Westchester sports plenty of awesome outdoor activities for companies looking to bond over a bit of sweat.
By Paul Adler
When employees think of business retreats, high-energy sports games and inventive obstacle courses might not be the first things that come to mind. That said, it may be time to rethink the concept of corporate teambuilding, as several organizations have begun offering exciting ways to bond with colleagues over a host of challenging fitness events.
For those who want to stay local, Yorkville Sports Association (YSA) is a great way to go. Celebrating its 40th year in business, YSA opened a Westchester division four years ago and now provides companies with the ability to enroll employees in various sports leagues, ranging from volleyball and basketball to softball and football — plus some unexpected options.
Athletes are off to a running start during a recent Warrior Dash.
“YSA offers bocce ball, flag football, golf, kickball, softball, and dodgeball starting in 2019,” says Al Morales, president of the YSA. “We have worked with more than 16,000 firms. Once a company signs on, we assign teams to appropriate skill levels, create season-long schedules, provide game officials, and present an All Star Game at mid-season for the summer leagues.”
According to Morales, teambuilding through sports is one of the most powerful ways to encourage office amity. “The role of corporate sports leagues can have a profound effect on a business’s culture, by fostering camaraderie, teamwork, and unity while promoting good physical and mental health,” he says. “Employees playing together bond more, and some companies even report a drop in sick days.”
One of Yorkville Sports Association’ssoftball leagues at play.
Through YSA, softball costs $75 per person for a 20-player team or $100 for 15 players; kickball runs $80 per person; bocce is $90 for a four-person team, $72 for a five-person team, and as low as $30 per player for up to 12 weeks of regular season play.
For area offices that want a more intense, one-time activity, look no further than the popular Warrior Dash. Taking place June 23 just outside the county in Alpine, NJ, the dash has come to be considered one of the top so-called “mud runs” in existence.
During the Warrior Dash, participants endure — and apparently enjoy — insane obstacles, with names like Super Soaker, Rock Slide, Mud Mounds, and Under the Wire. Plus, the dash offers group discounts ranging from 15 percent for 15-25 participants to a 30 percent discount for 46 participants or more.
Blue Tulip Chocolates in Rye provides a seriously sweet option for business retreats.
By Kayla Dale
Looking for a decidedly decadent way to bond with colleagues? At Rye’s Blue Tulip Chocolates, chowing down on the sweet stuff is only one piece of the interactive puzzle that is their From-Around-the-World Chocolate Tasting. Perfect for corporate parties or team-building events, Blue Tulip will come to your business with a specially selected sampling of chocolates. Each participant receives eight samples that the owner and chocolatier, Diane Holland, sources from locations such as Hawaii, New Zealand, and Peru. Plus, each guest receives a booklet they can use to critique chocolate like a true food critic. Groups of four or more people are welcome to enjoy the tasting at Blue Tulip’s Rye location, while parties of 25 or more are eligible for a corporate discount. “Participants learn about chocolate as a vibrant industry at the same time they experience and enjoy the wonderful variety of flavors from around the world,” says Holland. “At the end of the session, everyone is able to taste the finished product. Delicious and beautiful chocolates and caramels, handcrafted in small batches, are offered to all. This brings the experience full circle.”
Host your next biz event — or just a day of aquatic leisure — on a swanky seafaring vessel.
By Laurie Yarnell
If the idea of picnicking in a public park or convening in a windowless hotel conference room doesn’t float your boat, how about chartering a yacht for your next off-site bonding activity or meeting? Local professional yacht broker Zak Mirjavadi, owner of Dolphin Yacht Services of Mamaroneck, can help. The son of a naval architect who’s been boating since he was 16, Mirjavadi says that while the technical definition of a yacht is a recreational boat of 10 meters (33 feet) or more, the word has come to mean any large, luxurious motorboat or sailboat.
From April 15 to September 30, Dolphin rents boats locally of up to 50 feet — all have heads, or bathrooms, in landlubber-speak — and most have kitchens in addition to at least one cabin with sleeping accommodations. Its largest and most luxurious motorboat, which can accommodate up to 20 people for a day cruise or four overnight, sports two staterooms, two heads, a large galley, a fly bridge, teak floors, mahogany interiors, and a 50-inch TV.
Locally, vessels can be delivered to Mamaroneck Harbor, New Rochelle’s Glen Island Yacht Club, and private docks, as well as locations in Connecticut and Manhattan. Most charters cruise along Long Island Sound, visiting Captain’s Island in Greenwich, Rye Playland, Larchmont, or City Island in the Bronx, with Oyster Bay, Huntington Harbor, and Northport being popular destinations on Long Island.
Although most Dolphin vessels are rented “bare boat” — without a captain or crew — professional licensed boat drivers, staff, catering, etc., can also be provided. And while New York doesn’t require a license for an individual to operate a boat for personal use, Mirjavadi takes out the renter beforehand to make sure he or she is qualified to operate it safely. Fees without a crew start at $500 for four hours, $800 for eight hours, and $1,200 overnight.
Want to put up a visiting client someplace extra special? Mirjavadi says that “floating hotel rooms” that remain on the dock overnight are an increasingly popular rental option, starting at $150 per night. And a portion of all Dolphin rental fees is donated to CF Bridge of Hope, a charity that helps children with cystic fibrosis.