City Spotlight | Bellevue, Washington

By Erin Caslavka Deinzer, June 2, 2014

Connected to Seattle via the world’s longest floating bridge, Bellevue lives up to the origins of its name, which means “beautiful view.” Between Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish, the city has a 320-acre wetland preserve and a 53-acre botanical garden. It’s been named one of the safest cities in the United States by Forbes magazine, and companies such as Eddie Bauer, Microsoft, T-Mobile, Verizon and Expedia all have offices within its boundaries. Underscoring Bellevue’s business vitality are recent investments in the city’s hotel infrastructure, highlighted by the 732-room Hyatt Regency’s (pictured) $185 million expansion in 2009.

Within walking distance from Hyatt and Bellevue’s other downtown hotels is Meydenbauer Center, a sleek, modern venue. “The center operates differently on purpose,” explains Jane Kantor, director of sales for the mid-size convention venue. “We’re not your average big-box meeting facility where you work with third-party contractors to supply on-site services. Everything a planner needs for their event is handled via one of our guest services managers, who provide a single point of contact. The Meydenbauer is exceptionally flexible, and our staff is trained to provide services that will deliver the majority of your meeting needs.”

NOTEWORTHY: For teambuilding, try the three- to six-hour Bellevue Challenge Course, a ropes course with 18 different crossings, including a tight rope, a cargo net and swinging logs.

Kari Ann Yokoyama, senior business manager for Microsoft, selected Meydenbauer as the site for the company’s annual four-day summit because she needed a location that could accommodate 1,100-1,200 people. “It’s a good location that has lots of amenities close by, such as shops, hotels and restaurants,” says Yokoyama. “Our managers also host team dinners at area restaurants after hours. They arrange these events directly with the venues, and they could be for 10 people or 100. Because there are multiple restaurants within walking distance to Meydenbauer, it’s very convenient.

“We have attendees coming in from all over the world specifically for the summit. However, if they arrive before or stay after, they also have the ability to go to Seattle and visit other areas. And most of them do tend to extend their trip and take advantage of doing things on their own.”

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