By Ron Engeldinger
Steeped in atmosphere, and evoking the spirit of elegance, some of the region’s finest hotels have endured for many decades. The historic hotels of the Northwest each have a special story to tell. Through the years, these venues have welcomed everyone from celebrities and politicians to everyday tourists, and the hotels that persisted often became the local community’s place to congregate.
The neighborhoods around them may have changed, but these venues continue to maintain a legacy of excellence to this day. While furnishings and décor stir up a sense of nostalgia in their guests, the historic properties have been renovated over the years to offer the latest services and amenities.
If you are looking for a venue that will provide a unique location for your next meeting or event, you should consider one of the region’s historic hotels. Here is a selection of venues that offer modern features in a stylish setting.
The Edgewater Hotel
Resting atop Pier 67 over the waters of Elliott Bay, The Edgewater Hotel is Seattle’s only waterfront hotel. Originally built to accommodate visitors to the 1962 World’s Fair, the hotel remains an iconic symbol of Seattle’s bustling waterfront.
Over the years, it has been home to some of the most famous names from the entertainment industry. In 1964, during their first world tour, the Beatles stayed at the recently-completed venue. Since then, the hotel has become a popular rest stop for touring musicians.
The inspirational setting, with views across the bay, makes The Edgewater an attractive venue for your next conference, seminar, business meeting or special banquet. The hotel offers more than 10,000 square feet of meeting space in eight rooms of various sizes.
Floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic vistas of Elliott Bay, the Olympic Mountains and the islands of Puget Sound make the Olympic Ballroom a dramatic setting for any gathering. The 3,563-square-foot room can accommodate 250 in a theater-style arrangement and 300 for a reception. An evening reception as the sun sets behind the Olympic Mountains will make a lasting impression on your event attendees.
Adjoining the Olympic Ballroom, the Terrace Room features large French doors that open onto a large outdoor terrace that offers sweeping views of the Seattle skyline. The Terrace Room can be used in conjunction with the Olympic Ballroom to provide outdoor access, or it can be used separately for an executive retreat or as a VIP reception area.
Located on the city side of the hotel, the Cascade Ballroom provides space for up to 150 guests, and it can be divided into two sections for smaller groups. Additional rooms, with capacities from 14 to 60, offer space for breakout sessions or intimate gatherings. The Edgewater’s catering team can provide a variety of menu options from a buffet breakfast or break-time snacks to a plated dinner. The facility offers full audiovisual support including WiFi and video conferencing.
The venue’s 223 guest rooms come with gas fireplaces, European spa-styled bathrooms and comfortable sitting areas. With the exciting sights of Seattle at the hotel’s doorstep, meeting guests will want to schedule extra time to explore the area. The hotel’s Six Seven restaurant offers breathtaking views along with classic Pacific Northwest cuisine. Valet parking is available and the hotel offers a complimentary shuttle service within the downtown Seattle corridor.
The many dining options along the waterfront range from quick street food to fine dining, and the area offers an eclectic shopping experience. Other Seattle attractions, including the Pike Place Market and Seattle Center, home of the Space Needle and the MoPoP (the Museum of Pop Culture), are only a few blocks away.
The Edgewater makes the ideal headquarters hotel for groups planning a conference at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center. Located adjacent to the hotel, Bell Harbor offers more than 100,000 square feet of conference, exhibition, trade show and meeting space.
Marcus Whitman Hotel and Conference Center
WALLA WALLA, WASHINGTON
Named in honor of an early missionary who helped establish the region, the Marcus Whitman Hotel and Conference Center is located in the center of the city. The hotel was built in 1928 as a community-wide effort and is Walla Walla’s tallest building.
For decades, the venue has served as a gathering spot for locals and visitors alike. With a European Renaissance-inspired décor, the hotel is equipped with all the modern amenities and technology. The Marcus Whitman offers flexible, functional space with a sophisticated ambience.
“We have more than 13,000 square feet of meeting space that can accommodate groups from 10 to 450,” says Austin Blaylock, director of marketing. The elegant Explorer Ballroom is the cornerstone of the Conference Center. The 5,356-square-foot room can accommodate as many as 500 guests in a theater-style arrangement and 450 for a banquet. The room can be divided into three smaller sections for maximum flexibility.
The hotel has two historic ballrooms that have been completely restored to re-create an authentic turn-of-the-last-century ambience. The Renaissance Ballroom holds 120 for a theater-style presentation, while the Empire Ballroom can accommodate up to 80 guests. Behind the decorative surface, both ballrooms are state-of-the-art meeting rooms. The rooms feature digitally-controlled lighting, complete audiovisual support and the hospitality services that will make any gathering a success.
