YPO Couples Retreat to 'Everyone's Favorite City'
San Francisco, CA | April 2015 | By Melissa Hansen
As the Travel Program Director of NextGreatTrip, I feel lucky to be the choreographer behind the amazing experiences that our clients get to enjoy! My goal is to create vacations that our clients will remember for a lifetime by providing unique and one-of-a-kind itineraries. Recently, we helped the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Young President’s Organization (YPO) with their Couples Retreat to San Francisco.
The Pre-Trip Planning Phase
When our CEO, Tom, and I first met with the YPO trip organizers we wanted to hear their vision for what a perfect YPO Couples Retreat would entail. Tom and I brainstormed different locations to present to them as potential trip options; several which were in California. After constructing mock itineraries for a few places, the YPO group ended up selecting San Francisco, as the location for their 2015 Couples Retreat based on proximity to a major airport, variation of activities and price.
At NextGreatTrip, we want every travel experience to be perfect for our clients. We take the hassle out of travel planning and ensure that every detail is attended to. With this in mind, we maximize every person’s budget and precious time off so each trip feels like a real vacation for our clients. One way we ensure a smooth trip is to travel to each destination several months in advance to head off any potential pitfalls in the itinerary. We double check restaurant locations, hotels, and activities. I like to get acclimated with each destination so I can act as an “insider” when recommending places to eat, the best coffee houses, good running paths, and the best shopping. I use these pre-trip experiences to vet every aspect of the trip to ensure a flawless experience for the clients.
Let the Fun Begin!
After months of planning, the weekend in San Francisco with the YPO group finally arrived! My colleague Allen and I arrived before the guests to set the stage for a great weekend. As each couple arrived at The Scarlet Huntington Hotel we greeted them with a custom designed NextGreatTrip welcome bag complete with water bottles, snacks, weekend essentials (Advil), and a couples journal (after all, it IS a Couples Retreat).
Each night we left turndown gifts for them to remind them of their special day in San Francisco. For night one, an Origami kit to remind them of their evening in Chinatown. For night two, champagne truffles to remind them of their sunset cruise on the San Francisco Bay. And on night three, a personally signed cookbook from Tyler Florence, a Food Network celebrity chef who created a custom menu for YPO at his flagship restaurant, Wayfare Tavern.
On the first evening of the trip, the YPO group enjoyed a walking tour of Chinatown led by a professional guide who shared many interesting aspects of the acclaimed neighborhood. We arranged for a fortune cookie factory to stay open after hours so our clients could see how fortune cookies are made. The evening continued at a trendy San Francisco Asian restaurant called E&O Asian Kitchen.
It was fun to watch the group reconnect with each other over cocktails in our private room before sitting down to dinner. I love surprising guests with something fun and local, so as they settled in for dinner we arranged a traditional Chinese Dragon Dance team to perform for them. There were a lot of surprised faces and lots of great photos!
Day two began with a leisurely morning enjoying breakfast and spa appointments at the famed Nob Hill Spa. The adventure continued with a private event at the 1AM Gallery in SOMA to educate and expose the group to San Francisco’s booming graffiti culture. The group learned ‘street terms’, got a brief history lesson on graffiti, and even developed their own TAG (or signature).
The group embarked on a graffiti tour to see some of the incredible pieces of art displayed around the city. The highlight of the walking tour was when one of San Francisco’s most respected graffiti artists met our group at her gigantic graffiti mural to give her personal insights about the creative process she went through to develop the piece. As a final nod to the graffiti experience the YPO group had the chance to create their very own piece of graffiti on one of the walls in SOMA.
After a chance to relax and freshen up at the hotel, an excited group embarked on a private yacht to cruise the San Francisco Bay. Our guests were greeted with a gorgeous display of cheeses, champagne, and a beautiful bar stocked with their favorite drinks. The yacht twinkled as tea lights and fresh flowers set the ambiance. As the icing on the cake we arranged for flamenco guitarists (who have played for notable people including President Obama) to play throughout the evening and that was a huge hit! As we cruised past Alcatraz, Angel Island, and under Golden Gate Bridge guests lounged on the couches at the front of the yacht, dined at intimate tables in the main cabin, and ventured outside on deck to take in the sites. It was truly a magical evening!
On the last day of the trip we had a “choose your own adventure” theme. Guests could choose between a private bike tour of the city including a ride over Golden Gate Bridge or a tour of Alcatraz preceded by an intimate speaking engagement led by Jolene Babyak (the warden’s daughter during the 1962 famous Alcatraz prison break). It was fascinating to hear her personal insights about the famous residents at Alcatraz as well as what life was like on “The Rock” as a young girl.
Guests enjoyed free time in the afternoon to walk the city, shop, take in a spa treatment at the Nob Hill Spa, and rest for a fun evening. When we reconvened the sun was just beginning to set which was a perfect time for our group to embark on a historic private trolley ride throughout the city. Spirits were high as guests chatted amongst themselves and enjoyed the champagne that we had onboard.
We stopped alongside the Golden Gate Bridge for a final photo before heading to the Wayfare Tavern for dinner, which turned out to be a spectacular evening! We had the entire 2nd floor at our disposal including a gorgeous billiards room and beautiful bar stocked with everything! Celebrity chef, Tyler Florence, worked with us to create a 100% custom menu for the YPO group which really added a special touch. Guests enjoyed flipping through the autographed copy of his cookbook and I’m sure will do their best to recreate his famous fried chicken!
After the weekend was done, guests returned home with memories made and eager excitement for their next YPO Couples Retreat. If you'd like to learn more about how we at NextGreatTrip can help choreograph your upcoming retreat, incentives trip, golf travel or milestone celebration, please contact us.