Seattle Surge Caters to All Types of Meetings and Attendees

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Seattle development
Pike Place Market, photo credit: Howard Frisk

Well, hello Seattle. Tech companies such as Microsoft and Apple already call the Seattle area home, but a couple of new kids on the block—Google and Facebook—reflect a deeper renaissance that is stirring up the city.

Seattle welcomed 100 new restaurant openings last year and 3,000 new hotel rooms are slated to open by 2020, including brands such as SLS and Hyatt. Seattle’s nature-in-its-backyard location, with Puget Sound and the Olympic and Cascade mountains in the distance, also promise attendees a view or group activity worth the trek. And this is just the tip of the iceberg of new Seattle development.

“Seattle’s civic renaissance features some $20 billion in infrastructure investment in the coming decade,” adds Rob Hampton, senior VP of convention sales and services for Visit Seattle. “That includes new light rail lines throughout the region and a master development plan for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport that will add 35 new gates, a new international arrivals facility and more, among other things.”

Seattle’s civic renaissance features some $20 billion in infrastructure investment in the coming decade.

An Era of Upscale Hotels

Debuting this July, the 189-room SLS Hotel Seattle will take up 15 stories in the new, 43-story Mark tower and offer the complete upscale meeting experience, including a Ciel Spa, pool, 16th-floor cocktail lounge and restaurant, and more than 21,000 sf of meeting space. The reimagined 151-room Hotel Theodore will also set up shop later this summer in the landmark 1929 building, currently operating as the Roosevelt Hotel. The hotel will showcase a collection of works that honor Seattle’s pioneering spirit, and offer 2,415 sf of meeting space to boot.

Next year will also see major developments when the 1,260-guest room Hyatt Regency Seattle opens as Seattle’s largest hotel. The 45-story property will offer more than 100,000 sf of flexible meeting and ballroom space and serve as a signature hotel for the Washington State Convention Center expansion, which is projected to start construction later this year. Current plans have the expansion at 250,000 sf of exhibition space, 120,000 sf of meeting rooms and a 60,000-sf ballroom.

The luxury 158-room Thompson Seattle opened last year, featuring hip spaces where groups can meet, including The Nest rooftop cocktail lounge. Indigenous foods—shellfish from Puget Sound and wild mushrooms foraged from the Cascade Mountains—make up the menu, and the Chef’s Table takes groups on a round-trip culinary exploration with 15 to 17 locally-inspired courses.

Creative Venues

The first expansion to the city’s famous Pike Place Market in 40 years will hit the city this June with the much-anticipated $74 million Pike Place MarketFront. The market will restore the site for the public with a dynamic public plaza and viewing deck, as well as 47 rooftop day stalls with local goods that attendees can peruse. Hampton says Seattle’s central waterfront is also on the brink of a “comprehensive renovation that will enhance public spaces, parks and attractions.”

Meanwhile, Seattle’s classic attractions are still a lure for meetings groups, and Visit Seattle often orchestrates “The Ultimate Block Party” to get things going. The Space Needle, Museum of Pop Culture, and Chihuly Garden and Glass recently partnered to offer meeting planners the all-encompassing experience that introduces attendees to all three venues simultaneously. “The Space Needle even collaborated with Panogs, a leading virtual reality technology provider, so planners can virtually experience what is possible with their block party before it takes place,” Hampton says.

Other local experiences include flightseeing by float plane out of Lake Union, urban kayaking and, if driving isn’t an issue, close proximity to three national parks.

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