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Ten don’t-miss moments on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight

Northbound Coast Starlight crossing Stenner Creek Trestle, just north of San Luis Obispo CA. Photo: Loco Steve

As event planners, we’re always looking for more-sustainable options for our clients. Did you know that trains produce less than 15% of the CO2 per passenger kilometer as planes? With COP26 highlighting the need to decrease our CO2 burdens both individually and as a society, we recommend train travel anytime it’s feasible.

Practicing what we preach, we recently flew to Southern California to facilitate 7CTOs retreat in San Diego, with our Brompton folding bikes in tow. But for the return trip we decided to do something a bit different: Take the train home. We love using Amtrak for both short and long distance trips. Amtrak’s Coast Starlight is their premier West Coast long-distance train, running from Seattle to Los Angeles. We booked a “sleeper”, our own compartment that features actual beds, and spent a day and a half looking out the window. Train travel can be both climate-friendly and better than the plane in several respects – one of them being all of the sights you’ll see!

Here are ten different points of interest seen from the windows of the Coast Starlight as it plies the West Coast, from south to north:

Los Angeles Union Station, the departure point for northbound Coast Starlight trains.

Southern and Central California beaches. If you’ve looked at Amtrak’s promotional imagery, you may have seen an image of a train hugging a coastline with cerulean-blue ocean beneath. That’s where the Coast Starlight cruises along the edge of the Pacific from around Ventura to south of San Luis Obispo. Pro tip: Make sure you get a seat on the left side of the train to get the best views!

Point Conception. North of Santa Barbara the Coast Starlight travels through the private Hollister Ranch, an area of chapparal-covered hills with little development. The Starlight actually heads west through this area until it reaches Point Conception, a small cape with lighthouse. The train then turns northwards to pass through…

Vandenberg Air Space Force Base, the home of America’s West-Coast space launches. Keep your eye out for Space Launch Complex 6, which was modified for Space Shuttle launches. Alas, Vandenberg never saw the Shuttle launch (or land) here, but the base hosts regular NASA and SpaceX flights.

Horseshoe Curve. Just minutes from departing San Luis Obispo station, the Coast Starlight heads into a big horseshoe curve. It’s possible to see both the front and end of the train at the same time!

The Central California landscape, seen just north of San Luis Obispo

Jack London Square. The Coast Starlight’s Oakland depot is located in an entertainment district next to San Francisco Bay. For several blocks the tracks run right down the middle of a city street, The Embarcadero.

Mothball Fleet. About ten minutes outside of the Martinez station, the Coast Starlight crosses Carquinez Strait and hugs Suisun Bay on its way to Sacramento. On the right side of the train in the bay is Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet. where outdated Naval ships go to await their final fate. Note: This site is best observed southbound, it may be dark by the time the northbound train passes through here.

Odell Lake at Willamette Pass. The Coast Starlight has been cruising along a high plateau to the east of the Cascade Range since it climbed up the Sacramento River Canyon. After leaving Chemult station, the Starlight heads to the Cascades where it will cross it at Willamette Pass and then follow the Willamette to Portland. Before the summit is postcard-perfect Odell Lake, seen on the right side of the train.

Westfir (Office) Covered Bridge. The Coast Starlight spends a good hour or more descending from Willamette Pass to the mountain-bike crazy town of Springfield. After a short tunnel the train passes through tiny Westfir. To the left, over the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River is the Office or Westir Covered Bridge. At 180 feet in length, it’s the longest covered bridge in Oregon!

Willamette Falls. On the Coast Starlight’s left side as it enters Oregon City is one of the mightiest waterfalls of the west! The Willamette descends 40 feet down to tidal level. The Falls have historically been a barrier for shipping traffic. Yet it was also major spot for fishing and trading for the tribes here before European settlement. The old Blue Heron Paper Mill is now owned by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and is being redeveloped for public use.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge(s)

Tacoma Narrows/Point Defiance. Now we are near the end of the journey. Closing in on Seattle, the sea comes into view again a short time after leaving the Olympia/Lacey (Washington) station. For several miles the tracks hug the shore of the Puget Sound, passing under the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The Coast Starlight then passes through the Point Defiance tunnel. And the last few miles before entering downtown Tacoma cruise along the shore of Commencement Bay. (Please note: The other Amtrak route through this area, the Cascades, now uses the Point Defiance Bypass that cuts off this scenic section of track. The Coast Starlight route will remain along the waterfront for the time being.)

King Street Station in Seattle, the final station on the northbound Coast Starlight.

We hope this gives you a snapshot of the pleasures of traveling by train, and of the climate benefits. If you’re interested in setting up a group travel excursion for your next meeting or gathering, or in using a train for an event, please contact us.

Boise Event Venues

We recently traveled to Boise, Idaho for a couple days of work and fun. The capital of Idaho, Boise is located in a broad dry valley about 40 miles east of the Oregon border. Boise was established as a city in 1863, but spent the next century as a small outpost in a sparsely-settled region. Since the 1960’s Boise has rapidly expanded to become a mid-sized American city of 240,000 with a full selection of amenities and things to do.

Entrance to Boise Centre
Boise Centre’s Main Ballroom (from their website)

Boise Centre. Boise’s convention center is located in the heart of downtown and right next to the Grove Hotel. With 80,000 feet of space, Boise Centre bills itself as a space for “conventions, corporate meetings and trade shows to banquets and video conferencing”.  Their Grand Ballroom is 24,426 square feet and can be divided into three sections, and there are 31 individual meeting rooms. Boise Centre can accommodate groups from 10 to 2,000. Catering is exclusively provided by Front & Centre.

Boise Depot, set up for an outdoor event. (from their website)
Boise Depot’s Great Hall, set up with rounds (from their website)

Boise Depot: Just across the Boise River from downtown, Union Pacific built this grand train station in 1925. It last saw train service in 1997, since then it has been used as an event venue. The station’s Great Hall, where one could once wait for trains like the Pioneer and City of Portland, now can be used to host your next event. This 77 foot by 46 foot, 3,542-square-foot multi-story atrium can hold 300 people in standing configuration or 165 seated. You can also rent the exterior for weddings and informal meetings.

