While often it’s the off-site venue that really captures the essence of the destination and provides a special fillip to the meeting agenda, that doesn’t need to be the case. Increasingly, hotels are creating venues of their own that seem a world away from the typical ballroom or function area.
Nowhere is this truer than in Northern California, where many hotels and resorts feature event areas where the ambience and food and beverage experiences rival anyplace off-site. Here are a few to consider.
Built in tiers on a Sausalito hillside, the Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa recently unveiled a whole new dimension to the boutique property that includes the Mansion, a renovated 11-room former residence dating from 1885, and adjacent meeting space with sweeping views that take in San Francisco Bay, the Bay Bridge and the San Francisco skyline.
The crown jewel of the new space is the Alexandrite Suite, which includes a nine-panel media wall, living area with fireplace, gourmet kitchen, dining table for 10 and a two-level terrace with lounge seating, an outdoor bar and a fire pit. Also new is Junto, a 1,700-square-foot boardroom with panoramic views, a media wall and an adjoining deck. The hotel is offering packages that enable groups to book the Mansion, adjacent hillside cottages and the new meeting spaces.
“With the Alexandrite Suite and Junto, groups can do a business presentation during the day and then enjoy an evening with a real ‘wow’ factor,” says General Manager Sietse Nabben. “The chef can come in and prepare a special dinner right in the suite and then people can enjoy the twinkling lights around the bay with evening cocktails on the terrace.”
In downtown Healdsburg, the Hotel Healdsburg captures the essence of the surrounding wine country with event spaces that include the Carriage House, a room with a vaulted ceiling, exposed beams and a barn-style door that opens onto a lawn; the Grange Hall, which has a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows and plantation shutters; the Wine Library, an intimate room lined with bottles of rare wines; and the Screen Porch, a private dining room with chandeliers made of wine bottles.
A major draw for meetings is that catering is provided by Dry Creek Kitchen, the hotel’s acclaimed restaurant owned by Chef Charlie Palmer, says Jason Farmer, director of sales.