Our Staff Retreat at Honeywood Valley
Words by Courtney Hancock
The morning fog has just settled as you wake up in your own private suite, almost too comfortable to get out of the bed, but the view from the porch swing is calling you. You stumble into the cozy kitchen, make your cup of coffee, and step through the grand double doors leading onto the back porch. It’s silent. You hear only the sound of your own breath and the fish splashing as they eat their morning meal. Your mind is clear, your soul is calm, and life is… sweet.
Nestled in the heart of Alabama, Honeywood Valley is a luxurious haven for rejuvenation and renewal. It is the newest Southern destination for… well, just about anything! We chose Honeywood as our staff retreat location this year because we wanted a private place to “get away” but still enjoy modern comforts and a variety of activities since we’re not the most outdoorsy bunch. One look at Honeywood (where life is sweeter), and we were sold! It’s idealistic and whimsical charm made for the perfect location for our Birmingham, Atlanta, and Nashville offices to gather and dream about the future of Good Grit.
As we sat around the gorgeous stone fireplace in the main living area, we began our first working session by each sharing our personal vision for what’s next. If you can believe it, tears were shed, and unity was forged. The serene atmosphere inspired us all and allowed us to get comfortable sharing our hope for the future of our departments. It felt like a pivotal moment for our team that could only happen, because we were facilitated with space for our hearts and minds to breathe.
Our second session was more practical. We literally brought in massive sticky notes that we were able to display on the floor-to-ceiling windows. We snacked on a delicious meat and cheese box from Table and Thyme that was already in the fridge for us upon arrival. Each person spent time narrowing down their S.M.A.R.T goals to achieve their vision and wrote them out for everyone to review.
So much was accomplished within the first 24 hours of our retreat that it was time to unwind! We each had plenty of space to rest in our own bedrooms and get ready for the evening activities. We had a photographer commemorate the experience with team photos, made a yummy meal together, and had a wine tasting curated by the “no-snobbery” wine educator, Jones Is Thirsty!
From hiking, biking, fishing, canoeing, cornhole, and so much more… there was a plethora of activities for us to choose from to connect with each other. Our group took a walk around the breathtaking, 35-acre Lake Lomah. Fun fact! Lomah means “land of milk and honey.” We ventured off to discover the 100-year-old Amish barn that’s the perfect combination of rustic and modern. Wedding venue anyone?! The overlook of the property from here is also a beautiful spot to host a formal lunch or even a private yoga class!
To cap off our retreat, Table & Thyme provided us with an elevated dinner experience on the back porch overlooking the lake. Surrounded by only the moon, café lights, and a beach bonfire, the scene was something out of a movie. We enjoyed and evening of laughter, meaningful conversation, and of course, more wine.
With 895 acres of privacy, breathtaking views, exceptional amenities, one-of-a-kind events and superior customer service, there’s nowhere better to refresh, retreat, and enjoy the sweet life than Honeywood Valley. Until next year… and maybe we’ll even try our hand at fishing or canoeing!