By Ron Engeldinger
WITH THE WATERS OF PUGET SOUND LAPPING AT ITS DOORSTEP AND VIEWS OF GLACIER-CLAD MOUNT RAINIER IN THE DISTANCE, TACOMA HAS COME INTO ITS OWN AS A DESTINATION FOR MEETING AND EVENT PLANNERS.
“We have awesome meeting facilities, a walkable downtown and a lot of options to keep your group busy,” explains Nick Mann, group marketing manager for Travel Tacoma + Pierce County. “Tacoma offers meeting planners all the assets of Seattle for meeting planners, but prices are lower. You get a lot more bang for your buck in Tacoma,” says Mann.
A bustling waterfront, a mix of historic neighborhoods and modern architecture, surround a vibrant downtown that glistens with works of art by legendary glass artist Dale Chihuly, giving Tacoma a special personality. Mann asserts, “We are a friendly, laid-back city. Meeting planners and attendees tell us they enjoy their experience here.” The variety of meeting and event spaces in Tacoma ranges from rustic to sophisticated. Many out-of-the-ordinary venues are waiting to provide a new and interesting experience for your group.
MEET AND STAY
The floor-to-ceiling glass walls at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center create an open, light-filled atmosphere. More than 119,000 square feet of space in 16 rooms make the downtown facility one of the largest in Western Washington. Built for maximum flexibility, the facility will meet the needs of a business meeting for eight or a conference for 4,000. “From the top floor of the Center, your view ranges from Mount Rainier in the east to the Puget Sound in the west,” says Mann. The Center’s location in the middle of downtown Tacoma provides easy access to hotels, restaurants, museums and nightlife.
The Courtyard Marriott Tacoma Downtown is located across the street from the Convention Center. With nearly 16,000 square feet of event space, including a 6,000 square-foot outdoor patio, the hotel can accommodate up to 450 for a conference or event. This upscale member of the Marriott chain offers 162 contemporary-styled guest rooms and an inviting lobby. All the amenities of downtown Tacoma are only minutes from the venue.
Located next door to the Tacoma Convention and Trade Center, the Hotel Murano is a stylish, art-filled facility with 320 guest rooms in the center of downtown Tacoma. Your meeting and event guests will be inspired by the aura of creativity that fills the hotel. Each floor showcases a different glass artist, and the European atrium lobby features glass art from all across the globe. For a large conference at the Convention Center, the Murano can serve as your headquarters. The Murano also features 28,000 square feet of meeting space of its own that can accommodate groups from 12 to 650 for conferences, corporate meetings or special events.
The Best Western Plus Tacoma Dome Hotel is situated next to the Tacoma Dome, Tacoma’s large indoor arena, and within walking distance of the city center. The venue has 5,000 square feet of meeting space in three spacious ballrooms and can accommodate as many as 200 for a meeting or reception. With complimentary WiFi, free parking and a complimentary local area shuttle, the venue is a convenient site for mid-size meetings and events.
Planners who want to design a meeting or event in a sporty venue should check out the LeMay – America’s Car Museum. With a collection of more than 250 vehicles spanning over 100 years of automotive history, the museum’s dozen meeting rooms and breakout spaces provide flexible options for conferences or special events. Whether it is an event for 200 in the Banquet Room, a corporate session for 50 in the Board Room or a gala affair in the showcase Gallery, the museum can be the setting for a memorable event. More of the vast LeMay automobile collection is on display at the Marymount Event Center, about 12 miles south of downtown Tacoma. Located on 80 landscaped acres, Marymount can accommodate groups from a small corporate retreat to a 500-person conference.
Celebrating Tacoma’s rich maritime heritage, the Foss Waterway Seaport exhibits canoes, models of commercial vessels, vintage fishing lures, scuba equipment and boating artifacts. With panoramic views of Mount Rainier, the Foss Waterway and Commencement Bay from the building’s new window wall, the Seaport Exhibit Hall offers space for as many as 400 seated guests. The 420-foot esplanade along the Foss Waterway is a scenic outdoor gathering space offering views of Tacoma’s active waterfront.
A park-like campus seven miles south of downtown Tacoma is the home of Pacific Lutheran University (PLU). The University offers more than 96,000 square feet of meeting and event space. It has a full range of settings from large auditoriums to conference rooms, intimate meeting rooms and classrooms in LEED-certified buildings. PLU offers on-site catering and the latest in audiovisual resources. On-campus lodging is available during the summer.
Located in a renovated century-old tin can factory, Tin Can Alley offers a different take on meetings and events. The vaulted ceilings, wood beams and open floor plan of the venue provide a blank canvas for design and décor. The venue is the headquarters of the noted event design and production team, PJ Hummel & Company. The staff can help you deliver a unique and inspiring event.
