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CONNECT ASSOCIATION MAGAZINE – Shake the Lake – Destination Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is experiencing a destination renaissance of late, and nowhere is that more evident than on its southern shores in Tahoe South.

More than $500 million dollars in renovation and redevelopment in tourist infrastructure including an additional 100,000 sq.-ft. of flexible meeting space has been added in Tahoe South over the past five years according to Carol Chaplin, president and CEO of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.

Chaplin noted increased demand in meeting amenities is fueled by the recent economic recovery and tech boom experienced in nearby Reno. Tesla, Google, Switch, Apple have all added to their presence in Reno and look to Tahoe South as an accessible retreat for meetings where employees immersed in the work hard/play hard culture find casual outdoor meeting venues and (there are more than half a dozen beer gardens alone), varied dining and exciting casino entertainment options attractive.

The region also draws meeting business especially from tech-oriented entrepreneurial start-ups from nearby drive markets of Sacramento (two-hour drive), Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay area, each about a three-hour drive.

““Our ability to host visitors at the level they expect is elevated at every turn,” says Chaplin, “From expanded flexible meeting space found in our casinos and hotels to lake-front and mountain-top outdoor space great for team-building. Visitors love our creative downtown (Heavenly Village) and four-season recreational options.”

Casino Stalwarts

Harrah’s and Harveys, onetime Tahoe South rivals, became sister properties after Harrah’s 2001 acquisition of Harveys Casino Resorts, today operating under the Caesars Entertainment flag. They have a total of 1,254 rooms including 69 luxury suites and 45,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and shared dining venues that can be used for signature events.

“We offer planners access to our combined space with one point of contact and a single contract,” says Jordan D. Clark, vice president of sales for Caesars Entertainment.

Though both Caesars properties in Tahoe have diversification is important. “You can’t survive on gaming alone,” asserts Clark. “You’ve got to have great dining, entertainment, shopping, skiing, water sports and meetings, too.”

To that end, Caesars invested nearly $11 million last year into Harrah’s. It renovated more than half of its 535 guest rooms and overhauled the on-site 18,000 sq.-ft. Special Events Center, installing all new furniture and fixtures and adding a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system. The facility can be divided into multiple meeting and convention spaces and accommodates 850 in a banquet setting.

Clark noted guest room renovations are planned for Harveys in 2018.

Against the Grain 

Smaller firms and entrepreneurial start-ups find the relaxed vibe in Tahoe South suits their workforce, and the market has responded with a mashup of hipster/co-working/creative nontraditional properties that align with how these organizations prefer to work.

Basecamp Hotel has 73 rooms, many equipped with bunk beds for groups who want to maximize occupancy. Its open, communal spaces (accommodating groups up to 50) include a beer garden, taproom and newly opened onsite-microbrewery; seven fire pits (unlimited s’mores, anyone?) and even a boardroom inside a retro Airstream.

The Coachman Hotel’s 42 rooms and communal layout appeal to recreation-oriented groups with dedicated wet areas for skis, snowboards, boots and swimsuits; outdoor-yard with fire pits for events collaborative work areas; and an 800 sq.-ft. flexible meeting space with Apple TVs, large windows, and easy kitchen access for snacks.

The Becket, a Joie de Vivre Hotel, with 167 rooms relaunched after a multi-million-dollar renovation and consolidation of two adjacent properties.  The hotel features a new lobby, restaurant, on site spa and an expansive outdoor terrace with views to Heavenly Mountain, as well 1000 sq. -ft. of new meeting space. The lively 100-seat restaurant, Ten Crows, opens onto an expansive lawn with an outdoor bar, fire pits and a smoker for casual gatherings and BBQs.

Lakeside Mountain Luxury

The brand-new Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe, opened in May, 2017 flanks its championship golf course with 154 luxury guest rooms and suites. The lodge has a 3,000-sq. ft. ballroom, two intimate private dining rooms, and an expansive lakefront event lawn and beach that can accommodate 1,000 for events. Also on-site is a premium spa and an adventure outfitter, which can arrange for seasonal group outings such as paddle boarding, water-skiing, kayaking, snowboarding, skiing and snowmobiling. 

The Landing Resort & Spa is located on seven acres adjacent to Tahoe South’s popular Lakeside Beach. The five-star hotel has 77 guest rooms, a premium spa and 3,600 square feet of meeting space. Its rooftop terrace is a dramatic place to host a cocktail reception of up to 300, especially at sunset.

No Snow? No Problem 

Though known to many as a spot to which skiers flock, Lake Tahoe is an equal opportunity provider when it comes to seasonal fun. “We have 300 days of sunshine annually,” says Lisa Deleon, DMCP, partner with Destination Tahoe Meetings & Events. She shares her favorite ways for groups to soak it up.

ATV Adventures

Take your group 4-Wheelin’ with All-Terrain Vehicles  on on a Rubicon Trail Tour and experience one of the most rugged and challenging trails in the United States. The group is sure to get muddy off-roading here, but that’s all part of the fun.

Gondola Glide

Rising 2.4 miles up the mountain, the Gondola at Heavenly is to Lake Tahoe what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. Groups from 20 to 1,000 are whisked in eight-passenger cabins to an elevation of about 9,000 feet in 17 minutes.

White-Water Rafting

Groups of up to 80 can tackle the Truckee River rushing down the eastern slope of the Sierra. Rafters of all skill levels will feel comfortable encountering milder Class 2 and 3 rapids.

Sippin’ Suds

Up to 25 can enjoy a relaxing afternoon sampling Tahoe’s best craft beers paired with snacks on a South Shore Brewery Tour featuring local craft brewers like South Lake Brewing Company and Sidellis Brewery.

Dine Around

Even more spectacular than the magicians hosted in the Center Stage Lounge and South Shore Room, is the array of imaginative food and beverage options at Harrah’s and Harveys. Director of Catering and Convention Services Paul Voss and his team demonstrated their capabilities for a group of 100 planners in May. One creative multi-course lunch featured a build-your-own-salad, during which diners found a plate of micro greens at their place and a giant charcuterie board running the length of the table filled with cured meats, marinated cheeses, vegetables, toasted nuts and fruit.

 

Also on the menu for the weekend event:

> Omakase sushi platters

> Steak Dianne to order,

> Seared Cajun spiced prawns with pineapple-rum beurre blanc

> Herb-and-dijon-crusted rack of lamb

> Chocolate martinis

Breakfast here is an extravagant affair especially when served at Harveys Kitchen 19 or Harrah’s Friday’s Station.  The top floor fine dining venues are usually set for dinner only. Made available for private group breakfast and lunch dining (180 seated each), stunning lake and mountain views are matched with menu choices that run from red velvet and carrot pancakes to crab-cake Benedict and bruleed oatmeal.

 Have a group of VIPs to accommodate? Choose from 33 Summit Suites, each with a custom décor some featuring billiard tables and others offering romantic heart-shaped beds, Harrah’s hosts on its 16th and 17th floors. Each double-master bedroom suite averages is about 3,000 square feet and has stunning mountain and lake views, marble floors integrated in-mirror televisions and more.

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