From mountains to seashore vineyards to desert, bridges to bays, California has some of the most stunning vistas in the world. These expansive views can lead to expansive thinking and memorable meetings. The décor of even the most elegantly appointed boardroom may be a fleeting memory, but the Pacific at sunset, a vineyard touched by the morning dew, a bird’s-eye perspective on the skyscrapers of San Francisco or Los Angeles- these are images that never fade. Wherever you might be in the Golden State, you’ve got a venue with a view nearby. Here are some to consider.
(Photo Credit: L'Auberge Del Mar)
Pacific Terrace, L’Auberge Del Mar
For events with a stunning sunset backdrop, it’s hard to beat L’Auberge Del Mar’s 5,000-square-foot Pacific Terrace. It overlooks the ocean, as well as the historic hotel’s lush gardens, courtyards, and inner plaza. Groups of up to 400 can take advantage of the coastal views by planning a Step into Liquid party that showcases the active, stylish lifestyle of Del Mar, with fish tacos, spiny lobsters, local craft beers, tequila and margarita tastings, and a station where guests can kick off their shoes for flip-flops. The hotel recently hosted a media reception for 140 on the terrace as part of a national automotive company’s new vehicle launch. The company also used the Pacific Terrace’s complementary 2,500-square-foot
Platinum Ballroom, one of five indoor meeting spaces, featuring french doors that open onto private outdoor terraces. "The natural light and views really keep attendees engaged and alert," says Director of Sales and Marketing Bob Harter.
Junto, Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa, Sausalito
History, nature and technology come together at this hillside Sausalito property. Built in 1885 and opened as a bed-and-breakfast in the 1920s, the 64-room Casa Madrona is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As part of a recent renovation, the 1,700-square-foot Junto meeting and event room is being unveiled this fall. Junto was designed to encourage innovation; one avenue is the advanced meeting technology, including a 12-panel media wall and multipoint videoconferencing capability. Just as important in encouraging outside-the-box thinking is the outdoor patio. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors offer panoramic views of Richardson Bay and slide away to reveal a 600-square-foot deck that’s an ideal setting for breakout sessions or cocktail parties. "Open the doors and you immediately feel connected to the maritime community," says General Manager Stefan Mühle. "You feel the sea breeze, hear the seagulls, see the sailboats. There’s no other place in the Bay Area with this type of panorama."
(Photo Credit: Malibu Beach Inn)
Boardroom By the Sea, Malibu Beach Inn
Set right on the sand of Carbon Beach- also known as "billionaire’s beach"- the 47-room boutique Malibu Beach Inn is adjacent to some of the priciest real estate in the country. By day, the Boardroom by the Sea (16-person capacity) is usually booked by an entertainment or social media company, nonprofit, financial institution or real estate firm. At sunset, the oceanfront terrace, a seashell’s throw from the waves, plays host to 50 seated guests or up to 75 for a cocktail reception, with a fire pit to keep the chill away. The restaurant inside also takes in the view and, with its ocean-facing windows, feels more like a private yacht. Events typically come with a block of rooms at the chic hotel that’s filled with original art, including work by David Hockney; almost all guest rooms have ocean views. Besides serving as scenic backdrop, the beach is the site for team-building activities or pre-meeting beach Pilates or yoga. Morning and afternoon breaks can feature chair massages in the hotel’s oceanfront breezeway.
(Photo Credit) Eberle Winery)
Vineyard Deck, Eberle Winery, Paso Robles
There’s something inspiring, not to mention just plain gorgeous, about the sight of the manicured rows of an estate vineyard. At Eberle Winery, columns of expertly tended vines extend to the horizon, framed by the coastal mountains.
The winery’s partially covered vineyard deck is often in use, not just for winery events but also for group barbecues, wine receptions and cooking classes. A built-in Santa Maria-style barbecue grill (the huge wire rack raises and lowers by a pulley system) can be a demonstration kitchen for up to 40 for an outdoor cooking class.
Hospitality Manager Jan Erkenbrack says most groups use the deck (capacity 80 to 120,) for a sunset wine tasting hour and then move indoors or to the cool wine caves for a seated candlelit dinner. The bocce court can be a stop on a property scavenger hunt (an option for team-building) or just a great place for a friendly competition. Erkenbrack recalls that nearby Firestone Brewery did just that when they brought their sales reps from all over the United States to play bocce, eat pizza and, departing from their usual drink of choice, sip wine on the vineyard deck.
(Photo Credit: West Shore Cafe, Tish Gallegos, Glodow Nead Communications)
West Shore Café and Inn, Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe boasts many waterfront dining venues, and one of the most stunning happens to be among the newest and least known.
