edgewood during the celebrity golf challenge

Aerial view of Edgewood during the celebrity golf challenge

For a comprehensive overview of area golfing visit Tahoe South. All three South Lake Tahoe golf courses mentioned have staff available year round, so give them a call if you have questions or to schedule a group tee time. I'm not a golfer, but writing this post makes me want to get outside and play!

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Mid-morning Snack

by stanfordsierra

08 21, 2013 | Posted in Dining, Meeting | 0 comments

I was wondering what to write about this week, when one of my favorite topics came to mind - food! I'm one of those people who needs (don't know if it's a psychological or a physiological need) to eat every couple of hours. My coworkers love to give me a hard time as they see me traipse from my office across the lodge to the kitchen to get my mid-morning snack. Sometimes, if there is a group onsite, I "check on" the coffee break to make sure everything is going smoothly.

Hmmm...someone might need to check on this coffee break might need a check in

Hmmm...someone might need to check on this coffee break

Weather permitting, coffee breaks are held outside. During a meeting or after sitting in front of a computer for a couple of hours, who doesn't need some fresh air? And you can't beat our view!
Our view of Fallen Leaf Lake

Our view of Fallen Leaf Lake

Of course when I "check on" on the coffee break a quality check of the baked goods is usually necessary.
Freshly baked goods at coffee break

Freshly baked goods at a coffee break

For those who prefer a healthier option, we always have a fruit basket out at coffee breaks.
Fresh fruit bowl

Fresh fruit bowl

If there isn't a coffee break happening when my hunger strikes, I go straight to the source and visit Steve in the bakery. It's always a pleasure to see Steve and find out how his two girls are doing, and of course, get some yummy baked goods!
Steve loves to share his delicious baked treats

Steve loves to share his delicious baked treats

And, you can't have baked goods without a cup of coffee (at least I can't). We serve locally roasted and delicious Alpen Sierra coffee. So schedule your next meeting at our Lake Tahoe conference center and join me for a mid-morning coffee break on Fallen Leaf Lake!  

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Who Knew Trail Maintenance Could be Fun?

by stanfordsierra

07 08, 2013 | Posted in Event planning, Meeting, Recreation | 0 comments

Last summer, based on a guest's suggestion, we partnered with the US Forest Service and started a trail maintenance program.  Bruce Campodonico, our head of maintenance and an avid hiker, coordinated the details with the USFS, attended a two-day trail building class sponsored by the Tahoe Rim Trail Association , then we were ready to get to work!

Bruce Campdonico, our camera-shy head of trail maintenance

Bruce Campdonico, our camera-shy head of trail maintenance

  Each week about five guests volunteered to join our staff members for a three-hour work shift on the popular and nearby Cathedral Trail.
The Cathedral Trailhead

The Cathedral trail head

Volunteers are required to wear long sleeves, pants and a hard hat to stay safe on the trail. The focus of the work last year and so far this year is clearing the brush along the trail.
Cutting away the encroaching shrubs

Cutting away the encroaching shrubs

With weekly shifts in the summer, the hike to the work spot is longer each time. I joined a work crew last week.
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Beautiful view of Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe from the Cathedral trail

There were nine of us on my work crew, once we reached a spot on the trail where it was tough to get through the encroaching shrubs, we got our last-minute instructions from Bruce and got to work! We spread out so everyone had space to work safely. You have to trim back the bushes on the uphill side of the trail, then throw your cuttings in hard-to-see areas so hikers don't see a trail of dead branches as they are hiking through the area. Bruce said through mid summer work will focus on trimming back the shrubs to clear the narrow spots in the trail. Then the crews will get into rock and tread work. The tread is where the existing trail is. Over the years, some sections of trail have been pushed downhill, so the goal is to cut back the encroaching bushes, then the Forest Service will come in and regrade the trail to prevent erosion. I had just met my fellow crew members and the hike and the work offered a nice opportunity to chat and get to know each other better.
Working together on the trail

Working together on the trail

The trail crew

The trail crew

For your next offsite, if are looking for a team-building activity that gets you outside in a beautiful setting, provides a service to the community and builds camaraderie, visit our Lake Tahoe conference center and join us for trail maintenance!

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Money Saving Tips for Your Next Corporate Retreat

by stanfordsierra

06 24, 2013 | Posted in Event planning, Meeting, Special Events | 0 comments

If you are planning a corporate retreat for fall and would like to keep costs down, we have a few suggestions: Where and when: For resort destinations including Lake Tahoe, pricing is better during our shoulder seasons, spring and fall, and midweek, particularly early in the week. At Stanford Sierra Conference Center our weekends and Wednesday to Thursday nights tend to book first, leaving Sunday through Tuesday nights available, so we're more likely to negotiate rates for these days. You can check our availability online. Activities: Skip the facilitated group activities and get meeting participants outside to relax and clear their minds. Guided hikes are part of our complete conference package and allow attendees to exercise and spend quality time together.

Hiking along Fallen Leaf Lake

Hiking along Fallen Leaf Lake

Non motorized boats are also included in our package. Guests can check out stand up paddle boards, kayaks, peddle boats and sailboats from our boat dock.
Sailing and paddling from the Stanford Sierra boat dock

Sailing and paddling from the Stanford Sierra boat dock

Food & Beverage: Also save money by using pitchers of water versus bottled water at coffee breaks. Located at 6,250', we recommend guests drink plenty of water to acclimate. Coffee breaks are included in our package and are normally held outside on the deck overlooking Fallen Leaf Lake.
Coffee break on the deck

Coffee break on the deck

You can also promote attendee hydration and your event by purchasing reusable water bottles as an event gift. We partner with Camelbak, so can provide logo-ed bottles with lead time.  
A reusable Camelbak water bottle is a good option for an attendee gift

A reusable Camelbak water bottle is a good option for an attendee gift

Entertainment: We have a couple signature events,  a sing-a-long on the beach with s'mores or  disco bingo! If you include disco bingo on your schedule, be sure to let attendees know to pack their grooviest outfit.
Stanford Sierra staff leading disco bingo

Stanford Sierra staff leading disco bingo

Call me at 530-542-5600 or email nancylh@stanford.edu for a full description of disco bingo and a custom quote for your next corporate retreat!  

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