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Reno-Tahoe is the All-Season, All-Purpose Land of Plenty for Groups
The Great Reno Balloon Race. Credit: The Great Reno Balloon Race
Like the sun rising over pristine Lake Tahoe, North America’s largest alpine lake, the long COVID-19 hibernation is finally fading. More than ever, it is time to celebrate the nationally revered year-round outdoor amenities that kept Reno-Tahoe’s MICE market desirable and viable throughout most of the pandemic.
“For planners, Northern Nevada represents the convenience of knowing there is no off-season when it comes to outdoor activities,” said Visit Reno Tahoe President and CEO Charles Harris. “Over the past two years, we were able to leverage our natural resources to inspire planner confidence and successfully welcome and support groups.”
With “our advantageous mix of mountain and desert landscapes and climates,” Harris added, “groups can always incorporate an outdoor element, from boating, swimming, fishing, hiking and more in the warmer months to skiing, snowshoeing or tubing in the winter.”
As spring unfolds, hiking and biking top the list of invigorating activities. Minutes from downtown, San Rafael Regional Park features scenic trails and a section of the 12-mile Truckee River Bike Path. Other local trails run through the Oxbow Nature Study Area, Huffaker Park and Hunter Creek.
Luxury suites and private hospitality areas are among the group draws at 9,534- capacity Greater Nevada Field, home of Triple-A baseball’s Reno Aces and year-round sports, entertainment and event programming. Other summer fun includes Truckee River whitewater rafting and kayaking with companies such as Sierra Adventures, and events such as the Reno River Festival kayaking competition.
Outdoor dining venues include The Eddy, an outdoor container bar with games and food trucks. Riverside options include fine-dining Wild River Grille and Beaujolais Bistro.
Autumnal activities include group art walks. Hosted by Art Spot Reno, these inspiring tours highlight public murals and sculptures throughout downtown and midtown with insight into the history of the art and the artists.
Elevating, too, is the epic Great Reno Balloon Race. Launched in 1982, this annual September event is the largest free hot-air balloon event in the world. Featuring 100-plus balloons and attracting 130,000-plus visitors, it is a group must-see. Another world-class experience is scaling the Basecamp Climbing Wall on the side of Whitney Peak Hotel in the center of downtown.
About 30 miles southwest of Reno, Mount Rose Ski Tahoe is the closest resort to the city, offering diverse seasonal activities.
The outlook is bright. After recording the most taxable room revenue ever for a calendar year in 2021, Visit Reno Tahoe upped the pace with surpassing numbers to start 2022, with Washoe County resorts generating the second-most taxable room revenue ever for the month of January.
“It’s inspiring to see this destination’s ability to meet the demands of travelers looking for a getaway with an abundance of outdoor and natural amenities,” said Harris in a release. “The results we’re seeing in Reno Tahoe are a positive sign for the entire travel industry, and I’m excited for the opportunities that lie ahead as we enter this new period of transition.”
Sensational South Tahoe
“Regardless of the time of year, South Lake Tahoe offers timeless stunning lake views with fresh mountain air,” said Carol Chaplin, president and CEO of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. “We are fortunate to offer groups backyard access to hiking trails, beaches, bike paths, ski resorts and other ways to soak in Tahoe’s awe-inspiring, nationally recognized natural bounty.”
All-season venues include Heavenly Mountain Resort. Winter groups can ski and snowboard amid the breathtaking beauty of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Summer programs range from rope courses and ziplines to climbing walls and guided hiking tours. Heavenly Village Lake Tahoe features a plethora of planner-ready resources, from restaurants and shops to the 5,500-square-foot Loft Tahoe event space and 400-suite Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel with 10,000 square feet of flexible space.
Hugging Tahoe South’s East Shore, Zephyr Cove Resort’s four-season package includes summertime horseback riding and beach activities, snowmobiling in winter and boat cruises year-round. Offering 7,000 square feet of scalable space, 154-room Edgewood Tahoe Resort offers curated winter activities include ice skating and snowshoeing, with lakeside golf and outdoor dining in the warmer months.
From May to September, perennial group favorite Harveys Lake Tahoe features the acclaimed Summer Concert Series at the 7,000-plus capacity Harveys Outdoor Arena.
Dating to pioneering trail development in 1978, Tahoe South is also a renowned mountain biking destination. Signature rides include the moderate 3.5-mile Powerline Trail and more challenging Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.
North Lake Tahoe Lights
“North Lake Tahoe is levels above when it comes to outdoor resources for groups,” said North Lake Tahoe Resort Association CEO Tony Karwowski. “From lakeside to mountainside, our region offers abundant year-round experiences and activities. From hiking, biking and ziplining to exploring Lake Tahoe on stand-up paddle boards and clear kayaks, groups have the best of both worlds, mixing meetings and events with outdoor adventure.”
Offering 65,000-plus square feet of indoor and outdoor function space, the 422-room Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort Spa & Casino features lakeside venues such as the Cottage Green and private beach.
Other group bases offering picturesque outdoor space include The Chateau at Incline Village and historic Tahoe Biltmore Lodge & Casino.
Leading local operators include Truckee, CA-based Tahoe Adventure Company, offering a comprehensive menu of guided and custom four-season activities including wintertime snowshoe tours and teambuilding programs to summertime kayaking and backpacking excursions.
