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  • 2013 Readers' Choice Best Of Awards Winners

      It’s that time of year again—when industry professionals speak out and share their opinions about the best in the business. It’s our third annual Readers’ Choice Best of Awards, and your colleagues in Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon and Washington have voted for the venues, attractions and suppliers they trust most to get the job done right.

    POSTED June 28, 2013

It’s that time of year again- when industry professionals speak out and share their opinions about the best in the business. It’s our third annual Readers’ Choice Best of Awards, and your colleagues in Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon and Washington have voted for the venues, attractions and suppliers they trust most to get the job done right. And the winners are…

Best of ALASKA

(Photos: NPS Photo/Tim Rains: Westmark Hotel; Sun Valley Resort)

Best Attraction
Denali National Park & Preserve
Runners-up // Mendenhall Glacier, Sitka

This year Denali National Park celebrates two milestones: the 100th anniversary of the first summit of 20,320-foot Mount McKinley and its second time winning this category. So much more than a mountain, the only national park in the U.S. with a sled-dog kennel boasts more than 6 million acres of pristine wilderness where animals roam unfenced in solitude. A visit to Denali is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for executive teams on retreat, as well as private groups. The park is accessible by private plane, train and motor vehicles.

Best Convention Venue
The Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center
Runner -up // Centennial Hall Convention Center

This is Dena’ina’s second win in this category, thanks to its prime downtown location in Anchorage and state-of-the-art facilities that are perfectly suited to handle a wide range of events, from a KPMG meeting to the National Defense Transportation Association Convention to a night out with the Rage City Rollergirls. Clients appreciate both the professionals at Dena’ina and the beauty of the location. "The audio-visual team was outstanding; they acted professional and responded to needs quickly. Of course, the setting you get to look at from any of the elevated floors is fantastic," says Seattle-based Jess Schulte, assistant director of event technology for PSAV Presentation Services.

Best Large Hotel with Meeting & Event Space (more than 200 rooms)
Alyeska Resort
Runner-up // Hotel Captain Cook

Alyeska Resort, one of the nation’s foremost ski destinations, wins its first of two awards in 2013 thanks to its large scale distinction. The resort features 8,700 square feet of dedicated meeting space, plus an additional 15,000 square feet of special event and outdoor space. With world-class business amenities and the inspirational setting of the great outdoors, Alyeska is a terrific choice for business meetings, group events and weddings-and it’s only 45 minutes from the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

Best Small Hotel with Meeting & Event Space (less than 200 rooms)
Westmark Baranof Hotel

A three-time winner in this category, the Westmark Baranof calls itself the "crown jewel of Juneau hotels" and takes pride in its elegant art deco public areas, featuring the artwork of acclaimed Alaskan artists Eustace Ziegler and Sydney Laurence. Only steps from the scenic waterfront and the state capitol, this hotel provides a uniquely upscale Yukon experience for discerning visitors with the dining, catering, lodging and meeting facilities for staging the perfect event.

Best Resort
Alyeska Resort

It is no surprise that Alyeska Resort has won this award three years running. Chalk it up to a spectacular setting in a glacier-carved valley, awe-inspiring views of the snow-covered Chugach Mountains and the kind of steep terrain and deep snowpack avid skiers love. Add other activities like guided ice climbing, glacier dog sledding, flight-seeing, hiking, biking and paragliding-combined with top-notch facilities and a world-class spa for rejuvenation and pampering- and the place is irresistible.


Best of IDAHO

(Photo: Coeur D'Alene)

Best Attraction
Sun Valley Resort
Runners-up // Silverwood Theme Park, Lake Coeur d’Alene

This past March, almost 500 college athletes in the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) came to town to experience big lights, big air and big fun at the USCSA Nationals. One of the highlights: the totally awesome Big Air Contest on Dollar’s epic terrain under the nighttime lights. "Sun Valley Resort’s state-of-the-art meeting spaces and services are surrounded by more recreational opportunities than any other destination resort in the country," says Shannon Besoyan, public relations guru. And if big air isn’t for your group, no worries; there are numerous summer activities including fly-fishing, golf, tennis, hiking, swimming and horseback riding.

