Meetings on the Water

By Tim Hansen

Quiet bays and pristine lakes are the setting for some of the Northwest’s finest resorts and lodges. With stunning scenery and countless recreational opportunities, these waterside resorts are prime locations for productive meetings, private retreats, motivating conferences and special events. Here we offer some of our favorites.

Bigfork, Montana

Cradled between soaring mountain ranges, the pristine beaches and clear waters of Flathead Lake are a prime recreation destination. Billed as the largest natural freshwater lake in the West, the lake offers visitors a wide variety of activities. If you are looking for a meeting or event venue that combines breathtaking scenery, top-notch accommodations and modern meeting facilities, Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge is worth considering.

Sturdy log furnishings and the massive stone fireplaces create the rustic mountain-lodge ambience of this lakeshore guest ranch while the full-service meeting and event support makes it an ideal destination for groups. The facility has been providing outstanding guest experiences for more than 70 years.

With 5,500 square feet of meeting space in five meeting rooms, the lodge offers a variety of options for meeting planners. The 2,400 square-foot Ponderosa Room seats 150 theater-style or banquet and 120 with classroom seating. The more-intimate 1,200 square-foot Spruce and Tamarack Rooms can accommodate 30 and 40, respectively. All rooms feature large windows with lake views.

Additional meeting rooms and suites offer a variety of breakout spaces to support any event format. During nice weather, your group may want to take advantage of the tree-fill grounds and convene outdoors. The lodge’s kitchen prides itself on offering fresh food made from scratch. Complimentary WiFi is available throughout the facility and a full range of audiovisual equipment is available.

The lodge offers endless opportunities for team building and post-conference recreational activities. Swimming, canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding are all available from the lodge’s private dock. Majestic sailboats, manned with professional staff, can take your group on a scenic tour of the lake. The lodge can serve as the base camp for an unforgettable guided fishing experience or an exhilarating whitewater rafting experience.

The horseback riding program offers lessons, trail rides and rodeo-style activities. A horseback ride through the lodge’s 500-acre Rocky Mountain Elk Preserve offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience. From novice riders to experienced horsemen, your meeting participants will enjoy their afternoon in the saddle. Located only 35 minutes away, Glacier National Park makes an attractive day trip from the lodge and the region has many charming towns that await exploration.

While Northern Montana may seem like a remote location, you will find it is easy to get to. Glacier Park International Airport, only a short drive from the lodge, has regular service to major Northwest cities and Amtrak’s Empire Builder serves the nearby town of Whitefish, Montana. Drivers will find spectacular scenery and excellent roads to the region from all directions.


Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge

  • 45 guest rooms
  • 5,500 square feet of meeting space
  • 5 meeting rooms
  • 150 capacity in largest meeting room 

Deb Navratil, group sales representative


Chelan, Washington

Dramatically slicing its way from Eastern Washington’s high desert into the heart of the Cascade Mountains, Lake Chelan attracts visitors from all over the world. The shores of this glacier-fed lake are the home of Campbell’s Resort. The picturesque location and all the necessary support services makes this an attractive option for groups. Campbell’s Resort features 14,000 square feet of meeting space with two large ballrooms and 12 flexible breakout rooms. For large conferences or gatherings, the 3,033 square-foot Centennial Ballroom can seat up to 400 theater-style or 168 in a classroom set-up. The slightly smaller Stehekin Ballroom holds 350 theater-style.

The variety of small and medium-size rooms, ranging from the Monfort Room with a capacity of 12 to the Park Room that holds 200 theater-style, provide countless options for smaller groups and for breakout sessions. Large windows, offering views across the lake, bathe the River Room, that holds up to 75 guests, in natural light. With doors opening onto a picturesque terrace, the Lakeside Room can be a refreshing setting for a 20-person board retreat or planning workshop.

The facility offers everything necessary for a successful meeting or event. Parking is free. Full-service audiovisual support and complimentary WiFi provide the technology necessary for whatever type of presentation your meeting requires. On-site catering and an award-winning restaurant can provide everything from break-time snacks to a full banquet. Conference participants can relax and refresh at Bellamia, the resort’s day spa.

With eight acres of landscaped grounds and 1,800 feet of private beach, the resort beckons visitors to spend time outdoors. A variety of open-air spaces, including the tented Terrace Pavilion, provides opportunities to include fresh-air sessions for any meeting or event.

