Sign up for our newswire newsletter


How Investment in the Reno Tahoe Region Is Changing the Meetings Game

Reno, Nevada skyline

Behind buoyant bookings and a host of new, renovated and reenergized visitor districts, venues and experiences, the Reno Tahoe group market is striding confidently ahead in 2023 and beyond.

“Group lead inquiries have exceeded 2019 pre-pandemic levels this year, and we’ve had tremendous success in contracted groups across the corporate, association, sports and SMERF segments,” said Mike Larragueta, vice president of sales for the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA). “With revitalization efforts around Reno’s Riverwalk and Midtown districts, new property developments such as the Reno Experience District and Reno Public Market, and our modern convention venue offerings, we are building momentum that will only continue to strengthen our steady booking patterns.”

Staying on the front foot throughout the pandemic by leveraging its sunny four-season outdoor appeal, the resilient Washoe County group market saw 2022 out with all-time record taxable room revenue. Optimism is the operative word as the destination invests in an expanding range of planner choices, from lodging and event space to new culinary and cultural neighborhoods.

Core Venues in Reno Tahoe

Reno Events Center exterior
Reno Events Center. Credit:

In tandem with increasing direct airlift into Reno-Tahoe International Airport, Reno’s quartet of primary group facilities cover all the bases, enabling the “Biggest Little City in the World” to punch above its weight for meetings and events.

Just 10 minutes from the airport, the recently renovated 600,000-square-foot Reno-Sparks Convention Center is within walking distance of some 2,500 hotel rooms. Venues include spacious exhibit halls accommodating 2,100-plus exhibitor booths, 50-plus breakout rooms and a 25,000-square-foot ballroom. 

Located in the downtown entertainment district, the Reno Events Center hosts 7,000-capacity concerts and can be flexibly reconfigured for larger sporting events, tradeshows, conferences and conventions. The adjacent Reno Ballroom adds 28,000 square feet of additional space with banquet service.

Home of the Reno Rodeo, the Reno Sparks Livestock Events Center is primarily used for equine events along with diverse group programs, while the 78-lane National Bowling Stadium, locally the “Taj Mahal of bowling,” has hosted the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) for decades.

Bookings and associated room nights for 2023 at these four venues alone, which came back under RSCVA control as of June 2022, underscore the strength of the Reno selling proposition and the destination’s diverse appeal.

Convention center events for 2023 range from USA Volleyball’s Far Western Girls Qualifier this April, expected to draw 15,000 attendees, and the 60,000-strong International Moose Convention in June to the annual Reno-Tahoe International Art Show in September and American Farriers Association meeting in November. The 2023 USBC Open Championships, taking place between March and July at the National Bowling Stadium, is expected to generate some 80,000 room nights.

Complementing these group sales successes, focused economic development efforts in recent years have reinvented the Reno Sparks region. Located about nine miles east of Reno, the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center (TRIC) is the largest industrial park in the world. Covering 107,000 acres, the complex is three times the size of San Francisco, with a “Silicon Valley” moniker to match for its assembly of world-class tech companies. Operating in a sprawling wilderness that supports some 2,000 protected wild horses and hundreds of bighorn sheep, tenants include Tesla Gigafactory 1, Blockchains, Google, and Switch. As Larragueta explained, this powerful corporate presence helps fuel the sales conversation when it comes to presenting and pitching Reno for meetings and events while also driving hospitality and other infrastructure growth. 

[Related: Exploring the Meeting and Event Offerings in Growing Reno Tahoe]

Downtown Reno

Downtown Reno Arch lit up at night
Downtown Reno arch. Credit:

Major new projects include J Resort, Colorado-based developer Jacobs Entertainment’s $300 million reimagining of the former Sands Regency. Announced in March 2023, the 750-room property, anchoring its visionary half-mile-long Reno’s Neon Line District, brings an art- and entertainment-themed resort property to town.

Ahead of the scheduled Phase One opening this summer, the resort has already opened 500 guest rooms and half of the casino floor. This June sees a full casino opening along with restaurants and a groundbreaking 24/7 outdoor digital art wall featuring cutting-edge visual created by digital artists from around the world on a 65-by-65-foot viewing screen. 

Slated to begin in late summer 2023, the $100 million Phase Two of the multi-year master development plan includes an indoor/outdoor rooftop swimming pool, restaurant and lounges concepts, and additional artwork. Future plans call for 1,200-plus additional guest rooms, more than 100,000 square feet of conference space, 6,500-seat outdoor amphitheater and 3,500-seat Vegas-style indoor showroom.

“J Resort is raising the bar for all Northern Nevada resort properties,” stated Jacobs Entertainment CEO Jeff Jacobs in a release. “In addition to the sculptures that we display along Reno’s Neon Line, we will also highlight over $100 million of paintings and sculptures throughout the entire J Resort property.”

The resort also anchors the 6,000-capacity Glow Plaza Festival Grounds, which celebrates its first full season of outdoor event programming this summer. The vision is 50-plus event days this year, building toward 100 event days and attracting over 100,000 new visitors annually.

