Northwest Meetings + Events Winter 2022

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The Ascent of



Wingspan Event and Conference Center! Newly Landed Within 30 Miles of PDX

First-Class Space Includes • 39,250 sq. ft. of contiguous pillar-free exposition space • 10,220 sq. ft. event center, divisible into 4 breakouts • 3 fully equipped meeting rooms

Wingspan Event & Conference Center 801 NE 34th Ave. Hillsboro, OR 97124

Smooth Landings for All • 1,975 hotel rooms within 5 miles • 1,400 surface parking spaces • Designated MAX light rail stop

Here to Help Your Event Reach New Heights Wendy Popkin, VP Destination Sales | 971.245.2631


meet PLEASURE Our 1,200 Vegas-style slots, table games, scenic golf and Family FunPlex are where all the pleasure begins!





Centrally located, three hours from Portland, Boise or Spokane by car, and 10 minutes from Eastern Oregon Regional Airport.

Comprehensive meeting services including catering, AV tech support, and professional meeting coordination.

More than 14,000 square feet of flexible event and meeting space. Hotel with over 300 hotel rooms and suites, business center, indoor pool and fitness room.

Try your luck on the casino slot floor, swing into one of two golf courses, or enjoy our Family Funplex with its bowling alley, Cineplex and arcade.

With so many more options, your next meeting won’t feel like work!

CASINO • HOTEL • GOLF • RV • DINING • FUNPLEX 800.654.9453 • Pendleton, OR I-84 Exit 216 • F Owned and operated by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. 03927.TT.11.21

Group Contact - Eric Lund Ph. 970-586-0500 x 1231

Where Safe Meets Easy With our valued guests in mind, we’ve worked hard to ensure clean, safe and comfortable gatherings with the same great service you’ve come to expect from us. We’re ready to welcome you and your event!

206-694-5060 or SALES@WSCC.COM




WIN TER 2 02 2

The Boise Centre East

19 Boise Brings It On Idaho’s capital city has an exciting, compact downtown, endless outdoor activities, a firstclass convention center and a very accommodating CVB.

In Every Issue //

6 Editor’s Note 14 Destination

A community that celebrates local makers and embraces the

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unconventional—like a goat happy hour — Corvallis is an appealing destination for groups.

16 Venue Report

With a robust hotel boom, there’s more room than ever before to gather in Portland.

32 People Profile

Jamie McKinney curates group tours that are far, far off the beaten path.

Meeting Notes //

10 Open Mic

Planners can play a key role in spreading the word that meetings and events are both safe and essential.

12 New Venue

The Podium, Spokane’s long-awaited $53 million, 135,000-squarefoot sports facility makes its debut.

13 Signature Drink

Thompson Seattle welcomes the city’s new NHL team, Kraken, with its Fear the Deep cocktail.











The Ascent of



Industry Update //

26 Infographic

A mix of optimism and staffing concerns in MPI’s recent Meetings Outlook.

28 Regional News

Awards, venue and people news, association updates and more.

On the Cover Downtown is colorful and convenient for planners. PHOTO BY KNOWLESGALLERY


Feature //


WITH PLEASURE Indulge in Washington’s premier AAA Four-Diamond resort with award-winning dining, a luxurious spa and world-class shopping.



Back in Action » THE FIRST FAMILIARIZATION (FAM) TRIP I embarked on in 18 months




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was to Boise, Idaho. I learned a few things during that July visit. For starters, it’s pronounced “BOY-see” not “BOY-zee.” No one will correct you if you get it wrong, however, because “Boise nice” really is a thing as Andrew Heidt, Boise CVB’s director of sales, points out in this issue’s cover story. And, if I’d had any doubts, I’d learned that nothing can replace face-to-face gatherings for making connections, deepening relationships, exchanging useful information (on everything from comfortable walking shoes to how to deal with staff shortages), and just plain having fun. You cannot ride the rapids over Zoom (that’s me at the far right in the photo), and you cannot clink glasses in a group text. There were meeting planners from around the country on the FAM, from Seattle, Portland, Atlanta, Long Island, Orange County and Washington, D.C. Our days were packed—there’s a lot to experience in Boise—but when we returned to The Grove Hotel in the evening, everyone wanted to keep going. So, we did, walking five minutes to a local bar in downtown Boise or meeting in the lobby of the hotel to enjoy the bottles of wine from Idaho’s Snake River Valley AVA that we’d been gifted. It felt so good to be with colleagues, old and new; again, we didn’t want to part. And it’s good to be with you again, readers, sharing news of hotel booms in Portland and Spokane, spotlighting the charms of Corvallis, highlighting a “Concierge of Weird” and more. Let’s keep the conversation going. Please drop me a line and let me know about the events you’re executing, the topics and destinations you’d like to see us cover in these pages, vendors and venues that you think are worthy of celebration and, of course, your tips on the most comfortable shoes for FAM trips and site visits.











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M E E TI NG NOTE S Products, Places & Inspiration



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while getting together and enjoying luxurious accommodations might consider Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge. Promising an exclusive eco-safari experience in the secluded coastal setting of British Columbia’s Clayoquot Sound, the lodge offers immersive teambuilding experiences like wildlife viewing, fly fishing in secret spots that are accessible only by helicopter, hikes through old-growth rainforest, canyoning, rock climbing, mountain biking and horseback riding on terrain that traverses river valley meadows, fern gardens and abandoned gold mines. Premium creature comforts include 25 poshly appointed white canvas tents, Healing Grounds Spa, and elevated dining that uses sustainably produced, harvested or foraged

ingredients sourced from Vancouver Island and the greater province of British Columbia. Clayoquot Sound was designated as a UNESCOprotected Biosphere Reserve in 2000. A diverse range of ecosystems exists within the reserve, ranging from temperate coastal rainforest and oldgrowth conifer forest to oceans and rocky coastal shores. Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge is located at the very center of the reserve, at the northeast end of a 7-mile-deep fjord. Guests typically arrive here by flying to Vancouver and then connecting with a scenic 45-minute seaplane flight directly to the resort dock.