Within walking distance of the resort, the town of Chelan offers shopping and dining. The outdoor art and colorful murals give Chelan the feel of an outdoor art museum. Recreation opportunities centered on the lake abound. Groups seeking active endeavors can enjoy boating, canoe and kayak paddling, water skiing and stand-up paddle boarding.

Team building opportunities abound in the region. Whether you are looking for the adrenaline rush of sky diving and zip lining or a more relaxed activity such as an electric bike tour, the area will not disappoint. More than 20 wineries dot the landscape around Lake Chelan, perfect for a group wine-tasting tour. Golfers will be able to enjoy a round at one of the eight golf courses in the area

For a one-of-a-kind post conference diversion, groups can board the passenger ferry, Lady of the Lake II, for a trip up Lake Chelan. A day trip into the heart of the mountains takes visitors to the village of Stehekin set in the shadow of 9,000-foot-high mountains.

With mild temperatures and sunny skies, the shoulder seasons of spring and fall are ideal for conferences and retreats. Without the summer crowds, the region takes on a relaxed atmosphere that makes for a productive gathering.


Campbell’s Resort

  • 170 guest rooms
  • 14,000 square feet of meeting space
  • 14 meeting rooms
  • 400 capacity in largest meeting room 

Mary Amsden, group sales director
509-682-2561 ext. 7605

Friday Harbor, Washington

Set amid 82 acres of pristine meadows and forests on San Juan Island, Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes is a peaceful island getaway. With three fresh-water lakes, the resort is an ideal location for an intimate gathering or a productive corporate retreat. When you step onto the island, the sounds of the city are only a memory, allowing your group to get down to business without distraction. When the meetings are over the resort offers a bounty of diversions, whether you are looking for strenuous activity or a relaxing respite.Friday Harbor, Washington

The massive fireplace in the lodge’s Great Room, flanked by windows overlooking tranquil Neva Lake, entices your creative juices to emerge. With space for up to 60, the room is ideal for a conference or planning session. Wood paneling and views over the lake are highlights of the Meeting Room that comfortably seats 40. The deck overlooking the lake can accommodate up to 80 guests for an outdoor event. Rather than adjourning to breakout rooms, you will be tempted to take your breaks outdoors.

While you may be leaving the clamor of the city behind when you arrive at the resort you will still have access to all the amenities that a successful conference or retreat requires. The facility offers complimentary WiFi and has a full range of audiovisual equipment available. The resort works with local caterers and suppliers to provide whatever extras your group requires. The facility has 10 guest rooms in the main lodge in addition to several log cabins and custom-built canvas “cabins” for glamping, an upscale camping experience. 

The area offers a wide range of group activity options. The resort’s three lakes are ideal for swimming, fishing, kayaking and canoeing. Whether it is a leisurely stroll or a strenuous aerobic trek, the many miles of trails throughout the property await. Take your team on a GPS-aided scavenger hunt or enjoy a bicycle tour on the quiet roads around the island.

San Juan Island abounds with opportunities for team activities and post-conference pursuits. The team at the resort can arrange for a variety of off-site activities including sea kayaking, whale watching and zip lining. A tour of San Juan Island’s many wineries or artisan workshops can make an enjoyable afternoon. San Juan Island is a popular destination during the summer but mild weather makes this venue an attractive option year-round. Mid-September to mid-March offers optimum availability and privacy. The island is easily accessible year-round by ferry or sea plane and free parking is available for guests arriving by ferry.


Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes

  • 10 guest rooms in lodge plus six 6-person log cabins
  • 2 meeting rooms
  • 60 capacity in largest meeting room

Karl Bruno, general manager

Newport, Oregon

The rivers of the Oregon Coast often carve out picturesque bays and estuaries as they prepare to dive into the Pacific Ocean. Yaquina Bay is one of the most accessible of these inlets. Tucked away at the end of Newport’s historic Bayfront, the Embarcadero Resort Hotel & Marina offers a variety of spaces for meeting and event planners in a scenic Yaquina bayside locale.

With 4,500 square feet of space, the Embarcadero is suitable for company meetings, retreats, conferences and trade shows. Groups from 10 to more than 200 will appreciate the flexible space and convenient services that the venue offers. The 2,552 square-foot Embarcadero Ballroom is a flexible space that can accommodate 200 for a banquet and 300 theater-style. The Ballroom can be divided into three separate spaces, suitable for smaller groups and providing the opportunity for breakout sessions.

