Fall can be full of wild weather, ranging from severe rainstorms to frigid temperatures. But every once in a while, picture-perfect autumn days arrive on the scene.
During these reprieves, encourage your clients and customers to enjoy the fresh air on your property. Here, experts offer some ideas for using outdoor entertaining spaces all season long.
Take Advantage of the Landscape
The Abbey Resort in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, plays up Halloween for nearly two weeks during the fall. “On the weekends, we set up a haunted trail, wagon rides, a pumpkin patch and on-site trick-or-treating,” Marketing Director Sara Schmitz says.
Still, outdoor events can encompass more than costumes and pumpkin carving. At the American Club, a five-star resort in Kohler, Wisconsin, autumn events take advantage of the resort’s beautiful landscape. Because the resort’s green spaces were designed by Olmsted Brothers, a well-known landscape architectural firm, the scenery makes a standout backdrop for a number of events.
“We do a ‘Run, Walk and Pub Crawl’ and ‘The Kohler Adventure,’ a weekend that highlights shooting, fishing and hunting on our 400-acre wildlife preserve,” says Christine Loose, director of hotels at the American Club.
Spruce Up With Seasonal Decor
Consider gussying up outdoor pergolas and fireplaces with dried hydrangea, which can be sprayed with clear shellac or gold paint for added flair, says Rachel Hoss, marketing director for Springhetti Custom Outdoor Living, a landscaping company serving residential and commercial properties in Northeast Wisconsin. “Pergolas and arbors also look great covered with dried vines.”
At the American Club, planters are enhanced with fall accents such as corn shocks, ornamental pumpkins and gourds. “In winter, we swap them out for evergreen boughs, red twig dogwood and holly berries,” Loose says.
Keep Things Light
With the sun setting earlier, customers may stay in simply because it’s too dark to be outside. To keep guests outdoors past dusk, blogger Laurie Jones of Laurie Jones Home suggests wrapping tree trunks in outdoor lights, placing floating candles in an uncovered pool or fountain, and dressing up pergolas in white lights. “Lighting is a major way to bring impact to outdoor features,” she says.
Set Up Separate Activity Areas
Providing distinct areas for different outdoor activities gives guests options and encourages them to move around. “I call them ‘zones of fun,’” Jones says. “I recommend one area for bocce ball, a living room-type area with a fireplace, a section with a dinner table and a few areas with seating for just two.”
Searching for an activity that’s an instant crowd-pleaser? Consider setting up a s’mores station.
Be Conscious of the Cold
Make sure customers attending outdoor events can see that you’ve thought the weather through. Jones suggests providing wool blankets and hot chocolate or hot apple cider to keep guests cozy in spite of chilly temperatures.
If you're considering warming an outdoor area, propane heaters are “the way to go,” Hoss says. “When a few of them are in the same vicinity, there's a tremendous amount of heat generated.”
Start Planning for Winter
Who says guests can’t enjoy the outdoors when the temperatures drop even lower? Each winter, staffers at the Emerson Resort in New York’s Hudson Valley turn a field adjacent to the property into a cross-country ski path. “We attach a grooming machine to a snowmobile and regularly maintain the trail,” says Kayleen Scali, an administrative assistant at the resort.
With a little planning and creativity, outdoor entertaining spaces can be enjoyed by your clients and guests throughout much of the year.
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