N. California Meetings + Events' Readers' Choice Best Of Awards

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Sarah Osman
California Meetings + Events
Fall 2011

Congratulations to all our winners!

>>Best Attraction (theme park, museum, etc.)
THE WINNER IS: 
California Academy of Sciences
Based in San Francisco, this world-class scientific and cultural institution has recently opened a new facility in Golden Gate Park. The new 400,000-square-foot museum features an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum and a four-story rainforest. The sheer size and variety of exhibits make the museum the perfect location to host an event that guests will never forget. Planners can pick from 12 different settings and many different forms of entertainment-whether it may be a spectacular star-studded tour in the Planetarium or learning how to feed sharks. The venue can host parties of up to 3,000 guests. 

RUNNERS UP: The de Young Museum, Monterey Bay Aquarium

>>Best Audio/Visual Service Provider
THE WINNER IS:
 Fantasy Sound Event Services
Fantasy Sound Event Services offers state-of-the-art audio and visual services for weddings, corporate events, school events and private parties. Fantasy Sound services include event lighting, equipment rentals, disc jockeys, video services and recommendations for caterers, venues and event rentals. Fantasy Sound’s diverse selection of lighting includes everything from romantic lanterns to vivid spotlights for key speakers and their equipment rentals include projectors, screens and sound systems. Fantasy Sound records events on high definition DSLR digital cameras and non-linear editing equipment, and offer the option of video/photography collages of events. Fantasy Sound also offers a number of packages to cater to high school/junior high dances, proms and grad nights. 

RUNNERS UP: Got Light? Special Event Design & Production, Swank Audio Visuals

>>Best Caterer
THE WINNER IS: 
Global Gourmet Catering
Since 1999, Global Gourmet Catering has been a pioneer in the catering industry with the development of such catering firsts as large-scale multi-ethnic stations menus. Some of the unique services that Global Gourmet Catering provides includes personalized menus that are seasonally organic, site and venue selection, event design and entertainment. Global Gourmet Catering green practices include recycling and composting in their kitchen, office and events, delivering leftover food to Bay-area food banks and fueling their catering trucks with BioDiesel20, which reduces emissions by 14 percent.

RUNNER UP: Checkers Catering and Special Events

>>Best Special Events, Conference, Exhibit Center
THE WINNER IS: 
Nob Hill Masonic Center
The Nob Hill Masonic Center is a unique venue located on beautiful Nob Hill. Live Nation assists with all events held at the Masonic Center, where special events, concerts, receptions, expo space and corporate meetings are held on a frequent basis. Less than one mile away from the San Francisco Convention Center, special amenities at the Masonic Center include co-branded merchandise, customized gobo lights and interactive entertainment. The Masonic center offers four different venues: the auditorium which can house 3,165 guests, the grand lobby which can accommodate 900, the exhibition hall for up to 2,000 guests and the California Room which can accommodate 200.

RUNNERS UP: Moscone Center, Silverado Resort and Spa

>>Best Convention Center
THE WINNER IS:
 Moscone Center
Just a block away from Union Square, the Moscone Center is a mere stroll away from hotels, restaurants, museums and public transit options. The Center offers nearly one million square feet of meeting and exhibit space, including more than 100 meeting rooms, three exquisite ballrooms and more than 120,000 square feet of pre-function lobbies. After an expansion in 2003, the Center, which totals two million square feet, is now one of the greenest convention centers and is home to resource-efficient design features, high-performance windows and lighting mechanical systems that exceed Title 24 Energy Efficiency standards, a full-time air-quality technician on staff and one of the nation’s largest municipally owned rooftop solar installations. 