West Shore Café and Inn opened in late 2010 on Tahoe’s West Shore, about 6 miles south of Tahoe City and directly across State Route 89 from Homewood Mountain Resort. Don’t let the word "café" mislead you, however: This 130-seat establishment is a fine dining restaurant in every sense, from the rustic-chic décor to the sophisticated menu. Its showstopper feature is a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that bring the lake almost within touching distance. Every table has an unblocked view, and in summer, umbrella tables spill across the deck and down the property’s private pier.
West Shore Café and Inn includes six luxury guest rooms and suites, making it a popular choice for wedding parties and executive retreats. Groups of up to 200 can be hosted for indoor-outdoor receptions and other private events, while smaller dinner parties are easily accommodated during regular restaurant hours. In April, the café welcomed Executive Chef Mike Davis and General Manager Stacie Krenicki, both formerly of Tahoe’s Martis Camp private community.
"We definitely embrace groups coming in from conferences and hotels around the region," says Krenicki. "In [non-holiday] winter, we can offer buyouts. In summer, we can block a part of the restaurant for groups."
The North Lake Tahoe Water Shuttle, a boat taxi accommodating up to 12 passengers, stops here in summer, offering a novel way to transport guests to and from other North Shore venues.
(Photo Credit: Hard Rock Hotel, Lauren Engledardt, Glodow Nead Communications)
Hard Rock Hotel, San Diego
City or water view? With the Elevation meeting space at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego, you don’t have to choose. "The greatest thing about Elevation is that there are two different views," says Kathleen Loftus, director of catering. "One side overlooks Fifth Avenue and the downtown Gaslamp District, and the other side overlooks the San Diego Bay." The 11-floor, glassbox meeting room and two outdoor terraces provide an ideal location for small groups of up to 125 that are looking for an intimate event with panoramic city views, such as the pharmaceutical and property management companies that use the nearby San Diego Convention Center and have become Hard Rock Elevation space regulars.
For bigger groups, the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego has an additional 40,000 square feet of meeting space featuring modern, nontraditional designs, cutting-edge technology and high-end catering services overseen by Jon Eyer, the hotel’s executive chef.
The Wood Room, JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, Palm Desert
It’s surprising to find yourself on the water in the middle of the desert- but that’s part of the fun at the JW Marriot Desert Springs Resort. Water is the key design feature and it’s almost always in sight. The hotel’s picture-perfect lake begins right in the spectacular lobby, a multistory enclosed atrium. Gondola boats ply the smooth-as-mirror waters, ferrying guests to on-property restaurants and other parts of the sprawling resort.
The lake can be seen from many of the 36 meeting rooms- a total of 210,000 square feet of meeting space- including the director’s suites, which are often booked for board meetings. Adding to the scenic vistas are resort pools, ultra-green golf holes and the nearby San Jacinto Mountains that turn various shades of purple at sunset. One of the prettiest views is from the new Santa Rosa Ballroom, made over from a former restaurant during the property’s $30 million renovation in 2012. Accommodating 200 guests in theater seating, 116 in a schoolroom configuration, the ballroom has four huge bay windows that frame the lake, with a backdrop of palm trees and mountains.
(Photo Credit: WP24 by Wolfgang Puck, The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles)
WP24 by Wolfgang Puck, Los Angeles
If you want to take in a jetliner view of Los Angeles without the nuisance of actually flying, just step into the high-gloss, high-style WP24 Restaurant and Lounge on the 24th floor of The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles. Here, the city unfolds from below. Skyscrapers and the surrounding metropolis are asea of light at night; on a clear day, you can see the not-so-distant San Gabriel Mountains.
For daytime events, WP24 accommodates up to 80 attendees for meetings and buffet-style breakfast or lunch, while the private glass-walled dining room is often used for board meetings. In the evening, the restaurant can host up to 400 guests for a cocktail reception and up to 115 for a seated dinner of celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck’s take on haute Chinese cuisine. Signature dishes such as the Singapore-style chili prawns with blue crab and Hong Kong soft noodles are on the events menu. Private and semiprivate spaces are available for smaller groups; the spaces are pre-wired for audio-visual presentations and have high-speed Wi-Fi.
For the past two years, WP24 has hosted the opening reception for the boldface names who attend the Los Angeles Film Festival. Because the restaurant and hotel are adjacent to the Staples Center- home to four major professional sports teams- WP24 has seen its share of victory parties high above L.A., including the Los Angeles Kings' Stanley Cup celebration in 2012.