• Mountain Meetings on a More Intimate Scale

    FROM THE Spring 2018 ISSUE

    Here are some options for smaller groups and quick getaways.

Tahoe Donner

One of the largest homeowner associations in North America (7,500 acres, 6,500 homes, 25,000 members) is situated just outside the town of Truckee (north of Lake Tahoe) and offers many amenities to members as well as to the public. Customized packages for groups can include team-building skills, golf tournaments on an 18-hole course, horseback riding, guided mountainbike tours, geocaching, and, in winter, downhill and cross-country skiing. Tahoe Donner’s downhill area is small, but its Cross County Ski Center, with 100 kilometers of groomed trails (some dedicated for fat-tire biking in summer), is one of the largest and most highly regarded in the state. For groups that include nonskiers, snowshoeing is a popular option, says Lisa Tomasi of the group sales and events team. “The skill level for beginners is zero; anyone can do it.”

Three group meeting, dining and reception venues at Tahoe Donner are dispersed around the development and served by individual chefs. They include the high-end Lodge Restaurant & Pub (with a meeting room next to the golf course and a twinkle-lit Grotto event space outside) and the midrange Alder Creek Adventure Center, which can be configured for conferences, and offers drop-down A/V. Pizza on the Hill, at the Northwoods Clubhouse, is a casual summer venue with a large tent. “We do high-end disposable dinnerware, barbecue, pizza, a taco buffet,” Tomasi says. “Next to the tent are a bocce-ball course, horseshoe pits, volleyball and an archery range. It’s all very fun, and can accommodate up to 150 people.”

Another plus: While Tahoe Donner offers many vacation rental homes (some quite large) suitable for small and medium-size groups, the resort also provides shuttle service to and from area hotels. “We can pick up people at a host hotel and drive them all around, so there’s no need to have cars if you’re just coming up for the day,” notes Tomasi.

Mt. Rose - Ski Tahoe

The closest snow-sports resort to Reno doesn’t try to be a summer resort with something for everyone. But it does offer a unique private-event venue in Winter Creek Lodge, a spectacularly situated, modernistic building set at 8,260 feet elevation and affording sweeping views of the Washoe Valley 4,000 feet below. Available May through October, the 7,000-square-foot lodge will hold 120 comfortably indoors, says Mike Pierce, marketing manager. “The biggest selling point is that it’s very private; outside of your group, there’s no one else around.” 

Sugar Bowl

This classic resort near Donner Summit, just off Interstate 80 between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, offers summer buyouts of its classic, 27-room lodge. It’s often reserved for weddings on weekends, says Jon Slaughter, director of marketing, “but midweek, there’s lots of opportunity for corporate groups.” A favorite activity for groups of up to 120: recreation and meals at Lake Mary, a private body of water with a cabin, dock, floating trampoline, kayaks, paddleboards and more. Also in summer, the upstairs Coldstream Room in the Judah Lodge, with full catering, a bar, sun decks and capacity for 400 people, is being marketed to corporate groups interested in combining business with outdoor activities. “We’re really focused on reaching out to the tech community,” says Slaughter, noting that Sugar Bowl’s private network of hiking and biking trails is also a big attraction. 

Perhaps your attendees have hopped on those electric bikes and e-scooters that are scattered all over metropolitan areas throughout California. That’s old news, no question. Yet it’s a sure bet they’ve never been on a Vintage Electric Cruz Bike, because only 250 of them ever have been made. Mad Dogs & Englishmen Bike Shop in Carmel has a fleet of these smile generators, as well as a fleet of knowledgeable guides to lead scenic group tours. 



The wildly popular Magnolia Brewery in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood has a new addition: Magnolia Hall, a 6,500-square-foot private event space
connected to the always-bustling brewery and taproom. Just a 10-minute walk from Oracle Stadium, where the Giants play, it’s perfect for a pre- or post-game function and for more formal events, too.


Simply the best city hotel I have ever experienced, the Moxy San Diego Downtown/Gaslamp Quarter is fun and different in so many ways. You check in at the bar and the super friendly staff hands you a cocktail. What could be more welcoming than that?