There are offsites—and onsites—aplenty in the Silver State
Imagine your group roaring down the open road, wind in their hair, astride powerful Harley-Davidsons. They might make their way through Valley of Fire State Park or Red Rock Canyon, or take in Pyramid Lake, Lake Mead or Hoover Dam, among other scenic landscapes.
This is just one of many thrilling offsite activities available to groups visiting Nevada, particularly near the main meeting hubs of Las Vegas and Reno. Other offsites run the gamut, from snow skiing to water sports.
“Outside of urban areas, there’s a lot of space out here,” says Chris Moran, public relations specialist for Travel Nevada. “Close to Las Vegas and Reno are great recreational sites that are set up for activities—awesome adventures—where people have to work together to accomplish something, whether it’s rock climbing, ropes courses, ATV-type things. We have state parks, Bureau of Land Management land and national recreational areas that offer perfect opportunities to create adventures for people.”
And if your group just can’t rip itself away from the hotel, most resorts offer an increasingly varied menu of onsite team-building and group activities. It’s time to make plans to visit the Silver State. It’s got everything you need for great meetings, and great offsites and onsites as well.
Two-year-old Sin City Motorcycle Vacations fulfills a lot of bucket-list wishes, especially for those who long to ride on the fabled Route 66 or to such scenic spots as Zion National Park in Utah. Experienced motorcycle enthusiasts can take guided tours—half-day, full-day, even overnight—led by expert bikers well-versed in the state’s highways and byways.
Based in Henderson, outside of Las Vegas, Sin City often handles groups—the largest thus far has been 50 riders. “For every 10 bikes we have a tour guide who is responsible for those 10,” says co-founder Rick Denton. “Plus we have a chase vehicle with riders’ luggage, water, air conditioning and tunes. And it has a trailer for breakdowns.”
Sin City gets a lot of international groups, such as the 20 riders from Jaguar Land Rover, based in France, who came in February. “They wanted a half-day tour,” Denton says. “We took them to the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge [the world’s tallest concrete arch span] at Hoover Dam; it’s quite a visual. We took the scenic route through Boulder City, Lake Mead.”
Lead rider is co-founder Everett James, a veteran biker with deep knowledge of Nevada and the Southwest’s back roads (he’s also a master hair stylist, helpful perhaps after the tour). The other guides are former motorcycle police officers. Sin City guides have at least two GoPros mounted on their bikes and provide participants with an edited video of their dream rides.
Other adrenaline junkies might want to try racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where all three driving schools—Richard Petty Driving Experience, Dream Racing and Exotics Racing—offer unique and popular adventures for groups.
Heidi Hayes, public relations manager at Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, says that the various gun ranges in the area, some of them decidedly upscale, also have become trendy, especially with the international crowd.
More traditional offsites are readily available, such as Jeep tours of area landmarks, hiking and biking at Red Rock Canyon (17 miles west of Las Vegas), ziplining at Bootleg Canyon and boating at Lake Mead, both in Boulder City (20 miles southeast of Las Vegas).
The lake at The Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa in Henderson provides a built-in offsite. “For team-building activities, we’ve seen companies do scavenger hunts, water recreation activities, biking and hiking,” says Paolo Mello, marketing and public relations manager. “Google Storage, for example, took their team building down to the lakefront beach and built boats out of cardboard and packaging tape. They then put their handmade watercrafts to the test with a paddle race across the lake to see who could stay afloat the longest. They had a blast!”
Other resorts, especially those in Las Vegas proper, have developed activities and venues aimed at keeping groups in-house. Minus5 Ice Bar at Monte Carlo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, the largest ice bar in North America with more than 90 tons of ice, features cocktails served in ice glasses, couches made of ice and handcrafted ice sculptures in a cool minus-five degrees Celsius; it has two semiprivate rooms for small groups.
Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino offers Shark Reef Aquarium and The Beach at Mandalay Bay (complete with real sand and a wave pool) for private events. Bellagio Las Vegas’ Culinary Classroom can be designed for group classes.
