Before I became the Virgin Innkeeper, I was Executive Director/CEO for a few non-profit organizations. In that role, I planned many, many corporate planning retreats for my volunteer board of directors. On such a tight budget, it was difficult to find unique, inspiring and comfortably rewarding meeting space with lodging and food/beverage that we could afford. We often had to settle for a windowless, recirculated air meeting rooms in a Marriott. Food was overpriced along with a 22% service fee.
Fast forward to 2016, and my husband, Ron, and I built a “resort” or lodging property with 10 Casitas, or small houses – not tiny houses, please. We built the Pavilion based on my experiences of travel to my Italian “hometown” of Pienza and the Moricciani Family farmhouse, Cretaiole. The Pavilion was built for travelers to gather and share stories of their days in the Hill Country and share meals, similar to the sun room at Cretaiole. The fire pit was added because…we love fire!
We hosted many “Hill Country Trippers” and wedding guests those first couple years; and we still do! Then we started getting requests for corporate meeting space. Our first group was our friends at YETI! We would use the Pavilion when the weather was nice and the living rooms of the bigger Casitas when the weather was not so nice. We would move the HEAVY sofa bed on to the porch to set up a conference table for 12 or more. During this time, I thought often of my woes as meeting planner/coordinator for the volunteer boards I served, and that was it. We knew we needed to build a conference center. And we did!
The Retreat, as we call it, was built and opened in February of 2019. It’s built in Casita style with the stained concrete floors, 12 foot walls, vaulted ceiling with pine wood, a big covered porch, and of course our amazing Hill Country view of the Pedernales River Valley.
Since opening The Retreat, we have hosted more than a dozen corporate groups from IT companies to those provided veterinary medical equipment, to church leadership and community based organizations and corporate travel. One recent group was the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association – what fun!
And they have all loved it! The meeting space is comfortable and bright. It’s so much fun to watch these groups burst with creativity and have fun! They work hard, and then play hard too! From sticky notes, both small and big covering the walls, to fun team building exercise with straws and cups, to high tech presentations on the 70 inch SMART TV – our groups have been productive and met their meeting goals.
After meeting all day, our groups either cook at the Pavilion or have their meal catered. Or maybe they run over to Salt Lick and a winery or two! Then there is the evening entertainment – some bring in live music, some enjoy s’mores and adult beverages by the fire pit. At the end of the night, all enjoy our amazingly comfortable beds, and maybe their own private fire on their covered porch. Relaxation + Productivity = Success!
Comments from a few of our corporate guests:
We had a fantastic time! Team WFTDA
Everything was perfect and you guys left no stone unturned as everything we thought we needed was already there! Everything was perfect from the Casitas, to the views! You provided us a space that we could be open, free, and most of all be ourselves without boundaries. Team Oaks Church
We stayed at Hill Country Casitas for a two-day work retreat. The newly completed Retreat space was perfect for our team to hunker down for strategic planning. We had everything thing we needed and more. The casitas were impeccably clean and well-appointed. The overall environment is spectacular for a work retreat. My only regret is that we didn’t stay longer! Team Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio
That Retreat space was fantastic. Team Rinnai
Thank you for the hospitality. We had a memorable time and truly enjoyed the casitas. Team Idexx
Here for a company retreat and I could not have picked a better place! The Casitas are adorable and cozy and have everything you need. Highly suggest stopping at a grocery store on the way in as the Casitas have small double stovetops, microwaves, and a fridge. The beds are king size in the studios and they are comfy! Best sleep I've gotten in a while! Team Access
While I have guessed at a lot of things and “winged it” being an innkeeper, corporate meeting planning is second nature. And I love it! My more than a decade of service at Boys & Girls Clubs of America taught me many things, but one I carry with me daily is:
WORK HARD AND PLAY HARD..... And The Casitas make that easy!
The Retreat at Hill Country Casitas
Dripping Springs, TX