Retreat Locations near Barcelona

I have been on and led many corporate and group retreats over the last 16 years around Barcelona.  This blog post serves primarily as a reminder for myself of some of the great locations that I have used.

(I will be adding to this post over time, so bookmark it and come back regularly when you are looking for new ideas.  If you have run an event near Barcelona in a location that I have not listed, I would love to hear about the location!).

Barcelona Corporate Retreat Locations

Here are some great locations for a Vistage Group, EO/YPO forum or corporate retreat near Barcelona.

Retreat Locations with Accommodations & Food Service

Hotel Montseny

In Montseny Natural Park, 1 hour drive from Barcelona.  All located in a country house, dating back to the tenth century.  11 bedrooms and meeting rooms.


Outdoor Activities:

Walking in the Montseny national park

Le Mas Sant Joan

 90 minutes from Barcelona, just beyond Girona. A short walk to the beach.  IESE style auditorium with space for 100 attendees.  Beautiful gardens surrounding a well restored Masia.

Web: (pdf info sheet)

Outdoor Activities:

Walk to the beach, watch sunrise on the beach; Beautiful gardens and pool.

La Mola Hotel, Spa and Conference Centre

Near Terrassa, 1 hour drive from Barcelona. Large facility. 180 rooms and 22 meeting rooms.


Outdoor Activities:

Parador de Cardona

In Cardona, 75 minute drive from Barcelona. Part of the Parador hotel chain.  Amazing medieval castle.  Meeting rooms are the old ducal royal rooms.


Outdoor Activities:

Visit to the salt mines 

Montanya Hotel

Near Montseny national park. Standard issue 4* hotel with spa and meeting rooms.


Outdoor Activities:
  • Walk to the monastery of Sant Pere de Casserres

Hotel Balneari Vichy Catalán

75 minutes from Barcelona. Hotel with spa and meeting rooms next to the original bottling facility of Vichy Catalan sparkling water.


Outdoor Activities:
  • Visit to the Vichy Catalan bottling factory

Oller del Mas

Near Manresa, 1 hour outside Barcelona. Thousand year old Masia and working vineyards. They have 22 cabins, all different, in the surrounding forest.


Outdoor Activities:
  • Pitch and Putt golf course, 2 Padel courts, swimming pool, horseriding all available on the estate.


Big Houses in Countryside

Masia Escrigas

70 minutes from Barcelona in the rural countryside. Great for groups of up to 20.  We regularly use this for a family retreat for our EO forum group – last count 26 adults+kids.

Ctra. puig-reig a prats de lluçanes, km14, 08517 Santa Maria de Merlès, Barcelona

Masia Escrigas

More Venues…

Locations with Accomodations but no Food Service

Locations without on-site Accomodations

What other great locations can you recommend (in the vicinity of Barcelona)?

Speaking at European HR Director Summit

I had the privilege to deliver a keynote session at the European HR Director Summit yesterday. It was inspiring to be surrounded by 200 senior HR people thinking about making work engaging and meaningful for the people at their companies.

AkzoNobel decorative paint division put 17,000 people through a 3 day reflection on who they are, where they have come from, what their purpose is. The leaders chose to do it because they believed it was important. Engagement levels doubled.

Royal Philips HR Director Denise Haylor spoke about splitting the company into 2 units. Splitting payroll, teams, leadership… 63 countries… hundreds of applications… and all delivered last week.  Hard work!

European HR Director Summit

Here’s a few photos that the event organisers shared of my session:

and some responses:

And here was a powerful lesson I took away…

“Your learning rate is your earning rate” Dan Tesnjak

Conor Neill, Interview with Axiom Groupe

I gave a short talk at the Axiom Groupe HR and Shared Service Centers Conference in Barcelona recently.  They made a short interview video during the event.

We talk about the IESE Business School, Leadership communication, persuasion and the process of turning potential into performance.

What does Leadership mean to you?

Nitin Nohria, Dean of Harvard Business School will be speaking at IESE Business School in Barcelona next Monday 13th.

“It is my desire to inspire people of all ages and social demographics to think about leadership on a broad level, contemplate what it means to them and what individual impact they can have when it comes to leading,” Nitin Nohria.

What does Leadership mean to you?

As a simple reflection, I share 2 short poems:

The Serenity Prayer

(paraphrased by me…)

Give me the strength to change the things I can change;
The patience to accept the things I cannot change
and the wisdom to tell the difference.

Author: Reinhold Niebuhr, 1943

“I Wanted To Change The World”

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.

I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.

When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.

Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.

Author: Unknown Monk 1100 A.D.

Event Information

As the Harvard-IESE Committee celebrates its 50th Anniversary, IESE welcomes Harvard Business School Dean, Nitin Nohria, to speak to alumni at an exclusive session on January 13, 2014. Entitled, “Innovative Leadership: Learning from Asian Companies,” the session will be held at IESE’s Barcelona campus and organized by the Alumni Association. Registration is here.


This is Barcelona

This is where I have lived for the last decade. Barcelona.

This video captures Barcelona.  The streets, the energy, the sights…  maybe not the sounds and the smells.