The cool crowd will love Palms Casino Resort: its 40-story Fantasy Tower features indulgences such as the 10,000-square-foot Hardwood Suite, which includes an indoor basketball court and pro locker room; the hip-hop-themed Crib Suite; and the party-friendly Barbie Suite. And Ghostbar nightclub has spectacular views of The Strip as well as a glass-bottomed patio.
The big draw at Tropicana Las Vegas is Havana Room, with a dance floor and more than 40 banquette-seating areas. The 12,000-square-foot venue can host up to 300 seated and 800 reception-style. The Beach Club has two pools accented by waterfalls and palm trees, and two Olympic-size sand volleyball courts. The Trop recently added a High Roller Tour that shows groups its luxury Sky Villas suites, and includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the casino.
The famed Blue Man Group at Monte Carlo can customize shows for groups of 10 or more with logo integration and audience participation, as well as photo-ready, private meet-and-greet sessions. Bally’s offers backstage tours of Jubilee, the longest-running show in Las Vegas; the tour guide is one of the showgirl cast members.
Over at the Wynn Las Vegas, groups can take a backstage tour of Le Reve–The Dream, the provocative, long-running show that combines aquatic and special effects with stunning visuals. The 55-minute tour takes attendees behind the scenes of the aqua theater-in-the-round; they’ll learn the depth and temperature of the 1.1 million-gallon pool and observe the wardrobe department’s work on special costumes for the 85-member cast.
South Point Hotel & Spa is away from the fray, four miles south of Mandalay Bay, and touts its singular appeal to groups. “We’re a destination within itself,” says Maureen Robinson, director of sales at South Point, which has 2,163 guest rooms and a total of 165,000 sq. ft. of space at its conference center and exhibit complex. “We have a 64-lane bowling center, 16 movie theaters, an equestrian center with horse events all the time, and a [400-seat] showroom.”
Robinson says South Point draws mostly association and government groups “because of our price point.” Its client base has remained consistent over the years, and includes such companies as Fed Ex Freight, Snap-on, Isuzu, the Glass Craft & Bead Expo and chain drugstores.
Attendees in the Reno area who don’t necessarily hanker for the great outdoors may find group bowling right up their alley. The National Bowling Stadium boasts 78 championship lanes; it features the longest video screen in the world, which can project video images and scoring graphics across its 440-foot length.
“Most people bowl, but it can be used for anything,” says Tanna Pearman, national sales manager of Silver Legacy Resort Casino, three blocks away. “Decorators can turn it into a martini lounge or karaoke club.”
The stadium’s 65,000 sq. ft. of open space is adaptable to any configuration. The venue has smaller spaces available, including two theaters.
Pearman says that Silver Legacy’s downtown location means groups have easy access to a trove of offsite activities. “The cool thing is that we’re in the heart of downtown,” she says. “The arts district; Truckee River, with fly fishing and tubing; Nevada Museum of Art; and 50 restaurants are in a six-block radius. It’s easy to do a dine-around, and most restaurants are farm-to-table.”
Another downtown destination is the Freight House District, an entertainment complex, and the attached Reno Aces Ballpark. “[The ballpark] can open up the batting cages for groups, where a pitcher throws the ball instead of a machine. There are two stages for karaoke, catered food, ballpark food; you can watch a game,” Pearman says.
She says these activities help planners with the bottom line. The National Automobile Museum, for example, five blocks from Silver Legacy, has banquet seating for 350 or can flow in 1,200; it charges $7 per head for buyouts, excluding catering. “You don’t have to pay for transportation, and can use the money toward something else,” Pearman says.
Groups that want to go beyond city borders also have options. Pearman worked with a local destination marketing company to help bus, set up tents for and entertain 1,000 people at an F&B event in Virginia City, a historical town 26 miiles from Reno. Rancho San Rafael Regional Park is a little more than a mile from downtown, and features a variety of buildings and picnic pavilions that groups can reserve.
Silver Legacy itself is neatly set up for meetings, with 1,700 rooms and a 19,360-square-foot ballroom, among other meeting spaces. It is adjacent to Reno Events Center, which has a 56,000-square-foot exhibit hall and 14,000-square-foot prefunction concourse.
