Mar 03, 2014
by GREGG MORRIS CBN Feature Writer
Central Oregon hotels, resorts and convention centers have been gearing up for a big 2014 with upgrades, expansions and changes to the hospitality landscape. As the economy continues to grow, most local meeting spaces are experiencing increased bookings for 2014. In preparation, many venues have poured thousands of dollars into construction and technology upgrades.
“I think over the last 10 years, the brand of Bend has become very strong, both regionally and nationally,” says Kevney Dugan, director of sales and sports development for Visit Bend. “Now, people are finding excuses to come here, from wedding brides to business executives.”
Most lodging and convention facilities in Central Oregon from hotels to destination resorts are experiencing a growth in the amount of occupancies for their rooms and meeting venues.
Powell Butte’s Brasada Ranch, a major destination for corporate events, golf events, family reunions and weddings, is expecting a 20 percent increase in group sales. Businesses are turning to The Ranch for team building, strategy development sessions and perks for clients. As a result, they are planning to build even more meeting space in 2015.
Further west, Bend’s Tetherow Golf Resort and Residential Community has the 2014 wedding season completely booked, with scattered reservations already in place for 2015.
Meanwhile, The Riverhouse Hotel is preparing for a big season that includes a September return visit from the League of Oregon Cities, which will bring more than 1,000 people to Bend.
“On a state level, people like getting out of the rain and coming to the sunny side of the state, even in the winter,” illustrates Wayne Purcell, owner of The Riverhouse. “It is also big enough with plenty of things to do, but small enough to give people a change from those big city conferences.”
As Bend continues to show up on lists ranging from Best Places to Live to Top Increasing Property Values, business executives and tourists alike flock to Central Oregon for work and play.
Suze Ceciiliani of the Oxford Hotel explains, “People come to Bend because we are not on the big city grid, but we can still provide a four diamond experience.”
“Once the meeting is done,” adds Dugan, “you have a plethora of recreation opportunities to help you recharge and get ready for your next meeting.”
Molly Johnson sums up the Central Oregon experience with Sunriver Resort’s offerings. “We have such an extensive breadth of services we offer. There is a wide range of things to do here. We can organize a mini-Olympics or 5K run. Business executives can bring their families, play golf, bike or float the river.”
If You Build It...
In an effort to meet the demand while maintaining a unique, personal experience, many venues have upgraded their facilities. Other major changes include last year’s conversion of the Phoenix Inn to a Double Tree by Hilton, an April grand opening for Tetherow’s new hotel and a late summer opening of a new Hampton Hotel in the Old Mill District.
The Oxford Hotel, with a small to mid-size event specialty, has upgraded their audio/visual system to keep pace with technology. Combining the technological advancements with a top notch staff, from housekeeping to hospitality, they are able to fine tune their guest’s experience.
Last December, the Phoenix Inn, on Franklin in downtown Bend, changed to a DoubleTree by Hilton. An effort was made to retain their local clientele of networking groups while all of their meeting rooms were renovated. Their 1,323 square foot Mount Bachelor Room holds upwards of 100 guests, while the combined 1,000 additional square feet of the Metolious and Drake Rooms add another 64 people to their overall capacity.
Across town to the north, The Riverhouse focused on maintaining their 16,000 square foot convention center’s reputation while upgrading the hotel rooms. The LEED-certified building houses the second largest ballroom in the state. The rooms were painted and carpeted. For technology’s sake, multi-plug charging stations, ultra high speed fiber internet connection and true high definition TV on Samsung HD flat screen televisions were added to each room.
Mount Bachelor Village, who prides themselves on a comfortable feel for their events, has seen a shift from mostly business to social groups. Last year, they completed their new, permanent patio cover to add shade and, if necessary, heat to their facility.
Since NV Oregon Resorts, LLC assumed ownership of Brasada in late 2010, they have invested close to $9 million in the resort. This year, they are investing an additional $3.5 million. The investment centers around the four new Sage Canyon Cabins. Opening in May, the two story, four bedroom cabins will come equipped with a hot tub, barbecue and Cascade Mountain views.
Sundance, Brasada’s Athletic Center, has expanded as well to meet the growing number of Brasada’s guests. The outdoor space and pool deck have increased in size and service, with room for 30 additional guests enjoying an larger menu. The resort is also very excited about the addition of Executive Chef Ryan Sturmer from the Urban Farmer in Portland.
“Ryan has done a masterful job staying true to our vision of living off the land and working diligently with our partners to source as many fresh ingredients as possible from the region,” praises Brent McLean of NV Oregon Resorts, LLC.
Up Century Drive in Bend, Tetherow Golf Club and Residential Community is gearing up for the grand opening of their Tetherow Lodges hotel Easter weekend. The hotel offers a total of 50 deluxe rooms in two buildings. Each room will measure 550 square feet, complete with luxurious amenities and views of either the David McLay Kidd designed golf course or Cascade Mountains. Included in each room will be a gas fireplace, local artwork and 46” flat panel HDTV for their guest's comfort. Adding to the relaxing nature of the rooms will be Simmons “Black Label” beds, a pillow menu with six different options, Euro-style comforters and the finest quality bed linens and luxurious bath robes, towels and slippers.
