Northern California Boasts Strong Event Offerings

The Bay Area and beyond offer a wealth of meetings offerings

Diablo Valley

Levi's Stadium
The new home of the San Francisco 49ers isn't far from San Francisco's city limits. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley in Santa Clara, CA, the stadium has more than 110,000 square feet of event space, and will host Super Bowl 50 in 2016.

Sir Francis Drake Hotel
This 416-room historic Kimpton property is steps from the Moscone Convention Center and offers more than 17,000 square feet of meeting space. It recently underwent a $10-million renovation, which was completed in 2013.

The Masonic
Following a multimillion-dollar renovation, this music venue at the top of the city's historic Nob Hill reopened last month with a brand-new stage and state-of-the-art sound system. There's also a VIP room for up to 300 guests with views of the city and the bay, as well as luxury VIP boxes. The concert hall can hold up to 3,300.

Northern California has welcomed a variety of new attractions, venues, and renovations this year. From major urban centers like San Francisco to the natural surroundings of Diablo Valley and Napa Valley, the opportunities for meeting groups are expanding fast.

San Francisco
The City by the Bay has seen a number of new hotels and event spaces (see sidebar), as well as major renovations, in recent months.

Last month, the city opened the new James R. Herman Cruise Terminal at Pier 27. Formerly used as a venue for the America's Cup Village in 2013, it is located next to a new 2.5-acre public park and can accommodate ships that carry as many as 5,000 passengers. When it's not being used as a cruise terminal, it can also serve as a special-event space.

In May, the city saw the opening of two new luxury boutique hotels, both of which are renovations of historic properties. The first, The Scarlet Huntington on Nob Hill, is a $15-million renovation of the city's iconic Huntington Hotel and was opened by Singapore-based hospitality group Grace International. The hotel has a total of 134 rooms, 30 of which are suites. The property also offers a variety of small meeting rooms. The second property, the 153-room Hotel G, opened in Union Square, not far from the Moscone Center, after a two-year renovation of The Fielding Hotel, which originally opened in 1909.

Not far from Hotel G, The Westin St. Francis, a Union Square landmark and often called the "Grand Dame" of San Francisco, turned 110 this year. It just completed a $20-million renovation of its 569-room, 32-story Tower Building in late April. In total, the hotel has 1,195 rooms and 56,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space.

North of Union Square, The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco is in the final stages of renovations for its ballroom, conference room, and boardroom. The spaces, which encompass more than 23,000 square feet, are being reimagined for a more modern and contemporary style. The neoclassical hotel, originally built in 1909, has a total of 336 rooms.

Diablo Valley
Approximately 40 miles northeast of San Francisco, and a short drive or BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) ride from the San Francisco and Oakland airports, the region of Diablo Valley, concentrated in the city of Concord, is also working hard to attract MICE groups. In May, the region launched a new tourism branding and marketing initiative, and last month the Diablo Valley Tourism Business Improvement District debuted a new incentive program for meeting planners.

Through Dec. 30, meeting planners can receive gifts for contacting the Diablo Valley Tourism Business Improvement District and informing them of their potential meeting plans. Those who reserve a room block or meeting space valued at $2,500 or more will be placed in a Book With Benefits program where they can choose from three different types of gifts, valued at $250 each.

"Diablo Valley is completely refreshed," said Matt Hohenstreet, a Diablo Valley board member. "Meeting and event planners are realizing they can get a lot more value here, with the infrastructure that can support a major conference along with the beauty and spirit of California that their clients love."

Varies by city, county


Pinnacle Awards Go To:

Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Napa Valley Destination Council
San Francisco Travel Association
San Jose Convention & Visitors Bureau
Hotel Nikko San Francisco
Hyatt Regency San Francisco
The Meritage Resort & Spa
Parc 55 Wyndham-Union Square

Wine Country
Although Napa Valley suffered a 6.1-magnitude earthquake in August that did some damage to local businesses, the city renowned for its wines is back up and running, with more than 90 percent of all businesses are currently operating.

In nearby Sonoma, luxury boutique hotel Farmhouse Inn has completed an $8-million renovation. The intimate 25-room property, which caters to executive retreats and small meetings, added a total of nine new Barn Room guest rooms and updated its Spa at Farmhouse. It also boasts a restaurant that sources ingredients from the nearby Bartolomei Ranch. The property was ranked 28th in Travel + Leisure's 2014 World's Best Hotel Awards. 

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This article appears in the October 2014 issue of Successful Meetings.