Far and Away
Whether rewarding top sales performers or buttering up potential customers, the following destination resorts combine an arresting location, temperate weather, and a host of activities to fill any dance card. All have business facilities if work is a part of the trip; others offer child-friendly programs when the family is in tow. Luxury comes at a price, but may be worth the expense for the stars in your universe. Mark Silver, co-founder and partner of Factory Communications, an 11-person PR firm in New York City, routinely sends employees who reach quarterly goals on four-day trips. "It forces them to take a nicer vacation than they might otherwise," he says. "The perk motivates people and makes them stay. When you find package deals, it's also a savvy alternative to giving a cash bonus because it seems like you're giving more."
La Quinta Resort and Club
La Quinta, Calif.
Why: With the recent renovation of its 800 rooms, the oldest and one of the most famous hideaways in the Palm Springs area has been restored to its former 1926 glory. Set against the Santa Rosa mountains, the resort (and its 41 pools) promotes rest and relaxation. For doers, there are more than 90 holes of golf, tennis, and an outdoor spa; a Kids Camp keeps children four and over occupied with games and activities. (Doubles from $175; 800-598-3828; www.laquintaresort.com)
Explore: Head to funky Korakia hotel, a lovely Moroccan villa, for cocktails (www.korakia.com). Visit Joshua Tree National Park (www.nps.gov/jotr), about an hour's drive away, or the shops at Cabazon Outlets (www.cabazonoutlets.com).
When: High season runs from December to early May; rates dip significantly from June to September.
Ritz-Carlton South Beach
Why: With its wide beach, beautiful habitues, and festive atmosphere, South Beach is both a classy and casual destination. Housed in a Morris Lapidus art deco gem, the Ritz offers 74 poolside cabanas. Arrange for the hotel's official cars--a 1961 candy-apple-red Chevrolet or a 1957 Thunderbird convertible--to shuttle you about. (Doubles from $329; 800-241-3333; www.ritzcarlton.com)
Explore: Tucked away in a villa on a secluded street, Casa Tua (305-673-0973) serves simple, outstanding Italian cuisine in a sublimely romantic setting. If you love the nightlife and like to boogie (and don't have an early Monday morning flight) check out the Sunday night beach soirees at the Raleigh Hotel (1775 Collins).
When: November to March
Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Kiawah Island, S.C.
Why: Half an hour from Charleston, this 10-mile resort with five golf courses, 28 tennis courts, and three pools--not to mention one of the best beaches in the country--could double as a camp getaway for grownups. The resort also has a variety of activities for children and teens should you tote the family along. (Doubles from $199; 843-768-2121; www.kiawahresort.com)
Explore: History buffs might consider a walking tour that concentrates on the siege of historic Charleston ($15; www.civilwarcharleston.com). Indulge at the luxury spa at the just-opened the Sanctuary hotel (www.thesanctuary.com).
When: Even in winter months temperatures hover at 60 degrees on the coast. Summer brings temperatures up to 90, and vacationing families take over most of the island.
Westgate Park City Resort and Spa
Park City, Utah
Why: For winter sport fanatics, this resort with the Wasatch Mountains as a backdrop might just be the (lift) ticket, with access to 140 ski runs. (Villas from $199; 877-846-1043; www.wgparkcity.com) Come summer, outdoor options include golf, hiking, fishing, and horseback riding.
Explore: There is a 30,000-square-foot spa on the premises, but the Nordic-inspired Stein Eriksen Lodge in town offers a menu of treatments exclusively for men (435-649-3700; www.steinlodge.com). For good eating, try Grappa (435-645-0636) or Riverhorse Cafe (435-649-3536).
When: Ski season is November to March, but avoid January, when the town is overrun with Sundance Film Festival attendees.
Why: This new property from the people behind chain Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casinos combines business amenities, the cool factor of a boutique hotel, and all the glittering attractions of the Strip (but no on-site casino, for peace and quiet). Check out the chic Lounge bar or make a reservation at the spa for such decadent treatments like the champagne facial. (Doubles from $169; www.mandalaybay.com)
Explore: The Palms Casino Resort is the hottest nightlife ticket in town. Start your evening at Skin, the poolside lounge, before heading up to Ghost Bar on the 55th floor. Or catch Cirque du Soleil's famous O show at the Bellagio (www.bellagio.com).
When: This is a big conference town (hosting such industry biggies as the Consumer Electronics Show in January), so to avoid the masses ask what else is going on about town.
W Honolulu Diamond Head
Why: From a glass-enclosed boardroom to fun touches on the table--white lead pencils and black pads-- the emphasis at the modernist W is on business with a playful edge. (Doubles from $265; 808-922-1700; www.starwood.com)
Explore: WonderLounge, the hotel's club, is the island's most happening nightspot, with a sleek VIP room straight out of New York or Los Angeles. Surf's up with Sunset Suzy's surf school ($85 for private lesson, $65 for group lesson; www.sunsetsuzy.com).
When: Winter's best for beating the blues back home but summer brings the best deals.
Los Cabos, Mexico
Why: Just a two-hour flight from LAX, and then a 15-minute drive from the airport, this newly reopened resort got a $90 million facelift and the amenities to match, including a Charlie Trotter restaurant called C, a luxurious spa, and an infinity pool that seems to drop into the Sea of Cortez. (Doubles from $425; 52-624-146-7000; www.oneandonlyresorts.com)
Explore: Take an hour road trip to Todo Santos, an artistic enclave that's home to one of Baja's top eateries, Restaurant Cafe Santa Fe, for spaghetti al vongole (Calle Centenario No. 4; 52-624-14-50340; closed Tuesdays).
When: October to March, to escape the chill stateside
Montage Resort and Spa
Laguna Beach, Calif.
Why: An hour's drive from Los Angeles or San Diego, this new addition to the California coast is an opulent resort for employees who have been very, very good. Every guest room, the spa, and the Studio restaurant boast spectacular ocean views. The resort is happy to arrange water activities from kayaking and sailing to whale and dolphin watching tours or an excursion to Catalina Island. (Doubles from $475; 888-715-6700; www.montagelagunabeach.com)
Explore: From July to September try your luck on the horses at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, the track Bing Crosby and his cronies built nearby (www.dmtc.com). Guests looking for a cultural fix can take in a performance at the Laguna Playhouse (www.lagunaplayhouse.com) or browse the artists' colony's more than 100 galleries.
When: Avoid April to June, when the legendary fog shrouds the coastline.