Atlantis Casino Resort Spa gets creative in helping planners organize fun offsites. “We have taken groups to a Jeep course and had them work together in teams to complete a course,” says Tracie Barnt-house, Atlantis’ publicist. “They had to do a ball drop course, a snake climb and a timed course. The driver had to switch at each station, and each team was timed. The teams really had to work together to get through each station.”
Atlantis also takes advantage of local offerings, such as Breakthrough Reno, in which groups locked in a room must use clues to figure out how to escape in 60 minutes.
The resort’s meeting facilities are impressive: Not only does it have 50,000 sq. ft. of flexible space including two ballrooms, multiple breakout rooms and a new executive boardroom, but it is also the only hotel connected by skybridge to Reno-Sparks Convention Center, with its 500,000 sq. ft. of space.
Groups that eschew the conventional should look into “active lifestyle” boutique hotel Whitney Peak, in the center of Reno. No need to go offsite, as attendees can scale BaseCamp, the world’s tallest exterior climbing wall (16 stories tall) or clamber around in Whitney’s 7,000-square-foot indoor climbing bouldering park.
The hotel can host meeting groups of up to 400 guests and social gatherings up to 800. It has 11 meeting rooms including a 5,400-square-foot ballroom, more than 20,000 sq. ft. of event space and two outdoor balconies. Groups can also take advantage of Cargo, a live music venue with a stage and state-of-the-art audio, video and lighting.
And don’t forget venues around Lake Tahoe. Properties such as classic Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and spanking-new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, both in Stateline, near the California border, are stylish, fully equipped meeting spots with offsite options to spare. The lake and mountains, especially, offer scenic recreational opportunities guaranteed to leave attendees with unforgettable memories.
A Matter of Choice
Great group activities are easy in Nevada. From bright lights in the big cities to the spectacular outdoors, there are many ways to add silver sparkle to your meeting.
-Elko Convention & Visitors Authority
-Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
-Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority
Late this year, the Elko Conference Center is set to open in Elko, in the northeastern corner of Nevada near the borders of Idaho and Utah. The $9 million, 29,000-square-foot facility will help augment the current convention center, with its 11,000 sq. ft. of meeting space that can host up to 500 (plus an auditorium that can hold 923). The new center will also be able to host conferences and trade shows.
The city itself offers 2,000 hotel rooms, and Elko Regional Airport (EKO) has daily direct flights to Salt Lake City. The economy is dominated by mining. But Elko, which straddles the Humboldt River and has a population of 20,000, boasts a rich Western history, as it lies along the California Trail.
The California National Historic Trail Interpretive Center is enticing for visitors; it tells the stories through dioramas and interactive exhibits of the 250,000 pioneers who endured the 2,000-mile trek west to California between 1841 and 1869. It has a 500-square-foot room available for meetings.
Elko’s Northeastern Nevada Museum is well-regarded, with an impressive collection of Western art, rare mastodon fossils from nearby Spring Creek and exhibits detailing local history and cultures and natural history. The museum has a 90-seat theater.
Other offsites include gold mining tours at one or more of the abandoned mining camps. The Ruby Mountains and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest provide superb outdoor recreational opportunities.
Two popular events have put Elko on the cultural map: The annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (pictured) is held each January and is a weeklong celebration. And every July, Elko hosts the National Basque Festival, with strongman competitions, handball, a running of the bulls, traditional food, and wine and dance.
Major Meeting Venues
3,960 guest rooms; 300,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; two ballrooms each have 51,000 pillarless sq. ft. and each can be configured into 25 breakout rooms; eight smaller ballrooms; six boardrooms; 4,100-seat theater; high-end restaurants; Forum Shops.
Centrally located on The Strip; 3,770 renovated guest rooms and 21,400 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space that can host up to 500; casino; shops; America’s largest indoor theme park including a roller coaster, circus acts and carnival games.
Adjacent to The Strip; 2 million sq. ft. of exhibit space and 250,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; 144 meeting rooms host up to 2,500; grand lobby and registration area offer 225,000 sq. ft.; walking distance to 100,000 guest rooms.
