Best of Alaska
Alaska is often called “The Last Frontier” in recognition of its pristine, undeveloped beauty of vast forests, magnificent glaciers and stunning mountains. In design and service, this year’s exceptional winners mirror the state’s majesty.
Alyeska Resort tops the list with wins in two categories: Best Convention/Conference Venue and Best Resort. A year-round destination for meetings and weddings, Alyeska boasts luxurious accommodations, with convenient access to Anchorage and more than 24,000 square feet of event space. Think of the resort as an upscale and very civilized base camp—complete with fine dining and spa—from which to explore Alaska’s natural wonders. When the northern lights are out, the setting is especially magical. A ride up the mountain on the aerial tram and a visit to the observation deck is always a guest favorite, says Eric Fullerton, director of marketing. It’s a spectacular experience, with exquisite views of the Chugach Mountains, hanging glaciers, jewel-like streams and wildlife (moose and bear sightings are frequent).
For the Best Hotel with Meeting/Event Space, readers chose the historic Hotel Captain Cook, located in the heart of downtown Anchorage. Attentive service has made the hotel a favorite of world travelers and celebrities. Guests can head out for a night on the town or stay in and dine at one of four distinctive restaurants, including Crow’s Nest, a highly acclaimed AAA Four Diamond restaurant with spectacular city and mountain views, and a cellar containing 10,000 bottles of wine. There are 14 meeting and conference rooms for events. Plus, souvenir shopping is easy: Twelve shops are located within the hotel itself.
When wedding guests and meeting attendees have an afternoon off, a visit to the Alaska SeaLife Center is often on the agenda, where visitors have the opportunity for education and encounters. Readers selected it as Best Meeting/ Event Venue (No Hotels or Convention/ Conference Centers). This public aquarium and marine mammal rehabilitation center is a unique venue for birthday parties, receptions, intimate dinners, weddings and meetings.
Best of British Columbia
This year’s readers’ choice award winners for Best of British Columbia represent the unique vibe of the province: Think rugged beauty, sophisticated service, historic charm and a contemporary, edgy style.
Located on Vancouver’s dynamic waterfront, the Fairmont Waterfront, readers’ choice for both Best Convention/Conference Venue and Best Hotel with Meeting/Event Space, is a world-class luxury hotel with unsurpassed views and a sustainability-focused operating philosophy. Event planners have always appreciated the hotel’s amenities: more than 24,000 square feet of elegant event space, custom menus and an upscale ambiance—perfect for a black-tie gala, dream wedding or crucial corporate meeting. And for the most discriminating visitors, Fairmont Gold, an exclusive hotel within the hotel, features beautifully appointed contemporary rooms with a personal concierge.
Victoria’s The Butchart Gardens is a reader favorite and was chosen as the Best Meeting Event/Venue (No Hotels or Convention/ Conference Centers). It’s a must-see tourist attraction that has been open to the public for more than 100 years and receives more than 1 million visitors annually. It’s also a delightful setting for intimate dinners, picturesque garden weddings, birthday parties, corporate board retreats and family reunions.
Fairmont Chateau Whistler, located at the base of Blackcomb Mountain, is considered one of the finest ski-in/ski-out resorts in the world and represents mountain-luxury at its finest. This year, the property wins the Best Resort category. Here, guests find the perfect balance between relaxation and adventure, according to Lynn Gervais, director of public relations. Event planners appreciate the resort’s superb amenities, such as golf, skiing, spa services and fine dining. They also laud the options for adventure when the day’s business is done, such as helicopter skiing or tailored outdoor excursions with experienced guides.
And whether a major event is in an urban setting such as Vancouver or in the heart of British Columbia’s natural wonderland such as Whistler, BRANDLIVE, readers’ choice for Best Meeting & Event Planning Company, will make it an extraordinary shared experience for guests that inspires, entertains and enriches, according to Catherine Runnals, partner and president. The firm is known for creating jaw-dropping productions, engaging conferences and “elegance with an edge.”
Best of Idaho
One storied property that routinely makes the Best of the Northwest list claims Best of Idaho in three categories this year—and one relative newcomer establishes itself as the venue of choice as a repeat winner in another category.