Tetherow also added a pub, The Row, to the grounds surrounding the 18-hole championship golf course layout. By pairing the new casual style bar with their fine dining at the Tetherow Grill, they have increased exponentially the options for both their guests and visitors looking for an apres-ski experience. The Row will feature a variety of local beers on tap, an in-depth wine list and locally roasted 11 Roasters Coffee.
Tetherow offers a variety of meeting areas in the Clubhouse as well as their Outdoor Terrace Tent. Their intimate Fireside Room can hold up to 70 people, the multi-purpose Media Room holds up to 25 people, while the outdoor tent shades 300 people. There is even talk of a conference Center being built in the future.
“The new Lodges really increase our options here,” explains Kristi DiTullio, director of sales for Tetherow. “We can provide a full service for our wedding guests and corporate clients.”
With all of the upgrades, expansion and new construction, the question remains: Are there enough convention areas and meeting rooms to meet Central Oregon’s increasing demand?
There is a mixed sense of optimism for the number and quality of facilities in Central Oregon. Most of the hotels and convention centers tout their own amenities and advancements while remaining cautiously optimistic about the addition of new venues.
Dugan explains, “I believe we have a nice mix of convention centers and meeting rooms, especially once the new Hampton Hotel is built. The diversity allows us to entertain many types of groups.”
Purcell offers a slightly different view, “It is very competitive. There are the large resorts, the golf courses, restaurants and even public facilities such as the fairgrounds and park facilities. We have a tremendous amount of options for a relatively small population. Except for maybe a couple of very busy months, most all of us have space available at any given time.”
According to Doug LaPlaca, director of Visit Bend, Bend hotel occupancy rates have continued to increase across the board with an approximate increase of 5 percent over last year. The highest months are July and August, posting 85 percent rooms filled during the summer months. The rate goes down dramatically in winter at a low of 42 percent in January, which is why the recent approval of the transit room tax increase is important to increasing tourism during the shoulder months.
No matter the competitive atmosphere of business, one thing is for certain. Central Oregon’s broad range of hotel rooms and meeting facilities make up a huge attraction for tourists and business executives alike. Our world-class recreation possibilities expand a traveler’s options and increase the want to visit.
Hotels such as The Oxford, the DoubleTree by Hilton, McMenamin's, Hilton Gardens and the Hampton Inn offer a personalized experience for those guests wishing to remain in the Bend downtown area. The Riverhouse and Redmond’s Expo Center are able to accommodate large groups, thus bringing more visitors to the area. And, our area’s golf and destination resorts, such as Black Butte, Tetherow, Brasada, Sunriver, Aspen Lakes and Mount Bachelor Village are able to provide an expansive list of both family-friendly and corporate activities. Any way you slice it, Central Oregon has something for everyone.
750 NW Lava Rd., #160
Bend, OR 97701
16986 SW Brasada Ranch Rd.
Powell Butte, OR 97753
Tetherow Golf Club
61240 Skyline Ranch Rd.
Bend, OR 97702
The Riverhouse Hotel
3075 U.S. 97 Business
Bend, OR 97701
The Oxford Hotel
10 NW Minnesota Ave.
Bend, OR 97701
17600 Center Dr.
Sunriver, OR 97707
Doubletree by Hilton
300 NW Franklin Ave.
Bend, OR, 97701
Mount Bachelor Village
19717 Mt. Bachelor Dr.
Bend, OR 97701
Taking shape on a four acre parcel overlooking the Old Mill District is the three-story, 114-room Hampton Inn. The $3.1 million hotel sits near the intersection of Columbia Street and Southwest Shevlin Hixon Drive and is slated to open late July or early August. Constructed though a partnership between the Old Mill District developer, William Smith Properties Inc., and Idaho-based AmeriTel Inns, the new hotel has been in the works since 2005, but put on hold during the economic downturn. They also partnered on the Hilton Garden Inn, located on SW Bluff Drive.
The hotel will offer three different levels of rooms: a 454 square foot King Suite, a 340 square foot King Room and a 328 square foot Deluxe Queen Room. All rooms come equipped with a microwave and refrigerator. The large conference center will have the ability to divide into two separate 1,200 square foot rooms. There will also be a pool and fitness room.
Kevney Dugan of Visit Bend declares, “The addition of the Hampton Hotel in the Old Mill is huge. It offers the ability to host meetings and events in a setting that personifies what Bend is known for, the Deschutes River, trails and mountain views.”
Meanwhile, when asked about the benefits of the new Hampton Hotel to the shops in the Old Mill District, Bill Smith of William Smith Properties sums it up in one word, “traffic.”
AmeriTel develops Hampton Inns and Hilton Garden Inn hotels through a franchise partnership.