Best Convention/Conference Venue
The Coeur d’Alene Resort
Runners-up // Boise Centre, Sun Valley Resort

The Coeur d’Alene Resort was already regarded as one of the finest resorts and conference centers of its kind in the world when the Hagadone Corporation decided to invest millions in remodeling and updating. Now, the lobby, restaurants, cocktail lounge and workout center have been redesigned. A new state-of-the-art event facility was also added at the resort, and it’s a gem. The Hagadone Event Center boasts 11,000 square feet of space, can accommodate 600 guests and includes indoor/outdoor fireplaces, a 57-spot ceiling lighting system and a discretely integrated 73-speaker sound system near the Celebration Garden. With more than 32,000 square feet of total meeting space in 25 rooms throughout the resort, as well as panoramic views of Lake Coeur d’Alene and the resort’s legendary Floating Green, this venue rocks.

Best Large Hotel with Meeting & Event Space (more than 200 rooms)
The Coeur d’Alene Resort
Runner-up // The Grove Hotel

In addition to winning Best Conference Center in Idaho, The Coeur d’Alene Resort’s gracious accommodations earned it a win in this category. Lakefront and lake-view rooms and suites are exquisitely designed to provide guests with an upscale residential feel. Rooms include soundproofing, elevated beds to take the panoramic mountain and lake views, sofas, elegant bathrooms, LCD televisions, reading chairs, CD players and Internet access.

Best Resort
The Coeur d’Alene Resort
Runner-up // Sun Valley Resort

Golfers consistently rank The Coeur d’Alene as one of the top 25 courses in the country, and in April 2012, readers of Condé Nast Traveler named it one of the top five golf courses in the Western United States. The resort’s enviable location on Lake Coeur d’Alene and its famous Floating Green, along with luxurious accommodations, an infinity-edge swimming pool, one of the "world’s most romantic spas" (according to MSNBC), fine dining, the world’s longest floating boardwalk, miles of shoreline, lovely beaches and unparalleled service make it an incredible destination.

Best of OREGON

(Photos: Timberline Lodge; Sunriver Resort; Leftbank Annex)

Best Attraction
Oregon Coast
Runners-up // Mount Hood, Columbia River Gorge

A first-time winner, "The People’s Coast" is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful places on earth, with sweeping ocean views, historic lighthouses, charming villages and miles of scenic highway. "The Oregon Coast is a series of long stretches of sandy beaches interspersed with rugged headlands," says Lucy Gibson, public relations advocate for the Oregon Coast Visitors Association. "These beaches were first protected for public use in 1913, and 100 years later, the 363 miles of Oregon coastline still belong to the people. Only one other state, Hawaii, guarantees public access from the surf to the vegetation line."

Best A/V Provider
Greenlight Creative
Runners-up // Think AV, PSAV

Greenlight Creative wins this category for the third year in a row, as fans rave about both the services and results. The firm, led by Dwayne Thomas, a pioneer in sustainable and low-energy lighting solutions, is well respected for its award-winning designs, cutting-edge creativity and technical expertise. Thomas is passionate about designing the perfect lighting to make events pop. From galas, parties, concerts and weddings to meetings, exhibits and theater, Thomas creates a magical interplay of color, design, pattern and mood unique to each event.

Best Boat Charters
Marine Discovery Tours
Runners-up // Portland Spirit River Cruises, Willamette Jet Boats

A first-time winner, Marine Discovery Tours-endorsed by the Oregon Coast Aquarium-offers narrated ocean and bay cruises for viewing whales and other sea life with naturalist guides on-board Discovery, a 65-foot excursion boat. It is equipped with the latest audio-visual aids including large monitors for viewing microscopic marine life, satellite locator maps and educational nature videos. Departures are from the Historic Bayfront District in Newport.

Best Catering Company
Vibrant Table Catering & Events
Runners-up // Salty’s Waterfront Seafood Grill on the Columbia, Crave Catering

Vibrant Table, a full-service catering and event company, wins this category for the third consecutive year. Readers love creative director Kurt Beadell’s use of venue, décor, floral, food and drink to craft the perfect culinary performance for every event. The company’s acclaimed work has landed some of the most luxurious, hippest and hottest venues in town, including The Treasury and the Portland Art Museum.

