The right location and reasonable room rates are once again the top two factors when selecting an event property, according to the latest survey of meeting planners by Destination Hotels & Resorts. It is closely followed by the desire for high-quality local cuisine. With its proximity to Los Angeles, affordable rates, and farm-fresh restaurant offerings, VenturaCountyWest meets all three criteria.
Just over an hour from Los Angeles, Ventura CountyWest (Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura) takes event attendees away from the hustle and bustle of city life without the long commute times. “Once you arrive in Camarillo, you are immediately greeted with acres of farmland and majestic mountain views. You are instantly beginning to relax,” says Josephine Williams, general manager of the Residence Inn by Marriott Camarillo. “VenturaCountyWest is an untapped resource. It has beaches, shopping, wine tasting, everything new and sexy, and you don’t have to travel far to get here.”
Camarillo, the smallest of the three cities, offers a surprisingly diverse variety of hangouts. Once owned by one of the city’s founding fathers, the Camarillo Ranch House can accommodate up to 600 guests for lunch or dinner in its manicured front lawn and gardens, and 250 guests in its 5,200-foot “Big Red Barn.” squares. The Commemorative Air Force The museum at Camarillo Airport hosts dinners for up to 250 guests in hangars among WWII fighter jets and memorabilia. Cal State University, Channel Islands also offers public and private meeting facilities.
A little further up 101 are the cities of Oxnard and Ventura, offering beachfront and mountain-view properties for gatherings small and large. “The lodging facilities and room rates are extremely competitive with any property north or south of us,” says David Dreher, general manager of Residence Inn by Marriott in River Ridge. “Meeting planners may be surprised to find that VenturaCountyWest has more than 5,100 rooms and 200,000 square feet of conference and meeting room space.”
Taking advantage of its proximity to agriculture and the ocean, chefs at the destination’s restaurants can choose from fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood. Nikki Newman, Coastal Grill’s new head chef at the Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort in Oxnard, is a newcomer from Colorado. “I’m in awe of the amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables available year-round at Ventura CountyWest. Colorado has a three-month vegetable season,” says Newman. “We have berries, tomatoes, citrus and all kinds of vegetables here. As the seasons change, I am excited to be able to incorporate the freshest local ingredients into the menu.”
Another must-have for meeting planners based on trend forecasting is the ability to engage in active team building activities, focused on adventure and wellness.
“Since our all-suite hotel is adjacent to the River Ridge Golf Club, we attract many regional sales and management groups. Golf is often part of group activities,” says Dreher. “But a new game called FootGolf is gaining traction as a great team-building activity. It is the fastest growing sport in North America and involves kicking a soccer ball into a hole on a specially designed golf course. River Ridge was the first to create a FootGolf Course in Southern California. It is much less expensive to play than golf, requires less time to complete, participants get more exercise than golf, and additionally, no experience is needed to play. “.
Other popular team-building activities include beach volleyball, beachfront bike rides, hiking, kayaking, surfing lessons, whale watching, go-kart racing, and excursions to the Channel Islands. “There are also spa and tennis activities, and one of the hottest trends, the GPS-assisted scavenger hunt,” says Rebekah Evans, executive director of the Ventura County Lodging Association, which markets VenturaCountyWest. “Each city has its own unique and personable qualities. You can host an event one year in Camarillo and have a completely different experience the next year in Ventura or Oxnard. It is the friendly and helpful staff at all of our hotels that make it the same. their goal is to provide the best possible service. “