The Pacific Northwest's Rich Offerings

Whether intimate or expansive, Seattle and Portland offer memorable venues for groups

Portland night sky stock

(Pictured) Portland is growing its meetings offerings throughout the city

Kimpton Hotel Monaco Portland, in Portland, OR, boasts extensive accommodations for visiting groups. This includes 8,000 square feet of flexible meeting space with full multimedia and A/V support, catering from the Northwest-inspired Red Star Tavern (including microbrews and a variety of small plates), and even an in-room tiki bar available for small groups looking to get a fun start to the evening.

But its latest addition -- a "Quiet Room" -- can appeal to visitors in a whole new way. This 100-square-foot space is aimed at business travelers looking to take a moment out of a busy day of meetings to meditate, brainstorm, or even roll out a yoga mat (guests can book for 30 minutes at a time from the front desk).

"The idea for a Quiet Room started when we realized that the needs of all meeting goers weren't being met by an available guest room, event space, or business center when they required a moment of privacy," says General Manager Robert Hannigan. "There was a small amount of square footage to work with, but our team put a lot of thought into the layout …Feedback so far has been phenomenal."

Thoughtful, quirky, and memorable -- those traits describe the Quiet Room, and also encapsulate the Pacific Northwest and its events offerings more generally. With a significant amount of exciting developments, it's a better time than ever to visit the cities of Portland and Seattle.

Take, for example, Sentinel, a hotel that offers what it touts as "Thought Provoking Meetings" in its 23,000 square feet of event space, including art-infused meeting rooms and the striking Governor Ballroom. Its parent organization, Provenance Hotels, recently launched a new set of services for guests with pets, including high-quality pet food at the property and a souvenir dog tag -- very quirky and very Portland.

There are currently 15 hotel projects in the works in Portland, which together will add 3,000 new rooms to the city. The biggest of these is the Hyatt Regency Portland at the Oregon Convention Center, which will be breaking ground this summer with an expected completion of late fall 2019.

Washington State Convention Center (415,000 sf); Oregon Convention Center (255,000 sf exhibit space)

Seattle: 15.6 percent
Portland: 11.5 percent

READERS Recommend

 Hotel Andra (Seattle)
 Hotel Five (Seattle)
 The Edgewater Hotel (Seattle)
The Historic Davenport Hotel (Spokane, WA)
 Tulalip Resort Casino & Spa (Tulalip, WA)

Seattle Excites

Less than 200 miles north of Portland, Seattle is undergoing major updates as well -- getting its largest hotel, among other things. The new Hyatt Regency, planned for completion in mid 2018, will serve as the headquarters hotel for Washington State Convention Center (WSCC), with 1,260 guest rooms over its 45 stories. The property will have a wealth of meeting space of its own, with more than 100,000 square feet of flexible meeting and ballroom space and an additional 30,000 square feet of restaurants, lounges, and more.

But while the new Hyatt Regency is the largest news at the moment, it's hardly the only. Last June saw the opening of the 158-room Thompson Seattle, part of a 12-story mixed-use development near the famed Pike Place Market. The historic Fairmont Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle wrapped up a $25 million renovation of all 450 guest rooms in July 2016.

This July, the SLS Seattle will open, and soon after, its adjacent meeting venue, The Sanctuary, will open its doors. The 100-year-old church will offer a striking event space for visiting groups. The month before, the 347-room Hyatt Regency Lake Washington is expected to open its doors, offering 43,000 square feet of meeting space as well as Jacuzzi spa and swimming pool.

"Seattle is such a dynamic and walkable city," says Kelly Saling, director of convention sales for Visit Seattle. "We have world-class hotels, incredible restaurants, amazing shopping, as well as cultural gems and world-class arts institutions in our compact downtown core -- and all within easy walking distance of the Washington State Convention Center."

She points to the range of experiences visitors can enjoy, such as getting out on the water, experiencing local music, or taking a day trip to the mountains or San Juan Islands. Not to mention the number of Fortune 500 companies (Amazon, Costco, Microsoft, Starbucks) and start-ups headquartered in the city, helping enrich the experience of visiting corporate groups.

The WSCC continues to keep a step ahead of group demands. Currently it is exploring the feasibility of an additional convention facility at the Metro Transit station (one block from the existing facility), with an eye toward attracting even larger national conventions. If all goes well, this project (expected to add 250,000 square feet of exhibition space over two levels as well as 120,000 square feet of meeting rooms) could be under way early this year.  

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This article appears in the January 2017 issue of Successful Meetings.