Photo © Coliln Walker
According to science, being near water makes us feel good and improves our well-being. When meetings or events are held near “blue space” like a river, lake or ocean, most everyone involved benefits from nature’s therapeutic strength. In the Puget Sound Region, Lake Washington makes the ideal setting for such gatherings.
The second largest lake in Washington State, Lake Washington measures 18 miles long. Sculpted by an ice sheet eons ago, this body of water shimmers and shines brilliantly east of Seattle. From Bellevue, an edge city and the Emerald City’s largest suburb, you can reach the lake in less than ten minutes. Only five minutes from Bellevue, much of Kirkland surrounds the shores of the lake.
When planning your next event and after-hours activities, consider the following:
“Kirkland’s convenient location makes it a perfect destination to host a conference, meeting or business event, and it boasts a variety of venues and spaces to meet the needs of today’s conference and meeting planners,” says Philly Marsh, the Special Projects Coordinator for Explore Kirkland. “With picturesque views of Lake Washington and its stunning natural beauty, Kirkland also offers unique shops, award-winning restaurants and ideal recreational activities to enjoy following a day of meetings.”
The Woodmark Hotel
Currently this is the only hotel situated on the lake. If you’re worried your attendees might pay more attention to the panorama outside than to what’s going on in the meeting room, blackout drapes are available. But meeting goers will still flock outside for breaks on most days.
The hotel has a variety of meeting spaces. “Meeting planners and attendees love the Woodmark and book the hotel again and again. Besides being a classic venue with a modern touch, the convenience of its location, just minutes from Bellevue, Redmond and Seattle, is unmatched and the dramatic background of Lake Washington truly makes you feel like you are at a luxury resort,” says Brooke Gogerty, director of catering for the hotel.
The Woodmark’s largest space, the Marina Room, is the ideal place for receptions, social occasions, dinners and meetings. The floor-to-ceiling windows afford a clear view of the Carillon Point marina. Additional meeting rooms are also available.
The Olympic Terrace Tent, a canopied pavilion available much of the year, comes with heaters in case the weather cools. Transparent wall panels let your guests enjoy gazing at the lake, mountain ranges and Seattle’s skyline.
The Heathman Hotel
Positioned a short two blocks from the shores of Lake Washington, The Heathman features state-of-the-art technology, delicious cuisine from their own Trellis Restaurant and impeccable personalized service. Whether you’ve scheduled a training session, conference or corporate retreat, you’ll notice the attention to detail observed by hotel staff.
Equipped with modern technology, the conference rooms come with Sharp Aquos Interactive Whiteboards, complimentary Wi-Fi and the ability to Skype. The Executive Meeting Room is furnished with the most comfortable Herman Miller Aeron Chairs, a delight to sit in.
Named one of the top ten farm-to-table restaurants in America, the Trellis menu focuses on freshly harvest ingredients from the chef’s own 18-acre farm in Woodinville. You can easily customize your food options to include gluten-free and dairy-free options and the pastry chef recently created gluten-free desserts. More than 200 labels grace the extensive wine list.
Wide open, the San Juan Ballroom is perfect for a reception. Or you can opt to divide it into three separate rooms. Additional rooms range from the intimate Adams Boardroom to the mid-size Cascade Room. Flexible configurations allow breakout sessions of varying sizes.
Goings On in Kirkland
Putt through nine holes of mini-golf at the dog-friendly Flatstick Pub, rent a kayak and get out on the lake, combine your artistic prowess with delicious wines at Canvas Paint and Sip or choose a park on the water for relaxing. Hike or bike the Cross Kirkland Corridor Trail to Chainline Brewery for refreshments, dine at an award-winning restaurant or stroll through the boutiques.
“Many meeting planners find Bellevue a perfect fit for their groups because of its safe, walkable and compact downtown,” says Sharon Linton, spokesperson for Visit Bellevue and the Meydenbauer Center. “The phenomenal shopping, dining and nightlife options make ideal spots for after-meeting mingling.”
The Westin Hotel
You’ll discover guest rooms and ample meeting spaces, all on two floors, at the Westin in downtown Bellevue. Gatherings of every size and character can put their signature stamp on any of the several event spaces. One look at the large foyer space outside the ballroom with its Chihuly montage of drawings should seal the deal. Each was transformed into a vibrant glass art piece in the Chihuly studio.
