If your group is looking for innovative offerings and activities, these properties and destinations in the Western U.S. offer new ways to engage and wow attendees.
The Broadmoor may have been around for more than 100 years, but it continues to reinvent itself to meet the needs of today’s group events—and has the long-standing Forbes five-star, AAA five-diamond rankings to prove its commitment to adhering to both excellence and innovation. The sprawling Mediterranean Revival-style resort’s 784 guest rooms, suites, cottages, brownstones and Estate House, spread among the property’s five main buildings surrounding Lake Cheyenne, have accommodations to fit every taste and style. And its 18 restaurants have something for every taste as well. It even has its own convention center with more than 200,000 sf of flexible meeting and convention space, part of The Broadmoor’s 315,000-plus sf of flexible, functional and stylish event and meeting spaces for groups of all sizes.
As Pierre Stone, director of conferences and catering at The Broadmoor, says, “There’s something for everybody. No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, we can help you accomplish it, from aligning with goals to providing a sense of adventure and recreation.” For group events, the property offers everything from fly-fishing to falconry, souring and rock climbing to whitewater rafting, and the Spa at The Broadmoor is renowned for its innovative services and integrated approach to health and wellness. The Broadmoor Golf Club includes two iconic courses that have hosted the U.S. Women’s Open and the PGA Cup Matches, among other tournaments.
But it’s another kind of tournament that is catching fire right now, says Stone. “One of our most popular group activities right now is our pickleball tournaments. It’s competitive, it’s fun, and it brings the entire team together.” Groups can hold their tournaments at the property’s three dedicated pickleball courts—and there are four certified pickleball instructors to help newbies.
The Broadmoor is planning to update and refresh much of its spaces at the end of 2023 and into 2024, including some restaurants and meeting spaces, though details weren’t available at press time. “We’re constantly thinking about how we can keep our guests engaged in all areas of the property,” says Stone.
Fans of the late musician/Margaritaville creator Jimmy Buffett are saying “fins up” to the Margaritaville Resort Lake Tahoe, slated to open in late 2023 after a multimillion-dollar, top-to-bottom renovation and rebranding. Nestled at the base of Tahoe’s Heavenly Mountain Resort in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the 399-room, all-suite resort, operating as the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel until the grand reopening, will feature two conference rooms and six conference suites, totaling over 14,000 sf of indoor and outdoor events and meetings.
“We’re so excited to share this iconic brand with one of the premier year-round adventure and ski destinations in the United States,” said Steve Contos, executive VP of Davidson Resorts, which will manage the rebranded resort. “With the property’s opening, we invite travelers to experience the escapism of Margaritaville in a whole new setting.”
There is escapism aplenty to be had at the resort, which is surrounded by world-class skiing, boating, hiking and fishing. There also is easy access to Heavenly Mountain—perfect for groups looking to get some fresh air and face time with their teams. For groups that would rather hang loose, there’s an indoor-outdoor heated pool and live music at LandShark Bar & Grill, as well as the License to Chill lobby bar.
“Portland has long been a change agent and champion of innovation. It’s present in our continued commitment to sustainability, anchored by the LEED Certified Oregon Convention Center (OCC), and our revamped Portland International Airport,” says Desiree Everett, VP of convention sales at Travel Portland.
The city’s dedication to innovation also is showcased “through the on-going initiatives dedicated to creating equitable and accessible experiences to meet the needs of incoming attendees and visitors. And through our diverse and ever-evolving culinary scene where up-and-coming talent meets trailblazing chefs and restaurateurs who are receiving national recognition, from the James Beard Awards to The New York Times. We’re proud to be a part of a community that not only welcomes innovation but leads it,” says Everett.
A quarter of the convention center’s energy is produced by solar power produced by one of the largest solar arrays on a U.S. convention center. In addition to programs to reduce waste, conserve water, improve air quality and commit to sustainable purchasing practices, the center is piloting a reusable container program with Bold Reuse to significantly decrease waste. In addition to accessible routes and wheelchair lifts, private nursing suites and Assistive Listening Systems, the OCC also has introduced KultureCity Sensory Bags to better serve guests with sensory needs.
Groups can curate creative, one-of-a-kind culinary experiences at the city’s array of dining concepts. For example, you can plan a dine-around of global cuisine at Portland’s famed Food Cart Pods or explore having mobile carts available for on-the-go dining options. Travel Portland also can create experiential concepts like the mini My People’s Market, where attendees can directly engage with BIPOC entrepreneurs and local makers, artists and purveyors, as well as shop at this distinctive and immersive marketplace.
One major piece of lodging news is the debut of The Ritz-Carlton, Portland, set to open this fall. It’s the first Ritz-Carlton to open in the Pacific Northwest, and the first luxury hotel property of its kind in Portland. The meetings and event space will span more than 17,900 sf.
With two convention center buildings located in a compact and walkable downtown core, “It is easy for attendees to experience what makes our city special—strolls along the Waterfront, experiencing our creative and welcoming community spirit at the iconic Pike Place Market, learning about our history of innovation at the Space Needle—all of this and more is just steps or a 2-minute monorail ride away from the Seattle Convention Center,” says Kelly Saling, sr. VP and chief sales officer at Visit Seattle. “Combine this with increased air lift at SEA Airport, an easily navigable light rail, and an extensive system of water taxis, ferries, float planes and city transit, we make it known that Seattle means business, but we encourage exploration.”
Seattle Convention Center’s newly opened Summit building, which nearly doubles the Center’s hosting capacity, prioritizes pre-function space on each of its six levels to foster the networking attendees are craving post-pandemic. This includes The Hillclimb, one of the Summit building’s signature architectural elements, which incorporates built-in bench seating alongside stairs and escalators where attendees can network and recharge between sessions. Summit is on track to be certified LEED Gold with the ultimate goal of LEED Platinum certification.
An ongoing initiative for Saling’s team is to build a virtual tour database with Threshold 360 to help them source just the right spaces for their needs, including virtual tours of the Seattle Convention Center as well as area hotels, restaurants and attractions.
Among the ways groups can experience local flavors include float plane tours, kayaking with views of the Olympic Mountains, glass art sessions and cooking classes at Pike Place Market. “We’re also able to enhance these experiences by incorporating interactive moments such as local trivia and destination-themed bingo to help boost the sense of place that meetings in our city enjoy,” says Saling.
“When you meet in Seattle, you will know you’ve been here.”
broadmoor.com/meetings-events; margaritavilleresorts.com/meetings-celebrations; travelportland.com/meetings; visitseattle.org/meeting-professionals