Named for local Native American tribes, the Cayuse, Nez Perce and Umatilla meeting rooms are located on the second floor of the hotel’s historic tower. These rooms provide just the right environment for a smaller meeting and can offer space for breakout sessions from a larger conference. The rooms each hold up to 20 guests and the three rooms can be combined into the one, the Native American Room, that can accommodate 60 people.
With 133 luxury guest rooms, the hotel makes an ideal home base for a mid-size conference. On-site catering, complimentary WiFi and free parking add to its attractiveness. The hotel’s award-winning Marc Restaurant offers a casual, yet elegant, ambience for any after-conference diners.
The Marcus Whitman is located in the center of Walla Walla within walking distance to all the city’s restaurants, shopping and galleries. Walla Walla lies at the center of one of Washington’s most famous wine regions. Blaylock says, “You can get the full experience of what Walla Walla is about at the Marcus Whitman. We have four wine tasting rooms in our lobby, and there are 20 more within walking distance of the hotel.”
Located at the foot of eastern Washington’s Blue Mountains, Walla Walla has an abundance of activities for post-conference enjoyment and team building. Hiking rafting, skiing, golf and a variety of winter sports will keep visitors entertained. Wine enthusiasts will enjoy visiting a selection of the more than 100 in the region. The staff at the Marcus Whitman can help guests develop a customized excursion itinerary to support anyone’s interests.
Originally known as the New Oregon Hotel, The Benson Hotel was soon re-named in honor of Simon Benson, one of early Portland’s noted lumber barons, philanthropists and visionaries. Benson commissioned the city’s most prominent architect of the day, Albert E. Doyle of the firm Doyle and
Patterson, to design the facility. Benson wanted to build a grand hotel for Portland that features the distinctive style of restraint and proportion reflected during the early 20th century.
Since it first opened in 1913, the classic hotel has catered to celebrities, leaders in business and industry, politicians and every seated U.S. president from William H. Taft to Barack Obama. Whether it is a large conference, a business seminar, a board retreat or a celebration banquet, The Benson Hotel can accommodate any group.
In addition to having historical roots, The Benson Hotel also offers 12 rooms with more than 18,000 square feet of meeting and event space. The opulent 5,850-square-foot Mayfair Ballroom, located on the mezzanine level, features a stage area and provides the perfect setting for both theater-style presentations and formal banquets. The room can hold up to 500 guests. The ballroom can be divided into two separate spaces to accommodate smaller groups.
The hotel’s stylish lobby is home to the Crystal Ballroom. This room can accommodate as many as 210 guests in a theater-style setup or 250 for a reception. Additional meeting and event spacess range in size from intimate rooms, that hold 8 to 12 people, to a variety of mid-size rooms accommodating up to 60. The handsome, wood-paneled Regency Boardroom provides privacy and elegance for executive meetings or receptions.
The hotel offers a full-service catering department that can serve everything from break-time refreshments to an elegant banquet. Complimentary WiFi and complete audiovisual services provide the support for any meeting or event. Natural light flows through The Palm Court, the hotel’s restaurant and lounge, offering a warm atmosphere suitable for a family meal or a quiet dinner for two. Adjacent to the hotel, El Gaucho, the award-winning steakhouse and cigar room, provides the ideal setting for a power lunch, or a dinner to impress clients.
With 287 luxury guest rooms and suites, conference attendees will want to find an excuse to linger a few days. The Benson’s location, on the northern edge of downtown Portland, puts guests within walking distance of the Pearl District, Pioneer Square and downtown. Portland’s iconic bookstore, Powell’s Books, is a short walk away. The nearby Lan Su Chinese Garden offers a quiet retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The Benson offers valet parking and is easily accessible to Portland’s MAX light rail and streetcar system. For out of town guests, the hotel can arrange shuttle or town car service to and from Portland International Airport.
The Heathman Hotel
Downtown Portland’s Cultural District is the home of one of Portland’s last remaining historic hotels. Originally opened in 1927, the Heathman Hotel features a stylish 19th-century European ambience, from the doormen dressed in British Beefeater-type uniforms to the decorative details in the Jacobean Revival style.
The hotel boasts a rich history with a reverent appreciation for the arts. Visitors feel like they have entered an art museum as they enjoy the Heathman’s world-class collection of contemporary art that is on view throughout the common areas. Guests can enjoy a quiet break as they peruse the literary collection in the hotel’s library. The library contains more than 2,700 volumes signed by the authors.
Located on the mezzanine level, more than 3,800 square feet of space in 11 rooms is available for groups. The hotel can accommodate up to 150 guests for business meetings, conferences and social gatherings. Before and after events, or during conference breaks, attendees can mingle in the Mezzanine Foyer and Gallery viewing works from the hotel’s prized art collection.