P H O T O S : J E R E M Y KO R E S K I ; ( O P P O S I T E ) S C H W E I T Z E R

Venue Spotlight //

New Property //

A BOUTIQUE HOTEL AT SCHWEITZER RESORT Schweitzer, the largest ski resort in Idaho and Washington, is welcoming the

31-room, three-story ski-in/ski-out Humbird as its first boutique hotel. “Humbird will offer a unique new way to stay and play at Schweitzer,” says Tom Chasse, president and CEO of the resort. “Beyond just a beautiful place to sleep, the hotel provides easy access to the mountain as well as public spaces to relax, recharge, refuel, and even a co-working space to stay plugged in as needed. The hotel’s name honors the Humbird Lumber Company, which was the lifeblood of the Sandpoint community in the early 1900s. The company attracted explorers, adventurers and families to the area, which is a spirit that we see still see reflected in visitors who come here today.” Humbird is taking reservations for Feb. 1, 2022 and beyond, and several corporate retreats have already been booked by companies in the tech industry and manufacturing sector. While buyouts are available, they’re not required. Humbird’s Glass Room meeting space can comfortably accommodate gatherings of 25. Designed by Portland-based Skylab Architecture, Humbird showcases the next generation of mountain architecture, featuring precision fabricated natural materials. The property was built using crosslaminated timber with exposed wood and structural elements that highlight the region’s connection to its natural surroundings. Rooms and public spaces offer large, panoramic windows, and each guest room provides dramatic views of nearby Lake Pend Oreille.

The property has a rooftop deck and hot tub overlooking the mountain and lake; on-site restaurant and bar, the Crow’s Bench; a fitness center; heated ski lockers/storage; and underground parking. For lodging needs beyond Humbird, Schweitzer manages an inventory of hotel-style rooms in Selkirk Lodge, condo-style accommodations in White Pine Lodge, and off-site homes and condos in the vicinity. Guests at all properties

can enjoy adventures for all seasons on 2,900 acres of terrain, including skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, twilight and full-moon snowshoe treks, mountain biking, hiking, huckleberry picking, scenic chairlift rides, and stunning mountaintop dining. Schweitzer’s group sales team also works with companies to build custom team-building opportunities that take advantage of the mountain setting, like team photo scavenger hunts and guided hikes or nature exploration.


M E E TI N G N OTES Products, Places & Inspiration

Open Mic //

Let’s Bring Meetings Back Tori Emerson Barnes serves as executive vice president of public affairs and policy at the U.S. Travel Association.

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» UPON WRITING THIS, FALL IS UPON US, and with that, a time to get back to routines and back to business. Yet daily news reports regarding the Delta variant threaten the nascent recovery of a critical segment of the U.S. economy that typically receives a boost in these autumn months: business travel and professional meetings and events (PMEs). The recovery of business travel and PMEs lags far behind that of leisure travel. According to a report from Tourism Economics, this critically important sector won’t fully recover until 2024 at the earliest, leaving millions of workers—particularly women and historically underrepresented groups—left behind as we begin to rebuild following the devastation inflicted by the pandemic. PMEs have been slower to recover than leisure travel due to early gathering restrictions and confusion as they have been regulated in the same vein as other large gatherings. As those in the meetings and events industry know, this is an unnecessary delay. Science has shown that PMEs are safe, and many large, in-person meetings and trade shows are taking place with no issue. Organizers of PMEs can implement layers of safety measures such as facial coverings, pandemic-curated food and beverage services, and well-ventilated physical spaces which, when paired with temperature checks and physical distancing, drastically reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. And considering that business event participants are typically a well-vaccinated group with a vaccination rate above 80 percent, the risk of transmission is all but eliminated. With states reopening and gathering restrictions being lifted, outdated corporate policies and lingering fear are the primary factors keeping travel budgets frozen and delaying the full return of PMEs. This hesitation to return to business travel may bring short-term savings, but it will certainly result in long-term costs in the form of damage to employees, companies, communities and the U.S. economy. The economic importance of the meetings and events industry cannot be overstated. Contributing more to our

national GDP than the air transportation, motion picture and spectator sports industries, this segment creates hundreds of thousands of jobs, generates billions of dollars in revenue and supports local communities across the country. The economic importance of these meetings to companies themselves is also worth noting. According to research by Tourism Economics, following the Great Recession we saw a strong correlation between business travel spending and productivity. Those who increased spending on business travel increased profits as well; conversely, those who tightened travel budgets experienced a decline. Those at the forefront of meeting planning can positively affect the return of business travel and PMEs by spreading the good news that these irreplaceable meetings are safe. Reassure clients that the travel and meetings industries put the highest priority on the health and safety of their guests and explain the protocols in place to ensure the safety of everyone from those staffing PMEs to those attending them. Meeting planners are in a unique position to tout the success stories of post-pandemic PMEs. Share your anecdotes and best practices on social media using the hashtag #meetsafemeetnow and on the MeetSafe platform ( that showcases meetings that have adhered to multilayered safety protocols. We are in this business for the human connection, the aha moments, and the game-changing ideas that are generated when people gather in person. We know the value of PMEs and the relationship-building opportunities offered at these events. In addition to planning and hosting these meetings, it is now our job to remind businesses of the value of in-person meetings and to reassure them that it can be done safely. The health of our economy depends upon the return of business travel and professional meetings and events. To learn more about the national initiative to restore meetings and events across the country, visit

P H O T O S : ( O P P O S I T E ) C L I M AT E P L E D G E A R E N A ; D W N U N D R

Planners can play a key role in spreading the word that professional gatherings are both safe and essential. BY TORI EMERSON BARNES

Restaurant Recommendation //

Dwn Undr Specializes in Eatertainment

Trend //


At the newly opened Dwn Undr restaurant in downtown Bellevue, Washingon, guests can munch on elevated comfort food like smoked salmon potato skins, soft pretzel bites with house-made beer cheese, burgers, fish tacos, fish and chips, club sandwiches and cobb salads while playing ping-pong, darts, Jenga, beanbag toss and other old-school games. The vibe at the 5,000-square-foot space is designed to take your crew back to simpler times. “There’s a lot of amazing restaurants in the Pacific Northwest,” says owner James Schmidt, who’s also behind well-known Seattle brands Pecado Bueno, Taco Del Mar and It’s All Good Catering. “You could eat at a different amazing place every night if you wanted to. We wanted to offer more than just great food. We wanted to create something that provided an entire evening out in one place: drinks, dinner, entertainment and activities. And there’s never additional costs to play our games.” He adds, “My favorite thing is that although Dwn Undr is a large space, it still feels incredibly cozy. The whole place flows together inside and out. Some of the mini-golf holes are inside. Some are outside. We are excited to have put something genuinely different together.” Tim Larson, director of operations and marketing, adds, “With Dwn Undr, we’ve taken our love of ‘eatertainment’ to a whole new level.” With its sprawling space, familiar nonintimidating games, and a made-from-scratch menu, Dwn Undr is an appealing option for corporate gatherings and team-building events. Located inside Hotel 116, the restaurant offers both full and partial buyouts. Groups can rent the inside of the restaurant, which offers a variety of games and seats 100; the outside, which offers lawn games and ping-pong and seats 58; or the entire space with a capacity of 160. Hotel 116 offers additional meeting and event space. Larger groups also have the option of creating custom menus from It’s All Good Catering. |