North Lake Tahoe is also a renowned mountain biking destination, with the popular Tahoe Rim Trail and Flume Trail offering breathtaking lake views.
Q&A with Kate Patay, CPCE, Chief Strategy Officer, Patay Consulting, Reno, Nevada
Born in Newark, New Jersey and raised in Buffalo, New York, Kate Patay has called Reno home since 2005. When not planning or consulting on events or crisscrossing the country as chairwoman of the SEARCH Foundation and an ambassador for Meetings Mean Business, she makes the most of the Reno Tahoe lifestyle. Here, Patay dishes on what makes her adopted hometown a win for groups.
What do you love most about living in Reno?
My original intent was to spend around two years in Reno learning about the gaming industry. The deep-rooted culture, diverse culinary scene and plentiful outdoor and natural resources of this dynamic, multifaceted destination have kept me here for 17 years and counting.
How do those same qualities favor Reno's group appeal?
Abundant meeting spaces and unique venues, combined with superior activities and experiences, make Reno-Tahoe eminently suitable for gatherings of all types and sizes. All “Biggest Little City” groups genuinely feel like big fish in a little pond. The service is top-notch and with a host of extracurricular options to round out the trip, spectacular times await.
Blessed with 300-plus days of sunshine every year, Reno-Tahoe offers something for everyone. Wow-factor choices run the gamut. Boating on pristine Lake Tahoe, which averages 60-feet of visibility. Cocktails at the oldest saloon in the west in nearby historic Virginia City. Kayaking through the heart of downtown. Meandering pub crawls and dine-arounds in Reno’s revitalized midtown. Biking the Rubicon Trail.
The best part? Favorable group rates provide budgetary cushion to comfortably enhance the agenda with these and other memorable experiences.
What are some unique client programs that you have designed?
Collaborating with local DMCs like Destination Tahoe and Red Carpet Events & Design, customizing experiences based on a given group’s preferred interests and activity levels is a delight in Reno.
My favorite itineraries, to name a few, include Dawn Patrol at the Great Reno Balloon Race; snowshoeing to Chickadee Ridge for Insta-worthy shots of birds eating from your hand; and teeing off lakeside at the Edgewood Tahoe, the nationally acclaimed host course of the annual American Century Celebrity Golf Tournament.
Memorable, too, is enjoying homemade Italian food at the Great Italian Festival; luxuriating at an award-winning spa; and taking private gaming lessons before hitting the casino floor.
Reno is gateway and home base for Burning Man, the experiential must-see in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Citywide displays of art from the festival forms part of the rich cultural fabric of this 24-hour city, which includes music, theater and nightlife.
The city’s ongoing “Reno-ssance” is centered in proudly leaning into her unique identity and getting beyond the image of a mini-Las Vegas. With an established voice for inclusivity and diversity, our storied city walks her talk and does it fabulously on her own terms.
Plus: The Latest Openings and Renovations in Reno-Tahoe (2022)
- Comprising Eldorado Resort Casino, Circus Circus and Silver Legacy Resort & Casino, THE ROW Reno, “The City Within a City” and Northern Nevada’s largest resort, has now completed the renovation of all 4,000-plus rooms and suites.
- Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, Reno's only resort connected to the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, is scheduled to complete renovations of all 160 Atlantis Tower rooms and suites by May 2022. The AAA Four Diamond property has also redesigned and upgraded all penthouse bedrooms and penthouse parlors on the top 26th and 27th floors of the Concierge Tower. These luxurious spaces can be grouped to accommodate private corporate, social and other functions.
- Grand Sierra Resort and Casino and Peppermill Resort Spa Casino are also undergoing room renovations, slated for completion in spring 2023.
- Privately-held Sands Regency Casino & Hotel fully renovated the Aspen Tower in October 2021 and will renovate and reopen the Dynasty Tower as the Birch Tower in fiscal 2021-22.
- Colorado-based gaming company Century Casinos has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase Nugget Casino Resort from Marnell Gaming for $195 million
- Vegas-based CAI Investments, which is redeveloping the former Harrah’s Hotel and Casino into non-gaming, mixed-use Reno City Center, is also developing a 20-story Kimpton hotel on the riverwalk in downtown Reno. The mixed-use project will reportedly include 270 rooms and 20,000 square feet of meeting space.
- Billed as “A Big Place for Small Business,” the Oddie District is the planned redevelopment of a former big-box space in nearby Sparks. Slated for 2023, the project will reportedly include a brewery, 300-plus seat biergarten-style F&B concept, and event-capable black box theater.
- Acquired by Bally’s Corp. in 2021, the 438-room MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa is now Bally’s Lake Tahoe. Venues include the 16,000-square-foot Lake Tahoe Convention Center and Bally’s Showroom, seating 950 banquet-style and up to 1,500 theater-style.
- Now taking shape adjacent to the resort, the $80 million-plus Tahoe South Events Center will be an exciting new resource for conventions, concerts, special events and entertainment. Scheduled for completion in 2022 and opening in early 2023, the striking 143,000 square-foot multi-purpose facility will feature an event floor; conference and meeting room level; event lawn; and 6,000-capacity concert venue.