A fireplace and sophisticated décor highlight the Symphony Room that accommodates up to 25 for a business meeting or 50 for a reception. Combined with the adjacent Broadway Room, the 1,608-square-foot space can serve 125 in a theater-style arrangement or 150 for a reception. Windows overlooking Portland’s Southwest Broadway bathe the Fremont and Morrison Rooms in natural light while providing room for breakout sessions and smaller meetings.
The Heathman features state-of-the-art technology for meeting planners, including WiFi, the latest in audiovisual equipment, on-site technical support and a large business center. The catering team, led by prominent local chef, Vitaly Paley, can provide a customized menu for any event from a gala dinner to board meeting refreshments.
The Heathman’s 150 guest rooms and suites feature luxurious bedding and stylish marble bathrooms. Chef Paley’s Headwaters Restaurant, located in the hotel’s lobby, features fresh cuisine that showcases local ingredients.
Groups meeting at the Heathman Hotel will find an abundance of fun and interesting activities right outside the hotel’s doorstep. Only one block from the
hotel, the Portland Center for Performing Arts and the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall host a complete lineup of musical and dramatic performances throughout the year. The nearby Portland Art Museum has a renowned collection of paintings, sculpture and graphic arts. The museum also has a large collection that features art of the native peoples of North America.
The central downtown location offers meeting planners and attendees a wide variety of urban activities. The city’s shopping, dining and entertainment scene unfolds within walking distance of the hotel. An abundance of transportation and parking options are at the hotel’s doorstep.
Overlooking the downtown and Puget Sound, Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood has been the home of Hotel Sorrento since 1909. The seven-story building was designed by famed Seattle architect, Harlan Thomas, who eventually became the first dean at the University of Washington School of Architecture. The sophisticated venue displays Italian Renaissance-style features inspired by one of Harlan’s favorite hotels, the Vittorio, located in Sorrento, Italy.
Among the hotel’s distinctive features, the Fireside Room, located on the ground floor, features rich mahogany paneling, comfortable furniture and a large fireplace clad with green Rookwood pottery. The room often serves as a community gathering place for musical performances or literary readings. Warm weather brings guests to the Garden. An outdoor hub of hospitality, the Garden is available for lunch, cocktails and relaxed dinners when the weather permits.
The Hotel Sorrento offers more than 4,700 square feet of meeting and event space in six stylish rooms. At 1,800 square feet, the Top of the Town Room is the largest event space. It can accommodate up to 150 in a theater-style setup. A tall ceiling and intriguing architectural details make this octagonally-shaped room a unique setting for a conference, seminar or banquet.
Four additional rooms provide breakout space for a conference, or offer well-appointed space for a smaller meeting. These rooms range in capacities from 15 to 40, giving planners a variety of options depending on the size of the group. The hotel’s in-house catering staff can provide an assortment of food and beverage options and complimentary WiFi is available throughout the hotel.
With a large fireplace and plush furnishings, the top-floor Penthouse is a sophisticated retreat for groups as large as 40. The room opens onto a rooftop deck offering dramatic views of the city. Whether you are planning a corporate board retreat or a special sales presentation, this room will impress your guests.
Hotel Sorrento is Seattle’s oldest boutique hotel with 76 guest rooms and suites, each having its own individual personality. The guest rooms are large and modern, having been recently refreshed to provide the latest in comfortable amenities while retaining many of the original details such as carved-wood moldings and restored vintage furniture.
The hotel’s location, in one of Seattle’s oldest districts, offers a friendly neighborhood appeal. At the same time, the Sorrento is only a few blocks from the city’s bustling downtown. The Washington State Convention Center is a short walk away, making the Sorrento an ideal option for visitors attending an event at the Convention Center. For guests staying at the hotel, the area around the hotel abounds with interesting dining options.
The Edgewater Hotel
- 223 guest rooms
- 10,000 square feet of meeting and event space
- Eight meeting rooms
- 250 seated capacity in largest meeting room
Sarah Kiepe, director of sales & marketing
The Marcus Whitman Hotel and Conference Center
- 133 guest rooms
- 11 meeting rooms
- 500 seated capacity in largest meeting room
Mark Sansom, director of marketing and public relations
The Benson Hotel
- 587 guest rooms
- 18,000 square feet of meeting and event space
- 12 meeting rooms
- 500 seated capacity in largest meeting room
Leslie Caldwell, director of sales and marketing
The Heathman Hotel
- 150 guest rooms
- 3,800 square feet of meeting and event space
- Seven meeting rooms
- 125 seated capacity in largest meeting room
Joye Lucas, business and Leisure sales manager
- 76 guest rooms
- 4,700 square feet of meeting space
- Six meeting rooms
- 150 seated capacity in largest meeting room
Helena Khu, marketing manager