RUNNERS UP: Monterey Conference Center, Santa Clara Convention Center

>>Best Destination Marketing Organization (CVB)
THE WINNER IS:
 San Francisco Travel
One of the largest convention and tourism bureaus in the world, San Francisco Travel works to promote San Francisco as one of the best cities to host conventions, corporate retreats and special events. San Francisco is home to the Moscone Center, great public transportation, and the incredible dining, shopping and attractions on every corner. San Francisco Travel works with event planners to ensure a smooth stay in the city, whether it is providing free lead service for hotels and facilities or the virtual meeting planners guide.

RUNNERS UP: Napa Valley Destination Council, San Mateo County/Silicon Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau

>>Best Destination Resort
THE WINNER IS:
 Silverado Resort and Spa
Nestled in the rolling hills of California’s world-famous wine country, Silverado Resort and Spa is a classic resort that combines modern business facilities with numerous recreational activities. Guests can relax with a game of golf on one of the two award-winning PGA championship courses, take a dip in one of ten swimming pools, play a game of tennis on one of 13 courts, or take a hike on one of the scenic hiking trails. The Resort itself is home to 15,000 square feet of meeting space within the Silverado Mansion Conference Center-which includes an elegant ballroom, 13 stylish meeting rooms and multiple outdoor meeting spaces-all equipped with the latest audio-visual equipment. 

RUNNERS UP: The Claremont Hotel Club & Spa, The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

>>Best Entertainment Company
THE WINNER IS:
 Bill Hopkins Events
From small sound reinforcement for an intimate gathering that simply requires a microphone for a few keynote speakers, to providing support for a full-blown stage production, Bill Hopkins has done it-and commits to providing the best entertainment smoothly and soundly. One of Bill Hopkins’ specialties is world class entertainment for the corporate incentive programs for Fortune 500 companies in the fields of financial and insurance services, pharmaceutical, technology and for major charity events. The company’s shows have been known to include top acts such as Michael Bolton, Mariah Carey, Robin Williams and Gina Davis, and features music ranging from ‘40s swing jazz to today’s top hits. The top professionals in choreography, costume design, lighting and sound come together to create shows that are created to entertain.

RUNNERS UP: Entire Productions, Denon & Doyle Disc Jockey Company

>>Event/Décor Rental Service
THE WINNER IS: 
Blueprint Studios
Blueprint Studios is a full-service event design, fabrication and rental firm that has been in business for nearly a decade. Blueprint’s signature event design allow planners to see an ideal storyboard of the event design for their event and the company’s full-time production department works with planners every step of the way to make their vision a reality. The scenic/ prop rental department has a number of vibrant three-dimensional pieces that will add an extra pop to any party, and the furniture rental department is home to more unique and stylish furnishings than any other event rental furniture of its kind. Blueprint Studios also offers a full-service floral design department and custom fabrication-pieces are built by a skilled team of designers and craftsmen with eco-friendly materials. 

RUNNERS UP: Hartmann Studios, Pleasanton Rentals

>>Best Event Planning Company (DMC)
THE WINNER IS:
 ACCESS Destination Services
ACCESS Destination Services provides clients with support in picking the best tours, recreation, event production and transportation in the destination of their choice. Currently operating in five different cities along the coast of California, and in Las Vegas, Florida and Chicago, ACCESS is designed to meet the creative, motivational and budgetary needs of every planner. Some of the most popular services have included airport transportation, group and special event transfers, block parties, helicopter tours, fitness programs, hands-on cooking classes, behind the scenes tours, wine country excursions and spouse/guest events, among many others. 

RUNNER UP: PRA Destination Management

>>Best Florist
THE WINNER IS:
 Spiral Hand Floral + Design
With more than twenty years of experience, Leah Gagné and Rafael Campos, the designers of Spiral Hand Floral + Design, bring a natural eye to each of their floral creations. Gagne creates pieces including everything from blossoms, branches, fruits, flowers and rocks to convey whatever special message a client desires. Campos brings a bit of his vibrant energy from his homeland of Rio de Janeiro into his work incorporating splashes of pulsating color into each of his pieces. He has produced hundreds of events, ranging from small, intimate gatherings to large corporate events. Together, the team will work with planners on all aspects of event production including lighting, furnishings and tabletop settings-all while creating the ideal floral pieces to match the event. 

