One of John Muir's most famous quotes is, “The mountains are calling and I must go.” And when in the mountains, do what the locals do: get outside. To hole up in boardrooms and ballrooms misses the point when there are all sorts of great outdoor venues for meetings and social gatherings. Here is a glimpse at a few places to consider.
The Resort at Paws Up in Greenough has debuted two new outdoor venues since May 2017. The Island Lodge at Salmon Lake was acquired in January 2018 and provides a true island experience in western Montana. The lodge can host 60-80 guests comfortably on expansive outdoor decks with room to spill over into the interior great room with floor-to-ceiling windows. North Bank Camp, perched on a bluff overlooking the Blackfoot River, is Paws Up’s latest glamping creation with two- and three-bedroom luxury tents and the attractive Dining Pavilion featuring a large stone fireplace, bar, community seating, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors and a fire pit only steps away. North Bank Camp can accommodate groups of 25-35.
Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky has an outdoor pavilion accommodating 100-plus guests under an attractive log-frame structure that exudes the West and features an adjacent outdoor fire pit. Canvas walls lower for inclement weather, and guests can stay in the 24 cabins on the 148-acre property.
In Whitefish, groups can score on both mountains and water at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake’s Lakeside Pavilion & Lawn, which are available in fair-weather seasons and seat up to 250.
VIP guests, tour operators and journalists attending a multiday grand reopening celebration at The Oasis at Death Valley in November 2018 were treated to a cocktail reception under the stars at the new Mission Gardens, located steps from the resort’s completely renovated Inn at Death Valley. The patio and connecting lawn served as the backdrop for mingling and a concert.
Just down the road, the resort’s other property, Ranch at Death Valley, features the Borax Museum that has a large yard dotted with carriages, 20-mule wagon trains, a locomotive and more from the area’s mining days. Other options are booking the date grove with picnic tables for a western-style barbecue and the Furnace Creek Golf Course for a star party.
Located midmountain at Northstar, The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers both lakeside and slopeside outdoor function spaces. At the hotel, expect 15,000 square feet of indoor options and an additional 15,000 square feet of outdoor space including two lawns that can hold 200-400 guests, Backyard Bar & BBQ by the main pool and the spacious Fireside Terrace. For groups seeking a waterfront experience, head for the shores of Lake Tahoe and the property’s Lake Club, a window-filled, two-story venue with patios and a seasonal lawn. The Lake Club can accommodate receptions for up to 90 and water sports and meals for smaller groups.
Jaime Haddad, sales and operations manager for RMC, a destination management company with an office in nearby Truckee, has utilized all of the property’s outdoor spaces. “All are very scenic and feel as if you are sitting in the forest. Looking out at the mountain through the pine trees is very relaxing, and most clients love each of the locations and struggle with which is best for their event or gathering,” she says.
Resort at Squaw Creek is conveniently situated at the base of Squaw Valley ski area. The resort features more than 33,000 square feet of event space and an additional 10,000 square feet of outdoor space, including the 6,000-square-foot Sun and Spa Deck perched above the Pavilion lawn for an idyllic layered venue with spectacular views of the pool, golf course, valley and mountains. It’s also the perfect place for lawn games with a reception above.
After a 10-month, $13 million renovation, the Walter Isaacson Center at Aspen Meadows Resort in Aspen was unveiled in June 2018. Two of the highlights for groups seeking the newest outdoor-focused spaces in this building are the Madeleine K. Albright Pavilion that opens on three sides and the elevated Bren and Mel Simon Terrace above. Located on a 40-acre campus, there are many additional options for outdoor gatherings such as Anderson Park and the Marble Garden.
Or head to Hotel Jerome, an Auberge Resort in downtown Aspen and book the redesigned central garden courtyard that seamlessly connects the historic hotel to the recently renovated Aspen Times Building that added an underground speakeasy bar and new meeting spaces. Now offering a 360-degree experience, the courtyard features a redesigned pool and terrace and holds up to 250 for a cocktail reception.
Rustic yet elegant and available in both summer and winter months, the onmountain Uley’s Cabin at Crested Butte Mountain Resort has a secluded location and panoramic views from a large patio that is ideal for mingling before heading indoors to enjoy a meal for up to 60. In winter, groups can belly up around the Ice Bar to soak in the alpenglow and enjoy après ski. The circular Umbrella Bar at Ten Peaks, a 35-foot, glass-enclosed bar with a ceiling that opens, in tandem with the adjoining deck can hold up to 75 at the top of Painter Boy chairlift. In summer and fall, a nearby tent provides an ideal spot for groups of up to 200.
With 35,000 square feet of outdoor function space, Montage Deer Valley offers loads of options with the 20,000-square-foot Grand Lawn and the smaller 4,800-square-foot Mountain Lawn surrounded by mountain and valley views. Eight terraces ranging from 400 to 5,200 square feet allow several groups to soak in the fresh air at once.
Nearby, the attractive new outdoor deck at Westgate Park City Resort & Spa, situated at the Canyons base area, accommodates up to 152 seated and 190 standing and totals 2,400 square feet. The deck has heated floors for winter months and three gas grills. “We did a concert event for a company on the patio for the opening ceremony of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games and also had TVs and a curling setup from the Utah Olympic Park,” shares Director of Sales Jim Goslin.
In the Ogden area, Snowbasin Resort has options at both lower and on-mountain lodges, while Skylodge is an amazing escape that sits at the top of Powder Mountain surrounded by 8,464 acres of skiable terrain. With panoramic views sweeping over four states, Skylodge features 5,500 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space. Both resorts are about 30 minutes from Ogden, but there are options right in the city as well.
“We recently held a huge meeting at Fort Benuventura that included dinner, axe throwing, marshmallow roasting, etc. It is 1 mile west of downtown, but in a secluded, forested area with a pond, hiking trails following the Ogden River and disc golf,” says Sydnie Furton, marketing and public relations manager for Visit Ogden.
Sweeping views of the Cascade Mountain Range and rushing water are highlights of the Mt. Bachelor Lawn at Sunriver Resort located just outside Bend. Able to accommodate up to 200 people, the green space is a memorable locale for food stations spotlighting Northwest cuisine or elegant outdoor dinners. For a more casual environment, try Besson Commons with more than 10,000 square feet of outdoor space. Reserve the PEAK Food Truck, oversized lawn games and café lighting for an event that attendees are sure to remember.
Situated in Alberta’s gorgeous Banff National Park, Fairmont Banff Springs and Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise provide truly impressive options like outdoor receptions on the terrace at the “castle” in Banff, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is an experience unto itself.
At Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, the 1,450-square-foot Lakeview Terrace has a magnificent view of Victoria Glacier and Lake Louise and accommodates up to 300 seated theatre-style. A bit smaller, Victoria Terrace holds up to 150.