If a company just picked a logically geographically central place (per its employee base), reserved a reasonable hotel w/business suite or rented an office for a week, that'd make a lot more sense and be a good bit fairer imo. Let people who enjoy exotic locales do so on their own, and not as a (required!) perk. Bonus, you're now being more serious about avoiding monoculture at work too (not everybody enjoys exotic travel, and companies that de facto require it will end up selecting for it).
There is a bit of an advantage to "exotic" locations, though -- shared unfamiliarity. If it's new for everybody, then everybody is learning at the same time. It gives you something in common. Having said that, though, I've had discussions with the team I'm on where a lot of people would love to get together in a relatively boring place where the only thing we could do is code together. That has a lot of advantages too and I'd be surprised if you couldn't get some backing from other teammates to try it at least once.
And yes, boring but neutral (non-exotic, non-expensive) locations seem like a reasonable ideal for a business trip - that's essentially what I'm advocating. They can also be unfamiliar to all, if you think that helps - it doesn't have to be the Bahamas to not be somebody's home turf.
But there are, as I've explained, good reasons for it to be something other than the (expensive, particular-lifestyle-centric) glamor most tech companies push - larger reasons than the neutral ground piece. It alienates more than it includes, and burns money (sure not yours, but you'd rather your company be prudent, or at least let you spend money on things you want) and carbon to boot.
Also, I'm not vilifying all exotic travel - just the habit of entangling it with work, as it becomes a heavily asymmetric perk and a significant cultural filter/selector (for a certain sort of "living life" crowd - again, not bad people, but not the only sort of people in the world). I'm all for places giving vacation time, and paying well enough for employees to pursue their interests, be that the Bahamas or rare book collection or anything in between.
Blind people can be productive members of a team without ever being able to do that. And yes, there have been productive teams made primarily or even entirely of blind people.
If you want to argue instead that it's important to put either a face or a voice to a person, well, I think deaf-blind people would argue with that, though I don't know much at all about that community.
I don't know any reason that working remotely would correlate to health/social issues. Is this a known statistic from somewhere? The social thing perhaps correlates to working (remotely or not) in a software field, but I'm not sure why remote workers would be statistically any different than non-remote workers. (I happen to be a remote worker)
When I used to work from office my day looked more or less like this:
a) WALKING to the car/public transport,
b) sitting at a desk, meetings, multiple small breaks for lunches, chats etc.,
c) again some moving, coming back home,
d) SITTING AT DIFFERENT CHAIR WITH DIFFERENT DESK AND DIFFERENT PERIPHERALS AT HOME.
a) waking up,
b) no one forces me to take breaks,
c) I do not change peripherals twice a day, so before I was using two different keyboards and two different mouses and two different setups daily, now I'm using the same mouse and the same keyboard and the same everything in work and after work, this leads to RSI and after 8 years I'm facing carpal tunnel syndrome in near future, also changing chair even to a shitty one for a while is apparently much better for your body than sitting in Herman Miller ALL THE TIME (I have standing desk too BTW).
Neither is a guarantee but it’s a reasonably safe bet.
I love the idea of an annual face to face event, but none of the benefits I want from it are work related. They are opportunities to build friendships and have some fun with people I wouldn't mind knowing better.
Which I would argue is very clearly a benefit to your ability to work together. My team off-sites certainly include formal information exchanges, but we specifically try not to spend too much time of things that could be equally well communicated via email or video conference.
The yearly meetings I can see appealing to a certain type of employee but for the older employee with a family it is not that appealing.