For die-hard New Yorkers who live and work in the five boroughs, Long Island might as well be Siberia. Although its easternmost communities are just a two-hour drive via the Long Island Expressway, they feel an entire world away from the hustle and bustle of New York City. But that’s exactly why Long Island is an attractive destination -- not only for urban dwellers looking to escape the city, but also for meeting groups that want to convene with more space, more scenery and fewer distractions.
But meeting professionals shouldn’t consider Long Island just because it’s pretty, quiet or spacious -- although it’s undoubtedly all three. Instead, they should consider Long Island because it’s home to spectacular group experiences.
Many of those experiences can be found at properties like Gurney’s Star Island Resort & Marina in Montauk, N.Y. Opened this month on the site of the former Montauk Yacht Club -- which has undergone a full-scale renovation just in time for summer in the Hamptons -- the new resort has 107 marine-inspired guest rooms and nearly 10,000 square feet of meeting space, not to mention four restaurants and bars, a heated indoor pool and two outdoor pools, a fitness center and a private beach.
The waterfront property’s highlight, however, is its 232-slip marina, which Gurney’s claims is the largest in the Hamptons. There, groups can try their hand at sportfishing by sailing away aboard any of a number of charter boats that troll for bass, flounder, fluke, cod, tuna and even shark. Although charter captains can’t guarantee they’ll catch a fish, planners can be sure that meeting participants will at least catch an unforgettable memory.
Four More Group Activities on Long Island
Charter fishing is just one example of the many group experiences that flourish on Long Island. Here are four more activities worth trying:
• Make your own gin: At Matchbook Distilling Co. in Greenport -- on eastern Long Island’s North Fork -- groups can produce their own spirits thanks to the distillery’s “Create Your Own Signature Gin” program, a 60- to 90-minute “spirit production journey” that includes learning how to nose and taste gin, and how to identify flavor profiles; hand-selecting and blending desired botanicals from a selection of 50 choices; and, ultimately, scaling a formula from a tasting size to a full-size 750-milliliter bottle that can be taken home.
• Kayak to a clambake: The ritual whereby seafood such as lobster, mussels, crabs, soft-shell clams and quahogs is steamed over seaweed in a pit dug on the beach -- aka a clambake -- is a summertime staple in the Northeast. Mainbeach Surf & Sport in Wainscott is among the many Long Island operations that can organize one for you. The experience starts with a guided paddle across the Hamptons’ Georgica Pond to the beach, where there is traditional clambake fare along with a bonfire, tiki torches and s’mores.
• Do yoga … on stand-up paddleboards: Surfing is a favorite summer pastime in Long Island, but it can be really challenging to learn. For an easier experience, consider getting your meeting attendees on the water on top of a stand-up paddleboard (SUP). CoreysWave in Montauk offers a variety of SUP experiences for corporate groups, including SUP relay races and yoga sessions.
• Learn the "ropes" in the treetops: Inspired by similar parks in Switzerland, Adventure Park at Long Island in Wheatley Heights is an eco-friendly “aerial forest park” that consists of ropes courses and ziplines that take visitors on a high-flying tour of the treetops. The park offers tailored programs and packages for groups of 15 or more.