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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

The other Vancouver

Courtesy Vancouver USA Regional Tourism Office


Where is Vancouver, Wash.?
The city of 165,000 is on the Washington-Oregon border, seven miles from downtown Portland, Ore. It is two hours from Eugene, Ore., and Olympia, Wash.; three hours from Seattle; and six hours from Vancouver, British Columbia.

How do I get there?
Most any way you arrive, the trip will be scenic. Driving in from the Portland airport, 10 minutes away, or arriving by Amtrak, Mount St. Helens and Mount Hood command the view. Vancouver is on Interstate 5, which runs the length of the West Coast.

What types of meetings best suit Vancouver?
In terms of size, 600-room nights is optimum, although the city can handle groups of up to 1,200 people. The city’s border location makes it logical for statewide associations from Washington and Oregon. The city is attracting more athletic events and religious retreats; both types of groups like its size and safety. The area’s rich military history is a draw for military reunions.

What’s new?

  • New venues abound. At Fort Vancouver, the Artillery Barracks has been renovated and can accommodate up to 150 in its largest space. Downtown, the new public library has state-of-the-art technology and three meeting rooms. Two historic theaters, the Kiggins in downtown Vancouver and the Liberty in nearby Camas, have reopened and can be booked for events.
  • There are also new activities for after the meeting. Source Climbing Center opened recently downtown, with 3,900 square feet of climbing terrain and a mezzanine for group events. A 23-theater complex, Cinetopia, is expected to open in the fall at the Vancouver Mall. Many of its theaters will offer food, beer and wine.
  • A $1.3 billion waterfront development on the Columbia River that will include housing, retail shops, restaurants and a hotel should break ground in the next few years.

Tell me about the main meeting sites.

  • Vancouver’s largest conference hotel, the 226-room Hilton Vancouver Washington, is across from Esther Short Park downtown  and attached to the Vancouver Convention Center and its 30,000 square feet of meeting space.
  • Heathman Lodge, located on Vancouver’s outskirts, across the river from Portland, has a rustic, relaxed Northwest vibe. The 182-room hotel has 10,000 square feet of meeting space.
  • The 160-room Red Lion on the Quay is on the north bank of the Columbia River and many of its meeting and guest rooms have water views. The hotel has 14,785 square feet of meeting space.
  • The Clark County Event Center, opened in 2005, has nearly 100,000 square feet of clear-span exhibit space. It is at the Clark County Fairgrounds on 170 acres north of the city.