Capital City Event Center is located in the historic Adelmann Building
Interior of Capital City Event Center (from their website)

Capital City Event Center: If you are looking for a smaller, more intimate venue, the Capital City Event Center may be suited for you. Located in the historic Adelmann Building just two blocks from the State Capitol, Capital City has two ballrooms (each with a capacity of 110) that can be rented separately or together. Bonus: Capital City has a full service, classic mahogany and brass bar that can serve up a variety of drinks!

Egyptian Theatre
Interior of Egyptian Theatre (from their website)

Egyptian Theatre. Finally, if you are looking for a historic theater as a venue, the Egyptian Theatre could fit your bill. Originally opened in 1927, the Egyptian is Boise’s remaining classic cinema palace. The ornate theater with state-of-the-art sound can hold 740.

The view of downtown Boise from Camel’s Back Preserve

Staying there: There are a number of centrally located hotels. The Grove Hotel is in the Boise Centre superblock and right next to the convention center. The views from the building (fifth-tallest in the city) are grand. Across from Boise Centre is Hotel 43, named such due to its location in the 43rd state on the 43rd parallel. The Modern Hotel is located in a renovated motel about a ten minute walk from the Boise Centre. All three hotels provide rental bicycles.

Getting there: Boise is about 425 miles east (by car) from Portland, making for a doable but long one-day drive. It’s a quick one-hour flight from PDX to Boise, and Boise has direct flights to most West Coast cities. From the airport it’s a ten minute drive to downtown. Amtrak no longer serves Boise, as the Seattle-Portland-Salt Lake City-Chicago Pioneer was discontinued in 1997. We hope that taking the train to Boise will become an option again.

Getting around: Boise lacks any rail transit, though a streetcar has been proposed. Valley Transit, the regional bus operator, provides service to most major destinations. (A bus trip from the airport takes about a half hour.) Boise suspended its bike share service in 2020 with no definite plans for reinstatement, but many hotels provide free loaner bikes and bikes can be rented at Idaho Mountain Touring and George’s Cycles.

Louisville Kentucky Event Locations

Louisville, Kentucky is located on the Ohio River across from Indiana. It is well known for being the home of Muhammad Ali, the Kentucky Derby, Louisville Slugger bats, and of course, Kentucky Bourbon. It’s location in the heart of the US, the meeting place between the South and the Midwest, means it’s a good place to have an event.

We were in Louisville, Kentucky in August of 2019 for the annual Connect event, so we got to see some things around town. We also checked out various spaces for meetings and events. There are a good deal of interesting Louisville Kentucky event locations.

loudtn-omni-louisville-exterior-twilight

We stayed at the Omni Louisville, right in the heart of town. This modern hotel offers 612 guest rooms and suites. They also are a good place to have an event, as they have 33 meeting rooms with a total of 70,000 sq ft of space. (Their largest room is 20,361 sq ft.) We loved the on-site amenities, including Falls City Market. This marketplace was a good place to pick up sundries and food. (We loved the pizza at Iron Quarter!)

louisvillemarriottNext door to the Omni is the Louisville Marriott Downtown.This hotel features xx rooms and is also a great place for a meeting. They have 37 event rooms with 45,025 square feet of total space. The largest room is 20,000 square feet and can hold up to 2,400 people. The Marriott features a multitude of on-site amenities, including a bourbon tasting room and Porch Restaurant, which features Southern cooking.

Exterior Night ShotBoth hotels are close to the Kentucky International Convention Center. This freshly-renovated, LEED Certified facility features 300,000 square feet of total space and 52 rooms.

48629468788_fa7ede1ba7_bWe can’t forget to mention Louisville’s most unique event venue: Churchill Downs. While this horse racetrack is world-renowned for the annual Kentucky Derby, the Downs provide a multitude of venues for all sorts of meetings, from 15 to 1500 people! And yes, a wedding can be held under the iconic Twin Spires.

48642083603_ff246313c0_b
Big Four Bridge over the Ohio River. Note Emee on the Louvelo Bike!

And we would be remiss if we didn’t mention some of the fun activities we had in Louisville, like sampling all the fine bourbons produced locally, going on a bike ride with the local Louvelo bikeshare, and checking out the Big Four Bridge! This old railroad bridge spanning the Ohio River into Indiana has been transformed into a magical place for pedestrians and cyclists. And for a fee, the lighting on the bridge can be customized for your charitable cause or special event.

Hope this gives you some ideas of Louisville Kentucky event locations for your next meeting!

An Indian Wedding Weekend at Roehr Park and The Foundry at Oswego Pointe

The “Boatraat” or Baraat, Groom’s arrival.
The “Lookback” Series of blog posts features weddings that happened more than a year ago. Some are repeats, some totally new to this blog! We hope you enjoy looking back with us on these wonderful weddings.

{ From the archives } This two-day Indian Wedding Weekend kicked off at the World Forestry Center in Portland. This featured a casual, combination-mehndi-and-sangeet party. They invited some of Portland’s favorite food carts, Nong’s Khao Man Gai and Pips Original, to dish out treats to their 200 guests.  Also provided was catering by India Connection and Nicholas Restaurant. Ice cream was provided by Scoop! and bartending and service by Vibrant Table. There was plenty to keep guests noshing and sipping! Mehndi was provided by Amrapali Salon, and dance party by DJ Kapil.

On Saturday everything went up a notch in formality as the crowd reconvened for a formal, traditional Hindu ceremony. This was located on the Willamette riverfront at the Roehr Park Amphitheater. The solemnities were supervised by Portland Pandit. Scovare Yachts delivered the wedding party in a spectacular “Boatraat”. Cocktail hour was held on the Foundry at Oswego Pointe‘s promenade. Finally, guests went in to the Foundry’s Great Hall for dinner and dancing.

