From the wineries of Santa Barbara to the Monterey coast, Central California is known for its unbeatable scenery.
“Perhaps the best part of hosting a meeting in Santa Barbara in Central California is the incredible diversity—and complete uniqueness—of its alternative meeting space,” said Beth Olson, director of sales at Visit Santa Barbara. “Venues pay tribute to Santa Barbara’s rich cultural heritage, with options ranging from boutique vineyards that offer private tastings and dinners in their barrel rooms or overlooking the vines, to chartered catamarans and yachts, to exclusive experiences at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club or Monty Roberts’ (“The Horse Whisperer”) Flag is Up Farms.”
Planners can also host a special event in many of the area’s historic buildings, among them the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, a graceful 1929 example of Spanish-Moorish architecture surrounded by meticulously landscaped sunken gardens, accommodating up to 200. The Santa Barbara Historical Society Museum in the downtown historic district features two charming, interconnected courtyards and can accommodate up to 450 attendees for a reception or dinner. Casa Covarrubius, built in 1817 and the second oldest home in Santa Barbara, can host more intimate events of up to 90 guests.
Hotel additions include the Drift Santa Barbara from TCM Hospitality—a tech-driven, contemporary hotel aimed at the Millennial market—which will arrive between by fall of 2022 in Santa Barbara’s downtown. The new Palihouse Santa Barbara is a 24-room boutique hotel in the historic Presidio Neighborhood, with a style of “vintage preppy meets American Riviera.” Group buyouts are available. The Upham Hotel, the oldest continuously operating hotel in Southern California, celebrated its 150th anniversary in fall 2021. This charming Victorian hotel has four distinctive meeting rooms as well as a landscaped courtyard for groups up to 60. Monterey
Monterey’s outdoor group venues take full advantage of the region’s spectacular scenery. Carmel Valley Ranch offers a 500-acre playground with plenty of diverse indoor and outdoor meeting space options. Customized group activities could include teambuilding competitions, outdoor adventures with falconry or artisan workshops.
Folktale Winery & Vineyard in Carmel Valley has 15 acres of sustainably farmed gardens along the Carmel River and venues ranging from a wine cellar to a greenhouse to a 6,000 sq. ft. villa. Another choice is Holman Ranch, a historic private estate in Carmel Valley with charming gardens, stunning mountain views and ideal for corporate retreats or group excursions.
New for 2022, the 290-room Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa, known for its dramatic views overlooking the Pacific Ocean, will complete a rooms renovation and recently launched a new high-end restaurant concept, Coastal Kitchen. It has 17,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Many of the other most popular group properties have undergone recent renovations, including they 560-room Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa, the area’s largest meeting hotel with 40,000 sq. ft. of event space, which has redesigned its lobby, guest rooms, suites and exterior landscaping. The goal was to blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces for a more relaxing experience. The 341-room Monterey Marriott, located in the heart of historic downtown Monterey and connected to the Monterey Conference Center, completed a multimillion-dollar guest room renovation that incorporates a cool and calming palette of ocean blues and grays, along with contemporary finishes and new artwork. It has 16,500 sq. ft. of meeting space. Portola Hotel & Spa, also connected to the Monterey Conference Center, completed a multimillion-dollar room renovation with a design that honors the coastal city’s history.
The Lodge at Pebble Beach has a new addition, the Sloat Building, which overlooks Stillwater Cove and the famed 18th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links and features 26 guest rooms. Pebble Beach Company also has a new short course designed by Tiger Woods and a 5,000-sq.-ft. eatery with a large outdoor patio for groups overlooking the new course, Carmel Bay and Point Lobos.
“Monterey County is home to world-class destinations including Big Sur, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Monterey and Pebble Beach, as well as all inspiring experiences for group team building like wine tasting in the vineyards, whale watching in the Monterey Bay and kayaking to help re-engage teams,” said Teresa Savage, VP of business development at the Monterey County CVB. “The destination offers an abundance of breathtaking outdoor meetings spaces, activities and a growing dining scene all located within walking distance of the LEED Platinum-certified Monterey Conference Center, which recently introduced new state-of-the-art technology, CANVAS Studio Monterey, to offer planners increased flexibility in hosting hybrid events.”
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