The Coeur d’Alene Resort, a perennial favorite of meetings and events professionals and its clients, was selected as Best Convention/ Conference Venue, Best Hotel with Meeting/ Event Space and Best Resort by readers for 2018. This is the first time that any venue has been selected as readers’ choice in three key categories since Northwest Meeting + Events magazine introduced the awards. The town has long been a favorite of celebrities, the business elite and just plain folks. Entire families often vacation here. And it’s a favorite for corporate execs who find their meetings productive and enjoy all the amenities that a top resort offers, including a flexible range of meeting room options, championship golf (including a floating green), a superb spa, excellent cuisine and water sports (the resort is located on stunning Lake Coeur d’Alene). Recently, the resort completed a three-year renovation. “It’s still the resort our guests have loved, only better than ever,” says Todd Gillespie, director of sales and marketing.
Relatively new on the scene, but already firmly established as a venue for fairy-tale weddings, sumptuous events and romantic moments, Chateau des Fleurs is readers’ choice for Best Meeting/Event Venue (No Hotels or Convention/Conference Centers). With its elegant gardens and magnificent ballrooms decorated in silver, gold and crystal, the venue is reminiscent of an elegant French chateau. The venue is also home to a talented executive chef who expertly prepares specialties based on the season—or guests’ cultural traditions.
Best of Oregon
The meetings and events space in Oregon is characterized by an independent spirit, love of the outdoors and a devotion to a personal touch in service. Winners here tend to be homegrown, not national or global brands.
For the fourth consecutive year, Spirit Mountain Casino wins the Best Casino with Meeting Space and has been our readers’ choice since this category was first introduced. Set in the foothills of Oregon’s coastal mountains, Spirit Mountain is a short drive from Portland, Salem and McMinnville. It has all the amenities that event planners require when setting up events for 10–1,600 attendees, including free Wi-Fi, award-winning cuisine, nearly 17,500 square feet of flexible space and attractive rooms. Spirit Mountain boasts a Las Vegas–style casino and is near many attractions, such as golf courses, vineyards and museums.
Sunriver Resort snags the honors in two categories this year as Best Convention/ Conference Venue and as a repeat winner in the Best Resort/Lodge with Meeting/Event Space category. The resort has appealing weather (300 days of sun each year) and an endless number of outdoor recreational activities, including 63 holes of championship golf and more than 40 miles of hiking and biking trails. It also boasts a state-of-the-art meeting venue with more than 44,000 square feet of flex space, with both indoor and outdoor settings. And for relaxation, the renowned Sage Springs Club and Spa is just the ticket. With all its amenities, it’s easy to see why corporate executives, families and wedding parties are partial to Sunriver.
Again this year, our readers’ choice for Best Hotel with Meeting/Event Space (More than 200 Guest Rooms) is the Nines in downtown Portland. The hotel is located in a historic building that once housed the Meier & Frank department store, then the largest retailer west of the Mississippi. It has now been transformed into a luxury hotel, with modern, refined urban touches and a contemporary art collection. Amenities include 14 event spaces, 13,500 square feet of meeting space, 331 rooms with stunning city views and everybody’s favorite concierge Patrick McNearney—who knows all things Portland, including where to dine on entirely plant-based, seasonally driven and locally inspired cuisine.
The Allison Inn & Spa debuts on the Best of Oregon list this year as readers’ choice for Best Hotel with Meeting/Event Space (Less than 200 Guest Rooms). Located in the beautiful Willamette Valley on 35 lovely acres, The Allison Inn is an upscale resort with 77 luxury rooms and eight suites with spa-like bathrooms, fireplaces and balconies or terraces. The spa has 12 treatment rooms, a fitness studio and an indoor swimming pool. With such tempting amenities, 12,000 square feet of sophisticated meeting space and idyllic gardens, the inn is the perfect spot for an ultimate Oregon wine country wedding or corporate retreat.
Leftbank Annex, located just across the Broadway Bridge from the Pearl District, is this year’s readers’ choice for Best Meeting/ Event Venue (No Hotels or Convention/ Conference Centers). It’s a contemporary urban venue with more than 14,000 square feet on two floors that include soaring beamed ceilings, large windows and city views. An inspiring blend of industrial chic and simple elegance, the venue includes large projectable surfaces, controlled lighting, superb access and excellent electrical infrastructure.