Full Planning: EJP Events | Priest: Portland Pandit | Photography: Evrim Icoz | Videography: Hybrid Moon | Floral: Gifford’s Flowers | Cake: Market of Choice | Mandap and draping: Paradym Events | Rentals: The Party Place | Catering Support: Vibrant Table | Indian Catering: Indian Connection | AV: Focal Audio | Beauty: Event Cosmetics | Dhol drummer: Kulveer Sangha | Photobooth: Apogee

For more photos of this Indian wedding weekend, go to our gallery here.

Long Beach, Washington Peninsula Weddings and Events

Beards Hollow, Cape Disappointment

Thinking about a wedding by the sea? Consider a Long Beach Peninsula Wedding in Washington State! Located in the far southwestern corner of the state, the peninsula is across the Columbia River from Astoria. It’s about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Portland. Close enough that a weekend can be made out of it, far enough to feel like a getaway.

The exterior of the Adrift Hotel, showing the Pickled Fish restaurant in its top-floor setting. It’s a great place to view the ocean!

Adrift and Shelburne Hotels

The Adrift Hotel in the town of Long Beach is a good landing spot. Many rooms have a view of the ocean. And the view and proximity to beach are not the only selling factors here. A guest can borrow a free balloon-tire bike to cruise the beach and the Discovery Trail path that runs parallel to it. The Adrift also contains a modest spa facility as well as the Pickled Fish Restaurant. The dining room sits on the top floor of their west building, with an expansive view of the beach and the ocean. Pickled Fish offers a variety of locally-sourced Pacific Northwest starters and entrées. But our favorite are their New Haven-style pizzas –thin crusts with just the right amount of char.

Event space at Adrift, from their website.

Because they have both an indoor and outdoor gathering space that can fit about 100 people, The Adrift Hotel would be a great spot for a small beach wedding! Pickled Fish would cater, a delicious choice. And best of all, it’s less than five minutes to walk to the beach. The “sister” hotel to Adrift, the Shelburne Hotel, can also host weddings. The late-Victorian era Shelburne was built in 1896, making it the longest continually operating hotel in Washington State.

Sou’wester Lodge

The Sou’wester Lodge is a lodging facility featuring a mix of cabins, vintage travel trailers (like Airstream) and campsites. They are located in Seaview, a community between Long Beach and Ilwaco. The Sou’wester can lodge 70 to 100 people, and accommodate 250 guests for a ceremony. It’s a good spot for a unique wedding! Plus, They offer extras, like a wellness package and a beach bonfire package.

Cape Disappointment State Park

Cape Disappointment State Park, a state park located south of Long Beach, is a great destination in itself. Located on a peninsula where the Columbia River meets the Pacific, the park features beaches, hiking trails through coastal rainforests, and a wide variety of camping options, including yurts and cabins. The North Head Lighthouse* and surrounding grounds are available for wedding ceremonies only. You must hold receptions elsewhere. The North Head Lighthouse Keepers’ Residence is available nearby for honeymoon or other overnight rental.

Keepers Residence at North Head Lighthouse
Oysterville Church
Oysterville School

Oysterville on the Peninsula’s North End

We also want to give a quick mention to the picture-perfect village of Oysterville, located on the north end of the peninsula. Founded in the nineteenth century when this area was dominated by (what else!) oyster fishing, Oysterville consists of a couple dozen Victorian houses on the edge of Willapa Bay. There is one cute (but small) venue available if you want something different for a wedding: The Oysterville Church. This historic church, can hold around 100 people. The nearby Oysterville School can be used for the reception. There are no lodging options in Oysterville itself, however there are in the community of Ocean Shores, just a ten-minute drive away. (The city of Long Beach is about a half-hour drive from Oysterville.)

The Long Beach Peninsula is filled with nice vistas, abundant nature, good food, and a great beach. Maybe you’ll consider a Long Beach Peninsula Wedding or holding your small meeting or conference there?

Bonfire on the beach.

*The other lighthouse at the park, simply named “Cape Disappointment Lighthouse”, does not allow weddings.

Event planner podcasts to motivate and inspire

EJP Events has recently been featured on a few event planner podcasts, so we’d like to share them with you! I hope you give these worthy programs a listen and let me know what you think.

Image ID: a banner with the text "Events:Demystified", and an image of a woman in business attire with her hand on her chin, leaning on a sound mixing board. This is one of the popular event planner podcasts available.
Tree-Fan Events produces the event planner podcast, “Events: Demystified”.

Events: Demystified

Here’s the first one, from March 2021: The show is called (in-person, virtual & hybrid) Events: Demystified. We’re on Episode 31: The Importance of Time Management and Friendors When Planning a Virtual Event . Anca Trifan of Tree-fan Events has been leading this podcast for over 2 years, and it was so great to work with her on a large virtual event, then to go on her show and talk about it.

Image ID: a black banner with the words "Miracle Workers: A Podcast for planners, by planners." (This is one of the popular event planner podcasts available.)

Miracle Workers: A Podcast for Meeting Planners by Meeting Planners

And the other, from July 2020. This show is called Miracle Workers: A Podcast for Meeting Planners by Meeting Planners. Episode 14, Using Events To Change The World. Amanda and Darryl have been producing Miracle Workers since 2019 as well, and their topics range from “Wi-Fi pricing to last-minute requests for kosher, vegetarian, gluten-free, low-salt meals.” The episode we are on dealt with diversity, and why it’s important to change the world through inclusive events – right up EJP Events’s alley!

In addition to these two podcasts that EJP Events has been featured on, here is a list of some other event planner podcasts that you might be interested in, whether you are in the profession of event planning, wedding planning or production; or thinking about it as a career.