[Podcast: What Fast-Growing Reno Tahoe Can Offer Meetings and Events]

New Developments Add Vibrancy 

Scheduled for near-completion during 2023, the Reno Experience District (RED) comprises luxury apartments, artisan shops, dining, an open-concept market hall and two-acre public park with an amphitheater. The stylish new 170-room Element Reno Experience District hotel offers three meeting rooms.

Opened in January 2023 on Midtown’s south side, the event-capable Reno Public Market’s dining-retail mix includes 18 food vendors. Planned venues offering event space include FiftyFifty Brewery and Maker’s Paradise Art Collective.

Reviving the former Harrah's Hotel and Casino site, residential-driven Reno City Center’s amenity mix includes a public event plaza and three new restaurant and pub concepts slated to open this year. Located just south of the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, The Village at Rancharrah is an inviting walkable outdoor destination for boutique shopping, gourmet dining, and holistic wellness. Restaurants hosting private events include upscale whiskey and wine bar Grafted, serving 150-plus fine spirits.

Just east of Reno in Sparks, The Oddie District is taking shape as a vibrant new hub of creative energy. Updating a long-vacant former Lowe’s Home Improvement Center, the District is anchored by The Generator, an area institution which operates as a workshop and community hub for artists and Burning Man creations. As the project nears completion, planned attractions include an open-air covered biergarten and F&B options.

Kimpton is coming to Nevada. Scheduled for January 2025, the popular boutique hotelier plants its first flag in the Silver State with a mixed use property in Downtown Reno that incorporates 270 hotel rooms, 50,000 square feet of meeting space, and dining. 

Group properties reinvesting for success include Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, which expects to complete the renovation of all 818 guest rooms by Memorial Day following the 2022 opening of luxury retail outlet The Shoppes Atlantis. 

Slated for completion in 2024, ongoing renovations at Peppermill Resort Spa Casino include all Peppermill Tower rooms and the 600-suite Tuscany Tower. Grand Sierra Resort invested $55 million in capital improvements in 2022, including renovating 600-plus guest rooms. Slated for completion this summer, updates at Whitney Peak Hotel include a refresh of all 310 rooms and updated Wi-Fi.

North Shore developments include the transformation of storied 1946 heirloom Tahoe Biltmore Hotel and Casino into the 76-key Waldorf Astoria Lake Tahoe. Slated for 2027, the project will reportedly include residences, promenade with shops and restaurants, casino with live entertainment, and lakefront beach club.

“Reno-Tahoe continues to evolve, improve and re-energize, giving visitors more reasons and more ways to discover Northern Nevada,” stated RSCVA President and CEO Charles Harris in a release. “Unforgettable experiences distinguish successful destinations, and this year, Nevada is raising the bar for future visitation.”

[Related: 3 Reasons to Book Your Next Meeting in Reno Tahoe]

New Developments in Lake Tahoe

Tahoe Blue Center Rendering
Tahoe Blue Center rendering. Credit: Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority

Last ski season, most Lake Tahoe resorts were singing the blues because of insufficient snowfall. This year, wind-driven storms dropped more than 50 feet of snow in the area, forcing closures at some mountains. The silver lining is an unprecedented extended season. 

“It’s heaven sent for a skier because I can ski until Memorial Day,” a 40-year veteran skier from Reno told the Associated Press. “The conditions have been fantastic. It’s the best I’ve had in eons.”

Tahoe South region groups will soon enjoy a new standard-setting experience with extended resources and amenities in the striking multi-purpose Tahoe Blue Center. Set between the Heavenly Mountain Ski Resort and Lake Tahoe, the venue incorporates a 5,500-seat arena with an additional 10,000 square feet of versatile space and event lawn. 

Slated for a July 2023 opening, the center aims to host 125-plus events attracting 200,000-plus attendees throughout the year, running the gamut from banquets, concerts and sporting events to conferences, meetings and tradeshows. Multi-year naming rights went to award-winning Tahoe Blue Vodka, founded in 2012 by local entrepreneur Matt Levitt and distinguished as the world’s only vodka crafted from crystal-clear Tahoe water.

“The center is a significant investment in the destination’s sustainable future and year- round economic health and we’re pleased to announce this wonderful representation of local partnership,” stated Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority CEO Carol Chaplin in a release.

Featuring stunning mountain views, the highly anticipated venue adjoins the former 438-room MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa, now Bally’s Lake Tahoe, where group 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.

Read this next: The Dynamic Culinary Scene in Nevada Is a Treat for Groups

Profile picture for user Jeff Heilman
About the author
Jeff Heilman | Senior Contributor

Brooklyn, N.Y.-based independent journalist Jeff Heilman has been a Meetings Today contributor since 2004, including writing our annual Texas and Las Vegas supplements since inception. Jeff is also an accomplished ghostwriter specializing in legal, business and Diversity & Inclusion content.