Perhaps your idea of an island meeting or a board retreat doesn’t jibe with powdery white-sand beaches, hip-shaking music and tropical drinks. Perhaps it’s more like whale-watching, biking and hiking, with a stroll along a picturesque harbor or a sea-kayaking adventure. In that case, consider San Juan Island, the second-largest of the San Juan Islands, just off the coast of Washington State.
Its hub, and arrival port, is the 1-square-mile Friday Harbor, set on a walkable hill lined with art galleries, boutiques, bookstores and antique shops. Restaurants serve up locally inspired, seasonal menus, with many including local wines.
Branching out from Friday Harbor, meeting-goers can explore the island along several scenic byways, which take in the rolling farmlands, rugged coastline—and even a winery, San Juan Vineyards, which produces estate-grown Siegerrebe and Madeleine Angevine in what is the coolest climate growing region in Washington state. Or, for outdoor adventures, join whale-watching, sea kayaking or bicycle tours.
Among a variety of lodging and meeting properties on the island are two that suit the needs of small meetings. Located on the top of a bluff overlooking the harbor, Friday Harbor House offers 23 recently upgraded contemporary guest rooms, along with a restaurant and a newly expanded outdoor patio.
Its 1,070-square-foot meeting space can be configured in a variety of ways to host up to 80 attendees. Earthbox Inn & Spa, a retro-chic motor hotel close to the ferry landing, has 73 renovated guest rooms, an indoor pool, a full-service spa and complimentary beach cruiser bikes. Its 1,675-square-foot conference room can accommodate up to 100 guests. Both properties can assist groups in planning excursions.