How to Have a Successful Family Retreat

april 19,2011

Ideas from a Personal Experience

From my personal experience I had learned a lot about family retreat meetings and I would like to share some ideas with you.

1. The meeting place.

Assuming that you will organize the retreat, make sure you select a good place for the meetings. Make sure you have a clean meeting room that is very well ventilated and is not used for other purposes than holding meetings / conferences there. I participated in a family retreat that was held in a “guest house” and the name of the building was “villa”, although the conditions were far from being a villa. The meeting room where we had the family conference… was also the dining area; it was all a mess when lunch, dinner or breakfast time was coming. I don’t recommend anyone to use such a room, especially if the eating area has smoking / non-smoking areas. The smoke is there, in the walls, either you like it or not, and it’s not going to come out unless the whole building is thoroughly renovate.

2. The rooms for the participants as well as the guest.

If you are to pick a good building for a conference and you are also offering hosting for the conference days to the participants, please choose a nice hotel that has at least 2 stars and not someone’s house of villa. A hotel has bathrooms and toilets for every person that checks-in. Some villas might have one single bathroom, somewhere down the hallway and if you want to take a shower that day, you must wake up at least 1 hour earlier than the other guests from the same floor like yours. The next important aspect is the rooms’ cleaning degree. Make sure the rooms are clean, the bed sheets are clean, there has never been any smoking in the room, and the lamps are working. I had the “privilege” to stay in a meeting like this and I was assigned a room that had a matrimonial bad (that was hard as a rock, so you can call it a “stone bed”) and another one-person bad. The wardrobe was broken in that room and the window was broken. The TV inside was not functioning (not that I needed it, but I was just curious to see if it works… and that said it all). I am so harsh now, but I have to mention it: in the room that I stayed there has been people that smoked there, and even if the room had odorants, the smoke in the walls was absolutely disgusting. I just hated that place and will never recommend it to anyone.

3. The food.

Another important aspect is the food that will be prepared there. If you picked a hotel, then you are good to go. If you picked a villa that has self-catering then you need to hire a catering team. I would recommend a professional team, don’t bring people from your church that you know they make good food, but you never tasted their cooking. Don’t bring people from your family that you know they cook well, but are not able to cook for more than 25 people at once. Don’t bring people that don’t know the minimum rules of using hygienic products and don’t know how to wash the dishes. I met people that wash their dishes, after the food was served, just with plain water; sometimes they use cold water, other times they use hot water. They will bring the excuse that the hot water will kill the germs. I don’t want to advertise any cleaning product, but when it comes to cleaning, I want my plate and the pots the food is being cooked in to be clean and hygienic. I don’t want to experience food indigestion or food related diseases that come from the area of bad cooking habits. That’s why I said you should get a professional team, instead of someone you know. At least the professional team will do the work and deserve their pay, instead of being greedy and pay less for someone that will do more harm than good. I am saying all these because at the family retreat that I went to, the second day I got sick and another person as well and that from the way someone cooked the food. And yes, the cook was “some acquaintance” of someone that organized the meeting… and they just didn’t want to pay for a real cook and a professional team.

4. The speaker(s).

If you are planning to have a good family retreat and want to have a good feedback after all is finished, I recommend you invite a speaker that is married, has never been divorced, has at least 20 years of experience in the life of marriage and also has kids and/or grandchildren. If you invite a young speaker that is married for 3 to 5 years, you will not learn much from him/her. He/she might be a good orator, but his/her experience will speak louder than his/her message. Make sure you don’t invite a single or widowed speaker, since he will not be a good example there. People will ask how can a single person give me some advice in the area of marriage when he himself never married or is a widower?Here might be some dispute for some people. There will be some that will say that Apostle Paul was a single, yet he was speaking about marriage to the people in the church. I believe he had spiritual knowledge and wisdom from God to address some issues there and God used him in that particular moment for that. If we have a guest to speak about marriage issues, we must make sure, more than anything else that the speaker has a message from God, has been through marriage problems and can tell others how to handle conflict and the art of parenting.

So, next time you have a family retreat for the people in your church, you have here some ideas on how to organize it. Last of all, I suggest you make an album with all the participants and make that event something memorable. We forget the message from the meetings we’ve been at, but images will remind us more about what we lived there, what we experienced there, and what food we had there. For this reason I will post a photo from a family retreat that I went to… and I have regrets that the place and the way things were organized there were not so good. That I will remember. As for the message, I have the outlines and will post them on my blog in English as well as Romanian.


The location is convenient for visitors to go out of town from Manila in a short getaway with family and friends traveling north to Angeles City Clark Pampanga. Traffic along the North Expressway NLEX is always light and the new Subic Tarlac Clark Expressway ScTex takes visitors straight into Clark Freeport without going through any towns and cities along the way.

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How to get to this fine-dining restaurant in Clark Philippines? Once you get to Clark Freeport, go straight until you hit Mimosa. After you enter Mimosa, stay on the left on Mimosa Drive, go past the Holiday Inn and Yats Restaurant (green top, independent 1-storey structure) is on your left. Just past the Yats Restaurant is the London Pub.

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