The same iconic Western experiences that are magnets for families from around the world also attract meeting groups with spouses and children in tow.
Exploring the West’s national parks and major cities, diving into its oceans, swooshing down its mountains, enjoying its amusement parks and saddling up at its dude ranches are all possible for attendees and their families during or after the meeting.
The waterfront destinations lining the Western U.S. mainland, Hawaii and Mexico are among the most popular places in the country for meetings. Planners can count on record attendance, while attendees will find plenty of fun for the whole family.
If the meeting is held at Park Shore Hotel in Waikiki or at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu, attendees and their kids can make like Hawaiians and learn to “hang 10” with Hans Hedemann Surf School.
While a surf lesson promotes parent-child bonding, sessions with surf dogs Hina and Kahuna are extra fun for kids, who get to ride in tandem with the dogs, according to Bobby Balouskus, operations manager for Hans Hedemann Surf Inc.
In San Diego, groups can arrange surf or stand-up paddleboarding lessons with Surf Diva Surf School.
“When parents are in meetings, kids can enjoy half- or full-day camps during the week,” said Izzy Tihanyi, Surf Diva’s founder and co-owner.
Among the many whale-watching destinations and outfitters throughout the West is Baja, Mexico’s O.A.R.S., which offers 10-day outings for those interested in a kid-friendly trip, according to according Mindy Gleason, the company’s reservations manager.
“Families can explore the dunes, beachcomb the western shore and kayak the mangrove areas,” she said.
The West’s beautiful mountain destinations also attract meetings year-round, and attendees with young skiers and outdoor lovers in the family should bring them along.
Sun Valley in Idaho is one such destination.
“Parents can attend meetings while their kids are in our Playschool/Adventure Camps in the summer or SnowSports Ski School in the winter,” said Brent Gillette, Sun Valley’s director of sales. “After the meetings, families have a wide variety of activities they can do together, from bowling in the renovated Sun Valley Lodge to enjoying the year-round outdoor ice- skating rink.”
According to Sarah Morden, public relations coordinator at Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada, the mountain’s family-certified ski routes accommodate all ability levels.
“Skiing or snowboarding as a family is one of the most rewarding mountain experiences,” she said, adding that families also have a great time at Coca-Cola Tube Park.
One of the many meetings-friendly mountain properties in Colorado is St. Regis Aspen, which according to Tobias Rimkus, the resort’s director of catering and events, is encouraging families to explore the parks and fields around Aspen with its new complimentary Snowman Kit.
“It includes wooden eyes, buttons, a smile, a nose and arms to make the ideal snow person,” he said. “The kit also comes with wooden antlers for the creation of a snow pet.”
And in Wyoming, the Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole takes advantage of its prime clear-sky location by offering an astronomer-lead, family-friendly star- and planet-gazing event complete with hot cocoa, according to Cory Carlson, the resort’s director of sales and marketing.