  • She Doesn’t Even Go Here: Unsolicited Musings on Life and Business. By Terrica Skaggs. Terrica is so informative and entertaining, the minutes just fly by and suddenly you’re doing more laps or miles on your treadmill just to have an excuse to listen to another ep. Highly recommended!
  • The Savvy Event Planner Podcast. We haven’t tried this one out yet, but it has been going since 2015, and covers such interesting and timely topics as Active Shooter Protocol and Event Safety; as well as International Event Planning.
  • Talk With Renee Dalo. Renee Dalo is a respected industry veteran, and invites high-level guests such as Liene Stevens, Kirsten Palladino, and Kawania Wooten to talk about everything from entrepreneurship to combating burnout.

Do you have a favorite event planning podcast you want to share? Or helpful tips on how to stay up on the latest event planning news? Leave us a comment, please!

Hear ye, we’re planning a Shakespeare festival!

Image ID: a Banner showing an illustration of William Shakespeare with text showing the date of the event: July 16-18, 2021.
Planning a Shakespeare Festival? Check out what Westside Shakespeare Festival is doing in 2021!

EJP Events is pleased to announce that we are working with Experience Theatre Project to assist in planning a Shakespeare festival – specifically, their 2021 Westside Shakespeare Festival! We are so excited to be working with this organization, as well as the City of Beaverton, to safely welcome back the return of live events. The City of Beaverton is working closely with the festival through its permitting system and guidance from the City events manager, to ensure all Oregon Health Authority guidelines are followed.

Currently, Westside Shakespeare Festival is running an online fundraiser in support of its performing arts programming in the community. To learn more and donate, please check here. You can also view the fundraiser through the Instagram app at this location.

Planning a Shakespeare festival involves the entire community, including food and vendors! EJP Events is now accepting vendor applications for food cart and table vendors for the event. Please note, all vendors are expected to participate in the theme of 1550s-1650s era, through costumes, offerings, and services. All merchandise should represent something that could have been made or sold in the Shakespearean era. To review the vendor application please click here. If you have questions, please contact the event planner, Emee Pumarega, at emee @ ejpevents . com or phone (503) 284-6756. This is a great way to get back in the festival vendor game, if you had to sit out 2020 like many of us!

Finally, do make sure to attend the festival in July! Free festival attendance will include access to the performances, as well as a wide array of food and merchandise vendors. For an additional ticket fee, one may attend the Queen’s Feast with seating for the Saturday evening stage production, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). It will be held outdoors, rain or shine starting from Friday 4pm July 16th, through Sunday, 5pm on July 18th, 2021. Full schedule and details are available at experiencetheatre.org.

Wedding venues in The Dalles, Oregon

Image ID: Photo of the front facade of the Balch Hotel, one of many wedding venues in The Dalles, Oregon.
One of many wedding venues in The Dalles, Oregon: Balch Hotel, Dufur Oregon. From their website.

The west side of the Cascade Mountains is lush and wet, giving Oregon our reputation as a damp place. But east of the Cascades? The high mountains cause a rain shadow, leaving the area drier and sunnier.  How much drier? The Dalles, 60 miles east of Portland, only receives 15 inches (40 cm) of rain a year. Compare that to Portland’s 35 inches (90 cm)!

The area around The Dalles (Wasco County in Oregon, Klickitat County in Washington) is in the heart of the “dry side”. The dry rolling landscape with mountains as a backdrop makes a good setting for a wedding (or event retreat), especially an outdoor one! Plus, you’ll have a greater chance of a rain-free wedding on any given date. (Though it will most likely be windier!)

Things to do around The Dalles

The area has a number of attractions that make having a wedding there more attractive. Rowena Crest is the east-most spectacular viewpoint on the Historic Columbia River Highway, featuring a set of photogenic hairpin turns. The Maryhill Museum a former estate built overlooking the river, is now a museum featuring more than 80 works by Auguste Rodin. Maryhill Stonehenge is a full scale replica of the British original, built as a memorial to World War I veterans. And the region is filled with wineries, though the craft beer scene is starting to expand with breweries like Freebridge. (Try the pizza if you go!)

Wedding venues around The Dalles

  • Sunshine Mill in The Dalles. This 100 year old mill building in downtown The Dalles is home to Quenett and Capa di Vino wines. Weddings take place in the foundation of the old mill.
  • Balch Hotel in Dufur. Billing itself as the “Sunniest Wedding Location in the Gorge”, the Balch is a good safe bet if you want an outdoor wedding not afflicted with sprinkles. Plus, there’s 20 guest rooms on site that exude an early 20th Century vibe.
  • Imperial River Lodge in Maupin. Located right on the Deschutes River (a popular rafting spot), the lodge provides 25 guest rooms and the options of indoor or outdoor wedding venues.
  • Maryhill Museum. Want a wedding with a stunning backdrop of mountains and the Columbia Gorge? The grounds at Maryhill are perfect for that!

Looking for a wedding or event venue that is near Portland but has a different flavor than the Willamette Valley? Then consider a wedding in The Dalles, Oregon. Feel free to contact us if you would like assistance!

Quarantine RSVPs – An idea whose time has come { free printable }

Image ID: an event RSVP card sitting on a desktop surrounded by a ruler, pen, and coffee cup.

What is a “Quarantine RSVP”? As events open up, event planners and hosts are wondering, How do I hold one of these safety-compliant events, and still keep everyone as safe as possible? Even though gatherings are slowly returning, there are potential pitfalls:

  1. You could provide all the hygiene items, but some guests refuse to wear masks, or they remove them while still mingling
  2. You could create a physically-distanced setup, but without clear instructions or a program of activities, guests devolve into the typical “cocktail hour” behavior where they cluster within less than six feet.
  3. Everyone starts out with the best intentions of social distancing, but after a couple of glasses of wine, the inhibitions fall and people are hugging, touching, and coming in to close contact with people outside their home group.