Additional smaller spaces include the Commodore Room, adjacent to the restaurant, and the Fireside Room. With a large fireplace and access to a private deck, the Embarcadero’s Fireside Room is an inviting space for a seminar or retreat. It comfortably accommodates 75 guests in a theater-style setup or 40 classroom-style. The indoor salt-water swimming pool, outdoor whirlpool spas and the private sauna provide opportunities to relax and unwind.

Meeting support includes state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment with tech support, complimentary WiFi and custom menu planning from the Embarcadero’s catering department. Parking is free and the resort has a private 233-slip marina for guests arriving by boat.

The Newport area offers a wide variety of group activities for team building or simply relaxation. Rent a crab boat from the Embarcadero’s Marina for an afternoon of crab fishing or rent pots to set off of their private fishing and crabbing dock. The resort can also arrange a private deep-sea fishing or whale-watching trip on one of Newport’s charter boats. For a slightly less vigorous exploration of marine life, visitors will want to check out the Oregon Coast Aquarium or the Visitor Center at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

Conference attendees will want schedule an extra day or two for enjoying all the recreational and fun activities available. Newport’s historic Bayside area is packed with boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. The beaches around Newport entice visitors with a variety of experiences. Whether it is combing the sand for treasures, flying a kite or enjoying some of Oregon’s best surfing, the beaches beckon. Kayakers will find Yaquina Bay’s waterways ideal for exploring while those seeking more adventure can take to the open waters on a sea kayak.


Embarcadero Resort Hotel & Marina

  • 60 guest rooms
  • 4,500 square feet of meeting space
  • 3 meeting rooms
  • 300 seated capacity in largest meeting room Kevin Winters, director of marketing

Klamath Falls, Oregon

Located on the shores of Upper Klamath Lake, a short distance from Crater Lake National Park, this 3,600-acre mountain ranch near Klamath Falls, Oregon, boasts a world-class golf course, a rejuvenating spa, fine dining and an abundance of activities. With 82 guest rooms, the main lodge dramatically overlooks Oregon’s only golf course designed by the legendary golf professional Arnold Palmer.

More than 7,200 square feet of meeting and event space includes indoor function areas and several outdoor spaces that are available during warm weather. The 4,488 square-foot Woodlands Ballroom, located adjacent to the lodge, is the largest indoor venue at the resort. This multi-function space accommodates as many as 450 guests for a reception or 360 for a dinner. It can be divided into four smaller rooms with capacities ranging from 75 to 150 each.

Meeting rooms in the lodge include the 1,200 square-foot Lodge Room that holds 130 theater-style and three additional rooms that can accommodate from 20 to 80 attendees. Outdoor spaces include a 3,600 square-foot Event Tent that serves up to 360 theater style. It is perfect for a summer reception of 400. The tent area opens onto a lawn overlooking the fairway adding dramatic views to any gathering. Conference attendees will find that a huge variety of activities are available for them at the resort. Trails throughout the property offer the opportunity for a walk, run or bike ride through the tree-studded landscape. For an afternoon break, attendees can search the skies for pelicans, herons, egrets, swans and many more wildfowl along the 2.5-mile Skillet Handle Birding Trail that leads to Upper Klamath Lake. The lake is one of the premier birdwatching areas in the Northwest. Additional team building and leisure activities include a tour of Crater Lake aboard the Crater Lake Trolley or a thrilling ride on Oregon’s longest zipline at Crater Lake Zipline.

Golfers will find an 18-hole golf course that meanders under stately Ponderosa Pine trees through the rolling hills. “With wide fairways and challenging greens, the course is player friendly for all skill levels,” explains Greg Morton, golf course superintendent. “This is mountain golf at its finest. The course was one of Palmer’s favorites and has received accolades from many golf magazines,” he adds. Morton says he is happy to design team-building events tailored to any group’s needs.

With so many amenities and activities, groups find it easy to create a productive yet relaxing conference or retreat. “We are very flexible, we are happy to help design the perfect event,” says Victoria Haley, director of sales and marketing. “And we are very budget-friendly compared to other areas of the Northwest,” she adds.


Running Y Ranch Resort

  • 82 guest rooms
  • 7,200 square feet of meeting space
  • 11 meeting rooms
  • 450 seated capacity in largest meeting room

Victoria Haley, director of sales and marketing