October 01, 1999
Meetings & Conventions In the Neighborhood October 1999 Current Issue
October 1999

Reflections: Spring Creek Ranch, Jackson Hole. Wyo.

In the Neighborhood

These locally respected independent facilities promise a break from the chains

By Mark Chesnut

Mary Dickow prefers a bit of personality in the properties at which she books meetings. "I don't want to go to the chains that have 400 or 500 rooms," she says. "I look for the facilities that are personal." So Dickow, program coordinator for the Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellows Program (part of the University of California at San Francisco Center for the Health Professions), looks to the many independent conference hotels across the country.

Often tucked into regions noted for their physical beauty, they offer a variety of recreational activities, providing a self-contained community conducive to relaxation and building camaraderie. Attention to a group's overall needs also is a big selling point for these facilities, Dickow says. "They can look at what your needs are and offer you a better deal [than large chains], or at least that's my experience. They're more willing to work with you on a package."

Following are a few outstanding independent meeting facilities.

The Ranch on Camelback Mountain
Scottsdale, Ariz.
(602) 948-2100 or (800) 245-2051
Guest rooms: 100
Meeting facilities: 3,000 square feet, including six meeting rooms

Accommodations at this property, formerly known as Gardiner's Resort, include casitas standard rooms as well as one- and two-bedroom suites, which have fireplaces, kitchens and dining areas and casas, with two to five bedrooms, living rooms with fireplaces, fully equipped kitchens and personal swimming pools. The property is upgrading its two-bedroom casitas, which are about 1,500 square feet each, and 24 new, 750-square-foot guest rooms will be finished by Nov. 1. The Grand Slam Lodge features an indoor/outdoor fireplace and scenic views.

Dining options: New American cuisine, featuring local variations of flavors from Europe and the Pacific Rim, is the focus. According to group needs, meals can be served in the Lodge, Clubhouse dining room or outdoors.

Sports and recreation: Three swimming pools, 20 tennis courts, spa services including massage, fitness center

How to get there: 15 minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center
Breckenridge, Colo.
(800) 288-1282
Guest rooms: 500 rooms ranging from studios and suites to condominiums with one to four bedrooms
Meeting facilities: More than 30,000 square feet, including 16 meeting rooms

Beaver Run, one of the state's largest self-contained resort conference centers, accommodates meetings of up to 550 people and receptions for up to 1,000. Event space ranges from 333 square feet to a 7,200-square-foot banquet and meeting room.

Dining options: Spencer's Steaks and Spirits serves American cuisine with a 24-foot buffet; Coppertop Cafe serves a quick and convenient skier's breakfast and lunch; G.B. Watson's Deli is a full-service delicatessen and convenience store.

Sports and recreation: Two indoor/outdoor pools, eight hot tubs, sauna, tennis court, children's play area, video arcade, exercise room, massage

Nightlife offerings: Tiff's Night Club, featuring dancing, big-screen televisions, games, daily drink specials and lunchtime and après-ski entertainment in the winter; Spencer's Lounge, a quieter gathering place

How to get there: Breckenridge is about two hours west of Denver International Airport. Shuttle service, which can be arranged through the hotel, costs $42 one way, per person.

Interlaken Inn
Lakeville, Conn.
(860) 435-9878
Guest rooms: 81 rooms, some with balconies and ornamental fireplaces; seven luxury suites

Meeting facilities: Ten conference and meeting rooms, ranging in capacity from 20 to 110 theater-style

The 102-year-old Interlaken Inn, on 30 acres, is nestled between two lakes in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. All guest rooms have air conditioning and cable TV with VCRs. The banquet room seats 100, and a courtyard pavilion hosts receptions for up to 250. The property offers Flexible Complete Meeting packages, which include lodging, meals, breaks and use of meeting facilities, as well as 24-hour Day Meeting packages.

Dining options: Restaurants include the Vineyard, an elegant dining room; the Circuit Lounge, with a relaxed environment; and the pub, which serves light fare.

Sports and recreation: Outdoor pool; fitness center; tennis, racquetball, basketball and volleyball courts; trails for jogging, walking and biking; swimming; boating; fishing; ice-skating; nearby skiing; nine-hole golf course adjacent to property

How to get there: The property is 100 miles north of Manhattan and 55 miles west of Hartford. Shuttle transportation is available from Bradley International Airport, near Hartford, for $50 per vehicle one way (up to five people).

Mission Inn Golf and Tennis Resort
Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.
(800) 523-2289 or (352) 324-3101
Guest rooms: 189, including deluxe hotel rooms, one-bedroom suites and villas. Accommodations are spread among three inns San Miguel, San Angel and San Diego and in Mission Santa Cruz, a villa complex.
Meeting facilities: Five meeting rooms, ranging in size from 825 to 5,000 square feet, as well as a 3,167-square-foot foyer

Set in an area once known for its citrus harvests, the family-owned Mission Inn features Spanish colonial-style architecture and a golf course dating to the 1920s. In addition to standard meeting space, groups can charter La Reina, a restored 1930s river yacht, for receptions and buffets for up to 49.

