• 2012 Reader's Choice Best of Awards Winners

    2012 Reader's Choice Best Of Award Winners!
     
    POSTED June 22, 2012
     

From an ancient glacier to quirky historic venues, this year’s winners and nominees embody the best of the Northwest. In our industry, relationships are everything, particularly when it comes to planners and suppliers. Planners count on suppliers to come through in a pinch, provide reliable service and seamlessly execute their visions for their events.

In this, our second annual Readers’ Choice Best Of Awards, hundreds of industry professionals in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, British Columbia and Alaska have voted for their top picks for venues, attractions and suppliers. These are the vendors and venues who have built their reputations on their exceptional relationships with their clients-you, the planners!

BEST OF ALASKA
Best Attraction

Mendenhall Glacier

Alaska’s best attraction is an ancient, breathtaking work of nature located just a few miles from the capital city of Juneau. Mendenhall Glacier is one of 38 enormous glaciers occupying the Juneau Icefield, and is home to native wildlife like beavers, snowshoe hares and short-tailed weasels. The visitor center hosts more than 400,000 people a year and appeals to both nature and history lovers with exhibits and a paved trail to the glacier overlook.
Juneau
Runners up: Denali National Park, Glacier Bay Whale Watching

Best Convention Venue
The Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center

A runner-up last year, the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center nabs the "Best Convention Venue" in Alaska title for 2012, thanks to its prime location (downtown Anchorage), meeting space (nearly 200,000 square feet), state-of-the-art facilities (LCD signage and digital screens to control temperature and lighting) and magnificent views. Space ranges from the center’s unique 50,000-square-foot Idlughet Hall, the largest room of its kind in the state, to the intimate meeting rooms proudly displaying native artwork.
Anchorage
Runners up : Centennial Hall Convention Center, Egan Center

Best Hotel with Meeting & Event Space-more than 400 rooms
Captain Cook
Two years in a row the Captain Cook has claimed the "Best Hotel (more than 400 rooms)" award. While the venue’s offerings are impressive-547 luxurious rooms, stunning views of the Cook Inlet and Chugach Mountains, 14 meeting rooms (some with cozy fireplaces), a 9,000-square-foot ballroom, and award-winning cuisine-readers most often praised Captain Cook’s employees. "I love the staff," says Neal Forde of Stabbert Maritime. "Professionals that have been there for years. They treat every guest like they belong."
Anchorage
Runner up : Hilton Anchorage

Best Hotel with Meeting & Event Space-less than 400 rooms
Westmark Baranof
The Westmark Baranof goes out of its way to make guests feel at home. The second-time winner offers more than 5,000 square feet of meeting space for up to 220 attendees, not to mention gourmet and authentic Alaskan dining, access to popular attractions and spaces adorned with original artwork.
Juneau
Runners up : Westmark Anchorage Hotel, The Hotel Alyeska

Best Resort
Alyeska Resort

Alyeska Resort draws guests from all over the world thanks to its 1,400 skiable acres and comfortable accommodations. Alyeska is the "premier ski resort in Alaska," says Laurie Walker of the Hilton Vancouver Washington. Event planners love wowing guests with the built-in entertainment of the resort, such as nature hikes and dog-sled tours. The resort’s planning team is dedicated to making sure groups can also be productive, utilizing 9,000 square feet of meeting space and 15,000 square feet of special events space.
Girdwood
Runner up : Denali Park Resorts

BEST OF IDAHO
Best Attraction

Lake Coeur d’Alene

With more than 100 miles of shoreline, Lake Coeur d’Alene offers a wide spectrum of exhilarating or relaxing experiences. The lake has several popular beaches, nature preserves, the world’s longest floating boardwalk (at The Coeur d’Alene Resort), kayaking, parasailing, horseback riding and whitewater rafting. Of course, no description of the lake would be complete without mention of the world-famous floating green of The Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course, a staple on "best" lists from national golf magazines like Golf Digest.
Coeur d’Alene
Runners up : Sun Valley,Silverwood Theme Park

