Cheryl Kilday has more than 25 years experience in the tourism industry including a background in hotels, conventions, meeting planning, and event management and has been an association executive for more than 20 years. She returned to the Northwest to join Visit Spokane in 2010 after living in the Washington, D.C. region for several years. Kilday currently serves as the chair of the Washington Tourism Alliance, Washington's statewide tourism organization that replaced Washington's government run tourism office and is active in state, regional, and national tourism related organizations.
Successful Meetings chatted with her for a few minutes about what's new in Spokane and what meeting groups should be sure to see when they visit.
What's new in Spokane for meetings?
We have two new features for groups: a recently expanded convention center and The Davenport Grand. Our Spokane Convention Center is now at 500,000 square feet, and includes a 120,000-square-foot exhibit hall, three ballrooms, and 40 breakout rooms. The Davenport Grand is connected to the convention center by skybridge and features 716 rooms, plus 63,000 square feet of meeting space. With these additions, we have even more space for meetings and convention groups than we did before.
What's a "hidden gem" for visiting groups?
One spot that's somewhat off the beaten path for groups is Arbor Crest Wine Cellars. It's a short 20-minute drive from downtown Spokane, and is located at the historic Cliff House Estate. As you can guess from the name "Cliff House," the estate is literally perched on a cliff and overlooks the entire Spokane region. The estate itself is also unique, as it was formerly home to an eccentric inventor (you can still find some of his inventions scattered throughout the property). It's great for groups as there is a ton of meeting space, catering is provided and, of course, there's wine.
What's a good outing to get a sense of local culture or history?
A great way to get a sense of the culture and history of Spokane is through our Sculpture Walk. It's a free, self-guided tour that is located in downtown Spokane, so it's very accessible for meeting attendees. The sculptures are beautiful, unique, and they each represent a part of Spokane's history.
Where should a group go to get a truly local culinary experience?
We have a fantastic culinary scene, so it's hard to pick just one spot. One area that locals and visitors alike are drawn to is Kendall Yards. It's just a few blocks west of downtown, and features a handful of restaurants, all of which take pride in serving fantastic meals sourced from local ingredients. One spot I really like is The Wandering Table. The chef-owner, Adam Hegsted, was just nominated for a James Beard Award, Best Chef in the Northwest. They offer a more adventurous option where you can choose the price you want to pay, and you'll be served a series of small-courses, chosen by the chef.
Anything else that makes Spokane a great destination for groups?
It may sound cliché to say this, but Spokane truly has everything. Our convention center is in the heart of downtown and is surrounded by restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues. And not just any ol' restaurant, shop, or entertainment space -- really great places that make the trip memorable. We have all of the amenities of a larger city, but with no traffic, no hassle, and a lot of scenic beauty. Once people get here, they're hooked and can't wait to come back.