Climate Pledge Arena (CPA) has the mission of becoming the world’s first carbonzero arena, and the new uniforms that are being introduced to team members aligns with that goal. Seattle fashion designer Luly Yang made the collection with 80 percent recycled materials. Function and fashion weren’t overlooked. The style is inspired by the architecture of the stadium while the fabric has 30 percent stretch for comfort. The uniforms are currently being worn by CPA ambassadors and by team members in the Space Needle and Verizon Lounges. During a fitting, one Space Needle bartender gave her approval. “It’s a wonderful uniform,” she says. “It actually bends!” Hosting the fittings, Yang was delighted at the reaction. “These pieces,” she says, “will set the standard for what custom, branded uniforms can be: a stylish, ultracomfortable and highly functional uniform with a cutting-edge design.” |


The Podium Makes Its Debut » IN A LONG-AWAITED LAUNCH, The Podium hosted its inaugural event, the Spokane Invitational, on Dec. 11, 2021. It’s the first of 50 events, including collegiate, national and international competitions, that already have been booked at the $53 million sports facility. The 2022 USA Track & Field Indoor Championships on Feb. 25-26 is among the upcoming marquee events. Sitting high on a 15-foot basalt outcropping and connecting to Riverfront Park, The Podium is located in the heart of downtown Spokane. The setting is a spectacular backdrop for sports events and one that allows fans and athletes to walk to some of the city’s finest hotels and restaurants. What’s more, The Podium’s strategic position near Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena and Spokane Convention Center helps position the city as a premier destination for a wide variety of combined events.

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The Podium is 135,000 square feet, with 75,000 square feet devoted to competition space, including 16 volleyball courts, nine basketball courts and 21 wrestling mats. What really sets The Podium apart from other sports facilities is its immense 200-meter hydraulic banked indoor track that boasts 60-meter sprint lanes, two pole vault areas, long jump and triple jump facilities, and throw sectors for shot put and weighted throws. The facility has a 4,237-seat capacity, including 3,000 permanent, 1,000 portable and 237 VIP seats, and an event capacity of 4,800 on the event floor. Among the many venues throughout The Podium are an outdoor patio (capacity 548), a mezzanine-level VIP area (capacity 237) and an intimate conference room for 10. Expect to be hearing a lot more about this exciting new facility!

P H O T O S : T H E P O D I U M ; ( O P P O S I T E ) T H O M P S O N S E AT T L E ; C H R I S G L AW E

M E E TI N G N OTES Products, Places & Inspiration

Signature Drink //


played their first-ever hockey game at Climate Pledge Arena, the local fans went wild welcoming the new NHL team to the city. About a mile away, just steps from historic Pike Place Market, the 150-room Thompson Seattle hotel had its own way of making the Kraken feel at home with a specialty cocktail named after the team’s slogan “Fear the Deep.” The cocktail is “a tall glass of complexity and varied flavors that ring true to the slogan,” says Robert Almeida, lead bartender at The Nest, the hotel’s 3,500-square-foot rooftop bar and lounge. “As an homage to the term and to add to the depth of the drink and make it visually more appealing, we top the drink, served over crushed ice, with a tincture of Blue Curacao to create a varied hue of blue that carries through the cocktail.” He continues, “The flavor profile is

tart, sweet and refreshing with local touches. We use Big Gin, which is made in Seattle, and a local IPA as base ingredients. It is, as we’d say, a ‘calm in the storm’ cocktail because it’s reminiscent of a summer tiki drink garnished with pineapple fronds, punches of citrus and dry notes of falernum and IPA to keep the palate dancing.” INGREDIENTS

— 2 ounces Big Gin — ¾ ounce Velvet Falernum — 1 ounce pineapple juice — ½ ounce lime juice — ½ ounce simple syrup — ½ ounce Blue Curacao — pineapple leaves DIRECTIONS

Place all ingredients, except the Blue Curaco, in a shaker. Pour over crushed ice into a Collins glass. Float Curacao on top and garnish with three pineapple leaves.

New Venue //



» A PROJECT 20 YEARS IN THE MAKING, Wingspan Event & Conference Center in Hillsboro, Oregon, is finally opening its doors. Just minutes from downtown Portland and 30 minutes from Portland International Airport, Wingspan is located at the Westside Commons (formerly known as the Washington County Fair Complex). The state-of-the-art facility offers 89,000 square feet of total space, including the Expo Hall with 39,250 square feet of contiguous open space with no pillars or posts and an air wall that can divide the room into two smaller event spaces; the 10,225-square-foot conference room; and three meeting rooms that range in size from just under 700 square feet to 1,353 square feet. Wingspan also boasts an expansive lobby and gallery, featuring a 40-foot-long, highresolution screen; a large entry plaza and outdoor exhibit area; a spacious load-in dock; an on-site catering kitchen and concessions; on-site parking for nearly 500 vehicles; and a dedicated drop-off lane for transit and ride-share vehicles. LRS Architects utilized the site’s history and location when designing the facility. “The wing-like ‘butterfly’ form of the main roof was inspired by the building’s proximity to the Hillsboro airport and mirrors the profile of the coastal range nearby,” notes an architectural description of the project. “Cross-laminated timber reflects the rich timber heritage of the area. Distinctive planks in the plaza, inscribed with the cities in the county and their mottos, symbolize the wood planks that formed the original road from Portland, Oregon, to Hillsboro in the 1800s.” Wingspan promises planners and attendees “soaring experiences.” Get ready to fly! | 503.648.1416


DE STI NATION Corvallis, Oregon

Get to Know … Corvallis

This small Oregon city is big on charm and amenities. BY SHELLEY LEVITT » SITUATED IN central western Oregon, tucked between the Cascade and Coastal mountain ranges, Corvallis is in the heart of Willamette Valley and home to Oregon State University.