Resort also has Delano Las Vegas and Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, with a total of 4,752 guest rooms; 1.7 million sq. ft. of exhibit space in the Mandalay Convention Center (including two convention centers with two ballrooms each; events center seats 12,000).
In the center of The Strip; 3,000 guest rooms; events center has 90,000 pillarless sq. ft. that divides into smaller spaces; 40,000-square-foot, pillarless Grand Ballroom; Nassau Boardroom and 26 breakout rooms; Tom Colicchio’s Heritage Steak restaurant.
Adjacent to CityCenter and 2.4 mi. from McCarran International Airport; 3,000 guest rooms; 30,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space hosts up to 800 in multiple ballrooms and meeting rooms; spa; four pools and lazy river; Blue Man Group is permanent entertainment.
More than 2,000 guest rooms across 12 recreated New York skyscrapers; 21,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space with neighborhood names such as Tribeca, Gramercy Park and Midtown.
Known for creative guest rooms such as The Hardwood Suite, with its own basketball court; 1,300 guest rooms including Palms Place suites; 60,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; 2,500-seat Pearl Concert Theater; spa and salon; two pools; recording studio; shopping.
1,000 guest rooms; the largest ballroom in downtown Las Vegas, with 19,000 sq. ft.; 2,000 sq. ft. of additional breakout space; 600-seat showroom; 70,000-square-foot rooftop pool deck has stunning views of The Strip.
Five miles from the south end of The Strip; 2,079 guest rooms; 71,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; 80,000-square-foot pavilion; 4,600-seat arena; 11 restaurants; spa and fitness center; pool; 64-lane bowling center; 16-screen movie theater; Equestrian Center.
Lakeside in Henderson; 493 guest rooms; more than 45,000 sq. ft. of function space that hosts up to 2,100; Moroccan-inspired Spa Moulay; Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course; named one of the world’s best hotels by Travel + Leisure in 2011.
Recently completed $200 million renovation; 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting and convention space; pavilion has 55,000 sq. ft. with 11 breakout rooms; boardrooms and ballrooms host up to 3,625; theater accommodates 1,200; almost 1,500 guest rooms.
More Forbes Travel Guide Five Star awards than any other independent hotel company or any Las Vegas resort; 200,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; two column-free ballrooms, 18 meeting rooms; 2,716 guest rooms; Encore has 60,000 sq. ft. of meeting space with a ballroom, 17 meeting rooms; 2,034 guest rooms.
AAA Four Diamond property; 50,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space hosts up to 1,500 and includes two ballrooms, 22 meeting rooms, executive boardroom; connected by skybridge to Reno-Sparks Convention Center; 824 guest rooms with views; spa.
Opened January 2015; 14,300 sq. ft. of meeting space hosts up to 800; showroom seats 388 and has a stage and dressing room; 539 guest rooms; four new restaurants and bars; largest outdoor pool in South Lake Tahoe.
In Nevada, near the California border; 512 guest rooms; 25,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space includes ballroom, four meeting rooms, four boardroom/breakout rooms, 7,000 square-foot theater; additional space when combined with sister property .
A total of 565,000 sq. ft. of meeting and exhibition space; five contiguous exhibit halls with 381,000 sq. ft. of space; ballroom offers 30,000 sq. ft. of column-free space that can be divided into seven meeting rooms; 53 meeting rooms with 110,000 sq. ft. of space host up to 3,000; views of the Sierra Nevada.
Adjacent to Reno Events Center; 1,710 rooms; 90,000 sq. ft. of business space includes 40,000-square-foot exhibition center; 19,360-square-foot divisable grand ballroom seats 1,600; mezzanine level offers 12 combinable breakout rooms; executive boardroom accommodates 14; six restaurants.
Boutique Reno hotel known for BaseCamp, the world’s tallest exterior climbing wall and 7,000- square-foot indoor bouldering park; 20,000 sq. ft. of event space hosts up to 800; 11 meeting rooms including 5,400-square-foot ballroom; Cargo Concert Hall hosts 1,000 and is available for buyouts.