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New Venue Openings and Renovations in Washington State (2021)
Ruby River Hotel, Spokane
By lifting all restrictions on June 30—with a few exceptions for large events over 10,000 people—Washington state is prepping for the return of both leisure travelers and group business.
There’s much to be excited about, including shiny new and renovated venues across the state that offer intriguing options for in-person meetings and events. Following are some of the properties planners can get excited about.
Washington’s biggest city is a hub for meetings and conventions in the state, home to Washington State Convention Center, located in the heart of downtown. Over 65 hotels join the venue in the downtown core, and the options are only expanding following a slew of 2018 hotel openings, including the 1,260-plus-room Hyatt Regency Seattle—the largest hotel in the Pacific Northwest and also city’s first and only LEED Gold-certified hotel.
Not all was quiet in Seattle in 2020, with a few openings and renovations entering the Seattle hospitality scene:
- Lotte Hotel Seattle opened in 2020, which offers sweeping views of the Seattle skyline and Puget Sound. The Sanctuary Grand Ballroom—a historic events venue that was renovated in 2019—is part of the hotel’s offerings, along with Charlotte Restaurant, a spa and more.
- Fairmont Olympic reopened last April after an extensive $25-million renovation, unveiling a new lobby, lobby bar and all key meeting spaces within the resort. Onsite restaurant The Georgian is expected to undergo renovations that will be revealed later this year.
Tulalip Resort & Casino is the big-name meeting venue in Snohomish County, about 33 miles north of Seattle. The AAA Four-Diamond casino resort—which is owned and operated by the Tulalip Tribes of Washington—completed a full guest room renovation in 2017, followed by a revamp of its two floors of meeting spaces that wrapped in 2020.
Following a year of virtual and hybrid meetings, the resort has also invested in bolstering its technology offerings.
“Our newest meeting renovations include high-definition televisions and/or projection systems in each meeting room. We also offer the option of a Meeting Owl Pro, which is an all-in-one, 360-degree camera, mic and speaker system for use in our boardrooms for video calls,” said Tracy Goolsby, director of sales and hotel operations for the resort. “We offer state-of-the-art technology for two-way interactive broadcasting as well as an increased Wi-Fi speed and the capacity to work with several content delivery networks to fit every type of meeting or program.”
Goolsby also noted that the 5,000-square-foot outdoor space outside of the resort’s large ballroom is seeing an uptick in requests for events, due to the popularity of fresh-air gatherings.
“With the increase in requests, we now have components in place that will allow us to utilize it outside of our typical summer months due to the Pacific Northwest weather patterns,” she said.
While at Tulalip, attendees will have an opportunity to explore the local culture. According to Goolsby, local Coast Salish artwork created exclusively for Tulalip is showcased throughout the property.
“Visitors can also experience additional Tulalip Tribal culture by visiting Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve, a 50-acre natural history preserve,” she added.
Spokane is becoming more accessible for meetings and events, with nonstop service to Spokane International Airport now available from 20 cities, including recent routes from Chicago Midway, and San Jose and Orange County, California, on Southwest Airlines.
Hotel inventory is on the rise, too, with four properties opening in the past year, including:
- Hotel Indigo Spokane: Situated in the heart of the arts and entertainment district, this renovated boutique property—formerly the Otis—is located near trendy restaurants and bars, historic buildings, and is minutes from Spokane Falls, the convention center, Fox Theater, shopping and more.
- Tru by Hilton Spokane Valley: Just 10 miles from downtown Spokane and minutes from CenterPlace Regional Events Center and the Centennial Trail, this new entrant to the Spokane scene is conveniently located. Meetings on site are easy to organize, with nearly 22,000 square feet of total event space available, with 15 meeting rooms and 92 guest rooms.
- SpringHill Suites Spokane Airport: This 109-room all-suite hotel across the street from Spokane International Airport opened its doors in 2020.
Notably, the La Quinta in downtown Spokane has been completely gutted and remodeled. The hotel is within walking distance from the city’s convention center. The Centennial Hotel and Ruby River Hotel, both located on the north bank of the Spokane River with stunning water views, have both undergone extensive remodels as well.
Hotels aren’t the only new venues in town. Two new offsite venues for memorable events have also recently entered the Spokane scene:
- The US Pavilion in Riverfront Park: Located within the 100-acre park in the middle of downtown Spokane, the US Pavilion—an original structure from the 1974 World’s Fair—recently received a facelift as a part of Riverfront Park’s $64-million renovation. It can hold up to 5,000 people and is available for rentals.
- Historic Flight Foundation: Planners can organize a meeting in an airplane hangar at the Historic Felts Field in Spokane Valley (15 minutes from downtown Spokane) where attendees will be surrounded by historic planes.
Tacoma—south of Seattle on the banks of Puget Sound—has much to offer groups with its natural surroundings and bustling downtown filled with waterfront restaurants, museums and more. As more people discover this Pacific Northwest gem, new properties are meeting the demand.
“Our downtown and waterfront hotel communities are more fully activated than they were when we went into the pandemic,” noted Matt Wakefield, director of marketing and communications for Travel Tacoma.
According to Wakefield, some highlights of new hotels for meeting groups include:
- Silver Cloud Hotel Point Ruston Waterfront, opened in June 2021 with 194 guest rooms, 139 of which will have a waterfront view. The hotel features 15,310 square feet of total event space, which includes a 5,400-square-foot Grand Ballroom, more than 4,000 square feet of breakout space, a covered outdoor deck and both a covered and uncovered pool deck.
- Marriott Tacoma Downtown, connected to the Greater Tacoma Convention Center via a skybridge, opened in November 2020. The hotel contains 304 guest rooms and 13 event rooms totaling just over 20,000 square feet of space, with the largest ballroom being 10,500 square feet. It also has a 6,500-square-foot outdoor space and a 12,411-square-foot event hub, which is ideal for meetings or events. Much of the hotel features views of Mount Rainier, downtown Tacoma and the Salish Sea—sharing that view is a rooftop outdoor events center that is roughly 6,500 square feet.
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