Plan Your Miniwide in the High Sierra

Hotels & Destinations

heavenly-mountain-resort Heavenly Mountain Resort, South Lake Tahoe

Meet, greet, stay and play in Reno and Lake Tahoe

This year, consider doing something new by planning a miniwide in Reno, Nevada, or Lake Tahoe, which straddles the California-Nevada border. With the High Sierra peaks as a backdrop, these destinations provide plenty of hotel options and meeting space for groups that may get lost in a major city, but can take over smaller destinations such as Reno and Lake Tahoe.

If you haven’t heard, California and northern Nevada are having their snowiest winter in quite some time, and it’s generating as much buzz as it is powder.

The region offers such an abundance of outdoor recreation, entertainment and dining options that Reno and Lake Tahoe make sense for planners and attendees looking for inexpensive diversions when group functions wind down. Of course, there’s skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and sledding. But come spring, when the snow slowly melts, there’s hiking, biking and golfing, and when summer comes along, Lake Tahoe itself supplies another season of activities, including boating, floating and relaxing in the mountain air.

“Our world-class resorts continue improving, with renovations of meetings facilities and guest rooms, and still represent some of the best value in the country,” says Jennifer Cunningham, interim managing director of Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority.

So choose your season, take a fresh look at your miniwide options and create your very own multiproperty event.

Reno

reno-stripReno Strip

The Biggest Little City in the world anchors northern Nevada and connects to majestic Lake Tahoe via its near proximity (38 miles from downtown) and easy access. Reno is big, yes, but it’s getting bigger, with major corporations moving in, creating jobs and drawing meetings. The Riverwalk District and Midtown are both enjoying a renaissance. Plus, there’s a range of major hotels and resorts both downtown and along what’s unofficially dubbed the “convention corridor,” a clutch of properties within a few minutes of Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) and Reno-Sparks Convention Center that can be mixed and matched to create your own miniwide gathering.

atlantis-casino-resort-spa-renoAtlantis Casino Resort Spa, Reno

Key meeting space: The major meetings player in Reno is Reno-Sparks Convention Center, with 381,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, 53 meeting rooms and a 30,000-square-foot ballroom. In October, Dynamic Communities, Inc. came to Reno for its Summit 2015, a miniwide networking event that drew more than 4,000 participants. The convention center hosted the group’s expo, with nearly 200 exhibitors, general sessions and meals. Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, connected to the center, held the breakout sessions, while Peppermill Resort Spa Casino served as its headquarters hotel.

Lodging: From a miniwide, convention-corridor perspective, consider the 824-room Atlantis and 1,623-room Peppermill. Both are located on South Virginia Street, as is Courtyard by Marriott Reno, with 117 rooms. Hyatt Place, adjacent to Reno-Tahoe International Airport), is nearby and offers 126 rooms.

downtown-truckeeDowntown Truckee

Where to have fun: Summer brings rafting and kayaking on the Truckee River and Reno Aces Triple-A baseball; winter features skiing at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, just 25 minutes from downtown. Year-round, National Bowling Stadium gives your group opportunities to roll strikes in a high-end, tournament-style environment. And, of course, there’s the all-season thrill of playing slots, blackjack, roulette, poker and more.

Quotable: “Groups of up to 3,000 people can host events at one of many resort hotels, and for larger groups, the convention center is just 10 minutes away from all of the city’s major hotels,” Cunningham says.

Lake Tahoe–South Shore

Surrounded by pine forests and surging mountain peaks, gorgeously turquoise Lake Tahoe is a gem shared by California and Nevada. South Shore is its popular hub, a vibrant area where a cluster of hotels offer accommodations, dining and, on the Nevada side of the border, marquee entertainment and gaming. Heavenly Mountain Resort, with 97 ski runs, straddles both states.

Harveys-lake-tahoe-hotel-and-casinoHarvey’s Lake Tahoe Hotel and Casino

Key meeting space: With no convention center in the region, South Shore hotels draw groups for meetings, training seminars and conferences. Large groups gravitate to Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and Harveys Lake Tahoe Hotel and Casino, individually or as a pair. The sister properties offer a total of 50,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and are connected by a tunnel, but you can create your own miniwide on a smaller scale with a few properties within walking distance of each other.

Meet on the California side at Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel (more than 10,000 sq. ft.) and stash your top VIPs (and their families) at Marriott’s Timber Lodge’s one-, two- and three-bedroom condos. Or, combine a sales meeting at Lake Tahoe Resort with an incentive component at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe (14,300 sq. ft.), just over the state line.

Refreshed after a $25 million renovation, MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa, one block from the California state line, offers 16,000 sq. ft. The recently upgraded Beach Retreat & Lodge at Tahoe has 6,108 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor space, including the new 3,054-square-foot Beach Retreat Conference Center.

