Family-Friendly Venues

By Tim Hansen

Many associations and businesses are discovering the advantages of holding a convention or conducting a company conference at a family-friendly meeting venue. Offering meetings in a venue that is attractive to families demonstrates that the company or association values the attendees’ time and supports their life outside the organization. For attendees, it becomes a way to show appreciation to their spouses and families by including them in a fun experience. Here is a selection of destinations that offer fine meeting facilities along with great family-friendly experiences.

Winthrop, Washington

Perched on a forested ridge in the eastern foothills of Washington’s Cascade Range, Sun Mountain Lodge is an ideal destination to combine a business meeting and family fun. Sweeping views of the Methow Valley on one side and the mountains on the other are the backdrop for activities that will keep guests busy for the entire stay. Activities are outdoor focused and range from relaxing to invigorating.

Guests can experience a Wild-West adventure across the varied terrain on a guided horseback ride, traverse the backwoods on a variety of trails or ride a horse-drawn wagon to a cowboy barbecue dinner. Patterson Lake, the lodge’s private 120-acre lake offers the opportunity for kayaking, canoeing, rowing and sailing. The nearby Methow River attracts fly fishing enthusiasts and offers whitewater rafting. Winter guests can enjoy cross country skiing, sleigh rides and snowshoeing. The lodge has a wide range of indoor and outdoor supervised activities for kids. A full-service spa awaits guests after a day full of meetings or activities, and there are a variety of dining options.

Sun Mountain Lodge offers 10 meeting room options of varying sizes giving planners the flexibility to design the optimum configuration for their meeting or event. The largest room, Pasayten A & B, can accommodate up to 300 theater-style in its 3,900 square feet of space. Smaller spaces range from the library, ideal for a 12-person retreat to the Methow Room that can accommodate 110. When the weather warms, the Outdoor Party Tent is the place for a reception or banquet.

With free parking, complimentary WiFi, full audiovisual support and on-site catering, the venue offers everything a planner needs for a productive event. The resort is located about two hours north of Wenatchee, Washington. The four-hour drive from Seattle offers spectacular scenery across the northern Cascade Mountains. Wenatchee’s Pangborn Memorial Airport offers non-stop flights to Seattle with connections to all major cities.

Emigrant, Montana

Since 1929, the Mountain Sky Guest Ranch has been offering an authentic western ranch experience to guests from all over. With the Yellowstone River rolling nearby and Emigrant Peak rising above, the ranch stretches over 17,000 acres from the floor of Paradise Valley through grass-covered foothills to the thick pine forests of southwestern Montana. Mountain Sky offers a full slate of activities for visitors of all ages making it an ideal family-friendly destination for a small conference, special event or company meeting.

Active pursuits at the ranch include horseback riding, hiking and fly fishing. The ranch’s Rising Sun Golf Course is a world-class course designed by golfing great, Johnny Miller. For relaxation, the ranch offers on-site massage therapists and yoga classes. In addition, there is a full kids program with activities for children of all ages. The ranch provides equipment for group activities from basketball and volleyball to horseshoes and Frisbee.

Whether it is a cozy log cabin that accommodates a gathering of 30 or the Great Room in the lodge that holds up to 70, groups will find a setting that meets their needs. The venue offers on-site catering, free WiFi and audiovisual equipment to support a productive meeting or fun event. Groups looking for a team-building opportunity will want to take advantage of the Big Creek Challenge Course. The course begins with low-level rope elements and moves to climbing, traversing, swinging and zipping on the high ropes section.

Mountain Sky Guest Ranch is located about aone-hour drive south of Bozeman, Montana. Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport offers non-stop flights to cities throughout the U.S., including regular flights to Seattle and Portland. The ranch’s van will meet guests at the airport for a leisurely trip through the picturesque mountain scenery to the ranch.

Sunriver, Oregon

Sprawling among the tree-studded foothills of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, Sunriver offers plenty of recreational activities and family fun in a serene, natural setting. The area offers a wide array of leisurely and active pursuits throughout the year.

SHARC, the Sunriver Homeowners Aquatic and Recreation Center is the centerpiece of family-friendly fun in Sunriver and provides a variety of meeting and event spaces. SHARC’s Benham Hall offers more than 5,000 square feet of meeting space that can accommodate up to 352 theater-style. It is ideally suited as the home of a small trade show, a corporate conference, a business seminar or retreat. The hall can be divided into two equally-sized rooms for additional flexibility. The Crescent Room is a smaller space, holding 44 for a workshop or breakout session.

For outdoor functions, John Gray Amphitheater is a grass performance space ideal for team building activities or a sunset dinner. The SHARC staff can provide a list of local caterers that can customize a menu to meet the group’s needs, and audiovisual equipment is available. Sunriver offers a variety of lodging options from vacation rentals to a full-service resort.

The Center offers a variety of recreational opportunities including swimming, basketball, bocce ball, disc golf and tubing in the winter. Additional outdoor activities nearby include canoeing, kayaking or rafting along the Deschutes River and biking on the 40 miles of paved bike paths. Winter brings the opportunity for skiing, sledding and sleigh rides.

Sunriver is located in Central Oregon about 15 minutes south of Bend. Portland is a scenic four-hour drive while Eugene is a little over two hours away. Airline connections to major Northwest cities are 40 minutes away at the Redmond Municipal Airport Roberts Field. Sunriver Airport, a privately-owned regional airport suitable for private aircraft, is only a few minutes from the resort.

Mountain Sky Guest Ranch
• 31 Guest rooms
• 3,575 square feet of meeting space
• 3 meeting rooms
• 70 seated capacity of largest room
Lauren Chaisson, reservations and group sales
406-333-4911 x100

Great Wolf Lodge
• 398 guest rooms
• 15,500 square feet of meeting space
• 12 flexible meeting rooms
• 1,120 seated capacity in largest room
Alexis Abruscato, sales manager

Sun Mountain Lodge
• 96 guest rooms and suites plus 16 cabins
• 7,000 square feet of meeting space
• Five meeting rooms
• 300 seated capacity in largest room
LenElla Tabor, director of sales and conference services

Kah-Nee-Tah Resort & Spa
• 169 guest rooms
• 15,000 square feet of meeting space
• 14 meeting rooms
• 620 seated capacity in largest room
Cruz Bocanegra III, group sales manager

• 5,000 square feet of meeting space
• 3 meeting rooms
• 352 seated capacity in largest room
Melanie Saunders, events manager