Best Convention Venue
Boise Centre

The Boise Centre "offers the feel of a first-rate convention center while being located in the heart of the downtown Boise area," says Tara Thomas, national sales coordinator for The Dussin Group. Its location offers "so many choices of activities," adds Thomas. In addition to its prime setting, the Boise Centre is fully equipped with 50,000 square feet of event space to host more than 20,000 guests and 300 events yearly while utilizing energy-saving procedures like a composting program with local co-op farms.
Boise
Runners up : Hagadone Event Center, Sun Valley Resort

Best Resort
Coeur d’Alene Resort

The four-star Coeur d’Alene Resort’s enviable location on Lake Coeur d’Alene and its infamous floating green, along with luxurious accommodations, an infinity edge swimming pool, "world’s most romantic spa" (according to MSNBC) and unparalleled service make it the go-to pick for planners and vacationers alike. Amy Cabe, convention services manager for Visit Spokane, lauds the resort’s "wonderful food, outstanding views and easy proximity to recreation."
Coeur d’Alene
Runner up : Sun Valley

Best Hotel with Meeting & Event Space-less than 400 rooms
Coeur d’Alene Resort

In addition to winning Best Resort in Idaho, the Coeur d’Alene Resort’s amenities and 32,000 square feet of meeting space earned it a win in this category as well. A dedicated catering kitchen, summer and winter activities for attendees, award-winning golf course and on-the-water activities like chartered boats earn praise from our readers.
Coeur d’Alene
Runners up : The Grove, Hampton Inn Pocatello

 

BEST OF WASHINGTON
Best Attraction

Pike Place Market

Called "The Soul of Seattle," the Pike Place Market first opened for business in 1907 and is a historical, cultural and sensory experience. The market features restaurants, clothing stores, galleries, crafts and gifts, and, of course, fresh fish. "Pike Place Market is a free gathering place that showcases some of the best the state has to offer in fresh produce, seafood, flowers, art, music and culture," says Shelly Tolo of TOLO Events. "It is always an experience to go there-you can’t beat the view-and the fish throwers are always good for a laugh!"
Seattle
Runners up : Space Needle, Mt. Rainier

Best A/V Provider
Blue Danube

Blue Danube offers much more than simple audio-visual services: Lighting, editing, projection, stage design, venue selection and more make this a staple in planners’ contact lists. "[Principal] Niki McKay and her team help us come up with creative solutions for meeting a client’s vision and staying within budget," says Vyanessa Stephan of Lisa Dupar Catering. "Since we are not experts in lighting and A/V, it is important to have a trusted vendor who is able to make smart suggestions." Nonprofit Marketing Manager Cami Keyes also singled out McKay: "Niki and the staff at Blue Danube always start with your goals for an event and build out…I never worry when they are managing things."
Seattle
Runners up : PSAV, Adam’s DJ Service, AVMS

Best Boat Charters
Argosy Cruises

Argosy Cruises is a company that prides itself on flexibility; they promise that clients "cruise when you want, where you want," and groups of any size are welcomed. Themed events are always popular, although the view of Seattle’s waterfront may be all you need to entertain your group. Coordination of catering, transportation, photography and décor is available and bartenders are included in the rental fee. Dave Vaught, project manager for PNTA, praises Argosy’s "comfortable, well-appointed boats" and "fun and friendly staff."
Seattle
Runners up : Waterways Cruises, Destiny Harbor Tours