Airport and Portland International Airport, with shuttle service and rental cars available at both locations. There are complimentary public buses around Corvallis.

Population: 60,000 with Oregon State University students making up about 40% of the population.

Vibe: “We’re a community that celebrates the unconventional, supports all things local, and is passionate about preserving the beauty of our natural resources,” says Christina Rehklau, executive director of

Transportation: The regional Eugene

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Visit Corvallis. The sweet spot for groups here is 200 to 400 attendees. Must Sees & Dos: Take a hike or a bike ride; Corvallis has more than 60 miles of trails. For an after-meeting day or two of adventure, consider the new Corvallisto-the-Sea Trail. It’s taken decades to create what’s known as the C2C Trail, which links the Willamette Valley and the Pacific Ocean.

P H O T O S : A L I Z A H A K I KO ; V I S I T C O R VA L L I S ; ( O P P O S I T E ) R E E D L A N E P H OTO G R A P H Y; A L I S O N S M I T H ; I S A B E L L A M E D I N A

(Clockwise) Lumos Wine Company; cyclists on Bald Hill, home to 5 miles of dirt and gravel trails; Castor Kitchen & Bar

examples include Block 15 Restaurant & Brewery, Castor Kitchen & Bar, Gathering Together Farmstand & Restaurant, and Taco Vino. See your donut made right before your eyes at Benny’s Donuts, where flavors include Oregon marionberry, Canadian maple and Willamette strawberry. Indulge your burger cravings at Cheesy Stuffed Burgers or indulge in a meal at a local brewery or distillery. Rehklau suggests one of Block 15’s taprooms, Sky High Brewing Pub and 4 Spirits Distillery. The new Common Fields in downtown Corvallis is another great option for groups. It offers a variety of food trucks serving everything from ramen and BBQ to gyros and falafel as well as local beer, cider, meads, wine, hard seltzer and non-alcoholic beverages. Fire pits, heated seats and rain coverage for year-round shelter add to the ambiance of the place.

(Clockwise from top left): Thyme Garden Farm; Tyee Wine Cellars; Block 15 Brewing Company

Visit a winery. There are some 700 wineries in the Willamette Valley, which is known for its world-class pinot noir. Twenty wineries are within 20 miles of Corvallis, including Lumos Wine Company, Cardwell Hill Winery, Tyee Wine Cellars and Bluebird Hill Cellars. Wine tours can be arranged through Traveling Oregon Tours. Experience a Goat Happy Hour. This is simply a chance for groups to mingle with the goats at No Regrets Farm and to have the property to themselves. Or head to Thyme Garden Farm for a guided tour of the greenhouses followed by aromatherapy, basket-weaving or herb vinegar workshops

and a meal in the garden. A big bonus is the drive to Thyme Garden, which winds past Mary’s Peak, the highest point in the Coast Range. Also, wander downtown Corvallis, filled with independent boutiques, bookstores and cafes. Hotels: Corvallis has 957 guestrooms. Properties include Courtyard by Marriott, Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Best Western, Comfort Suites and Hotel Corvallis. Restaurants: The city’s 112 restaurants place a heavy emphasis on farm-to-table, locally sourced ingredients. Some standout

Venues: Many restaurants, breweries and wineries have private event space. Larger venues include LaSells Stewart Center at Oregon State (40,000 square feet), CH2M HILL Alumni Center at Oregon State (16,000 square feet), Benton County Fairgrounds (11,000 square feet), The Vue (7,000 square feet), Corvallis Community Center (7,000 square feet) and Courtyard by Marriott Corvallis (2,000 square feet). A multitude of sports venues are available for additional trade show and conference space. How the CVB Helps: Visit Corvallis offers a 30-minute “virtual FAM trip” on its website to introduce meeting planners to the city’s lodging options, venues, activities and more. The website also invites planners to submit an RFP, and the CVB will assist with contacting hotels and venues and pulling together bids. Once the event is booked, Rehklau’s team can assist with arranging activities, providing visitor information and materials, and hosting a welcome table at conferences. 541.757.1544


VE N UE REPORT Portland hotels

Room to Grow & Gather

Moxy Portland Downtown.

» BLAME IT ON the eight seasons of “Portlandia” or simply on the way people rave about the city when they return from visiting. Portland is experiencing a hotel boom. Collectively, the recent wave in hotel development has resulted in an increase in room inventory of nearly 50 percent since 2016. There are five projects currently under-

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way in the central city, and 13 properties have opened in the city since 2018. Those openings include three hip new hotels, below, that made their debut during the pandemic. Think of these less as conference hotels and more as centers of conviviality for small groups, with Portland’s ample venues and gathering spots just steps away.

LOLO PASS Across the river from downtown, Lolo Pass offers an upscale hybrid hostel experience in one the hippest and coolest areas of the city. With 87 rooms capable of hosting 282 guests in private and shared quarters, this new property offers options for every budget in the city’s dynamic Central Eastside District. A seasonal rooftop bar with amaz-

P H O T O S : M A R K C O M P T O N ; ( O P P O S I T E ) PA L I S O C I E T Y ; J O S H C H A N G

Portland is experiencing a robust hotel boom. BY SHELLEY LEVITT

ing views and a lobby restaurant and coffee bar rounds out the property. Lolo Pass’ enviable location on Burnside puts it steps away from some of the city’s most popular businesses such as Revolution Hall, culinary icon Cathy Whims’ Nostrana Italian restaurant, and the popular hipster bar hangout The Sandy Hut. Discounts are available for bookings of eight beds or more. Meeting space: shared and private rooms HOTEL GRAND STARK Perched in Portland’s Central Eastside District, across the river from the city’s downtown core, Hotel Grand Stark is a 57-room historic property that has been carefully reimagined back to its hospitality roots. The 1906 building is a four-story structure that was originally built as a hotel and housed a legendary local furniture manufacturer for the past 80 years. The hotel also is home to two food and beverage concepts—the Grand Stark Deli and the forthcoming Bar Chamberlain— developed in partnership with the local culinary creative minds at Submarine Hospitality. The former pays homage to deli culture, incorporating the best of local Pacific Northwest ingredients and serving an approachable all-day menu from morning until late. Bar Chamberlain harkens back to the era of classic hotel bars featuring expertly crafted cocktails alongside a progressive wine list anchored by a menu of craveable snacks and comforting dinners. Meeting space: 800 square feet. MOXY PORTLAND DOWNTOWN With 179 guest rooms, Moxy Portland Downtown is bordered by the Pearl and Culture districts, just blocks away from the world’s largest independent bookstore, Powell’s City of Books. When guests check in at the bar in the bright, open lobby, they receive a complimentary cocktail or coffee. They also can take advantage of Plug and Meet gathering areas with mod-

(Top) Hotel Grand Stark (Bottom) Lolo Pass

ern ergonomic seating, large writing walls and 56-inch televisions for presentation projection. Other amenities include three food carts and a well-stocked bar featur- | |

ing craft cocktails, wines by the glass, and local brews. Meeting space: 5,000 square feet.