“Our meeting planner partners are an integral part of our success as a hotel, a community and the hospitality industry,” says Cindi Breen, director of sales and marketing for the Westin Bellevue. “We help them feel at their best by providing intuitive service and making every effort to surprise them along the way.”
“Curated welcome amenities, special touches at the registration table and assistance booking their next meeting location anywhere around the globe are just a few of those delights,” says Breen. Each planner receives a pot containing a “Lucky Bamboo,” which they are instructed to give to any staff member who makes an outstanding effort. The hotel then rewards that employee with a gift certificate.
The Hyatt wants to keep meeting planners happy and bring their groups back. Before construction of the new Olympic Tower, several planners were asked what they wanted most in their guest room. Seven rooms on the third floor of the tower were designed to meet those standards, which include an entertainment area, intimate meeting space and a place where food can be served.
Because this is the largest hotel in Bellevue, it attracts large gatherings such as Fashion Week, the Wintergrass Bluegrass Festival, Microsoft events, and sports teams and association meetings.
“We offer impressive technological capabilities,” says Kristi Kosmata, director of sales and marketing. “Our auditorium offers a truly cinematic experience with a 16-panel 220-inch video wall. In addition, we provide 1GB of complimentary high-speed Internet for users in the lobby and guestrooms, plus an additional 1GB of dedicated Internet for meeting spaces.”
Guests also have access to technology in the lobby where two 55-inch touch screen tables let them browse hotel and area information, check on flights, play air hockey and 3D chess or surf the net.
The piéce de rèsistance, though, has to be the sky bridge leading from the hotel to 250 top tier retailers at The Bellevue Collection.
Meydenbauer Convention Center
Last year The Meydenbauer Center completed a $12.5 million renovation. This facelift created an interior more reflective of the community by adding natural wood touches, a warm color palette and artistic LED lighting.
All the carpet and seating in the theatre is new. This theatre now makes the perfect location for productions, presentations and lectures. “Our theatre is a hidden gem with a stage bigger than the Paramount in Seattle,” says Stephen Elliott, theatre manager. “We don’t have any bad seats here, every chair has a tablet arm and we have charging stations in the lobby. The only limits on this space are the event planners’ imaginations.”
The convenient location provides easy access from all over the Puget Sound region. Advanced technology capabilities, individual meeting rooms that are configurable for any size event and an experienced culinary team make the Meydenbauer Convention Center appropriate for any size conference or event.
Cast Iron Studios
In the core of downtown Bellevue a very distinctive yet popular venue exists that may surprise you. Located next to the restaurants Purple and Lot 3, all members of the Heavy Restaurant Group, Cast Iron Studios hosts mostly corporate events. The space can be arranged to suit your needs. The room has a dedicated bar and basic audio-visual equipment. The food served comes from either Purple, Lot 3 or Barrio, a Mexican restaurant on Capitol Hill in Seattle, also in the Heavy Restaurant Group.
If you’re planning a larger event like a reception, holiday party, gala or auction, you can request their Private Dining Room. Other available areas in Purple include the Wine Walls and Spirals, where guests can sit at a circular table.
For most spaces, you pay a food and beverage minimum and no extra rent.
Goings On in Bellevue
Try a group cooking class at Whisk, a kitchenware retailer in Old Bellevue. You’re greeted with an apron and a glass of wine. How can you go wrong? Whether you’ve signed up to learn how to make Cuban, Spanish, Italian or healthy food, macarons or desserts, all your ingredients are prepped and premeasured. As soon as you dirty a dish or utensil, helpful staff whisk it away. The camaraderie and sharing with fellow students makes this experience a blast.
Whether you’re looking for nightlife options for your meeting goers, shopping for the spouse or outdoor pursuits, you’ll never run out of options. For live music, Bake’s Place is the spot to savor a meal and enjoy the entertainment. At Lucky Strike you make your own fun bowling, playing pool and dancing. Bellevue is distinctive for the number of boutiques, eclectic shops and luxury retailers.
This city makes the holidays glow. From the day after Thanksgiving to December 24, snow falls every night on Snowflake Lane. Magic Season arrives which continues through January. Drummer-lined streets, parades, glistening lights and holiday carols all regale shoppers and those who came solely for the performances.
Tip: Watch for a new W Hotel in Bellevue in the near future with additional meeting space and modern guest rooms and suites.
By Heather Larson