Best Catering Company
Lisa Dupar Catering

From sourcing to preparation and presentation to clean up, Lisa Dupar Catering walks the walk of eco-conscious, thoughtful and delicious food. The 14,000-square-foot catering kitchen supports the more than 1,600 yearly events Lisa Dupar serves, and the company goes out of its way to support local farmers and distributors. Certified organic and seasonal fare is served whenever possible, and no preservatives, chemicals, or trans fats are used in the cooking. "The team at Lisa Dupar Catering is fabulous," says Cherie Ronning, Owner of Portland Wedding Lounge. "Their food is divine, their service is impeccable and their sales staff is so accommodating and friendly. It is delightful to work with a company that has such an attention to detail and offers such a delight to the palate."
Redmond
Runners up : Foodz Catering, Ingallina’s Box Lunch

Best Convention Venue
Washington State Convention Center

The Washington State Convention Center is the "best space for trade shows," says Holly Martinez, owner of HM Events.
"It has flexible layouts, expansive space, along with courteous and professional staff." The center’s downtown Seattle location and on-site parking are time-saving and convenient features, and the enormous space (205,700 square feet of exhibit space, plus ballrooms and 61 meeting rooms) allow it to accommodate the largest of groups. Plus there’s no need to feel guilty about the carbon footprint generated: Energy-saving measures such as customizable lighting and temperature controls are employed.
Seattle
Runners up : Lynnwood Convention Center, Bell Harbor International Conference Center

Best Florist/Event Décor Provider
PJ Hummel & Company

Having won Best Rental Service Provider in Washington last year, PJ Hummel’s loyal customers have voted it "Best Florist/Event Décor Provider" this year. With a 15,000-square-foot warehouse, the company has hybrid supplier/planner capabilities, and is dedicated to its clients’ goals and fulfilling its values of integrity, honesty, openness and personal excellence with every client.
Tacoma
Runners up : Aria Style, Rented Elegance

Best Green Venue
Hilton Vancouver

For business clients, the Hilton Vancouver is located minutes from the airport and has a full-service business center and high-speed wireless Internet. For leisure guests, the hotel has 226 guestrooms and 10 suites, as well as fitness and pool facilities. For planners, the venue’s audio-visual team and 30,000 square feet of space are draws. And for eco-conscious guests, complimentary parking for hybrid vehicles and automatic energy-saving features throughout the hotel are implemented.
Vancouver
Runners up : Hyatt at Olive 8, The Davenport Hotel and Tower

Best Historic Venue
The Davenport Hotel and Tower

The Davenport Hotel and Tower (circa 1914) provides more than 600 guest rooms and 33,000 square feet of event space, and is LEED Gold-certified. "Spokane is exceedingly fortunate to have The Davenport Hotel as a meeting place for locals and visitors alike," says Cabe. "Rich in history and with a unique opulence, this hotel is a popular stop on tours and a great place for special events." Ruthmarie Zimmerman of the Tacoma Lutheran Retirement Community Foundation adds that the hotel is "full of history and beauty, filled with days of elegance and grandeur."
Spokane
Runners up : Space Needle, Paramount Theater

Best Hotel with Meeting & Event Space-MORE than 400 rooms
Sheraton Seattle

The 1,258-room Sheraton Seattle offers 44 meeting rooms-most with natural light-the largest of which is more than 18,000 square feet. "The Seattle Sheraton sets the standard for event and meeting experiences in downtown Seattle," says Function Inc. Account Executive Rachel Hall. "Knowing the volume of events they host each year, I am continually impressed with the quality of service their staff is able to provide year-over year. Speaking from years of experience partnering with this venue, not only is the Sheraton an excellent place to attend an event, it is also an excellent place to produce an event."
Seattle
Runners up : The Davenport Hotel and Tower, Hyatt Regency Bellevue

Best Hotel with Meeting & Event Space-less than 400 rooms
Tulalip Resort Casino

Tulalip Resort Casino offers an enormous gaming floor, full-service spa, 24-hour fitness center, 450-seat area with stage, 30,000 square feet of meeting space, the largest ballroom north of Seattle and full catering service. Add to that 370 well appointed guest rooms and a diverse range of non-gaming recreational activities.
Tulalip
Runners up : Hilton Vancouver,Maxwell Hotel