Lodging: Among the properties on the Nevada side, Harrah’s has 512 guest rooms, Harveys 742, MontBleu 437 and Hard Rock 539. In California, Beach Retreat & Lodge at Tahoe has 262 rooms; Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, at the base of Heavenly Mountain Resort, features 400 suites; and Marriott’s Timber Lodge offers various vacation rentals.

paddleboarding-on-lake-tahoePaddleboarding on Lake Tahoe

Where to have fun: Fun activities are seasonal but plentiful. Winter brings powder hounds to Heavenly for skiing and snowboarding. Snowmobilers head out from Zephyr Cove for lake-view tours. In summer, ski lifts carry mountain bikers while major trail systems such as Rubicon Trail and Tahoe Rim Trail challenge hikers. Beaches encourage sunbathing and relaxing. The lake offers water sports galore, as well as sightseeing and dining on historic paddle wheelers and private yachts. Nevada casinos offer their own brand of exciting indoor fun, year-round.

Quotable: According to Mike Frye, event manager for Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, South Lake Tahoe can handle groups from small to large, through a variety of properties. Best yet, he says, “there is built-in fun for offsites and pre- and post-activities.”

Lake Tahoe–North Shore

The North Shore of Lake Tahoe draws enthusiastic visitors and outdoor recreationists to its mountains and blue waters year-round. Historic Truckee is the area’s low-profile ski town, located only minutes from its grand mountain partners.

the-ritz-carlton-lake-tahoeThe Ritz-Carlton, lake Tahoe

Key meeting space: Mountain resorts serve as the area’s major meeting venues. The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe is located midmountain at Northstar California (now a part of Vail Resorts). This luxe resort features 15,000 sq. ft. of indoor meeting space tucked into one wing of the hotel and includes 6,600-square-foot and 3,000-square-foot ballrooms. Outdoor function space is available, as well.

Lodging: Northstar California encompasses a number of condominium lodges in addition to The Ritz-Carlton resort, which features 170 guest rooms, including 16 suites. Miniwides are possible here. A recent networking meeting for a tech company booked 145 rooms at the hotel and a similar number of condos in Northstar Village, according to Giles Priestland, director of sales and marketing for The Ritz.

Where to have fun: Winter fun at North Lake Tahoe is spelled s-n-o-w. Northstar offers 3,170 skiable acres, plus a ski and snowboard school. The Ritz is a ski-in/ski-out property steps from Northstar chairlifts; it’s also steps from the intermountain gondola that connects the hotel with charming Northstar Village and its complement of luxe shops and restaurants. Summer brings outdoor opportunities such as mountain biking, nearby golf and water sports on the lake.

Quotable: “What sets us apart from other destinations is not just our [midmountain Northstar] location, but also the architecture of the hotel,” Priestland says of the Ritz. “Large windows throughout the hotel bring the outdoors inside, which contributes to inspirational, more productive meetings.”

Wrapping Up

Choosing Reno or Lake Tahoe as your meeting destination is sure to create a buzz among attendees. Reno drew 14 percent more participants at the Dynamic Communities meeting this year than Summit 2014 in St. Louis, according to the organization. And Lake Tahoe? Well, that’s likely to be on everyone’s wish list as an ideal meeting location.


The Lodge at Nakoma—A New Sierra Retreat

Stymied for a real retreat for your retreat? One that’s luxe but fits your budget? Happily, there’s a new property that provides just that. Opened last summer in what’s called the Lost Sierra—a deeply forested area about an hour’s drive north of Reno and Lake Tahoe—is The Lodge at Nakoma in Clio. This 42-room lodge is tucked into the pines at Nakoma resort, an idyllic escape that features a dramatic, Frank Lloyd Wright-designed clubhouse and championship golf course. The teepee-like clubhouse encompasses several meeting spaces, including the Wigwam Room, with 2,106 sq. ft. of space for 140 guests, and three smaller options.


5 Fun Facts About Lake Tahoe

Why is Lake Tahoe so blue? The lake’s surface reflects the sky, of course, but also, the crystal clear water absorbs red light, causing the rich blue color.

How large is the lake? It’s 22 miles long, 12 miles wide and has 75 miles of shoreline. Its depth of 1,645 feet makes it the third-deepest lake in North America (only Crater Lake in Oregon and Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories of Canada are deeper).

How much water is in the lake? The water in Lake Tahoe could cover a flat area the size of California, to a depth of 14 inches.

How cold is the water? It stays a constant 39 degrees
Fahrenheit below 600 feet. In summer, shallow areas can warm up to 60 degrees.

Does it ever freeze over? Although the Lake Tahoe Basin has its share of below-freezing days and nights, the lake doesn’t freeze over. Its great depth and volume of moving water keep it from becoming the world’s largest skating rink.


Major Meeting Venues

Reno

Atlantis Casino Resort Spa

AAA Four Diamond property directly connected to Reno-Sparks Convention Center; 50,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; 824 guest rooms; Concierge Hotel Tower; sweeping mountain views.

