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Pacific Meeting Guide: Vancouver

Courtesy Vancouver USA Regional Tourism

Vancouver, Wash. — that’s right, we have one in the United States — decided awhile back that it was time to toot its horn a little louder. To better show off the city, located near Portland, Ore., 90 minutes south of Mount St. Helens, Vancouver revamped its website.

“It didn’t portray Vancouver in the light we thought it should,” said Jill Daniel, marketing manager for the Vancouver USA Regional Tourism Office. “We have so many unique attractions and we’re one of the oldest cities in Washington.”

Many of the changes make the website more valuable to meeting planners. There are better ways to search for venues and hotels, more information about convention facilities and destination services and details about green meeting options. The bureau also added Meetingmax, an online housing system, which will be helpful for the many large events that it handles, including sports competitions.

Among the sites touted are a trio of historic venues at Fort Vancouver National Site, the only national park in the greater Portland area. The fort played an important role in West Coast history, and it now plays a role as a meeting site.

“A lot of the buildings at the fort have been refurbished just for meetings,” said Daniel.

Among them are the Artillery Barracks at Fort Vancouver, where 240 soldiers were once housed. Now, thanks to an extensive renovation, it can house meetings and events in two boardrooms and breakout rooms. The renovation kept the barracks’ tin ceiling and white-oak hardwood floors but added essential meeting features like state-of- the-art audiovisual equipment.

Also at the fort, is the Red Cross Community Hall, formerly E.B. Hamilton Hall. Built in 1919, it can accommodate groups of up to 200.

The park’s Pearson Air Museum is one of the nation’s oldest continuously operating airfields, dating back to 1905. It provides a backdrop of vintage planes for meetings, receptions, auctions, dances, banquets, or an outdoor picnic.

“It is a great indoor and outdoor venue that can be customized to any group,” said Daniel.

In addition to historic venues, Vancouver has plenty of contemporary meeting and event sites. For example, Big Al’s is a bowling alley on steroids, with 42 lanes, private lounge-style lanes, a sports bar and a grill. Cinetopia Westfield has 23 theaters, including large theater rooms for corporate events, as well as a restaurant and a bar.

The rocks are indoors and are always changing, posing new challenges to climbers at the Source Climbing Center, which welcomes private events.