Best Rental Service
Grand Event Rentals

A mutually beneficial relationship forms between a company focused on serving its clients instead of its own bottom line: Those clients return again and again, and everyone walks away happy. Grand Event Rentals is proud of its reputation for customer service and long-standing professional partnerships, and displays its promise to provide a list of "friends" (references) for any potential client. Clearly, our readers count Grand Event Rentals as a friend as well.
Bellevue
Runners up : Pedersen’s Event Rentals, AA Party Rentals

Best Resort
Tulalip Resort Casino

It’s difficult to beat what Tulalip Resort offers. It is the state’s only AAA four-diamond casino resort, and boasts a proud native heritage throughout the venue. Just 30 minutes from Seattle, Tulalip features an award-winning sommelier and wine team, dining options that include traditional open fire-pit cooking, and, of course, a gaming floor with something to suit every guest’s preference.
Tulalip
Runners up : Suncadia, Alderbrook

Best Transportation Provider/Valet Services
Butler Valet

"I voted for Butler Valet because they are one of the most dependable and professional vendors I work with," says Tolo. "I know the job is going to be done correctly when I hire them and, most often, Butler Valet goes above and beyond what I expect." Vaught and Stephan both described Butler’s logistics as "seamless," and Stephan adds the company is "always our recommended transportation vendor" to clients.
Seattle
Runners up : British Motor Coach,Red Carpet Valet

 

BEST OF OREGON
Best Attraction
Multnomah Falls

Part of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, the 620-foot-tall Multnomah Falls are "glorious, powerful and stunning," says Darcie LaMotte-Waage, catering sales manager for The Benson Hotel. The waterfall attracts more than two million visitors each year to view one of the most picturesque and fascinating natural sights in North America. "I have passed by this Oregon feature for 30-plus years and never get tired of turning the curve along I-84 and seeing the stunning view," says LaMotte-Waage.
Hood River
Runners up : Oregon Coast, Crater Lake National Park

Best A/V Provider
Greenlight Creative

In real estate, the motto is "location, location, location." In event planning, the motto is "service, service, service." "I voted for Greenlight Creative because [owner] Dwayne Thomas constantly amazes me with his use of light to turn events into a magical space," says Alesia Zorn, owner of Alesia Zorn Calligraphy. "I can honestly say that I feel [Thomas] is the best in Oregon," adds Cherie Ronning, president of Wedding Network USA and the Portland Wedding Lounge. Other voters praised the company’s cutting-edge creativity, professional demeanor, attention to detail, and "true artistry."
Portland
Runners up : PSAV, Allied Video Productions

Best Boat Charters
Portland Spirit
"I voted for the Portland Spirit as the ‘Best Boat Charter’ in Oregon because [Navy veteran and President] Daniel Yates and his team provide not only a cruise, they provide an experience every time I step on one of their vessels," says Midge Dobbs, CMP, director of sales and marketing for North Pacific Management. "It’s one of the best venues in Portland, on land or sea." With capacities ranging from 35 to nearly 500, the vessel options and enthusiastic staff make every excursion "a pleasure," according to Katie Arnold of Elephants Catering.
Portland
Runner up : Willamette Jet Boats

Best Catering Company
Vibrant Table

Catering & Events The team at Vibrant Table has a passion for cuisine. The award winning executive chef and experienced staff create mouthwatering and elegant fare ranging from old-fashioned Americana to modern ethnic. "We’ve worked with Vibrant Table on numerous weddings and they are simply the best," says Amy Nuttman, owner of Blush Bridal Consultation Group. "Not only do they have a fantastic staff, but some of the best cuisine and floral in the Portland area."
Portland
Runners up : Ingallina’s Box Lunch, Crave Catering

