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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Ingenious ideas for off-site events

Courtesy Destination Tahoe

Reno/Lake Tahoe
DeLeon plans many events in Lake Tahoe and in Reno, Nevada, destinations that differ in size and style.

Lake Tahoe has a number of venues suitable for small groups but very few for large ones. Among DeLeon’s favorites is Thunderbird Lodge, built in the 1930s on the lake. Small groups dine in the lighthouse room, which sits out over the water, or on the lawn. Docents tell stories of the eccentric former owner, who had exotic animals, including a lion that rode in the car.

“We’ve done hundreds of events there, and it is breathtaking,” said DeLeon. “The lodge is on the east side of the lake facing west, perfect for watching the sunset.”

Run by a historic foundation, the lodge is “extremely pricey, and that is what makes it exclusive,” said DeLeon. “Our goal is to provide our clients an option for their guests that they wouldn’t experience if they were here on vacation.”

As a summertime event option, guests can be shuttled by ski tram to the original ski lodge at Heavenly Resort, where they can enjoy dinner with lake views.

Cruises on one of the lake’s two paddlewheelers can be held year- round. “One of them holds 150 passengers, the other 300,” said DeLeon. “It is a great way to see the lake. In the winter we do it earlier in the day; in the summer, we can have groups divide up and do a boat race.”

The lake, 22 miles long and 12 miles across, never freezes.

For larger groups, DeLeon might recommend an evening in Virginia City, Nevada, a living historic monument. Groups of 300 to 1,000 can book the Old West town, 45 minutes from Reno. Evenings there are active, with trolley and train rides, shopping, museum tours, a mine tour and a live band in the street.

“The last event we did there was a Denim and Diamonds theme. We had people line dancing,” DeLeon said. “It is a fun night whether we are entertaining a group of accountants or the National Association for Catering Executives. It is so memorable, not something you have seen at your last five conferences.”