Best Convention/Conference Venue
Oregon Convention Center
Runners-up // Salem Convention Center, Wildhorse Resort & Casino

A three-peat winner in this category, the Oregon Convention Center (OCC) is located in downtown Portland and is the largest convention center in the U.S. Northwest, with more than 255,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space. Its world class features and amenities, proximity to Portland’s great restaurants and attractions, reputation for outstanding customer service and leadership in the adoption of sustainable practices and expertise in green meeting planning make the OCC a highly desirable event destination.

Best Florist/Event Décor Provider
Vibrant Flowers/Vibrant Table Group
Runners-up // Bird Dog Creative, Sophisticated Floral Designs, Parties to Go

With a deep sense of composition and aesthetics, floral goddess Page Winograd combines locally grown flowers with exotic imports, fresh herbs and grasses to create masterpieces that add depth to every event. Pros in the business love the unique compositions and artistry. "We are a Seattle catering company, and I have found Vibrant Table to be such an inspiration to us-in all categories," says Jaffrey Bagge of Twelve Baskets Catering, one of the readers who nominated Vibrant for Best Florist/Event Décor. "Their creativity and unique contributions to the community really shine. They are true trendsetters."

Best Green Venue
Leftbank Annex
Runners-up // DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Portland, Ecotrust Building

Autumn Nelson of Pacific Office Automation nominated Leftbank Annex for Best Green Venue because of the vision and execution of the venue’s creators. "They emphasized sustainability in all their decisions, from repurposing the building and its materials to selecting partners who utilize sustainable principles, such as caterers who buy local, organic foods," Nelson says. "The building also seems to be perfect for business and events of all sizes. No matter the type of event, each is able to create its own experience."

(Photo: Christian Heeb)

Best Historic Venue (Tie)
Liberty Theater, Timberline Lodge
Runners-up // The Governor Hotel, The Benson Hotel

Originally opened in 1925, Liberty Theater has been lovingly restored and now operates as a performing arts center, concert hall and elegant event venue. The first-time winner is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the best examples of what a ‘20s-style theater would have looked like. In its retrofitted Italianate style, the vaudeville-motion picture theater is a palace in the Northwest.

This is also the first win for the legendary Timberline Lodge, whose management boasts, "This isn’t your average, run-of-the-mill ski lodge." Only an hour from Portland, yet so far away in terms of rugged Northwest nostalgia, Timberline is located in the Government Camp on Mount Hood and its comfy rooms were built primarily by hand back in the day. Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977, Timberline attracts nearly 2 million visitors each year. With killer views and a storybook alpine setting, it is a stunning destination for weddings and special events.

Best Small Hotel with Meeting & Event Space (less than 200 rooms)
The Heathman Hotel
Runners-up // Columbia Cliff Villas, Hotel deLuxe

The Heathman, a beautiful luxury boutique hotel, was originally built in 1927 and is a National Historic Landmark. Located in the heart of the Financial and Cultural Districts, The Heathman recently completed a 99 percent landfill-free green upgrade and has received numerous travel awards of distinction from Travel & Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler and others for its exceptional service, luxurious amenities, noteworthy dining and outstanding meeting and event facilities.

Best Large Hotel with Meeting & Event Space (more than 200 rooms)
Hilton Portland & Executive Tower
Runners-up // The Nines, Salishan Spa & Golf Resort, Wildhorse Resort & Casino

A second-time winner in this category, the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower is a hit with planners for providing the services they need, the amenities guests expect and the extras that make every event a success. The business-friendly hotel offers a full-service business center and on-site audio-visual services. Other thoughtful amenities appreciated by executives include an on-site foreign currency exchange, a multilingual staff and a 24-hour fitness room. With 66,000 square feet of meeting space and a green certification, this one is definitely a winner.