Best Convention Venue
Oregon Convention Center

The Northwest is known for being a pioneer in sustainability, and the Oregon Convention Center is no exception. The center was built to be a leading example of green innovation and is a LEED Silver-certified venue. In addition to 255,000 square feet of exhibit space and 50 meeting rooms, readers praised the center’s cleanliness, design, experienced staff (from the top executives to banquet servers) and ability to handle a wide range of group sizes.
Portland
Runners up : Portland Hilton, Salem Conference Center

Best Florist/Event Décor Provider (tie)
Vibrant Table Catering & Events
Customizable, flexible, fresh, local, versatile and reliable are words our readers used to describe Vibrant Table. The always-professional company offers the remarkable ability to synthesize elements of lighting, floral, décor and cuisine. Vibrant Table’s marriage of food, artistry and panache are clearly a hit with local planners.
Portland

Royce’s Prop Shop
With 20,000 square feet of unique inventory, Royce’s Prop Shop is an experienced, detail-driven supplier. "Efficient, creative and innovative are words to describe Royce’s Prop Shop," says LaMotte- Waage. "[I have been] privileged to work with Royce and his team on numerous events. I have never been disappointed and will never be disappointed!" "We truly have a gem right here in our own back yard," agrees Dobbs.
Portland
Runners up : Flowers by Deanna, East West Floral Arts

Best Green Venue
DoubleTree Portland by Hilton

The DoubleTree Portland is the largest hotel within walking distance to the Oregon Convention Center and features a 17,000-square-foot exhibit hall. "I chose the DoubleTree by Hilton as the best Green Venue in Oregon because with them it is a company culture [that] started at the hotel, not a mandate from corporate headquarters," says Sue Moir of the Northwest Environmental Business Council. "They have been innovators in bringing green practices into the hotel world…Their staff- from groundskeepers, maids, kitchen workers, up through management-believe in their mission of living green. It is not just a marketing ploy, but an institutional culture."
Portland
Runners up : Ecotrust, FivePine Lodge

Best Historic Venue
McMenamins

McMenamins operates more than 50 establishments in Oregon and Washington, including unique pubs and hotels such as the Kennedy School, which was named the No. 1 quirkiest hotel in the United States by TripAdvisor. "McMenamins does such a great job of keeping history alive at each of their venues," says Birgitte Simmons, meetings sales coordinator for the Washington County Visitors Association. "They know exactly how to work with groups and they provide a fun and quirky setting for all events."
Portland
Runners up : The Benson Hotel, Timberline Lodge

Best Hotel with Meeting & Event Space-more than 400 rooms
Hilton Portland and Executive Tower

The largest certified green hotel in Portland and the largest hotel in the state, the Hilton Portland and Executive Tower is a sure bet for events. The hotel offers a full-service business center, on-site audio-visual services and 66,000 square feet of meeting space. "The Hilton Portland & Executive Tower has gone through an extensive remodel of their ballroom and meeting space this past year," says Moir. "What was once a meeting space that made you want to ‘escape’ to daylight; it now is inviting and beautiful. Included in the renovation were many fabulous updates that have made the space more energy- and water-efficient."
Portland
Runner up : Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront

Best Hotel with Meeting & Event Space-less than 400 rooms
FivePine Lodge

"I voted for FivePine Lodge because of its casual luxury style," says Michael Paul of The Bulletin. "The staff is gracious and accommodating. The location is superb for inspiring creativity and the lodging is beautiful." FivePine combines a bed-and- breakfast personality with cozy cabins and all the amenities you’d expect at a resort. The Teresa Conference Center-accessed via a wood footbridge-offers 4,800 square feet of indoor space and 4,600 square feet of outdoor creek-side meeting space. "For a small boutique property," continues Paul, "they are the best in the West."
Sisters
Runners up : Embassy Suites Downtown, Red Lion Hotel Portland Convention Center

Best Rental Service in Oregon
Party Place
Party Place has been in business for more than 35 years as a family-owned and operated event rental company. From eye catching to traditional, Party Place helps clients achieve their vision with inventory that is constantly updated. "Simply put, Party Place has great people and products," says Cate Millar of Leftbank Annex. "We love their attitude, creativity and follow-through."
Portland
Runners up : Barclay Event Rentals, Peter Corvallis