New to the list this year is Moe and Flora Momtazi’s Maysara Winery, readers’ choice for Best Winery/Brewery/Distillery with Event Space. Located in the McMinnville foothills, this Old World, stone-and-wood Tuscaninspired winery is surrounded by 532 acres of the Momtazi Vineyard and is perfect for intimate soirees, grand events and dream weddings. “Our winery offers one of the largest indoor-outdoor venues in Oregon wine country and has a rustically sophisticated and majestic feel,” says Hanna Momtazi, events and hospitality manager. Locals are strong supporters and describe the winery as a special place run by a special family.
While venue selection is critical, it’s often the little details and services that transform good events into exceptional experiences for guests.
Greenlight Creative, known for producing epic parties and events, is this year’s choice for Best Audio-Visual/Visual Presentation Provider. It aims to create lighting and presentation solutions that will leave “audiences engaged, inspired and talking about an event for days,” says owner and CEO Dwayne Thomas.
Vibrant Table Catering & Events wins in two categories this year: Best Catering Company and Best Event/Floral Décor. It now provides a wide range of award-winning services, from catering and venue management to event production, to the delight of its legions of event planner fans. Its culinary style is described as inventive, diverse and event-inspired. Vibrant Flowers is the division responsible for its exquisite floral arrangements and décor.
Best Entertainment Provider Portland Photo Booth is a repeat winner in this category. It “pretty much stole the show at our wedding,” wrote one client in a review. The booth “looks amazing, and [Soren] has a great assortment of props,” wrote another.
An event production company specializing in regional and global events, Epic Events Global is readers’ choice for Best Meeting & Event Planning Company. “When outcomes matter, our experience is your competitive advantage,” says Kaytie Fiedler, chief creative consultant. Specializing in gatherings large and small, the company produces executive programs, conferences and sales meetings with style.
“Devotion to our clients and rock-solid consistency are the hallmarks of our service,” says Makayla Katona, event rental consultant at Bridgewood Event Rentals (formerly Barclay Event Rentals), readers’ choice for Best Rental Service. From tables and seating to candelabras and flooring, it has amassed an eyecatching collection of rentals for all occasions.
When it’s time to get to the church on time—or the convention center or boardroom—MTRWESTERN delivers (your guests, that is). Readers chose this company for Best Transportation Provider/Valet Service in Oregon. Staff tailor transportation packages to meet each group’s needs for corporate meetings, conventions, airport meet-and-greets—even major events, such as the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Best of Washington
An eclectic mix of longtime readers’ favorites and new entries grace the Best of Washington list this year, but all have one thing in common, according to our readers: They define the word “professional.”
Tulalip Resort Casino, operated by the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, is a repeat winner in this category as readers’ choice for Best Casino with Meeting Space. For meetings and conferences outside of Seattle, few can match Tulalip’s amenities. With more than 30,000 square feet of flexible event space, impeccable service, luxurious accommodations, awardwinning dining, a full-service spa, the stunning casino and world-class shopping, it’s the perfect place to host a destination wedding or meeting for an intimate gathering of 10 or a conference for 1,000.
Featuring impressive 180-degree views of the Cascades, Olympics, waterfront and downtown Seattle, readers’ choice for Best Convention/Conference Venue for 2018 is Bell Harbor International Conference Center, with 100,000 square feet of inspiring conference, event and meeting space located on Pier 66. Bell Harbor staff takes pride in expertly managing meetings for 25-1,000 attendees and meeting-planning professionals appreciate the center’s inclusive “Complete Meeting Packages.” Bell Harbor’s stunning site is also the perfect setting for an unforgettable Pacific Northwest rehearsal dinner, wedding and reception, says General Manager Linda Jones.
The elegant Italian Renaissance–style landmark building housing the Fairmont Olympic Hotel is a city classic, and the hotel is again this year’s readers’ choice for Best Hotel with Meeting/Event Space (More than 200 Guest Rooms). The Fairmont Olympic has set the standard for luxury and impeccable service for almost a century. It has also assumed a leadership role by adapting environmentally friendly initiatives for meetings. While it’s a prominent place for power, board and shareholder meetings, the Fairmont Olympic reigns supreme as the venue of choice for many weddings, says Andrew Hoge, director of celebrations. He loves helping brides create the ethereal wedding of their dreams.