Best Rental Service
The Party Place
Runner-up // Barclay Event Rentals

A winner last year, too, The Party Place has been in business for more than 35 years as a family-owned-and-operated, full-service event rental company. "We’ve got you covered from tent top to tabletop," boasts the company website. From eye-catching to traditional, its inventory is one of the most comprehensive in the industry and is constantly updated. The expert staff helps plan each event, from galas and weddings to a small dinner party, down to the last detail.

Best Resort
Sunriver Resort
Runners-up // The Allison Inn & Spa, Black Butte Ranch

Sunriver Resort nabs this category for the second time, and our readers are not the only ones that think the resort is a winner. Sunriver hosted the 46th PGA Professional National Championship June 23-26, marking the third visit to the resort by the PGA of America. "Sunriver Resort fulfills all expectations you would want in a golf destination," says honorary PGA of America president Allen Wronowski. "Beginning with two outstanding championship courses, the Pacific Northwest scenery and activities for contestants and their families, it is the total package."

Best Transportation Provider/Valet Services
Star Park
Runners-up // Best Car in Town, Blue Star Transportation, MTR Western, RAZ Transportation

A first-time winner, Star Park takes great pride in explaining that they "do things differently." From well-trained, courteous staff to professional on-site management, Star Park offers everything needed for a special event, whether it’s at a public venue or a private residence. Clients say Star Park’s staff members are polite, responsible and well-groomed individuals who treat guests with respect.



(Photo: Lisa Dupar Catering; Hyatt Hotels & Resorts; Daniel Sheehan)

Best Attraction
Space Needle
Runners-up // Chihuly Garden and Glass, Mount Rainier National Park

Seattle’s favorite icon turned 50 in 2012, and the city has been celebrating ever since. Our readers joined the party by naming the Space Needle Washington’s Best Attraction for the second time. The revolving SkyCity restaurant and a private banquet room both provide 360-degree views of Puget Sound, Mount Rainier, the Olympic Mountains and the Cascades that are positively mesmerizing.

Best A/V Provider
Blue Danube Productions
Runners-up // PSAV, AVMS

A three-time winner for A/V Provider, as chosen by our readers, Blue Danube Productions has a devoted following. "When I hire Blue Danube, I know I’m getting more than your typical A/V services," says Alaina Schulner, CMP, event marcom manager at Tableau Software. "Niki McKay and her team go above and beyond to familiarize themselves with the event, its objectives and the story we are trying to convey to our audiences. I think of Blue Danube more as an additional department within our organization than a vendor."

Best Boat Charters
Argosy Cruises
Runners-up // Waterways Cruises and Events, Virginia V Steamship

Another three-time winner, Argosy Cruises "offers incredible 360-degree views of mountains, islands and the city skyline as you cruise the waters of Puget Sound," says Maureen Black, director of marketing for Argosy. Recently, the company acquired Tillicum Village on Blake Island, with its 475-acre old-growth forest. For a truly spectacular experience, planners can rent the entire facility at Tillicum for a private event and host 800 people in the rustic longhouse-newly equipped with a state-of-the-art stage and projector system-for a Native American salmon bake and live show.

Best Catering Company
Lisa Dupar Catering
Runners-up // Salty’s Seafood Grill, Kaspars Special Events & Catering

Lisa Dupar Catering has been one of the leading caterers in the Seattle area for more than 25 years. Readers, who have voted it the top catering company for three straight years, praise its originality and flexibility and give the company props for attention to detail. No other caterer "offers such delight to the palate," according to one voter.

Best Convention/Conference Venue
Washington State Convention Center
Runners-up // Bell Harbor

International Conference Center, Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center A repeat winner, the Washington State Convention Center has all the requisite bells and whistles: 236,700 square feet of dedicated heavy-load exhibit space that can accommodate 1,105 10-by-10 booths, 20 covered bays at two loading docks, 123,761 square feet of meeting space, an award-winning food and beverage service with a staff trained at the Culinary Institute of America and a complete on-site kitchen and bakery. Add in the convenient downtown location, easy access to local attractions and spectacular water, city and mountain views, and it’s easy to understand why meeting professionals love this place.

