Your guide to meeting and event venues in Tuscon, AZ

  • EJP Events coordinator Katherine O'Brien stands next to a desert cactus in Tuscon, Arizona.

We recently were able to visit Tuscon for a recent event. We’re excited to share our favorite reasons to visit this amazing oasis, and produce your guide to meeting and event venues in Tuscon.

What’s So Great About Tucson?

Tucson is in the aptly named, Sun Corridor, and enjoys, on average, 350 days of sun every year. (If you are like us and live somewhere with more cloudy days than sunny ones this alone may convince you to visit.)

Tucson is also home to the University of Arizona which brings a youthful vibe to this city and enriches the cultural options it provides.

Tucson has a rich history steeped in Native American traditions and culture that is worth exploring!

We also have to include the cacti in this list. They are everywhere you turn and possess the most amazingly beautiful contrast to the desert terrain. Hiking in this area is a treat! You can view these centurion giants along sandy paths that wind through the many impressive canyons. If you are lucky you may even come across a road runner or javelina (a small pig-like animal).

Tucson Activities

Tucson is a fantastic place to host an event with all of the unique activities offered there:

Try adding a trip to the Tucson Botanical Gardens, the Pima Air and Space Museum, the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun Museum or the Mission San Xavier del Bac.

And don’t forget to make time for some fun with a group taco bike tour! Enjoying tacos together = team building in our book!

Where to host your event in Tucson?

Good Things Come in Small Packages at the Arizona Inn

If you are looking for an intimate venue for your next retreat, look no further than the Arizona Inn:

This historic boutique hotel is located in Midtown and offers a uniquely charming escape. With 5,000 square feet of meeting space and four meeting rooms to choose from, the team can gather comfortably and even step out onto the garden patio for breaks!

Guests will be refreshed and ready to go after a relaxing night in their well appointed casita-style rooms and some time by the pool. *Tip: Keep an eye out for the bunnies that hop about the grounds!

  • Entrance of the Arizona Inn, a meeting and event venue in Tuscon, AZ
  • Image of a table set in rustic desert color tones at the Arizona Inn in Tuscon.

Casino del Sol Shows us that Bigger can be done Better

Looking for a property that you don’t ever have to leave? Casino del Sol is a four-star luxury resort and casino that is Native American-owned. This resort has something for everyone.

Casino del Sol hosts more than 100,000 sq. ft. of flexible indoor/outdoor meeting space and even offers unique meeting settings like their conference center terrace or a picturesque pool deck and gazebo.

Immerse yourself in Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s history through original artwork and cultural expressions throughout the property.

Casino del Sol also has on site – 10 restaurants, 6 bars, 3 pools, a spa and golf course, 5 event venues (where you can catch acts like Patti LaBelle or even Smashing Pumpkins) and thousands of games to choose from in their state-of-the-art casino.

  • Aerial photos of the Casino Del Sol resort complex in Tuscon, Arizona

Break All the Rules at Culinary Dropout

Culinary Dropout is a great option for group dining out! Snack on their famous honey drizzled fried chicken or pretzel bites and provolone fondue while you sample from their extensive beer, wine and cocktail list.

With 5 different private venue options, it’s easy to find the right fit for your group here. There’s plenty of different options for smaller groups, but it can also hold up to 250! Plus, they also have bar games and live music most nights.

Do you need a guide to meeting and event venues in Tuscon?

We hope after reading your guide to meeting and event venues in Tuscon, you get a sense that this special place can handle a meeting, wedding, or event of any size — and that you’ll be as excited as we are to explore this beautiful and culture-rich area of the United States. Please contact us for more info.

Best Portland Wedding Planners – Featured on Katy Weaver Photography

We were recently featured on the popular Portland wedding photography blog by Katy Weaver in an article entitled “Best Portland Wedding Planners”. We were really flattered to be included; thanks so much, Katy! I’m reprinting my portion of the interview below, because it was so fun to answer these questions. I hope you find this background about our wedding planning services useful! And, included here are a few photos of some the fun weddings we’ve had the pleasure of working on with Katy.

Photo: Katy Weaver Photography

What makes EJP Events unique?

Our team approach with 3 planners on staff (employees not contractors); over 45 years of combined event and hospitality experience in the business; and a “heart and head” approach that speaks to both the data side and the emotional side of weddings helps everyone in your weddings mix feel included, comfortable, and secure that you’re making educated decisions.

Why should couples hire a wedding planner?

