Virtuoso Awards Honor Luxury Meeting Properties

Virtuoso, a network of international luxury travel experts, announced its 2016 Best of the Best awards during its 28th annual Travel Week Aug. 6-12 in Las Vegas. It’s no surprise that some of the top U.S. luxury meeting properties were among the award winners. The 10th annual awards are the result of input from more than 390 Virtuoso travel agencies.

Smart Meetings always enjoys showing some love to luxury meeting properties that are our San Francisco Bay Area neighbors. This year’s Virtuoso awards feature Cavallo Point–The Lodge at Golden Gate, which is located in our hometown of Sausalito, California. Cavallo Point was among the properties honored for Sustainable Tourism Leadership.

As its name suggests, Cavallo Point offers views of Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. Formerly a military base that was built between 1901 and 1915, the resort opened in 2008 and is LEED Gold certified. It has 74 historic guest rooms and suites and 29,000 sq. ft. of meeting and event space.

“Cavallo Point Lodge is a top-rated property and it is an honor to be a part of this award-winning and committed team,” said Brendan Carlin, general manager. “It’s a destination that embodies the most luxurious and environmentally sustainable experience possible for guests.”


Also in our neck of the woods is The Farmhouse Restaurant at Farmhouse Inn, which is tucked away in the town of Forestville in Sonoma County. The restaurant was Virtuoso’s winner for Best Culinary Experience. Set amid wine country, the Michelin starred restaurant is housed in a restored 1873 farmhouse.

Besides award-winning cuisine, Farmhouse Inn features 25 guest rooms and a spa. Even though Farmhouse doesn’t have traditional meeting rooms, it is perfect for executive retreats, with space for up to 20 in the dining room and about 10 in the living rooms of its suites.

Carmel Valley Ranch in Monterey County, California, a few hours south of the Smart Meetings headquarters, was among the top vote-getters for Most Innovative Guest Experiences. Here’s a sampling of what groups can do at the 181-suite Carmel Valley Ranch, which has more than 46,500 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor meeting space.

• Bee Experience: With over 60,000 Italian honeybees in the onsite apiary, groups up to 20 can don a beekeepers suit with a resident beekeeper and learn how the honeybees diligently forage for the pollen and nectar in every flower at The Ranch.

• Photography Excursion with a National Geographic Photographer: Join a landscape photography expert on a photo adventure and hike along beautiful coastal trails, learning about friendly “neighbors” such as sea otters, seals and birds.

• The Equine Perspective: Groups from four to 75 experience a series of exercises designed to develop self-awareness and authentic communication with specially chosen horses.

Top Luxury Meeting Properties

Faena Hotel Miami Beach in Florida won for Best Achievement in Design. The Best Bar was The New York Edition in New York City.

The Mayflower Grace in Washington, Connecticut, was a runner-up for Best Spa. Those honored among the Hoteliers of the Year were Deborah Yager Fleming from Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach in Miami Beach and Philip Barnes from Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver, Canada.