RUNNERS UP: Nicole Ha Designs, Delford West Flowers

>>Best Golf Venue
THE WINNER IS: 
TPC Harding Park
Located less than one mile from the Pacific Ocean, TPC Harding Park is the premier golf course of San Francisco. The course itself is 163 acres and was designed by Willie Watson and Sam Whiting. In 2002, the course underwent a series of renovations including upgrading the driving range and clubhouse to PGA standards. In addition, the course is available to host a wide variety of events, including weddings, private dinners, business meetings and private parties. The Clubhouse, which was completed in 2005, has floor to ceiling windows that provide gorgeous views of the park and Lake Merced. The Cypress Grill Room, which seats 125 and the Lakeview Terrace, which holds 75, are other great picks for scenic and elegant events. 

RUNNERS UP: Half Moon Bay Golf Links, Pebble Beach Golf Links

>>Best "Greening" Effort
THE WINNER IS:
 InterContinental San Francisco Hotel
The InterContinental San Francisco is LEED EBOM Gold Certified under the U.S. Green Building Council, and is the largest LEED Gold Recipient of existing buildings in California. The hotel achieved this great honor through a number of policies, including a ban on Styrofoam take-out containers, the installation of solar panels, energy efficient lighting, and serving local, organic produce. The hotel’s green meetings include floor-to-ceiling windows that allow natural lighting in all meeting rooms, and audiovisual equipment from PSAV, which is Energy Star compliant. They are also one of the first hotel properties to offer the Zipcar Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid vehicle, which is offered at a discount to guests. 

RUNNERS UP: Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay, Costanoa Coastal Lodge and Camp

>>Best Hotel (more than 300 rooms)
THE WINNER IS:
 Silverado Resort and Spa
The resort is home to two award-winning PGA championship golf courses, 10 swimming pools, 13 tennis courts, a relaxing and rejuvenating spa and numerous hiking and biking trails. The prime location also allows guests to be near 200 different wineries, and fresh, local, sustainable produce. The Patio Terrace is a great place to unwind after a day of business with a martini, whereas the Royal Oak provides the ideal ambiance for a quiet dinner. The resort is home to more than 15,000 square feet of meeting space, including an elegant ballroom, 13 meeting rooms and multiple outdoor meeting spaces-all equipped with the latest audio-visual technology. At the end of the day, guests will enjoy relaxing in one of the 435 non-smoking private cottage suites. 

RUNNERS UP: InterContinental San Francisco Hotel, Clift Hotel

>>Best Hotel (under 300 rooms)
THE WINNER IS:
 Hotel Vitale San Francisco
Encompassing modern, luxurious touches and revitalizing water elements, Hotel Vitale San Francisco is a landmark boutique hotel located San Francisco’s Financial District. Designed by Heller Manus Architects, with a unique interior designed by McCartan Design, the hotel is home to Spa Vitale, two restaurants and state-of-the-art entertainment systems in the guestrooms. A number of meetings and event spaces are located in the hotel as well, including three terraces and suites, each of which can accommodate up to 50 guests and a series of meeting rooms which can accommodate up to 150 guests. For a scenic meeting, try The Terrace Studios-each has its own private terrace with luxurious outdoor seating with views of the city. 

RUNNERS UP: St. Regis San Francisco Hotel, The Claremont Hotel Club & Spa

>>Best Photography, Videography
THE WINNER IS:
 Source Photography
Source Photography offers professional photography solutions for corporate events, youth sports, Interior/Exterior shoots and culinary photography. Owner Kevin Trexler and his team have captured events with up to 2,000 people and always rely on their handy state-of-the-art Nikon cameras. Source is known for its use of ‘real time photography,’ as photographers click, edit and print a shot in under 45 seconds. They are truly known for their speedy photography and speedy turnaround. 