503.908.3074 |



Make a Plan. Make it Boise. Centrally located in the heart of vibrant downtown Boise, the recently expanded Boise Centre has a variety of customizable meeting spaces, modern amenities, exceptional culinary services and a friendly and dedicated staff ready to make your next event an unforgettable experience. Explore Idaho’s premier convention center for yourself.

• Centralized, downtown location • Only seven minutes from Boise airport • Over 25 direct flights to and from Boise • Closely surrounded by more than 100 restaurants • Over 1,300 hotel rooms within walking distance • Close to outdoor recreation, including the The Boise Greenbelt


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Nelson visited Boise

last July on a familiarization trip for meeting planners, she found a lot to admire about the fast-growing southwest Idaho city. There is the 25-mile riverfront Greenbelt, a verdant pathway that runs through the heart of the city and is a beloved spot for walking, jogging, bicycle riding and bird watching. Transportation is easy, with nonstop flights to Boise Airport from dozens of cities, including Nelson’s own home city of Chicago, and complimentary shuttles that covered the 3-mile distance from the airport to the center of downtown in just seven minutes.

BOISE CENTRE Mary-Michael Rodgers, a spokesperson for Boise Centre, is amused when she hears it was the price of coffee that cinched

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Nelson’s decision to choose Boise for her conference. “Actually it’s $34 a gallon,” she says, with a laugh. “The coffee is served in porcelain china cups and it’s from Dawson Taylor, a local artisan coffee roaster.” Beyond its well-priced caffeinated beverages, Boise Centre has a lot to offer, Rodgers says. “First of all, our location is unmatched,” she says. “Boise is vibrant and up-and-coming, what we call a ‘now and next cool city.’ That’s a real draw for our clients and their attendees.” Nelson confirms the city’s draw. “I think we’ll hit 500 to 600 attendees at the 2022 conference,” she says, “which is more than recent years. Everyone I’ve spoken with is excited about visiting a place that they haven’t visited before.” Boise Centre has been nimble in reacting to the challenges of the pandemic. Putting stringent cleaning practices in place, it was the first facility in Idaho to earn the GBAC Star Accreditation, which confirms a facility has met high standards in minimizing risks associated with infectious agents like COVID-19. It invested early in streaming and broadcasting equipment to support virtual and hybrid events. And, during the months that the center was closed, it pivoted to providing social services. With a long-standing partnership with the Idaho Food Bank, Boise Centre converted its 24,000-square-foot ballroom into a warehouse and storage area for food that was distributed throughout the state. When schools shut down, the National Guard stepped in, gathering at the Centre to pack thousands and thousands of backpacks with food that was then delivered by school bus drivers to families in need. Rodgers is feeling optimistic about the convention center’s appeal in a postpandemic world. “Boise Centre is just steps away from local breweries, restaurants, hotels and bars,” she says. “We’re surrounded by outdoor adventures, like floating the Boise River, biking along the Greenbelt or hiking the more than 190 miles of trails in our Ridge to Rivers system. Boise Centre itself offers modern, bright spaces and all the in-house equip-

P H OTO S : B O I S E C E N T R E ; A L E X R H O D E S ; M A R J O R I E M C B R I D E


hen Wendy

Nelson, the executive director of Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA), a multi-disciplinary geospatial organization, was in the midst of deciding where to hold the organization’s four-day 60th anniversary conference taking place in October 2022. The conference rotates among different regions in North America and was due to head west. Nelson had been considering Denver and Phoenix as possible locations for the gathering. “Some members suggested I check out Boise,” she says, “a destination I knew nothing about. It must have been fate when I received an invitation to join a FAM tour.” Spoiler alert: Nelson chose Boise. She was stuck by how Idaho’s capital city had both a vibrant, sophisticated culinary and cultural scene and endless wide-open space for all kinds of outdoor activities. “Downtown Boise is safe, clean and walkable,” Nelson says. “There are gobs of restaurants and bars, which will provide so many options for our attendees to network and connect after sessions end. We’ll encourage folks to come early or stay late to explore all that the area has to offer, from hiking and whitewater rafting to wineries.” For the conference itself, which will include an exhibition, general sessions, concurrent breakouts and workshops, Boise Centre offers 86,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, a number that increases to 100,000 square feet with use of the adjacent Idaho Central Arena, home to the Idaho Steelheads minor league hockey team. The ice rink can be covered for private events and has a seating capacity of 6,800. Six hotels surround the convention center and provide a collective 1,300 guest rooms. Boise’s affordability tipped the scales in the city’s favor. “When we learned that the price of a gallon of coffee at the Centre was less than $40,” Nelson jokes, “I said ‘find me some dates!’”

(Clockwise from left): Boise’s walkable downtown is just minutes from the airport and home to more than 100 restaurants, breweries and bars; outside Boise Centre’s main entrance, Grove Plaza is a local landmark that’s available for special events, receptions and displays; the 25-mile riverfont Greenbelt is ideal for on-the-move brainstorming sessions.



GOT TO DO WITH IT? Q&A with Boise’s Seller-in-Chief

What are key things that Boise offers meeting planners over competing cities? We have, of course, unlimited outdoor recreation here as well as a vibrant, compact downtown. You can walk everywhere, including to well over 100 restaurants, and visitors are always commenting on the cleanliness of downtown and how safe it feels. But the feedback we get from site visits is that the first thing that stands out is how truly friendly and genuine people are here. Yes, Western hospitality is alive and well. “Boise nice” is what we call it, and groups experience this walking down the street, in restaurants, hotels and venues. As a community and a CVB that really embraces groups, we can reach out to dignitaries, whether that’s elected officials or academic and professional experts, to speak at meetings, welcome guests and more. For example, we had Governor Brad Little travel to a Geothermal Resources annual meeting to discuss Idaho’s leadership in this arena. Another example is that Boise State University professors were instrumental in helping Boise attract the 2023 Botany Annual Convention because of the connections and expertise in this field that they’re willing to share. It’s not only easy to get around once you’re in Boise, it’s easy to get here. We’re adding more and more nonstop flights, from cities like New York, Altanta, Austin and Nashville. We’re up to 29 nonstop destinations right now. And, once you fly into the Boise Airport, you’re just a few minutes from downtown.

