Food & Beverage column: A Private Affair

When Judy Metzger, executive assistant at Comcast Cable in Redmond, WA, tried to book her small executive-level meeting at Canada's Four Seasons Resort, Whistler, she found that the resort's boardroom, where her group had met the previous year, was unavailable. As an alternative, she booked her meeting—which was to include an afternoon wine and appetizer reception as well as a full breakfast the following day—at one of the property's private residences. Because each residence includes a private kitchen and dining area as well as a living room (and, of course, bedrooms), the possibilities for meal-based meetings were interesting.

"There were chefs working in the kitchen who departed just as the meeting began and then circled back periodically to check on quantities and temperatures," Metzger says. She worked with the catering department to select the menu. The meeting commenced in the afternoon with heavy appetizers, wine, and other beverages and concluded the following morning with a full, hearty American breakfast that included bacon, eggs, sausage, fried potatoes, baked goods, fruit, juices, and coffee. "It was pretty comprehensive," Metzger says. And convenient: "The dining area had a table large enough for all 12 [attendees] right off of a nice kitchen area, and the buffet they'd set up was right there. So it was very handy. They could get up and get something to eat without having to leave the meeting."

And the setting, Metzger says, was spectacular. "It was fabulous," she says, adding that those in the meeting reported that "they liked it better than the boardroom, because there were more places to have breakaway conversations."

The property's director of catering, P.J. Elliot, says that since the residences opened in June 2005, they have become very popular among those planning small meetings. "We can utilize the kitchens for so many things," she says. The chef and servers can operate completely unobtrusively, as they did for the Comcast meeting, and quietly set up and maintain buffet service. "Or, we can have dinners that are interactive, where the guests are in the kitchen cooking with the chef and learning about the local ingredients and wine pairing. Then, they all sit down, and the chef introduces each course as it is served."

In addition to the rental fee on the private residences, meals there are based off the resort's banquet menu, plus an additional fee of $150 per hour per chef, with a four-hour minimum. There is no additional cost for the servers.

Room Service
Four Seasons Resort, Whistler

Private Residences: two to four bedrooms

Cost: Unit rental, plus food from banquet menu, plus $150 per hour per chef, with a four-hour minimum

For more ideas, tips, and tools for better meetings and events, get Successful Meetings' weekly e-newsletter to your inbox