Best Resort
Sunriver Resort

Sunriver has been named one of the best resorts for family trips (Travel + Leisure Golf), one of the top 100 resort spas in North America (Condé Nast Traveler) and one of the 75 best golf resorts in North America (Golf Digest). The resort features the Great Hall, "one of the most unique and beautiful meeting facilities in all of the West," according to Travis Fryback of Team Casino Parties & Music. "The staff offers impeccable service."
Sunriver
Runners up : The Allison Inn and Spa, Salishan Spa and Golf Resort

Best Transportation Provider/Valet Services
Raz Transportation
One of the biggest draws for planners choosing Raz Transportation is that the company’s entire fleet runs on bio-diesel. The company is also serious about safety and performance: They conduct all their own maintenance instead of relying on a third party and are certified by the Department of Defense to transport U.S. troops. Amenities include restrooms, DVD players and a 24-hour dispatch operation, plus notable service from staff with more than 25 years of experience.
Portland
Runners up : Blue Star Shuttle, Premiere Valet

 

>> BEST OF BRITISH COLUMBIA

Best Attraction
Whistler Blackcomb

One of Whistler Blackcomb’s key appeals for planners is its all-in-one combo package of attractions, accommodation alternatives and meeting venues. The resort village offers restaurants, shopping, nightlife, pampering spas and recreation like mountain hiking and skiing. "There’s something in Whistler for everyone," says Event Coordinator Michelle Morford of the Everett Clinic in Washington. "Luxurious pampering, endless shopping and great outdoor adventures. In every season, for every lifestyle, for families or singles-Whistler is the place to be."
Whistler
Runners up : Stanley Park, Butchart Gardens

Best Convention Center
Vancouver Convention Centre

Few venues in the area can rival Vancouver Convention Centre’s 466,500 square feet of meeting and event space. Multiple events with separate access can be held simultaneously in the center, which features advanced technology and delicious cuisine options. Floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the center offer natural light, and a living roof, seawater heating and cooling, on-site water treatment, and a foundation that serves as a fish habitat are proof of the venue’s award-winning commitment to sustainability.
Vancouver
Runners up : Whistler Conference Centre, Pan Pacific Vancouver

Best Hotel with Meeting & Event Space-more than 400 rooms
Fairmont Chateau Whistler
The Fairmont Chateau Whistler’s all-inclusive nature as a luxury vacation resort, high-tech business hotel and world-class skiing destination makes it an outstanding venue. At the base of Blackcomb Mountain, the ski-in-ski-out resort features several gourmet and casual restaurants, an 18-hole golf course, heated lap pool with underwater music, and professionally focused meeting and conference facilities.
Whistler
Runners up : Pan Pacific Vancouver, Fairmont Empress Hotel

Best Hotel with Meeting & Event Space-less than 400 rooms
Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel

The second win in this category for the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel is not surprising considering its incredibly convenient location within the Vancouver International Airport (requiring no shuttle service to transport guests). The hotel offers efficient, in-lobby flight check-in, a luxurious spa with more than 130 treatments and unique soundproofing technology to minimize any distractions for events and individual guests by incoming or outgoing flights.
Vancouver
Runners up : Four Seasons Vancouver, Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa

Best Resort
Whistler Blackcomb

Is it an attraction or a resort? When it comes to Northwest Meetings + Events readers, it’s both!
The Whistler Blackcomb resort includes seven areas: Whistler Village, Whistler Creekside, Village North, Blueberry Hill, Nicklaus North, Alpine Meadows and Upper Village. Shopping, dining and entertainment options abound, and the ski resort’s recreational activities aren’t limited to snow sports. Ziptrek ecotours, gondola tours and cultural explorations are available, as well.
Whistler
Runner up : Harrison Hot Springs