RUNNERS UP: Orange Photography, Janae Shields Photography

>>Best Reception, Banquet Venue (not in hotel/conference center)
THE WINNER IS:
 12 Gallagher Lane
Located in the emerging Art District in San Francisco, 12 Gallagher Lane is a newly renovated 3,300-square-foot gallery space. Inspired by the iconic American artist Hunt Slonem, the gallery space is divided between a grand 2,500-square-foot first floor and an 800-square-foot private loft area. The exterior of the space features plantation shutters and vibrant colors, reflective of Slonem’s two restored plantation homes in Louisiana. The interior’s colorful walls encompass period pieces such as Roman marble bathtub, a Baccarat chandelier and a 1929 gilded piano.

RUNNERS UP: Casa Real at Ruby Hill Winery, Palm Event Center in the Vineyard

>>Best Social Media Marketing Effort
THE WINNER IS:
 InterContinental San Francisco
Featuring links to Twitter, Facebook and You Tube, the InterContinental San Francisco has set the bar for using social media. The YouTube channel features videos of all of the rooms, restaurants and amenities at the InterContinental San Francisco, as well as videos of events, significant guests that have stayed and interviews with the staff. The hotel’s Twitter feed (@ICSF) is updated nearly every hour with tweets regarding upcoming events in San Francisco and at the hotel, recent press and responses to guests who have tweeted to them. The Facebook page commonly has sweepstakes to win a free vacation to the hotel (if you "Like" their page), as well as information regarding the hotel and recent updates on the hotel’s menus, events and staff. The website to the hotel features links to photo galleries, information on its greening effort, a live brochure and links to museums and attractions in the area. 

RUNNERS UP: Tri-Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau

>>Best Teambuilding Company
THE WINNER IS:
 Parties that Cook!
Located in four different cities, Parties that Cook! provides hands-on corporate cooking classes. Classes are taught by superb executive chefs and encourage team bonding, communication and foster camaraderie. There are seven custom teambuilding events one can choose from, including sumptuous small plates, chef’s table, kitchen challenge, executive kitchen challenge, amazing kitchen race, cooking farm to table and cupcake wars. Some of the top kitchen rentals in San Francisco include the Casa Verde, Dogpatch Studios, Horatius and the San Francisco Wine Center. All ingredients used to cook up delicious dishes are local, fresh and sustainable, and planners have the option to add on fun extras such as wine recommendations and corporate gifts. 

RUNNERS UP: Murder on the Menu/TeamBuilding Unlimited Transportation

>>Best Service Provider
THE WINNER IS:
 Platypus Tours
Platypus tours provides smallgroup guided wine tours in Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley and a variety of other gorgeous local wine regions. On the tour, guests travel through charming back-country roads and visit historic or family-owned wineries. Guests enjoy a tasty picnic lunch, a cheese platter, local lore regarding the various wineries and a taste of some of the world-class wines this region has to offer. Private tours can be arranged to pick guests up from San Francisco, San Jose and even the Sacramento area.

RUNNERS UP: Black Tie Transportation, Pure Luxury Transportation

>>Winery with Event Space
THE WINNER IS:
 Wente Vineyards
Wente Vineyards incorporates a winery, a restaurant, a championship golf course, a concert venue and is home to numerous weddings and events throughout the year. The conference rooms can accommodate anywhere from 10 to 150 guests, and are equipped with wireless internet and full audio-visual equipment. The Cresta Blanca Event Center & Terrace Lawn, where the conference rooms, terrace lawn and reception room are located, is surrounded by the lush surroundings of the Livermore Valley Wine Country and is a great location for an idyllic day. The Vineyard Lawn is a gorgeous emerald outdoor space that can accommodate up to 1,000, and is particularly ideal for weddings. 

RUNNERS UP: Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards, Casa Real at Ruby Hill Winery

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