The Evergreen State delivers a powerful punch of meeting venues in the mountains. Groups can explore Mount Rainer National Park, coast the Wenatchee Skyride, take a course in sustainable forestry or play Zombie Garden. Washington’s peak places are diverse and ripe for incredible gatherings.
Nestled in the Cascade Mountains, Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum can host events for up to 600 guests, both indoors and outdoors, and there are various lodging options including 70 luxury vacation homes (ranging from one to five bedrooms), 24 condos at Trailhead Condominiums, 14 guest rooms and four suites at The Inn and 229 rooms and 16,000 square feet of indoor meeting space at The Lodge.
This 6,400-acre resort community is just 80 miles east of Seattle; yet, it quickly transplants guests into a lush Evergreen paradise. The resort features the freestanding Glade Spring Spa, an indoor swim and fitness center, Swiftwater Cellars and outdoor experiences such as fly-fishing, bikes and brew, and snowshoe tours. There is even a historic moped outing!
However, the most bizarre and intriguing part of Suncadia might be two of its new team-building exercises that truly take guests into a different realm. Meeting Breakers, for example, takes frustration and turns it into art. “This is the perfect activity to relieve stress by allowing participants to annihilate premade crates of breakable pottery using various tools. After the damage is done, teams are able to work together and make a mosaic of art using the materials they’ve destroyed,” explains Mike Rayburn, director of sales and marketing for Suncadia Resort.
“Another popular group activity is the Zombie Garden, enabling groups to work together and protect team members with only a bow and arrow,” says Rayburn. “As the levels increase, so does the difficulty of surviving (hypothetically); the team with the most surviving members wins.”
And, if your group is not exhausted from surviving the possible end of the world, Suncadia Resort is also just minutes away from the silver screen town of Roslyn where the hit ‘90s television show “Northern Exposure” was filmed. Roslyn also is home to Washington’s oldest continuously operating bar, The Brick Saloon, which still holds liquor license No. 1 for the state.
Also new, groups will benefit from the 1,000 Steps project at Suncadia where the resort added 21 flights of stairs connecting The Lodge to Cle Elum River. The steps provide guests access to the river more easily and are a great outdoor activity for those who want to get their heart rate up.
Located 65 miles south of Seattle, close to the Mount Rainier National Park entrance, is the Center for Sustainable Forestry at Pack Forest that is owned by the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences and can accommodate groups of 20-500. Here, amongst one of America’s most iconic parks, are conference facilities featuring a log cabin with huge stone fireplace and overnight accommodations for 136 guests in apartments, houses, historic cabins and dorm rooms. The conference facilities feature six meeting rooms, including Scott Hall that seats a maximum of 200 and the Macbride building with three modern meeting rooms holding 10-75 and a computer lab.
Once done inside, groups can take advantage of everything the area has to offer including the Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, which has five zip line/challenge courses that run through the tree canopy. Programs also may be arranged within Mount Rainier National Park with advance notice and planning.
“Eatonville is so close to the hiking and the outdoor bounty of Mount Rainier National Park that you can smell the Douglas firs from Center Street,” explains Matt Wakefield, communications manager at Travel Tacoma + Pierce County. Groups also can coordinate in-town meals at places like Cruiser Café for the legendary crinkle-cut fries or drop by the Copper Creek Inn for Jennie’s famous blackberry pie to truly capture the humble and welcoming nature of this area.
Leavenworth & Wenatchee
These two communities are about 20-30 miles apart and offer some of the most expansive and luxurious facilities for corporate groups in eastern Washington. Located at the foot of Cascade Mountains between Seattle and Spokane, this area is known as the Wenatchee Valley.
Leavenworth is a 1960s town that was transformed into a Bavarian Village to lure tourists. The success has resulted in a booming tourism influence of more than 2 million guests annually. Wenatchee is better known for recreational opportunities, a laid-back atmosphere, wineries, Pybus Public Market, farm-totable options and loads of trails for hiking and biking.
Bryan Chee, a program manager for Amazon, has been taking groups to Leavenworth since 1999. “It’s that ideal distance from Seattle, and there are very few facilities east of Seattle that provide the setting and atmosphere we are trying to embody in our leadership program. We need big and small meeting spaces, and the Sleeping Lady has been my go-to for nearly 15 years.”
Chee’s prior role at the University of Washington is what originally drew him to the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort for his retreats of up to 75 people. Now, his groups are more 30 to 40 guests, and they are in Leavenworth for five days. “It’s great, there is an on-site dining room at Sleeping Lady and then we can move directly into our programming. The breakout sessions are extremely important to our culture and directive, and they are very comfortable.” The mountain resort and hotel also has spotty cell phone coverage that Chee believes is a bonus, “People really disconnect and get into the environment.”
Wenatchee offers that same disconnect and mountain splendor. The Wenatchee Convention Center has more than 50,000 square feet of meeting space and can accommodate groups of up to 1,200. And, a major bonus is that the facility is connected to Coast Wenatchee Center Hotel via a skybridge. “There is also the 11-mile Apple Capital Loop Trail, popular for guests and programming. And, if you need more recreation, Mission Ridge Ski Resort is 12 miles from Wenatchee and has amazing views and terrain for all different groups, “ notes Linda Herald, general manager of the Wenatchee Convention Center.
The mountains of Washington encompass a vast variety of venues, programming, activities, cuisine and culture that are authentic and memorable, so it may just be time to head to the Northwest!