The Four Seasons Hotel Seattle wins Best Hotel with Meeting/Event Space (Less than 200 Guest Rooms). Surrounded by snowcapped mountains, deep blue waters and evergreen forests, Seattle is both wild and trendy, says General Manager Michael Pedder, and The Four Seasons creates a resort-style vibe in the midst of this urban oasis. With stunning views of Elliott Bay and Puget Sound and amenities that include an outdoor terrace pool, it’s an intimate hotel in a great location.
Fremont Foundry is our readers’ choice for Best Meeting/Event Venue (No Hotels or Convention/Conference Centers). Located in the heart of Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, the foundry is set in a building that was once a hub for Fremont’s art-focused counterculture. The unconventional facility is retrofitted with technology and amenities that ease event production. Guests will admire the building’s character, stylishly redone to showcase the industrial setting with expansive glass windows, 20-foot skylights, and a blend of metals, wood and cement accents.
Willows Lodge, readers’ choice for Best Resort/Lodge with Meeting/Event Space, is located on 5 lovely acres in the heart of Woodinville wine country and is surrounded by more than 120 wineries and tasting rooms. “The resort is comfortable, not complicated,” says Rhanda Rosselot, marketing manager. Rooms are designed for relaxation with fireplaces and soaking tubs; the lodge’s two award-winning restaurants and wine cellars are stellar; the world-class spa is rejuvenating; and the venues are gorgeous—both indoors and out.
The winner for Best Winery/Brewery/ Distillery with Event Space is one of Washington’s most respected wineries: historic Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery. “There are events. Then there are events and celebrations held at Chateau Ste. Michelle,” says Events Manager Shannon Lochrie. Events held here are unforgettable wine and food experiences with creative pairings, complemented by impeccable service and elegant surroundings. Spaces are gracious, from the chateau’s stately lobby and manor house, to the wine shop, theater room, banquet room and sweeping lawn. And all are suitable for a quintessential Northwest executive retreat, board meeting or strategic planning meeting.
These essential services help event planners create the perfect event and add the finishing touches that make events especially memorable.
Readers’ choice for Best Audio-Visual/Visual Presentation Provider in 2018 is Audio Visual Management Solutions (AVMS). AVMS is known for spectacular high-tech solutions, from video-texture mapping and surroundsound to breathtaking LED lighting design. It has produced the annual gala for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center for the past 10 years, helping the event raise more than $13 million for cancer research last year alone.
Kaspars Catering & Events is the year’s Best Catering Company and has been a prominent force in the meetings and events industry for nearly 30 years. “Our inventive staff delivers a stress-free event with simply magnificent results,” says chef Kaspar Donier. He and his wife, Nancy Donier, a masterful event planner, co-founded Kaspars. Chef Donier uses fresh, farm-to-table ingredients and searches for the most tantalizing flavor harmonies for each special occasion.
Ileigh Reynolds is the co-owner and creative director of Animate Objects Physical Theater, winner for Best Entertainment Provider. This engaging aerial group has performed worldwide in more than 50 cities. “Our high-caliber acts and cutting-edge entertainment add excitement to events of all sizes,” Reynolds says. The group is known for its innovative dance and acrobatic creations, ranging from personalized performances to large-scale choreographic productions.
Fena Flowers is known for exquisite flower arrangements and is a repeat winner for Best Event Décor/Floral Décor. It is lauded for creating superb designs and providing terrific customer service. Services include inventive designs for themed parties, weekly deliveries of fresh-cut flowers and in-home decorations personalized for clients.
Best Meeting & Event Planning Company for 2018 is SHW, a newcomer to the Best of Washington list but is an experienced event planning company with a wide range of services. “We design and deliver events, meetings and conferences,” says CEO and Chief Strategist Marka Waechter. “We know how to make events extraordinary.” SHW’s services include incentive travel, hotel sourcing, conference registration, transportation management and event strategy services.
CORT Party Rental, readers’ choice for Best Rental Service, has everything imaginable for party rentals in two locations, including a design center, says director of sales Robin Denny. Clients laud the professionalism of the sales team and the delivery crews.
Butler Seattle was chosen Best Transportation Provider/Valet Service again this year and has won this award every year since Best of the Northwest has included this category. Co-founders Stuart and Jeremy Butler insist on the highest level of professionalism, service and excellence.