Dining options: There are five restaurants and lounges, including the 82-seat El Conquistador, specializing in continental cuisine; La Hacienda, which serves buffet breakfasts, lunches and dinners; and La Chiquita Cabana, a poolside facility for light meals and snacks.

Sports and recreation: 36 holes of championship golf at two courses; 10 tennis courts; volleyball courts; spa; biking and jogging trails; specialty shops; nautical center on the shore of Lake Harris, with fishing, powerboating and cruises

How to get there: About 45 minutes from Orlando International Airport; transportation is available to and from the airport, with 48 hours advance notice, for an additional charge

Coeur d'Alene Resort
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
(800) 365-8338 or (208) 765-4000
Guest rooms: 336 guest rooms, ranging from economical accommodations to luxurious penthouse suites. Condominiums are also available.

Meeting facilities: 25,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 15,000-square-foot conference center; nine executive boardrooms

Sitting on the north shore of Lake Coeur d'Alene, the property has what is billed as the world's longest floating boardwalk, which runs more than 3,300 feet around the resort's marina. It also offers plenty to encourage outdoor group activities both on land and water; the Coeur d'Alene has been recognized by Condé Nast Traveler, Golf Digest and Golf Magazine for its recreational facilities. The Lake Coeur D'Alene Cruises fleet comprises five boats ranging in capacity from 50 to 400, which can be used for special events. A shopping plaza with more than 25 gift shops and boutiques is linked to the resort via a covered skybridge.

Dining options: Restaurants include Beverly's, overlooking the lake from the seventh floor, which specializes in fresh Northwest cuisine for lunch and dinner; Dockside, located at the water's edge, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner; and Tito Macaroni's, serving pizza and pasta in a festive Italian environment.

Sports and recreation: The property has a 6,309-yard, par-71 golf course. ski packages are available in conjunction with Silver Mountain and Schweitzer Mountain Resort. Other nearby activities include lake cruises, fishing, tennis, greyhound and horse racing.

How to get there: Forty freeway miles east from Spokane International Airport; transportation is provided by the resort's fleet of custom limo-vans, for a fee of $30 per person roundtrip.

Pheasant Run Resort & Convention Center
St. Charles, Ill.
(630) 584-6300 or (800) 999-3319
Guest rooms: 473, including 38 bi-level suites and six penthouse suites
Meeting facilities: The property features a Mega ExpoCenter with 38,250 square feet of space; a Pavilion, with 21,756 square feet of space; 42 meeting rooms; a 12,320-square-foot ballroom with capacity for 1,250 banquet-style; and a 5,950-square-foot ballroom that accommodates 330 banquet-style.

Pheasant Run's Bourbon Street, a replica of New Orleans' French Quarter with boutiques, a deli and a jazz lounge, makes for a pleasant change of pace (and, unlike the original Bourbon Street, is indoors). The property's accommodations are divided among a modern, 16-story tower and seven two-story buildings. All-inclusive meeting packages are available.

Dining options: Two restaurants, three lounges and a dinner theater

Sports and recreation: Three swimming pools, a fitness center and spa, four tennis courts and an 18-hole golf course

How to get there: Pheasant Run is 24 miles from Rosemont Convention Center and O'Hare. Airport transit is available with reservations through the hotel; one-way trips are $26

New Mexico
Sagebrush Inn and Conference Center
Taos, N.M.
(505) 758-2254 or (800) 428-3626
Guest rooms: 100
Meeting facilities: 18,000 square feet

When it opened in 1929, the Sagebrush Inn catered to travelers making the long trek between New York and Arizona. Today, most rooms and suites still have their own wood-burning fireplaces. The original adobe structure, which now serves as a cantina and lobby, houses a collection of Indian rugs and artifacts as well as artwork from the region.

Dining options: Los Vaqueros, which specializes in prime rib, fresh seafood and New Mexican entrees; Sagebrush dining room, which features a variety of cuisine and an outdoor patio

Sports and recreation: Outdoor pool, two hot tubs, live music in the lobby lounge nightly. Taos Spa and Tennis Club and Taos Country Club are nearby.

How to get there: Shuttle trips from Albuquerque International Airport, less than three hours away, cost $35, one way, per person.

North Carolina
Grandover Resort & Conference Center
Greensboro, N.C.
(336) 294-1800
Guest rooms: 274 in an 11-story tower, including 40 junior suites, three one-bedroom suites and two bi-level, two-bedroom penthouse suites

Meeting facilities: 45,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 13,000-square-foot ballroom and 29 meeting rooms

This might be North Carolina, but the decorative stone and wood imported from Italy lend a southern European flavor to this resort, which opened in February. The 1,500-acre complex features a multilevel, 87-seat training amphitheater with Internet access at all workstations. All meeting rooms are outfitted for remote and room-to-room videoconferencing, Internet access and Ethernet network support.