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What are some things that people may not know about Boise? We have a wine-growing region with our own American Viticultural Area, the Snake River Valley AVA, that’s just 40 minutes from Boise. They do terrific group tours. Our restaurant scene is incredibly diverse and it goes beyond steak and potatoes to include nationally acclaimed spots led by Michelin chefs. We actually added restaurants during the pandemic. And we’re excited about the opening, around summer 2022, of Warehouse Food Hall. Located in downtown Boise, it will have more than 20 independent restaurants and retail outlets in 29,000 square feet. We want visitors who are in town for a conference or event to experience everything Boise has to offer. That’s why we’re developing the “Show Us Your Badge Program,” which will offer discounts at shops and restaurants, as well as for activities, to meeting and conference delegates. How can the CVB help meeting planners? You name it! As a smaller destination and CVB, we’re open to providing whatever services our clients need. We have a master streamlined hotel contract that makes it easy to book multiple hotels for citywide meetings or conventions. We can tap into our local corporations, professors at Boise State University, and city and state officials to provide content for meeting programming. We have a public relations team that will help promote your event, and we have assets to boost excitement about the gathering, too. And, for large conferences, say 400 to 800 attendees, we’ll do what we call a “downtown takeover,” putting up signage at restaurants and venues and really do everything we can to make it a special experience. In a lot of cities, a meeting of that size would get lost among a ton of other events that are taking place, but in Boise you own the city.

P H O T O S : B O I S E C O N V E N T I O N & V I S I T O R S B U R E A U ; D A R R E N E D WA R D S

ANDREW HEIDT, CMP, director of sales for the Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau, is a big believer in “try it, you’ll like it” when it comes to the city he promotes. The CVB has been active in inviting meeting planners to tour the city and discover its charm and its convenience. “We’re kind of a surprise destination for meetings,” Heidt says, “so we’re really interested in getting more people here for on-site visits. If a planner is considering Boise, we’ll cover all the costs to visit, including flights, lodging and meals.”



Population increase over the last decade for Boise and its neighboring city of Nampa, according to the 2020 Census, making the area one of the fastest growing in the United States.

2,838 feet

Elevation above sea level.


The year Fort Boise, a precursor to the city of Boise, was established by FrenchCanadian fur trappers. According to oral history, after crossing the hot dry desert, the trappers spotted the woods surrounding the Boise River and exclaimed, “Les bois! Les bois!” (“Woods! Woods!”). Today, Boise has the nickname “City of Trees.”

25 miles

The length of the Greenbelt, the riverfront pathway that runs through the city along the banks of the Boise River. Easily accessible, the Greenbelt is ideal for walking, jogging, biking and skating.

3 miles

Distance between downtown Boise and Boise Airport.

58 and 60

(Top) The Grove Hotel (Bottom) Hotel 43

ment and services that a planner needs to execute a successful event. When you couple the city with the convention center, with our level of service and affordability, it’s a partnership that’s hard to beat.” Christina Riley, director of events for Cellcore Biosciences, a healthcare supplement company based in Meridian, a city adjacent to Boise, agrees. She held a threeday event for 375 attendees at Boise Centre in late October. “We do seven or eight events a year, from California to Florida,” she says, “so I’m not saying this just because I’m a local. Hands down, Boise Centre has the easiest people to work with. They were the

most available on-site. They gave me a walkie-talkie, but I never had to use it because whenever I turned around, there was always somebody within sight that I could approach with whatever request I had.” Riley booked blocks of rooms at four different downtown hotels. “They were all at different price points,” she says, “and because our attendees were holistic practitioners some were on very specific diets and wanted to be able to cook their own meals.” Some chose Residence Inn, where the 120 suites are equipped with kitchens. For attendees allergic to scents and allergens, the Pure Wellness rooms at Hotel 43

The number of breweries and wineries, respectively, in and around Boise. Idaho shares the same longitude and latitude as France; it’s a magical line that creates the ideal conditions for exceptional wine. On the beer front, Idaho is the top producer of barley and second largest producer of hops in the U.S.

16 miles

Distance from downtown Boise to ski slopes.




Golf courses


Days of sunshine per year.

9 and 1,300

Number of hotels and guest rooms within walking distance of Boise Centre.



Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial. This open-air museum that was inaugurated in 2002 includes a life-sized bronze statue of Anne Frank. The only Anne Frank memorial in the United States, the small park is recognized as a Site of Conscience by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience and includes a 180foot Quote Walk that takes visitors on a journey through history and the ongoing quest for human rights and dignity. The words of presidents and slaves, children and philosophers, poets and paupers, the famous and the unknown are inscribed side-byside. With an outdoor amphitheater and private classroom, docent-led tours for groups can be arranged.

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Basque Block. Home to the largest concentration of Basques per capita in the U.S., Boise also has North America’s only Basque museum. Adjacent to the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, in the heart of downtown, are two preserved boarding houses occupied by the Basque Center and Basque Market. Tara McElhose-Eiguren and Tony Eiguren, who have owned the market/restaurant for 13 years, can prepare enormous pans of paella, with theatrical flair, along with tapas, like meatballs and croquettes, for groups of any size. Large groups can take over the entire Basque Block, with entertainment by a local Basque dance troupe and musicians.

Whitewater Rafting on the Payette River. Idaho is known for having some of the greatest whitewater rapids in the world, and the familyowned Cascade Raft and Kayak has been providing unforgettable adventures since 1985. Located just 45 minutes from downtown Boise, the facility offers experiences for groups from 18 to 418, including transportation, changing rooms and lockers, photos, and a post-adventure barbecue on a riverside deck.


These radically different activities illustrate the diversity and the heart of Boise.