Best Florist/Event Décor Provider
PJ Hummel & Company
Runners-up // AriaStyle, Fena Flowers, Juniper Flowers

A winner in this category last year and the Rental Service category previously, PJ Hummel & Company is known for creating unforgettable event experiences, specializing in design, décor and production. At the age of 19, PJ Hummel, CCM, started collecting props and décor to meet the needs of clients, and she’s been doing it ever since. "One of my favorite things to do is travel to design shows, looking for trends and new inventory to add to my collections-37 years in the making," Hummel says. She is devoted to her clients: "We love a new idea and the opportunity to be creative every day," she says. "We are very passionate about helping our clients achieve their vision."

Best Green Venue
Hyatt at Olive 8
Runners-up // Herban Feast, Hilton Vancouver Washington

The Hyatt at Olive 8 is a green luxury hotel that exudes Northwest spirit and has the warm atmosphere reminiscent of a resort, despite its urban location. The hotel was the city’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified hotel and showcases innovative energy and water-saving features. With amenities such as the eco-friendly Elaia Spa, guests and meeting planners who value a sustainable lifestyle feel right at home. 

Best Historic Venue
Museum of History and Industry
Runners-up // Space Needle, Davenport Hotel

In December 2012, MOHAI officially opened its doors in its new digs, the beautifully restored Naval Reserve Armory Building at Lake Union Park in South Lake Union. The setting is spectacular, with the city’s skyline to the south, boats cruising the lake and seaplanes landing nearby. The museum, operated since 1911, collects important artifacts in Seattle’s history, some of which adorn the walls in the new facility. The sense of the original historical structure remains, but new amenities have been added to support meetings and events. Bonus: the hotel is LEED Platinum certified.

Best Small Hotel with Meeting & Event Space (less than 200 rooms)
Heathman Hotel
Runners-up // Pan Pacific Hotel, Sorrento Hotel

Winemakers, savvy international travelers, the literati, business executives and others who expect the ultimate in luxury, beauty and hospitality frequent The Heathman Hotel, located in the center of Kirkland’s quaint downtown. Incredible art adorns the lobby walls, exotic florals decorate the tables and fine dining is available at Trellis, where chef Brian Scheehser’s dishes often include ingredients grown on his own farm. The 4,500 square feet of meeting space is elegant and refined, offering an intimate alternative to big city venues.

Best Large Hotel with Meeting & Event Space (more than 200 rooms)
Sheraton Seattle Hotel
Runners-up // Hyatt Regency Bellevue, The Westin Seattle

The 1,258-room Sheraton Seattle Hotel, with breathtaking views of the Emerald City, as well as guest rooms furnished with Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Beds, has been voted Best Large Hotel with Meeting & Event Space in Washington for the third year in a row. A full 75,000 square feet of meeting space accommodates all events, and a renovated pool and fitness center are two of the hotel’s most sought-after amenities. If guests decide to venture out, they are only steps from the city’s best attractions, finest dining and world-class shopping.

Best Rental Service
Pedersen’s Event Rentals
Runners-up // Grand Event Rentals, AA Party Rentals

A first-year winner, Pedersen’s calls itself "the celebration expert," and is one of the go-to rental companies many planners use for meetings, weddings and other major events. "Pedersen’s is always my first choice," says Lainie Colburn, a Seattle-based event manager. "They are absolutely the best in the business, and I know I can count on them. They get the order right, and if there is a problem, even a last minute glitch, they take care of it. Instantly. Even if it wasn’t their mistake."

(Photo: Suncadia Resort)

Best Resort
Suncadia Resort
Runners-up // Alderbrook Resort & Spa, Roche Harbor Resort, San Juan Island

Set on the sunny eastern slopes of the Cascades alongside the sparkling waters of the Cle Elum River and surrounded by pristine ponderosa pine forest, Suncadia is a luxury mountain resort with ample recreational opportunities. Championship golf, fly-fishing, and miles of spectacular hiking and biking trails delight guests. A full-service luxury hotel, conference center, spa, swimming pool and fitness center make Suncadia the ideal spot for a meeting, wedding or family retreat.