Dining options: Five food and beverage outlets, including Di Valletta, a 170-seat restaurant; the 50-seat Café Expresso in the Clubhouse; Café Expresso West, near the 10th hole of the West golf course; the Colony Bar, and Lobby Lounge

Sports and recreation: Men's and women's spa facilities with separate sauna and steam rooms; four-court tennis complex; two racquetball courts; an indoor/outdoor swimming pool; two 18-hole championship golf courses and 40,000-square-foot clubhouse

How to get there: Approximately 10 minutes south of Greensboro and 25 minutes from the Piedmont Triad International Airport, with shuttle service available for $13 one way, per person; 70 miles from Raleigh/Durham, 80 miles from Charlotte

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa
Farmington, Pa.
(724) 329-8555 or (800) 422-2736
Guest rooms: The French Renaissance Chateau Lafayette has 107 rooms and 17 suites; the English Tudor Lounge has 88 rooms and eight suites; 54 one- and two-bedroom town houses are also available.

Meeting facilities: More than 24,000 square feet of meeting space, including two ballrooms; 23 meeting rooms; a 200-seat amphitheater

Nemacolin's woodland setting once was a private game preserve. Today, the property has upscale amenities including a private air strip, polo field and cigar bar. Nemacolin's upscale eclecticism is evident in its decor and its architecture, which ranges from French Renaissance to English Tudor.

Dining options: Restaurants range from fine dining in Lautrec's French Bistro to cafeteria-style buffets at the Hungry Moose Café, and the Tavern, fashioned after an English Pub.

Sports and recreation: At the end of May, Nemacolin reopened the Woodlands Spa, following a $6.5 million renovation and expansion. The addition includes 12 new treatment rooms, a spa- cuisine restaurant, a new aerobics area and new fitness equipment. Also on site are two championship PGA-rated golf courses; an Equestrian Center with indoor and outdoor arenas, riding academy and 270,000-square-foot polo field; an Adventure Center with a ropes course, a 50-foot climbing wall, in-line skating, mountain biking, beach volleyball, cross-country trails and ski slopes; three indoor and two outdoor swimming pools; tennis courts; a croquet court; and tours of the Hardy Art Collection, located on site.

How to get there: Approximately 61 miles south of Pittsburgh; car service is available to and from Pittsburgh International Airport for $140 one way, per car (up to 3 passengers per car).

Rosario Resort
Eastsound, Wash.
(360) 376-2222 or (800) 562-8820
Guest rooms: 127 rooms and suites

Meeting facilities: More than 6,000 square feet

Perched on Orcas Island, part of the San Juan Archipelago of Puget Sound, Rosario offers 10 different room types, including suites and junior suites in nine buildings. All rooms have private baths, balconies or patios, down comforters and terry cloth robes. Among the group areas is a 1,100-square-foot prefunction area and the 1,050-square-foot Mariner's Deck, overlooking Rosario Harbor and the marina. The property's Moran Mansion has two boardrooms that accommodate up to 12 people each. For special events, the lawn can accommodate up to 200 guests; the Music Room accommodates up to 120 guests.

Dining options: Restaurants include the Orcas Room, with fresh seafood and Pacific Northwest cuisine; the Compass Room, a formal restaurant specializing in local produce and seafood; the Moran Lounge and Veranda, which serves cocktails and appetizers; the Cascade Bay Cafe, an informal restaurant adjacent to the resort's 35-slip marina; and the Poolside Bar & Grill, which serves appetizers, hamburgers, chicken and seasonal vegetables. There is live entertainment in the Moran Lounge every weekend. Year-round organ concerts are held in the Music Room on weekends (daily during the summer).

Sports and recreation: The resort's spa offers massage therapies, skin care programs, herbal wraps and aerobics and yoga classes, and features an exercise and weight room, whirlpool, sauna and indoor pool.

How to get there: The Washington State Ferry links the resort with Anacortes; Kenmore Air flies from Lake Union to Rosario's dock; the Victoria Clipper leaves from Pier 69 in Seattle; Harbor Air (a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines) flies from Eastsound Airport.

Spring Creek Ranch
Jackson Hole, Wyo.
(800) 443-6139 or (307) 733-8833
Guest rooms: 36 rooms, 70 one-, two- and three- bedroom condominiums and four-bedroom homes

Meeting facilities: 1,400 square feet

A 1,000-acre resort set 1,000 feet above Jackson Hole, Spring Creek offers commanding views of the Teton mountain range, including the 13,770 foot Grand Teton. The condominiums are built from rough-hewn native timber and have large stone fireplaces and handmade pine furniture, as well as kitchens and balconies. The resort's convention center accommodates up to 100 in a theater-style setting, and features two breakout rooms. The resort can arrange specialized programs and special events such as Western-themed parties.

Dining options: The 44-seat Granary restaurant serves American cuisine.

Sports and recreation: Horse-drawn sleigh rides, horseback riding, tennis, hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing. There also are an outdoor swimming pool and a Jacuzzi.

How to get there: Complimentary shuttle service from Jackson Hole Airport is available with 48-hour advance reservations.

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