with the Benaroya Wing next winter, which
will house collections of international studio art glass and paintings and sculptures
by Pacific Northwest artists. It will also give
the museum additional event space.
Especially strong in the association
market, Tacoma emphasizes its walkability,
convenience to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and hotel rates that average
less than those in Seattle or Portland,
according to Potvin-Bird.
“We really offer the whole package, with
great museums close to the convention
center and free light-rail running through
the town core,” she said. “Plus, there are
so many ways for groups to engage with
our destination—glass blowing, ziplining,
hiking on Mt. Rainier or taking a gondola
ride up Crystal Mountain.”
West of Seattle on the shores of Lake Washington, Bellevue is a thriving meetings
destination, particularly in the tech sector,
according to Jane Kantor, director of sales
for Visit Bellevue.
“Microsoft, which is just east of us in
Redmond, drives a lot of our business,”
she said. “Plus, we also get a lot from other
tech companies like Salesforce and Google
as well as start-ups and even a growing
number of Chinese companies opening up
offices in our area.”
With corporate demand high, especially
during midweek, Bellevue is easily absorb-
ing new hotel growth that has seen the
opening of properties such as AC Marriott
Bellevue, Hampton Inn and W Bellevue,
which debuted last summer with 242
rooms and 10,000 square feet of meeting
“The W has really become to place to see
and be seen,” Kantor said. “It’s got a lake
house feel with porch swings, waterfront
views and amazing local art, including
huge colorful wall murals.”
Greater Seattle shines with its
It’s hard to go anywhere in Greater Seattle, dominated as it is by sweeping vistas of lakes and sea, without feeling the urge to get out on the water. Fortunately, there is no shortage of ways that water-based activities, everything from dinner cruises to sea kayaking adventures,
can enliven any meeting agenda.
In Tacoma, the Thea Foss Waterway, located right below the city’s Museum District and a
short walk from the convention center, is free of turbulence and a popular place for leisurely
exploring the scenic Puget Sound shoreline. Dock Street Marina ( www.dockstreetmarina.com)
rents both single and double kayaks as well as stand-up paddleboards.
“You can walk out of the Museum of Glass, jump in a kayak and
be out on the water in seconds,” said Matt Wakefield, senior com-
munications manager for Travel Tacoma. “It’s a great way to take a
break from a meeting and enjoy the outdoors.”
Seattle’s Lake Union, just outside downtown and dotted with
houseboat communities and waterfront restaurants, is another kaya-
king mecca. Located on the lake, Northwest Outdoor Center (www.
nwoc.com) offers nearly 20 different types of kayaks for rent as well
Enatai Beach Park ( https://parks.bellevuewa.gov) on Lake Washington in Bellevue offers kayak and canoe rentals as well as a swimming beach and picnic
areas where groups can have catered events. The park is also the gateway to Mercer Slough
Nature Park, which can be explored on ranger-led canoe trips through 320-acres of wetlands
that are a habitat for otters, herons, turtles and other wildlife. Visit Bellevue ( www.visitbellev
uewashington.com) can assist with group bookings of the canoe tours.
In the San Juan Islands, about 80 miles north of Seattle and a rich habitat for orca whales,
nesting bald eagles, sea lions, porpoises and other creatures, San Juan Outfitters ( www.san
juanoutfitters.com) offers naturalist-led sea kayaking tours out of Roche Harbor. The company
also operates whale-watching cruises on a fleet of vessels carrying up to 49 passengers, with
private charters available.
Argosy Cruises ( www.argosycruises.com) features a variety of scheduled sightseeing cruises
and private charters on Puget Sound, Lake Union and Lake Washington. A signature offering
that accommodates large groups is the Tillicum Experience, which includes an excursion out
to Blake Island State Park for a salmon dinner accompanied by Native American entertainment and storytelling.
Other choices include a wine-tasting excursion on Lake Union and a two-hour cruise that
passes through the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks along the Lake Washington Ship Canal where
the locks raise and lower ships making the transition between fresh and sea water.
For groups meeting in or near Bellevue, Argosy’s cruise around Lake Washington is an
especially engaging option, according to Sharon Linton, marketing and communications
manager for Visit Bellevue.
“You can combine a cocktail reception with a two-hour cruise around Lake Washington,”
she said. “There are great views of the Cascade mountains, plus you cruise by fabulous
homes on the shoreline that are owned by Bill Gates and other corporate leaders. One even
has a giant sculpture of a dinosaur in a glass atrium.”
The “Clueless in Seattle” scavenger hunt is among the teambuilding activities offered by
The Electric Boat Company ( www.theelectricboatco.com), which has a fleet of passenger-op-erated Duffy boats on Lake Union.
Groups can charter the 12-passenger vessels, each
one equipped with a “treasure chest” filled with clues
and disguises for use during the hunt. The activities
can be combined with a lunch, dinner or a cocktail
reception at the Lake Union Yacht Club.
“The electric boats are one of the coolest expe-
riences around for groups,” said Kelly Saling, vice
president of convention sales for Visit Seattle. “It’s
fun just to tour around and see the houseboats where
Sleepless in Seattle was filmed, get views of the Space
Needle and Mt. Rainier and watch the float planes
take off and land on the lake.”
Private charters, along with scheduled dinner cruises, are the specialty of Waterways Cruis-
es & Events ( www.waterwayscruises.com), which operates a fleet of luxury yachts that sail on
Puget Sound, Lake Union and Lake Washington.
Charter packages for groups of up to 220 guests can include full catering and bar service
along with a variety of entertainment options and narration.
ENATAI BEACH PARK, BELLEVUE
DOCK STREET MARINA, TACOMA
BELLEVUE DOWNTOWN SKYLINE