For the opportunity to go eye-to-eye with more than a dozen massive sharks, the Shark Dives at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium take you underwater to encounter these fearsome creatures. If you are not ready to face sharks, then maybe the zoo’s camel ride is more to your liking. The Port Defiance Zoo and Aquarium also offers several event spaces. The 3,000 square-foot Education Center can accommodate 175 guests for a conference or reception. The North Pacific Aquarium exhibit gallery holds up to 200 for an after-hours event.
OUT AND ABOUT
Tacoma’s downtown has an abundance of options for post-conference activities. The Chihuly Bridge of Glass, a 500-foot pedestrian walkway, features more than 2,000 glass creations and is the gateway to Tacoma’s multi-facetted Museum District. “Tacoma has the highest number of museums per-capita of any city in the Northwest,” say Mann. If your interests lie with history, art and culture, classic automobiles or the region’s maritime heritage, you will find something of interest in Tacoma.
Groups can take advantage of Tacoma’s glass-making tradition by visiting Area 253 Glassblowing and making their own glass art creations. Teams of up to 20 will learn the art and work together to produce unique glass objects.
Whether it is a team building endeavor or simply post-conference relaxation, Tacoma’s 43-miles of visitor-friendly waterfront entice visitors. Kayaking on the quiet waters of Foss Waterway, or, for the more adventuresome, picturesque Commencement Bay, is a group activity that many will enjoy. With miles of scenic walking paths, Ruston Way travels along Commencement Bay just outside of the downtown area. A drive or stroll down this street will reward visitors with a meal at some of Tacoma’s best seafood restaurants. Groups will marvel at views of Puget Sound, Mount Rainier and the waterfront from a boat by chartering a private yacht trip with companies such as Destiny Harbor Tours or My Girl the Boat-Yacht Charter.
Tacoma has a robust wine, brew and spirits community. On the Lifestyle Valet brewery tour, your group will be shuttled to some of Tacoma’s best breweries. The staff at the Travel Tacoma + Pierce County can provide detailed information about the many wineries and distilleries in the region.
Further afield, day trips can take groups up to Mount Rainier National Park and all the mountain activities available there. Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, about an hour from Tacoma, offers year-around opportunities. The park provides facilitated team-building activities suited to any group in addition to animal encounter presentations and an exhilarating zip line experience.
Located along I-5 and served by regular Amtrak train service, Tacoma is a convenient destination from anywhere in the region. Sea-Tac International Airport is only 20 minutes from downtown Tacoma, and regular shuttles easily connect the city to the airport.
- Tacoma has 5,700 hotel rooms
- 20 miles from Sea-Tac International airport
Travel Tacoma + Pierce County
Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center
- 119,000 square feet of meeting space
- 16 flexible meeting rooms
- 4,250 seated capacity in largest meeting room
Ginny Solomon, Sales Manager
- 320 guest rooms
- 28,000 square feet of meeting space
- 12 flexible meeting rooms
- 1,800 capacity in largest room
Tom Ebner, Director of Sales & Marketing
Courtyard Marriott Tacoma Downtown
- 162 guest rooms
- 15,970 square feet of meeting space
- Seven meeting rooms
- 450 seated capacity on largest room
Carol Pica, Director of Sales & Marketing
Best Western Plus Tacoma Dome
- 160 guest rooms
- 5,000 square feet of meeting space
- 5 meeting rooms
- 200 seated capacity n largest meeting room
Margie Smith, Sales Manager
253-272-7737 ext. 1006
Best Western Premier Plaza Hotel & Conference Center
- 99 guest rooms
- 3,200 square feet of meeting space
- Three meeting rooms
- 190 capacity of largest room
Ingram Drueding, Director of Sales & Marketing
Foss Waterway Seaport
- One meeting space
- 400 seated capacity in meeting space
- Free parking
- Guest moorage for boat access
Earla Harding, Event Coordinator
Pacific Lutheran University
- 96,000 square feet of meeting space
- A wide variety of meeting and event spaces available
- 2,800 seated capacity in largest event space
- Free WiFi for guests
- Free parking
Tin Can Alley
- One event space
- 250 seated capacity
Ana Nelson, Brand Ambassador
LeMay – America’s Car Museum
- 165,000 square feet of flexible space
- More than 12 customizable meeting and event spaces
- 500 seated capacity in largest room
Ann Sweeney, Private Events & Sales Coordinator
LeMay Family Collection at Marymount Event Center
- 14,500 square feet of meeting space
- Four meeting and event spaces
- 500 seated capacity in largest room
- 87 acres of outdoor space
- Free parking
- Vintage vehicle collection
Elisia Mutter, Marketing and Development Manager
Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
- 200 capacity in largest meeting room
Area 253 Glassblowing
Destiny Harbor Tours
My Girl the Boat – Yacht Charter
Northwest Trek Wildlife Park