I work for an amazing company. 500 people distributed around the world, working together to democratize publishing, in the form of WordPress.com, the blogging platform I’m currently using to write this post.

The company is Automattic, and every year, all most of the employees come together in one place for a week-long retreat known as the Grand Meetup (GM). This year the GM took place in Whistler, a Canadian resort town just north of Vancouver.

Lost Lake, Whistler

The main purpose of the meetup is to build personal relationships with our teammates and to work on the kinds of things that are more difficult to achieve through online communication. So there were plenty of  workshops, classes, meetings, and projects throughout the week.

But I won’t bore you with details of those, because of course there was also time for relaxation, socialising and team-building activities, not to mention lots of good food and drink!

Virtual Reality

A few of my colleagues are really into Virtual Reality, and they were kind enough to bring along several headsets and all the accompanying gear, and had this set up all week so people could try it out. Here’s a video of me exploring a virtual world:

There was a really fun archery bit to this game, where you had to pick up a bow and arrows, and use them to defend your castle from invaders.

I also spent about an hour one evening climbing a virtual mountain! It’s impossible to describe the experience – one of those things where you have to try it to believe it.

Via Ferrata

Not content with the virtual mountain, I also got to climb an actual mountain (Whistler Peak), in one of my highlights of the week – Via Ferrata.


The next day a bunch of us went on an exhilarating zipline tour through the forest, zipping back and forth from one peak to the other.


A group of us also went running most mornings, and took part in the annual WWWP5K run.

The WWWP5K runners, ready for action

There was plenty more to do: Downhill biking, photo tours, escape rooms, painting classes, ecology tours, and hiking, to name a few. But there’s only so much you can fit in, so some of it will have to wait for next year (it looks like we may be returning to Whistler for at least the next GM).

If you think this sounds amazing, and wish you could work for a company like this, well… you can. We’re hiring.

Automattic 2016 Grand Meetup, Whistler. Photo by Donncha