There is no such thing as a risk-free event during COVID. As of March, most of the US is months away from full vaccination levels, and most states still have some kind of restriction on gathering and nonessential travel. But if you are in a location where your type of gathering is permitted, and you want to do it as safely as possible, here are some reminders, plus an additional tip you may not have thought of:

Most of us know by now to do the basics: avoid indoor or poorly-ventilated venues, keep 6′ or more distance, and wear masks at all times that it is possible to do so (besides when you are seated alone eating or drinking).

Here is one more idea: Identify the groups attending your event who have been previously quarantined together, and allow them to RSVP and be seated together.

A quarantine pod may be a single family; a couple; or a group of roommates. “Quarantined together” could also mean that they share the same household; or they have limited their contact to only themselves and a limited number of other households who all agree to observe the same level of infection-avoidance precautions. For example; two families with children who are friends, who allow their children to play together each week, is a good example of two houses, one quarantine. The goal of this practice is to prevent COVID spread at the event, while allowing groups that are already in contact to be together.

As a host, how can you identify these groups? Introducing the Quarantine RSVP. This is a form you create to gather the names of people who are in one pod. You can set the number of RSVPS according to what is allowed in your location. For example, in Multnomah County as of today, at “Eating and Drinking Establishments“/”Indoor Entertainment“/”Outdoor Entertainment” (the categories that most Oregon weddings and events currently fall into), you can currently seat no more than 6 people at a table. As sector risk guidance is constantly being updated, always check your local and state health authority for your area’s particular guidelines. 

Would you like your own Quarantine RSVP printable template? It’s your lucky day, because we’re sharing this free template with you! Simply fill out your name and email below and we’ll send it right along. We hope you find it helpful.

Download this free printable

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    Group Travel – Plan Now for Future Events

    COVID may have drastically changed the way we do group travel, but our needs for new experiences and gathering remain. As we slowly return to travel and events, it’s more important than ever to know where you can gather safely.

    With safety as the number one priority, we’re highlighting this list of three amazing destinations for you and your colleagues to visit later in 2021 or 2022. Bend, Oregon; Park City, Utah; and Palm Springs, California. And no need to roam too far – all of these locations are less than a 3 hour drive or flight from Portland, Oregon.

    Please note: Stay up to date on the latest public health guidance in Oregon by reviewing Guidance from Oregon Health Authority found at this website. At the time of this writing, only outdoor events of up to 50 guests are allowed in this area. For more detailed guidance on weddings, our colleague Elisabeth Kramer has written a helpful article, found here. State-to-state meetings guidance can vary. Consult with the local and state health authorities for what is permitted. At the time of this writing, a 14-day quarantine is required for persons traveling or returning to Oregon from out of state.

    Need to Host a Meeting? – Try Bend, Oregon

    If you’re looking to shake things up a bit and get out of town, Bend is an excellent choice, highlighting adventure without being too far off the beaten path. Bend not only offers unparalleled views and outdoor activities, but it also boasts many options for your next meeting.

    The Oxford Hotel

    • A view of Oxford Hotel's street sign facade in Bend, Oregon
    • Photo of a bed and pillows in Oxford Hotel, Bend, Oregon
    • Photo of meeting room with screen at the front
    • Photo of the Oxford's door panel

    This four diamond, eco-chic hotel is the perfect place to bring the team! With its downtown location everyone can walk to Bend’s many attractions and shops.

    It even includes over 2,400 square feet of meeting space – so you can spread out while still getting work done.

    Safety Policies

    Mount Bachelor Village Resort

    • Vista view of Mt Bachelor Village Resort showing snow-capped mountains in the distance
    • Exterior view of resort building
    • Interior view of hotel room showing Central Oregon views

    If you’re looking to have your next meeting nestled in the forest, the Mount Bachelor Village Resort is for you! Once the meetings are over, there are numerous outdoor activities available and downtown Bend is only a short walk away.

    Their dedicated Events Center offers more than 5,000 square feet for indoor and outdoor meetings.

    Take a virtual tour of the Event Center to get a feel for the space.

    Need to Collaborate? – Try Park City, Utah

    Let’s face it – it can be difficult to move ideas forward without in-person collaboration.

    Getting out of your normal space can help spark creativity and get the team excited again. Park City is perfect for social distancing – together! There are so many options for outdoor activities, from zip lining to horseback riding to fly fishing. You’ll almost forget you’re there to work.

    St. Regis

    • Aerial view of Park City Resorts with snowy mountains in background
    • A bedroom view at St. Regis Hotel Park City
    • Photo of boardroom meeting setup
    • Photo of boardroom meeting setup
    • Photo of meeting room setup
    • Outdoor photo of round tables with floral centerpieces

    Tune in to nature at St. Regis: This resort offers unmatched luxury in the picturesque Wasatch Mountains. Utilize their private ski valet for convenient ski-in/ski-out access or take in the beauty during a breathtaking hike.

    With over 16,000 square feet of event space and 11 different venues, there’s something for everyone.

    Montage Deer Valley

    • View of hotel lobby at Montage Deer Valley
    • View of hotel bedroom
    • View of meeting boardroom
    • View of indoor bowling alley
    • View of small group meeting area

    This elegant mountain lodge is the ideal setting for your next team meeting! It also offers unrivaled ski in/ski out access and many other year-round activities.

    With over 60,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space available the sky is the limit for your next meeting. Once it’s safe to do so, try renting out their private bowling alley for a bit of fun for you and your team.

    Group Travel at Deer Valley Ski Resort

    • A group of skiers smiling at Deer Valley Resort - Group Travel
    • View of meeting room boardroom
    • Evening view of Deer Valley Resort exterior

    This Ski Resort offers more than just the ability to hit the snowy slopes! It also hosts a number of event spaces large and small. Try getting the team together to tackle business in the morning and follow that with an afternoon in the snow – there are options for all skill levels and interests.

    Need to Build Relationships? – Try Palm Springs, California

    Everyone needs a break, and Palm Springs is the perfect place for a getaway that still involves connecting over business.

