Barbara Marrett’s path to the San Juan Islands in Washington was a tad circuitous. Originally from Katonah, New York, she no doubt developed an interest in adventure and other cultures from her father, who worked for the United Nations. When she met her future husband, he asked her if she’d like to sail with him to Easter Island. Although she had no prior sailing experience, she said yes, and one year later, they set off in a 31-foot Hallberg Rassy fiberglass sloop to explore some of the South Pacific’s most exotic and remote islands. Today, she is the communications manager for the San Juan Islands Visitors San Juan Islands, Washington Bureau. Her love of nature and adventure continue to inform everything she does.

NWM+E: What do you love mostabout your community? 
BM: Most folks I work with are easygoing and helpful. We believe we have a community where anything is possible for the greater good. We value our beautiful, quiet environment. We are the first county in the country to ban jet skis. We’ve also banned Styrofoam takeout food containers and growing genetically modified organism (GMO) crops.

NWM+E: What is your favorite thing to do in your community? 
BM: Hike in one of our many parks while enjoying the stunning sea and sky vistas. We are one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet. I also enjoy connecting members of our community to each other to further their goals, whether it be stewardship or the arts.

NWM+E: What are the top three things meeting and event planners should know aboutthe San Juan Islands? 
BM: We are flexible and have many lovely and diverse venues from which to choose; most are right on the water.

Hiking, biking, kayaking, yoga and sailing are activities the islands excel at offering to visitors. Sea kayaking in the calm waters of the Salish Sea is known throughout the world.Whale-watching cruises are also great for groups. Your group will be well fed: As the “gourmet archipelago,” we have an amazing amount of fresh local fruits and vegetables, as well as island-harvested shellfish.

The three San Juan Islands that are served by ferries and have meeting space include Lopez Island, Orcas Island and San Juan Island—home to the popular destination Friday Harbor. The islands have nearly 17,000 square feet of traditional meeting space, as well as unique venues, such as the San Juan Islands Museum of Art. 

In the early 1990s, Washington communities and activists had a vision of maintaining green wilderness and creating space where people could embrace the outdoors near urban cities like Seattle. “We’re all better and healthier when we’re connected to nature,” says Caroline Villanova, community and partnerships manager at Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust.

 

Washington’s Vancouver Waterfront development project will be getting a big boost this summer with the opening of two long-awaited hotels. The 138-room Hotel Indigo is scheduled to open in late June or early July while the 150-room AC Hotel by Marriott is looking to make its debut on June 15 at the Port of Vancouver’s adjacent Terminal 1. A 10-story condominium building, Residences at Kirkland Tower, is planning an October opening and will be attached to Hotel Indigo.

 

Sheraton Dallas Hotel has introduced a new outdoor event space under its new event programming, Dare to Outdoors. The hotel’s catering team has partnered with Pacific Plaza Park, a 3.7-acre green space in Downtown Dallas. The park features a 31,950 square-foot lawn space and permanent seating, as well as night-sky friendly lights for star-watchers. Three food truck power outlets are available and standard outlets are located throughout the park.