Best Transportation Provider/Valet Services
Butler Valet & Transportation
Runners-up // British Motor Coach, Red Carpet Valet

Butler Valet won this award last year, too. No surprise since owners Stuart and Jeremy Butler "strive not to be the biggest valet service, but simply the best ... through delivering consistently trustworthy, reliable and superior valet service." Clients say that Butler Valet makes every guest feel special. Butler also includes a transportation division and uses Mercedes-Benz shuttles for wine tours, weddings and other transportation needs.



(Photo: Whistler Blackcomb, Toshi Kawano)

Best Attraction
The Butchart Gardens
Runners-up // Whistler, Stanley Park

One of Canada’s National Historic Sites, The Butchart Gardens showcases more than 55 acres of gardens set within 135 privately owned acres, has 26 greenhouses and hosts close to 1 million visitors per year. "It is amazing to visit any time of day, any time of the year," says Shelly Tolo, president of Seattle-based Tolo Events. "Beauty is around every corner, and there is yummy gelato for your stroll. It truly is a place to stop and smell the roses, the chrysanthemums, the tulips, the zinnias. … Plan to stay all day!"

Best Convention/Conference Center
Vancouver Convention Centre
Runner-up // Victoria Conference Centre

This is the third time readers have chosen the spectacular Vancouver Convention Centre, an award-winning, green-designed, state-of-the-art facility on the waterfront, as the winner in this category. It was the world’s first LEED Platinum designated convention center, and its spaces boast breathtaking city, mountain and water views. Notable events have included the Olympic Games, a meeting between former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and former U.S. President Bill Clinton and the XI International AIDS Conference, with 15,000 delegates.

Best Small Hotel with Meeting & Event Space (less than 200 rooms)
Magnolia Hotel & Spa

Located just steps from Victoria’s scenic Inner Harbour, the Magnolia offers 64 luxurious guest rooms with all the amenities discerning travelers expect, as well as the kind of undistracted, unmatched service one can only experience in an elegant and intimate boutique hotel. Meeting rooms accommodate from 10-50 guests and include built-in LCD projectors and screens, natural light from vaulted or floor-to-ceiling windows and a built-in sound system located in the main room.

Best Large Hotel with Meeting & Event Space (more than 200 rooms)
Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa
Runner-up // Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver

Situated on Victoria’s Inner Harbour, the newly renovated Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa is centrally located and close to downtown shopping, restaurants and attractions. It’s a spectacular setting where guests work and play in harmony. Meeting spaces are fresh and modern, Lure Restaurant serves food prepared from the island’s freshest ingredients, the award-winning spa offers restorative services and the hotel’s Delta Sanctuary Beds ensure a good night’s sleep.

(Photo: Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa)

Best Resort
Whistler Blackcomb
Runners-up // Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa, Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa

There are few resorts in the world that can match the endless winter and summer adventures and entertainment available at Whistler Blackcomb. Two mountains offer more than 8,000 acres of terrain and challenge the most ardent skiers and riders. Outdoor spas in Whistler soothe muscles, and guided tours include bear viewing and glacier walks, although the latter is not offered through Whistler Blackcomb but via a separate company. A gondola ride to one of the mountaintop restaurants is a perfect family adventure and "shopping therapy" is available throughout the resort’s three picturesque villages.

Have you let your favorite vendor, event planner or venue know how much you appreciate them by voting for them in our annual Northwest Meetings + Events Best of Awards? No? Well, get busy—voting ends Friday, May 19!

While we have included many of our old favorites, like best convention/conference venue and best event décor provider, this year we have some brand new categories as well, including Best Meeting and Event Planning Company and Best Winery/Brewery/Distillery with Event Space.


Voting for the 7th Annual Northwest Meetings + Events Best of Awards is now live! It’s time to let your favorite vendors know just how much you appreciate them.

This year, voting is limited to one ballot per email address and voters must vote in at least 10 categories. The ballot has been prepopulated with past winners and nominees, as well as regional favorites, but feel free to write in your own! The ballot will be updated as new names are added. Voting ends May 19.

Here are a few categories you can vote for:


Check out the video from this year's Best of Northwest Awards! Relive all of the fun! ‪#‎BestOfNW2016