    Whisk the team away to sunny Palm Springs to recuperate while strengthening bonds. In a less than a 3 hour flight, you’ll be gathering under the desert sky and palm trees.

    The Ace Hotel + Swim Club

    • Aerial view of Ace Hotel Resort Palm Springs - Group Travel
    • View of an Ace Hotel bedroom suite
    • Aerial view of Ace Hotel Resort swimming pool
    • View of Clubhouse event space
    • View of outdoor meeting space

    With private outdoor fireplaces, a spa, and a private pool for events – your group travel event can stay safe and distanced while having fun! And if you do end up leaving the property, it’s only a short walk to downtown.

    The private event space offers over 3,000 square feet for flexible indoor and outdoor meetings and events.

    360 Tour of Event Spaces

    Safety Policies for Group Travel

    Avalon Hotel + Bungalows

    This beautiful historic property will make it so you never want to go home! With luxurious guest rooms, three pools, a spa and 4-acres of manicured gardens there is plenty of space to relax and recharge safely.

    When you’re ready to hold group travel again, there are plenty of indoor and outdoor options available. From courtyards to cabanas, there are lots of fun locations on site to host your meetings and events.

    Health + Safety Policies

    Don’t Wait!

    Many groups are now re-scheduling their 2020 postponed travel and events. This means that for some 2021 dates, there will be double the demand. Most locations offer a very flexible cancellation policy, so why not start your sourcing now, before the pressure is on. You can fill out this form for a free venue sourcing consultation with EJP Events.

    Katherine O’Brien is Lead Events Coordinator at EJP Events, and also the brains behind food blog What’s On Kate’s Plate.

    Virtual and Hybrid Event Showcase at Skyrise

    a hybrid event attendee listens to a sommelier from a distant tableA virtual and hybrid event attendee listens to a wine sommelier explain wine pairings at a small hybrid event. Additional attendees view remotely and are connected to the event on a big screen. Photo: Tom Cook Photo

     

    Virtual and hybrid events have been on the upswing since the 2008 recession, but 2020 pushed them to the forefront. As EJP Events fielded many requests to move events online this year, we employed our existing knowledge and pulled in technical production teams, as well as software platforms like Whova, Eventsquid, and vFairs, in order to create compelling virtual and hybrid event offerings.

    a table set for a virtual wine dinnerThis table is set for a virtual at home wine experience, complete with charcuterie box, bottles of wine, notebook, and the computer with which to participate in the event.

     

    The challenge, however, was how to relay our vision to new clients. As much as we love to dial in every detail and think critically about the attendee experience (have you ever thought how many physical items an attendee will need to gather in order to be on camera at a virtual wine dinner? We have!), it’s hard to convey that to someone who has never done this before. And it’s not like we could go into our existing clients’ living rooms and take photos of them attending our events during a pandemic, let alone the privacy issues!

     

    video camera recording a hybrid event
    Livestreaming and video-recording of events has become de rigeur due to the pandemic-created virtual and hybrid event requirements starting in 2020. Photo: Tom Cook

    So we put on our creative agency hats, and put together a content shoot (or styled shoot as it’s known in the weddings world). Emee and Katherine spent many hours in the fall brainstorming over Zoom, which best practices would make a virtual event shine; as well as what needs to be done to make your small hybrid event not only fun and memorable, but over-the-top in safety. We even experienced the now-common pandemic phenomenon of having everything scheduled and ready to go for our shoot event, only to have Multnomah County go into a four-week freeze and have to re-schedule the entire event and all its vendors.

    We’re happy to note that because of this team and their experience and professionalism, it reinforced our faith in the event process and things went off without a hitch. (Unless you count that Emee forgot her on-camera outfit and had to send someone back for that.) And we now have this wonderful content to share with you, that I hope tells the story of how EJP Events would envision a safe, engaging, delightful, and productive virtual or hybrid event where everything is dialed in, from the food and drink, to the individual sanitized microphones on each attendee. Check it out in the gallery below. Our main ideas are:

    • Tell people what to do. Pre-COVID, people didn’t need a lot of instruction at a networking event or a happy hour. During COVID, however, structure and format is needed. Open networking leads to too-close gathering. Offer each attendee their own seat, table, or area and provide a program of activities. 
    • Speaking of program, make sure to explain the program to everyone through multiple channels: Pre-event communications, on-site signage and directionals, live staff offering directions and guidance, and audible instructions through the use of announcements.
    • If people are attending remotely as well as in-person (a “hybrid event”), ensure that the home viewer is not left out of the action by creating an online, digital broadcast that is just as interesting as the in-person experience. Make sure audio is good, not just of the speaker but of the in-person attendees, to give home viewers the feeling of “being there”. Offer opportunities for the home viewer to be “seen” at the in-person event and interact with the in-person guests. It’s a two-way street!

    There are so many more details I could share, so I hope you’ll follow up with us if you have questions. For those of you who believe we’ll be back to normal and there’s no reason to keep perfecting virtual and hybrid events, here are a few headlines and quotes from news around the world:

    Virtual Events, Other “COVID Trends” Likely to Continue to Mid-2021, Meetings and Events Director Says

    Health expert predicts concerts, sporting events won’t return until ‘fall 2021 at the earliest“;

    “Once my family and I are vaccinated, I would change behaviors, except I can’t imagine being in a crowd or attending any crowded events until at least 80 percent of the population is vaccinated.”Julie Bettinger, associate professor, University of British Columbia

    David Nash, M.D., who serves as dean emeritus at Jefferson College of Population Health, anticipates that large in-person events could return with enhanced safety measures “deep into 2021 — the last quarter.”