History of Barcelona

Barcelona was founded in the 3rd century BC by Hamilcar Barca, the father of the famous general Hannibal.  It came under Roman aegis at 15 BC.  In the 5th century AD, it became the Visigoth capital of all of Hispania.  In the 7th century, it was held by the Arabs.  Charlemagne took the city in 801.  Charlemagne established the Dukes of Barcelona.  They held the city until 1137, with the uniting of the Barcelona and Aragon kingdoms, and then in 1469 with the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella modern Spain was established with political center in Madrid.

My Favorite Barcelona Sights

The Palau de la Musica

  • Coffee on Rambla Catalunya
  • A stop for a drink in Plaza Sant Felip Neri
  • The human statues on the Ramblas
  • Buying fruit and vegetables in the Boqueria
  • Walking in the Barri Gotic
  • Running on Tibidabo, the Carretera de las Aigues
  • Looking at the sailing boats in Port Vell
  • The Fira Santa Lucia coming up to Christmas
  • Mojitos in Passatge de Born
  • Classical music in Palau de la Musica
  • Football at Camp Nou
  • Opera at Liceu
  • Hanging with kids at CosmoCaixa
  • Looking over Barcelona from IESE Business School’s roof

The Big Tourist Classics

Cool Hotels

Good Food Spots

Outside of Barcelona

  • Sitges (40 minutes train/road) lunch at Picnic on the beach
  • Costa Brava (90 minutes road) Begur, Aigua Blava, Llafranc
  • Montserrat (60 minutes)
  • Port Aventura theme park (75 minutes road)

What have I missed?

TEDx Raval is on this Saturday 3rd March

TEDxRaval (March 3, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain) will host over 100 members of the digerati interested in up-and-coming trends in technology and innovation.

Learn from the leaders of technology startups and companies as they share best practices, growth strategies and stories of disruptive product development.

The event will be packed with top speakers, case studies and dynamic panel discussions on the present and future of technology. Don’t miss this chance to network with the entrepreneurial tech community at Raval′s largest event of the year!

Who should attend? Both men and women working in technology, from corporate to mid-level startup to early-stage startup. Anyone thinking about starting a startup, or generally interested in technology and innovation.

TEDxRaval speakers are leaders of technology and innovation.

An action-packed half-day conference agenda:

  •  9:15am – 10:00am REGISTRATION & WELCOME RECEPTION TEDxRaval
  • 10:00am – 10:15am WHAT IS THE NEW ECONOMIC REALITY? Eduardo Fernandez, VP and Managing Director at RIM (BlackBerry)
  • 10:15am – 10:30am WHY WOMEN ARE BUILDING MORE TAGFEE COMPANIES Gillian Muessig, Founding President of SEOmoz
  • 10:30pm – 10:45pm DOING BETTER WITH LESS Jose Torres, TEDx Organizer
  • 10:45am – 11:15am MORNING COFFEE BREAK & NETWORKING Senseo
  • 11:15am – 11:30am THE ECONOMICS OF ACCOUNTABILITY: TECHNOLOGIES FOR SOCIAL CHANGE Sascha Haselmayer, Living Labs Global &
  • 11:30am – 11:45am TECHNOLOGY FOR QUALITY OF LIFE Raquel Navarro-Prieto, User Experience Lead at Telefonica Digital
  • 11:45am – 12:00pm SOCIAL INNOVATION Josep Miró i Pascual, Director of Strategy and Innovation at City Council of Barcelona
  • 12:00pm – 12:30pm COFFEE BREAK & NETWORKING Senseo
  • 12:30pm – 13:00pm SMALL IS BIG Jose Hernández, Creative Director at Aer Studio
  • 13:00pm – 13:15pm DEVELOPING INTUITIVE PRODUCTS Günter Geiger, CEO of Reactable Systems
  • 13:15pm – 13:30pm ACCEPTING NO AS AN ANSWER Albert Climent, CEO of Job and Talent (Barcelona)
  • 13:30pm – 13:45pm VISION FOR BARCELONA Angel Moreu, Mainframe Business Executive at IBM + Conor Neill, Lecturer at IESE Business School
More information here and tickets here.

Come to Barcelona Developer’s Conference

I met Xavier Colomer this year.  He and his team are putting together Barcelona Developers Conference17-19th November.  Come along if you want to:

  • meet top development teams in Barcelona
  • engage with the top programming talent
  • connect with entrepreneurs hiring tech teams…

If you check out this year’s agenda, you’ll find everything from social media, to cloud computing to robotics and multimedia.  You can even find my own keynote on Entrepreneurship: Speaking as a Leader in Uncertain Times.

Entrepreneurs: If you have a new product to show off – list it now on the show and tell section.

This is a great local forum for making in-depth connections that will change your business and career in technology. There are still seats left – sign up before they are gone.

The event will be in the Museu Maritim de Barcelona – a building worth a visit in itself 😉

The list of sponsoring companies include:




The confirmed keynote speakers includes:

Andre Vanyi-Robin
Pau Garcia-Mila
Rodolfo Tesone
Ellas 2.0
+ Spotify, Google, Tuenti development leads

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