Courtyard by Marriott Reno

Located minutes from convention center and Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO); 117 newly renovated guest rooms; two conference rooms that can host up to 60 people; fitness center, indoor pool.

Eldorado Resort Casino Reno

Connected to Circus Circus and Silver Legacy via skybridge; 814 guest rooms (217 newly refurbished); 12,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; near bowling stadium and events center.

Grand Sierra Resort and Casino

grand-sierra-resort-and-casinoRecently completed $100 million renovation, including all 1,990 guest rooms and public areas; 200,000 sq. ft. of meeting space for up to 4,000 attendees; 35 breakout rooms.

Hilton Garden Inn

Conveniently located in south Reno’s business district; three meeting spaces accommodate a total of 100 guests; complimentary Wi-Fi in meeting rooms; 135 guest rooms; indoor pool.

Hyatt Place Reno-Tahoe Airport

Contemporary hotel across the street from airport; complimentary Wi-Fi throughout; 126 guest rooms; 1,800 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space; indoor pool.

National Bowling Stadium

$15 million remodel continues; 78 championship lanes (capacity 1,500); 65,000 sq. ft. of flexible open space for events; Kingpin Club features private bowling lanes, lounge and bar.

Peppermill Resort Spa Casino

Tuscan-themed luxury property; 1,623 guest rooms; 106,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; 62,790-square-foot Tuscany Ballroom is the largest free-span convention space in northern Nevada; fitness center; business center.

Reno Events Center

Flexible 7,000-seat center located downtown; 56,000 sq. ft. of column-free exhibit space; nine meeting rooms/suites; adjacent to 32,700-square-foot Reno Ballroom.

Reno-Sparks Convention Center

Features five contiguous exhibit halls totaling 381,000 sq. ft. of space; 30,000-square-foot, column-free ballroom; 53 meeting rooms, for 50 to 3,000.

Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno

1,720 guest rooms; 19,360-square-foot ballroom; 12 breakout rooms; citywides under one roof with Eldorado Resort Casino and Circus Circus Reno (182,700 sq. ft. of total space).

North Lake Tahoe

Granlibakken Tahoe

Granilibakken-TahoeAll-inclusive property in Tahoe City; 200 guest rooms (hotel, condos, alternative lodging options); 14,000 sq. ft. of meeting space in main conference center; seasonal pavilion.

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino

Located lakeside in Incline Valley (Nevada); recent $25 million upgrades; 422 guest rooms; 50,000 sq. ft. of function space, including 25,000 sq. ft. indoors; 16 meeting rooms; 20,000-square-foot spa; seven restaurants; private lakefront beach; 275-foot floating pier.

Resort at Squaw Creek

Upscale property next to Squaw Valley Ski Resort; recent $7 million renovation of 405 guest rooms; 33,000 sq. ft. of flexible indoor meeting space; 24 upgraded meeting rooms; meets IACC requirements.

The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe

AAA Five Diamond lodge located midmountain at Northstar California; ski-in/ski-out; intermountain gondola connects resort to nearby Village at Northstar; 17,000-square-foot spa; 170 guest rooms; 15,000 sq. ft. of indoor function space.

Village at Northstar

Luxe alpine village offering high-end shopping, dining and condo lodges; gondola to/from midmountain and The Ritz-Carlton runs year-round (weekends in summer).

South Lake Tahoe

Beach Retreat & Lodge at Tahoe

Serene lakefront location; minutes from Heavenly Mountain and Sierra-at-Tahoe; 262 guest rooms; 6,108 sq. ft. of indoor/outdoor space, including new 3,054-square-foot conference center.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe

Lively property features rock memorabilia; 14,300 sq. ft. of meeting and convention space, including showroom; 539 guest rooms; Vinyl nightclub hosts live music and comedy.

Harrah’s Lake Tahoe

harrahs-lake-tahoeMultimillion-dollar remodel nearing completion; 18-story hotel tower; 512 guest rooms; 25,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; casino; Tahoe Star private yacht for 36 guests.

Harveys Lake Tahoe Hotel and Casino

Largest hotel in town, with 742 guest rooms; 25,000 sq. ft. of meeting space on second floor (separate from casino); 17 meeting rooms; connected to Harrah’s via underground walkway.

Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel

Located at the base of Heavenly Mountain Resort; 400 suites; breakfast buffet; more than 10,000 sq. ft. of meeting space for groups of 10–400; garden atrium for up to 500 guests.

Marriott’s Timber Lodge

Upscale vacation resort located in Heavenly Village; one-, two- and three-bedroom rentals; FiRE+iCE Grill and Bar on premises; indoor pool.

MontBleu Resort, Casino and Spa

Operated by Tropicana Entertainment Inc.; recent $25 million renovation; 16,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; 437 guest rooms; AAA Four Diamond Ciera Steak and Chophouse; MontBleu Theater can seat up to 1,500.

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