• McCall, Idaho Makes up for Small Size with Big Charm

    FROM THE Spring 2015 ISSUE
  • McCall, Idaho Makes up for Small Size with Big Charm

    FROM THE Spring 2015 ISSUE
  • McCall, Idaho Makes up for Small Size with Big Charm

    FROM THE Spring 2015 ISSUE
  • McCall, Idaho Makes up for Small Size with Big Charm

    FROM THE Spring 2015 ISSUE

Nestled on the banks of Payette Lake, McCall, Idaho, is a small town with big opportunities for destination meetings and events. “It’s a fabulous place if you’re coming to do a little work and play,” says McKenzie Christensen, director of marketing for the McCall Chamber of Commerce. “It really exudes small-town charm.”

McCall holds credentials like Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning wine lists and a Golfweek-designated Top 100 Golf Course (Whitetail Club). Indeed, if your guests want to golf, McCall in the summer is the place to be. “We have five golf courses with 99 holes of golf within about 20 minutes of each other,” says Christensen. “That’s kind of amazing for a little town.” It’s also kind of amazing for a town that spends a good part of the year under a blanket of snow. But in winter, many of those courses earn their keep as Nordic ski trails. That dual-purposing is why, as the local visitors’ tagline says, “It’s always the perfect temperature in McCall.”

Where to Stay & Meet

Though McCall’s population is just about 3,000, the town boasts plenty of places for visitors to stay. The area’s 460 hotel rooms, 344 condos, townhomes and cabins provide 4,429 pillows for overnight visitors, Christensen reports.

McCall has several options for small- to medium-size gatherings, the largest of which is at Shore Lodge. The lodge has 77 guest rooms and 19,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 45-seat theater and several private meeting and dining rooms. The 2,900-square-foot Upper Pavilion has floorto- ceiling windows overlooking Payette Lake and the Salmon River Mountains, along with a huge, river-rock fireplace. The space can comfortably accommodate 214 dining guests or 300 guests for a standing reception.

Shore Lodge’s Lower Pavilion is smaller but features the same footprint, and has windows that open onto an outdoor walkway that hugs the waterline. “We can also pull off a meeting out on our dock,” says Cindy Bray, the resort’s MCCALL BY THE NUMBERS 500 MILES OF PUBLIC TRAILS 300-PLUS INCHES OF AVERAGE SNOWFALL 300 ALPINE LAKES 100 MILES NORTH OF BOISE 50 YEARS OF WINTER CARNIVAL food and beverage manager. “There is plenty of dock space for cocktail parties and outof- the-box meetings.” The lodge also offers canoe and kayak rentals. “We encourage teambuilding events,” she says. “Get out and have a meeting on the lake.”

The 85-room Hunt Lodge Holiday Inn Express has a dedicated 2,400-squarefoot meeting room that can be partitioned into three separate spaces. The room seats up to about 100 banquet-style or up to 150 classroom-style, according to general manager Michael Johnson. In addition, after the complimentary guest breakfast is served, the 1,000-square-foot dining room is available for meetings. “We have one of the larger meeting spaces in McCall,” Johnson says. “And we’re really close to downtown.”

Pilgrim Cove Camp & Conference Center sits at the southern tip of the eastern arm of Payette Lake and offers multiple meeting spaces, as well as bunkhouse-style lodging for groups of up to 150. The main lodge features a commercial kitchen with a dining area that seats 132 comfortably, as well as cathedral windows with stunning views.

In spring and summer, Pilgrim Cove’s rustic 1927 lakeside lodge is also an option. Made from logs cut onsite, it features windows that open to a panoramic view of the lake. In addition to the two lodge buildings, the camp has a smaller indoor meeting space for approximately 20 and multiple outdoor gathering spaces.

What to Do & Where to Go

Outdoor recreation is a year-round obsession in McCall. “If you can’t have fun in McCall, you’re just not going to have fun anywhere,” says Peggy Whitescarver, owner of Cheap Thrills Rentals.

Skiers flock to Brundage Mountain for some of the best powder in North America. And during the warmer months, visitors still have fun—whether they’re zip lining at nearby Tamarack Resort or taking a scenic ride on Brundage’s high-speed quad chairlift. The lift transports riders to the summit at 7,640 feet to enjoy the views all the way across Hells Canyon and the Frank Church Wilderness and into Oregon. “It’s a really easy way for people with no sporting background to get a really amazing viewpoint that otherwise you’d have to do a four-hour hike to see,” says April Whitney, Brundage’s communication director. Experienced, thrill-seeking mountain bikers can rent specially equipped bikes and take them up the lift for an extreme ride down the hand-built single-track bike trails.

For fun on the lake, Cheap Thrills Rentals offers everything from personal watercraft to ski boats and pontoon boat rentals, along with tow toys, wakeboards and water skis.

Placid lakes aren’t the only way to get on the water in McCall. Lauren Curtis owns Salmon Raft, one of seven main outfitters running white-water raft trips on the north fork of the Salmon River. “We offer transportation for guests in McCall to the river and back,” she says. Salmon Raft can accommodate groups of up to 24 on one of its overnight trips, or up to 35 for a single day of rafting. The rapids range from class I to “class IV-plus,” Curtis says. “It’s real big, splashy white water, but it’s definitely safe for all ages.” For larger groups, Curtis says the different raft companies can work together.

For less heart-pounding activities, downtown offers a wide variety of shops, along with several art galleries. And when your guests work up an appetite, they’ll find a number of dining options, including Rupert’s at Hotel McCall. Rupert’s executive chef, Gary Kucy, was a James Beard finalist in 2013. “He’s adamant about using locally sourced ingredients,” Christensen says, including beef and buffalo from nearby ranches.

It’s that locally sourced attention to detail—from the hometown accommodations and venues to the homegrown hospitality and recreation—that makes meeting in McCall such a tempting treat.

In the city of Rigby, situated in southeastern Idaho, LaBelle Lake offers a “cozy, Idaho log cabin, retreat-from-reality feel,” says Annika Frandsen, manager of the property. 

Originally the family home of the Youngstroms, owned by Jim and Shannon Youngstrom, the family made the decision in 2018 to turn the home into an intimate host site for an array of events. 


Incorporating the host city into the framework of the meeting is an effective way to enhance the content of the conference.

Host in Local Hotel
While attendees might flock to flag hotels, consider a boutique hotel as overflow to showcase the destination. In Lubbock, the DoubleTree by Hilton offers a local flair through design and cuisine; meanwhile, just a few streets over, the Cotton Court Hotel pays tribute to the area’s cotton history. 


Plano, Texas is truly the land of plenty. Blending historic charm with modern luxury, the city brims with attractions and amenities. With nearly 60 hotels of various price points, 1000+ restaurants, world class shopping, a lively arts and nightlife scene, abundant natural beauty, and four walkable districts, Plano is the perfect city for a meeting of any size.