Simply because: it’s a lot of legwork that you do not have time to do. Of course you could create your own wedding design brief; write a wedding budget; and research the best vendor choices to fit that design and criteria. (This is just the first part of planning!) However. If you’ve never done this before, it’s a huge learning curve to figure out all the industry terms, conventions, and insider knowledge to get all your planning systems up and running. Why not work with a planner who has already created and tested and used successful systems over and over and over; that way you can focus on the fun things like picking colors, decor, and clothing — rather on trying to figure out in what order you should do your huge wedding planning to-do list.

What advice do you have for couples choosing a wedding planner?

Check out their websites and social media! Do you see your wedding or the possibility of your wedding style, in what they offer? Do you see people like you having weddings like yours in their portfolio? Is there a variety of work and clientele, or do they pretty much do just one type of design and look? The latter is not necessarily a bad thing, but if you have non-traditional ideas, or want to work with someone who is flexible with a wide experience of various cultures, traditions, and styles — make sure to look for that int the planner’s work. If so, it’s a good sign that you might want to meet with them and do that interview next step!

Photo: Katy Weaver Photography

What type of weddings and couples are the best fit for you and your business?

We love to work with people who are willing to invest time and thoughtfulness into the process. Most of our wedding clients are working with us starting 6-18 months before the wedding, envisioning everything from the best location to the emotions they want themselves and their guests to feel at different timepoints of the wedding experience.

What do you love most about your job as a coordinator/planner?

I love standing in the back of the room when the party is in full swing, knowing that the crowd is joyfully celebrating, and that they are completely unaware of what went into producing the day. They are only present in the moment.

What’s the best way to contact you?

We have a contact page on our website: https://ejpevents.com/contact-a-portland-event-planner/ or of course you can always call us at (503) 284-6756 or email emee@ejpevents.com

Anything else you’d like to add?

Remember WHY you’re having your wedding and the love will guide you. Also – we travel!

5 important factors to consider when planning a destination wedding in Mexico

Planning a destination wedding is at the top of many of our clients’ to-do lists, so we make sure to attend many conferences and trainings on the subject. One of them we remember fondly is Love Mexico, which was held in Playa del Carmen some years back. Weddings are cautiously returning to travel for 2022 and 2023. Here are five important factors we took away from this experience:

Mexico destinations aren’t just for casual weddings

A beach wedding doesn’t have to be a casual, barefoot affair if you don’t want it to be. The availability of vendors in Mexico beach destinations is such that you can create the wedding vision, theme and color story of your wishes, including ones with high style and custom designs.

Planning a destination wedding in Mexico? Check out this image of an altar and ceremony chairs lined up on the beachfront in Cancun, Mexico.
Photo courtesy Westin Resort and Spa, Cancun

Not just the beach

Mexico isn’t just about beach weddings, either! The strong Spanish and European influence during colonial times means that old-world palaces and piazzas are just as available as palm trees and sand for a wedding backdrop — and without the 16-hour flights or Euro exchange rate.

Image of a white limestone mansion in Mérida, Yucatan, Mexico
By Matthew T Rader, CC BY-SA 4.0

Research the volume of weddings at your chosen destination wedding venue

Check to see how many weddings may be held at the resort of your choice. We talked to some in-house resort wedding planners who handle anywhere from 5 to 20 weddings per day. If you have chosen a larger resort, consider bringing your own personal wedding coordinator along with you so that you can get personal service on this most important of days. Or, consider working with a personal wedding coordinator who is familiar with the area during site selection, who can direct you to smaller, more exclusive properties and venues that might be off the beaten path.

A wedding banquet table covered in colorful flowers; with lanterns hanging above. A great idea for planning a destination wedding.
Photo courtesy Rosewood Mayakoba

Is it private?

Find out if the site or beach you have selected is a private location. If you picture exchanging vows in a secluded setting, you don’t want any surprises. Visit the location beforehand, or make sure you’re working with your personal wedding planner who has been there.

Wedding chairs set up in front of a white pavilion overlooking the ocean at Barcelo Maya Palace Hotel. One of the locations we've traveled to for planning a destination wedding.
Photo courtesy Barcelo Maya Palace Weddings

Destination wedding budgets can be competitive with local weddings

Planning a destination wedding can be just as affordable as a wedding you might plan in your home location. We’ve seen all-inclusive affairs in Mexico at excellent resorts for the same budget as a 100-person wedding locally. Many resorts offer perks based on your guest count. If you’re having a hard time finding a location you love at home, and most people are flying in anyway, consider a Mexico destination wedding for something wonderful and affordable.

The Portland Wedding Coordinator Blog is supported by affiliate links such as this one from Palace Resorts, or this one from Experiencias Xcaret. EJP Events may receive a payment, should you choose to purchase anything after visiting a link. Thank you for supporting our blog!

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.

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.

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?