(112 total rooms) were an appealing option. The other two hotels Riley booked were the 109-room boutique Inn at 500 Capitol and The Grove Hotel, the largest downtown Boise property with 250 rooms and more than 14,000 square feet of event space. “Anyone looking in at our conference at Boise Centre would have thought the event was absolutely flawless,” Riley says. “One night we had a VIP dinner, and the room had been set beautifully the night before. Then, two hours before the dinner, I realized I needed an additional table. The person in charge didn’t bat an eye. He said, ‘Let me take care of that,’ and he did, even though they had to reset the buffet and move everything because of elements like the location of plugs. It was incredibly impressive.” Susan Mitcheltree, a global account executive with ConferenceDirect, who is based in Vancouver, Washington, says Boise is just as appealing the second, third or tenth time around. She has executed many events in Boise for groups that range from 10 attendees to 2,500. “It offers small-town charm, an excellent food and beverage scene, and the perception of safety that other cities in our region suffer from,” she says. “Plus, the lift is reasonable for groups coming from most regions in the U.S.” A VARIETY OF MEETING VENUES Boise Centre may be the largest, but it’s far from the only meeting venue in the city. JUMP, an acronym for Jack’s Urban Meeting Place, is a lively, colorful art-filled nonprofit hybrid made up of a tractor museum, community gathering space, park and maker’s center. It honors J.R. Simplot, an agricultural entrepreneur who became the exclusive supplier of frozen fresh fries to McDonald’s in the 1940s, and sits adjacent to J.R. Simplot company headquarters. Visitors and groups can plunge down the eightperson Team Slide, scale the three-story net structure called The Climber, and take classes that range from cooking and yoga to 3-D printing and fabrication. JUMP can also customize experiences for groups with activities like workshops in making birdcages or sandals and multimedia

filmmaking and editing. The range of spaces available for private events includes the Garden Terrace (3,255 square feet), Sculpture Garden (14,800 square feet), Jump Room (8,230 square feet) and the Inspire, Play, Move and Make studios (920 to 1,500 square feet). Other unique Boise meeting and event spaces include the Old Idaho Penitentiary (capacity: 1,000), Idaho History Center (capacity: 150), Zoo Boise (from intimate gatherings of under 100 to 1,500 or more), the historic Boise Depot (capacity: 300), and Stueckle Sky Center at Boise State University (banquet capacity: 100 in The Loft, 152 in Skyline Room and 300 in Double R Ranch Room). Various restaurants, breweries and wineries also work well, including Telaya Wine Company’s Teton Room and Tasting Room/Patio Space (capacity 125), which overlooks the Greenbelt. Like a lot of people who plan meetings, Shannon M. McCabe, CAE, executive director of the Association of Consulting Foresters, has shifted from large national meetings to smaller, regional gatherings. The association’s two-day western regional meeting in mid-October was held in Boise. With 50 attendees, McCabe chose Riverside Hotel, situated on 14 acres along the Boise River with 20,000 square feet of convention and event space. “At Riverside, you’re a quick Uber ride from downtown,” she says, “but you’re far enough away that you’re not in the middle of everything.” This was the third of three back-to-back regional meetings that McCabe had executed. “Staffing shortages is an issue across the country, and we’d experienced delays and issues at the first two meetings, in Pennsylvania and Alabama,” McCabe says. “While the Riverside Hotel said they were not up to the staffing levels that they would like, you would never know it. Everything was done flawlessly.” When her association returns to hosting national meetings, McCabe plans to advocate for Boise as the location. “This was the first meeting I have planned, both city and site unseen,” she says. “I was putting my trust completely in the hotel and the CVB. They did not disappoint.” 208.344.7777 208.336.8900 208.639.6610


IN DUSTRY U PDAT E Regional News

Hotels //

Riverfront Renovations The Centennial Hotel and Ruby River Hotel, both former Red Lion Hotels and located on the north bank of the Spokane River, have undergone extensive renovations. The 245-room Ruby River Hotel, situated on eight riverfront acres, can host up to 200 attendees for group events. Its 2,700-square-foot ballroom features vaulted ceilings and large picture windows overlooking the garden and Spokane River. The 411-room Centennial is in the heart of downtown Spokane and just steps from the Spokane River and Centennial Trail. With more than 30,000 square feet of event space, the property can host up to 1,300 attendees. One of the most striking spaces is the Skyline Ballroom, located on the 12th floor of the West Tower. Both The Centennial and Ruby River are within walking distance of Spokane Convention Center, Riverfront Park and shops and restaurants in downtown Spokane. 529.326.8000

The Centennial Hotel (top) and Ruby River Hotel (bottom)

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P H OTO S : V I S I T S P O K A N E 509.326.5577


With 34,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, a culinary team specializing in fresh made-from-scratch Northwest cuisine, and a staff dedicated to perfecting every detail of your event, you've found your one-stop-shop event venue. | 425.778.7155



18,000 SQ. FT.



With more space and amenities, we are ready to host your meetings and events. We are now one of the five largest convention and event centers in WA state.




IN DUSTRY U PDAT E Regional News

Hotels //

NEW FLAG FOR DOWNTOWN SEATTLE HOTEL LXR Hotels & Resorts, Hilton’s luxury collection brand, has officially entered the Pacific Northwest with the addition of Hotel 1000 Seattle to its portfolio. It’s the third domestic hotel in the LXR collection and the

first property in the Northwest region. The 120-room luxury hotel, located steps from Seattle’s waterfront and Pike Place Market in the city’s downtown business and arts district, was previously known as Loews Hotel 1000. The transition to an LXR property will be followed by a 2022 renovation to further elevate the guest experience with added amenities and enhanced design.

Described as a “luxury urban resort,” Hotel 1000 blends the sleek design reflective of Seattle’s stylish metropolitan core with the amenities and service of a high-end resort. Each of Hotel 1000’s guest rooms and suites offers views of the surrounding cityscape or waters of Elliott Bay and Puget Sound. Upscale offerings include a full-service spa, the city’s only virtual-reality golf club simulating over 50 courses from around the world, and a wine tasting room. Guests can enjoy fresh, locally sourced seafood, regional wines and creative cocktails at the property’s signature All Water Seafood & Oyster Bar. The property’s 9,100 square feet of meetings and events space includes the refined Bainbridge ballroom, Marrowstone library and outdoor Greenhouse terrace, for receptions up to 120 guests. Seven event spaces and a boardroom all feature natural light, modern technology and custom catering menus.