    Location: Skyrise / Remote.ly
    Catering: Charcuterie Me
    Photography: Tom Cook Photo
    Planning: EJP Events
    Florist: Mix Mod
    Dessert: Missionary Chocolates
    Rentals: The Party Place
    Wine: Domaine Roy + fils
    Signage: The Fresh Hues
    Plates: Dtocs
    Stylist: What’s On Kate’s Plate

    Will and Erik’s Columbia River Gorge Wedding at Thunder Island, Cascade Locks

    Two grooms ceremony walk - Columbia River Gorge Wedding
    Will and Erik’s Columbia River Gorge Wedding at Thunder Island, Cascade Locks
    The “Lookback” Series of blog posts features weddings that happened more than a year ago. Some are repeats, some totally new to this blog! We hope you enjoy looking back with us on these wonderful weddings.

     

    Will and Erik’s Columbia River Gorge Wedding at Thunder Island, Cascade Locks was a wonderful celebration in the midst of the Columbia River Gorge Natural Area. The couple met in Portland, Oregon and chose to celebrate their love in breathtaking beauty surrounded by nature, the river and the foothills.

    Bridge of the Gods

    I loved so many details of their wedding and their planning journey. Their excellent taste in invitations and their choice of brewpub to hold our planning meetings in, just for starters! Look closely, their invitation from LetterpressPDX incorporated a blind-embossed topographic imprint of Thunder Island. 

    Interesting challenges from a wedding planner perspective were:
    1. The very large outdoor location. Thunder Island is a private island, about 3/4 of a mile long, attached to a public park. We made sure to provide plenty of staff and signage so it was very clear where to park, where the ceremony was, and where the reception was, as the two locations were about 3/5 of a mile apart. At the end of the event I looked at my Apple Watch and noticed that I had walked ten miles!

    2. The quirkiness of being located near rail lines. Because a railroad trestle crosses the entrance to the park, vehicle clearance is only twelve (12′) feet. This is pretty low, and I wanted to make sure transport and vendors were aware so they could plan which vehicles to use. I noted this at the walkthrough and made sure to put it in huge red letters at the top of the event plan I sent to each vendor and staff member.

    3. There was a definite division of warm-weather loving Californians and hardy Oregonians in attendance. We optimized for both groups by providing both indoor tables and outdoor tented seating, as well as open-air areas for celebration.

    All in all, the careful planning process that included detailing out the couple’s needs, family requests, vendor logistics, and public facility regulations came together into an unforgettable day.

    Finally, what you’ve been waiting for – photos and vendor list, right?

    The 2021 EJP Events Corporate, Event, and Weddings Gifting Guide

    corporate hybrid and virtual eventsTom Cook Photo – Katherine O’Brien of EJP Events demonstrates the physically-distanced method of passing out conference swag at a small hybrid event with 4 people in attendance at Skyrise. Signage and props by The Fresh Hues; Floral MixMod; Rentals The Party Place

    While the Christmas personal shopping rush is winding down, the winter/spring 2021 conference and gala season is just heating up. Hundreds of fundraisers, seminars, symposiums, annual conferences, and board meetings are held between January and June every year. Most of these in 2021 will still be virtual due to COVID-19 still rampant in our communities. A conference or business gift brings tactile experience into the virtual and hybrid event world, making it interactive, engaging, and more likely to be remembered.

    We love to give and get gifts – who doesn’t? This year is markedly different as many of us have been isolated from colleagues and friends; and we haven’t been attending meetings and events to keep us connected in our business relationships. Even though we’re heartened by news of a vaccine, it will be months before it’s widely available enough to change what’s happening with hybrid and virtual events.

    I produced this corporate event gifting guide to make it easier for you to find the local Portland businesses creating unique gifts for corporate and social events. I hope it helps you support small businesses (especially those that are BIPOC-owned), and helps you reach out to your friends, clients, and colleagues with a little something to spread cheer and let them know you’ve been thinking about them. Whether it’s conference swag, a personal touch for a nonprofit gala, or a wedding party favor, there are so many reasons to celebrate in 2021 with a token of appreciation and affection.

    Download the 2021 Gifting Guide here, or view it as a website.

    corporate event gifting guide

    Live Events in Oregon, What’s Allowed? September 2020 update

    We are happily seeing an influx of new inquiries for live events in Oregon to happen as soon as December 2020. Still, COVID-19 is still with us and has not gone away, even though limited event activities are now permitted. As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on much longer than most live event professionals imagined it would, it’s helpful to review the current guidance in order to be updated on the latest of what is allowed at live events in Oregon.

    Portland event planning photo of 3 women standing in a ballroom under a chandelier. A view of Lake Oswego Oregon is behind them.
    EJP Events visits the Ironlight event venue in Lake Oswego, Oregon. This is an event space that can accommodate many of the new COVID-19 guidelines such as outdoor space, physical distancing, and increased ventilation and hygiene.

    As of Friday, September 18, 2020, here is what is permitted in Phase 1 areas with live events in Oregon. This includes Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington Counties that have agreed to progress through phases together since their populations are geographically linked by the City of Portland.

    • Includes limited reopening of personal services like salons and barbers, gyms, and malls, and restaurants and bars open for in-person service until 10pm.
    • Indoor social get-togethers are capped at 10 people with physical distancing.
    • Cultural, civic, and faith gatherings are capped at 50 people with physical distancing for indoors or outdoors.

    And here is what’s permitted in Phase 2 areas of Oregon: The vast majority of counties in Oregon are in Phase 2. No counties in Oregon have progressed to Phase 3 since either a reliable treatment or vaccine is required for that phase; and neither has yet been produced.

    • For phase 2 counties the maximum capacity for gatherings is:
      • 50 people indoors
      • 100 people outdoors
    • Statewide, no matter what phase a county is in, the maximum capacity for an indoor social get-together is 10 people indoors.

    In addition, organizers of gatherings and live events in Oregon in any phase are required to follow specific General Hygiene, Distance, Occupancy, Cleaning, and Disinfection guidelines outlined here: https://sharedsystems.dhsoha.state.or.us/DHSForms/Served/le2351g.pdf . This includes correct and proper wearing of face masks covering both nose and mouth for all staff and for guests while not seated and eating or drinking; frequent hand washing and proper hand hygiene; frequent sanitation of surfaces with no shared service items such as food servingware; and maintaining distance of 6′ between parties from different households at an event.