» Hotel Indigo in downtown Spokane is a renovation of a historic 1911 building and offers 108 guest rooms across five stories and 1,500 square feet of meeting space. » Tru by Hilton Spokane Valley, which is less than a mile from CenterPlace Regional Events Center and 10 miles from downtown Spokane, has 92 guest rooms and nearly 22,000 square feet of meeting and event space. » Hampton Inn & Suites Spokane Downtown-South is within a mile of

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Hotel Indigo

Spokane Convention Center and offers 109 guest rooms and 2,200 square feet of event space.

» Springhill Suites Spokane Airport has 109 guest suites and meeting space to accommodate 30 attendees.

P H O T O S : H O T E L 1 0 0 0 S E AT T L E ; V I S I T S P O K A N E

HOTEL GROWTH SPURT IN SPOKANE Over the past year or so, four new hotels have opened their doors in Spokane.

People News //

Luke Zak is the new sports destination sales executive for Washington County Visitors Association (WCVA) in Oregon. Zak is charged with leading and organizing the destination group sales and service function for the sports and social, military, educational, religious and fraternal group (SMERF) markets. An MBA graduate of the University of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, Zak brings over a decade of sports management and tourism experience to WCVA. Among other positions, he has served as operations manager for the Minnesota Wind Chill, an American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) team. “We are thrilled to have Luke join the sales team,” says Dave Parulo, president and CEO of WCVA. “His sports event expertise will help us bring value to our community and sports-related partners and expand the positive economic impact we create, together, with our stakeholders.” Tulatin Valley has hosted a wide variety of sports events, including the American Junior Golf Association’s All-Star Invitational, United States Tennis Association’s Davis Cup Men’s Quarterfinals, International Ultra Triathlon Association’s World Championship Double Anvil, Master’s International Badminton Championships, and many more. Mark Everton has been named the new president and CEO of Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority, official destination marketing organization for Seattle Southside, including the cities of SeaTac, Tukwila and Des Moines. Everton replaces outgoing leader Katherine Kertzman, who announced her retirement last year. With more than 35 years of experience in travel, tourism and hospitality management, Everton joins Seattle Southside RTA after most recently serving as president and

KELLY SAILING PROMOTED BY VISIT SEATTLE Kelly Saling has been promoted to senior vice president/chief sales officer at Visit Seattle. Among her top priorities are navigating the convention sales and services team through pandemic recovery and opening the Summit building in mid-2022. Saling joined Visit Seattle in 2009, most recently serving as Visit Seattle’s vice president of convention sales and services. She’ll maintain the responsibility of managing and strategizing sales operations for future business booked at Washington State Convention Center. “It continues to be a privilege to represent this incredible and resilient destination,” Saling says. “I remain committed to spearheading the comeback of face-to-face meetings in Seattle. We have an experienced, strong and capable team, plus a community with tremendous talent and incredible property leaders. Seattle is vibrant and spirited, and our unique offerings will continue to inspire our remarkable results.” Beyond her work with Visit Seattle, Saling contributes to several national and local hospitality and convention organizations. She serves as a board member for MPI’s Women’s Advisory Board and sits on the steering committee for the new Meetings Information Network (MINT+) and Sales and Services Committee, both for Destinations International.

CEO of Visit Oakland in California. During Everton’s tenure, Oakland was selected in 2019 as one of the 28 best places in the world to visit by National Geographic Traveler and named to The New York Times’ Top Travel Destinations list. “I am proud to call the Pacific Northwest my new home and am energized by the continued growth of and endless possibilities for the Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority,” says Everton. “I’ve called California home for over 50 years and have been fortunate to work primarily in the Bay Area, leading large teams of travel professionals on both the hotel and destination

sides. I understand the needs of local hoteliers and the business goals they bring to the table, as well as holistic destination offerings that are important to leisure travelers, group meeting planners and conventions.” He adds, “The post-COVID travel environment is ever-changing and exciting, and Seattle Southside is well positioned to grow and thrive, meeting and exceeding visitor expectations and the increased demand to visit the beautiful Northwest region. The key for us will be to turn the spotlight on the varied opportunities in our region and welcome people who have not been here in the past.”


PE OPLE PROF I L E Jamie McKinney

» WHEN THE HYATT REGENCY 971.222.1234 concierge-of-weird-tours 503.896.2464

The Concierge of Weird

Jamie McKinney wants visitors to experience Portland at its quirkiest. BY SHELLEY LEVITT

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Portland at Oregon Convention Center wanted to curate a collection of unique tours that would allow conference-goers to experience the city like a local wellversed in its oddities, they turned to Jamie McKinney. The director of global sales and marketing for Oregon-based America’s Hub World Tours, McKinney says, “I have wanderlust built into me. I love exploring new places, and I love going off the beaten path.” Take a visit she made to India a few years ago when she was “gobsmacked,” she says, by the beauty of the Taj Mahal. The exquisite marble monument is a must-see for every tourist, but McKinney sought out a unique perspective. “I was doing a homestay nearby,” she says, “and each night at about 6:00, I’d go up to the home’s roof and watch the sun set behind the Taj while the calls to prayer from every mosque would start wafting through the air. It made the hair on my arms stand up. Growing up in central Oregon, I never imagined that I could have an experience like that.” When McKinney designed the “weird” tours that are exclusive to Hyatt Regency Portland, her goal was to create memories that were unforgettable in their own way. The eclectic Portland shopping experience starts at Hippo Hardware, a salvage store that specializes in hardware, lighting and plumbing from 1860-1960 and then moves on to Paxton Gate, which is filled with curiosities inspired by the natural world, including mounted insects and taxidermy eyes. Jerry Seinfeld and Fred Armisen of “Portlandia” fame dropped into Paxton Gate during an episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” There’s also a tour to North American Bigfoot Center and the Weird Museums of Portland tour. The first stop is Freakybuttrue Peculiarium and Museum, where visitors can travel inside a zombie’s brain and view a life-size recreation of an alien autopsy. Weird might be just the right vibe for our reentry into group gatherings, McKinney suggests. “I had my first group meeting in person a couple of months ago,” she says, “and I was like, I need to remember how to talk to strangers, because I’ve been talking only to my husband and my dogs for nearly two years. These tours are great conversation starters. Taking photos of each other in front of a giant Sasquatch replica nicknamed Murphy is an icebreaker that cuts through any awkwardness.”

We’re all in this together, stay strong!

Lots of indoor space to meet. Lots of outdoor space to move your feet. Make Boise your basecamp for meetings and events. Downtown is steps away from award-winning restaurants and a mountain-fed river. Visit