    Finally, DIFFERENT guidelines and guest count limits apply to gatherings that take place in what the state calls “Sector-Specific” locations. For example, if your event takes place in a restaurant or a bar, versus an event venue, different rules apply. Per OHA:

    • The maximum capacity limits described in this guidance do not apply to gatherings or indoor social get-togethers at a location covered by other sector-specific Oregon Health Authority (OHA) guidance, as those locations have their own maximum capacity limits and other restrictions. Sector-specific locations to which OHA guidance applies includes, but is not limited to venues, restaurants and bars, retail locations, indoor and outdoor entertainment facilities, fitness related organizations, higher education institutions, schools, and child care programs.
    • Updated September 30, 2020: Here we have added a helpful guide from Lewis & Clark Law School’s Small Business Legal Clinic on Guidelines for Opening for Restaurants and Bars. It contains many helpful specifics and a lot of the new details you may be seeing in food service, such as no pre-set tables. This has affected many events that were planning a decorative tabletop. One thing we have seen is to set a mock tabletop for photography only to capture the event vision and the desgin; and then the catering staff brings the same individual items out to each attendee at the time of service.

    As you can see, it can be very confusing. A patient and experienced event planner will be your best asset, as they have been keeping up with all of the industry changes and updates since March; and will have you and your guests’ health and safety as their first priority. Please contact us if you are looking for event planning guidance.

    Sources:

    https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-Reopening-Framework

    https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19#collapseOHAGuidance

    COVID-19 is an ongoing and changing situation for live events in Oregon and around the world. The Portland Event Planner blog is meant as commentary only. Please check with your local and state health authorities, as well as the World Health Organization, before making any decisions that would affect you and your guests.

    How to Help Rural Oregon During the Wildfires of 2020

    Wedding planning photo of a wedding couple in front of an A-frame structure in the forest
    A couple celebrates at Eagle Fern Park, Clackamas County, in 2018. This area is under Level 3 evacuation as of September 13, 2020. Photo: Jenna Noelle Photography

    We are heartbroken as our rural neighbors and community in Clackamas, Marion, Jackson and Klamath counties — and many more other counties in Oregon — battle wildfires and recover from destruction and tragedy. Lives have been lost and livelihoods impacted, and the fires are not out yet. Many are wondering what they can do to help rural Oregon.

    As we mentioned in our previous post, taking a moment to give if you can, can be one way to stem the feeling of helplessness that many of us feel. The live events industry was already deeply affected by the COVID pandemic, and having to deal with wildfires on top of everything else can feel overwhelming.

    On the giving side, we’ve put together a list of resources that we feel provide a good representation of how to help those affected by the wildfires in Oregon.

    We’re grateful for the many people who have checked on us from afar. EJP Events’s home base in Portland, Oregon, while safe from wildfires currently, has been affected with power outages and hazardous air quality. Our staff continues to work from home offices in Multnomah and Clark County. If you need assistance with an event that has been affected by COVID-19 or the Oregon wildfires, please contact us – we’re happy to help.

    Why It’s More Important Than Ever Before to Buy from Local and BIPOC-Owned Businesses.

    The upswell of the Black Lives Matter movement has created a conversation around supporting Black owned businesses. Some of my non-Black colleagues seem confused by this. “Isn’t this reverse racism? I’m not racist, I don’t see color!” is a common trope heard during times like this.

    A tall Black woman makeup artist applies lip color to a Black mother of the bride.
    Photo: Craig Strong

    While an event planning blog is not the best platform to address how those types of statements actually promote white supremacy*, one thing I am qualified to address is how to make your event better. One way to do this is to make your event or wedding a force for good. Here’s my opinion on how buying more often from BIPOC- (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and locally-owned businesses can do this, starting by contrasting with the following examples of common practices among large, global corporations:

    1. Starbucks forbidding employees to wear any clothing or jewelry supporting Black Lives Matter (later rescinded)
    2. Cambodian worker who makes Kate Spade and Michael Kors handbags was jailed for speaking up about coronavirus fears on Facebook.
    3. Racial profiling at Anthropologie stores (Sister co of wedding dress boutique BHLDN and owned by Urban Outfitters) In addition, Urban Outfitters has a long problematic history of stealing from independent artists, and for its own designs being shockingly offensive to pretty much anyone.
    4. Corporations profit from prison labor; meanwhile, Black and POC are convicted and incarcerated disproportionately to the population as a whole.

    Yikes, right? While not every corporation may be guilty of these types of wrongdoings, it’s more common than not. By choosing a local and/or BIPOC-owned event business, you lessen the risk of sending your hard-earned event dollars to organizations that perpetuate racism, profit from prison labor, deplete the environment, and steal intellectual and artistic property.

    In addition, when you avoid mass-produced event and wedding items, you’re more likely to:

    • integrate artisanship and hand-crafted know-how into your event
    • avoid cookie-cutter designs and boring flavors
    • reduce your carbon footprint by avoiding overseas shipping.

    If you’re looking for even more reasons to Buy Black this year, check out this article from Green America: 6 Reasons to Buy from Black-Owned Businesses.

    It’s important to reduce negative impacts of consumption, both environmental and social. This extends to events. Most of us know that in this big, big world of 7 billion people, we won’t solve every problem in a few months. I myself am just beginning a long process of educating myself, divesting from old processes, and doing my small part. I present this idea of normalizing buying local, and buying BIPOC, as often as you can, and especially with large purchases such as wedding- and event-related costs, as one way to raise awareness, reduce your risk of harm, and make your event better.

    * I recommend Alishia McCullough’s 7 Circles of Whiteness article, which is much better at explaining this phenomenon.