It’s remarkable what a change of scenery can inspire. A fresh perspective. Renewed energy. Surprising creativity. A sense of camaraderie. Hosting a conference or meeting at a destination away from the office or corporate campus can amount to better teamwork and a pop in productivity, especially if that destination is one that inspires, rejuvenates and even relaxes.
Cannon Beach – a genteel town of 1,500 friendly souls on the Oregon Coast – hosts hundreds of conferences and meetings every year, whether sales incentives, educational conferences or executive getaways. And there are three definite reasons: stunning setting, an array of sophisticated down-time attractions and, of course, first-rate facilities.
The journey from Portland International Airport is a pleasant eighty miles through urban landscape, scenic farmland, and the verdant fern-laden forests of the Coast Range that will have everyone, even the driver, shedding stress by the time they arrive.
Cannon Beach hugs a long, crescent shoreline on a craggy, wooded coast only two hours west of Portland. The town’s centerpiece is a 235-foot sea stack that’s the granddaddy of them all: Haystack Rock. This natural behemoth, surrounded by environmentally sensitive tide pools teeming with life, serves as one of the planet’s few remaining nesting grounds for the Tufted Puffin. From April through August, naturalists are often on hand at the base of the rock with telescopes, giving beachcombers a rare, close-up view of these fascinating seabirds with their oversized colorful beaks and comical appearance. Other sea stacks and needles surround Haystack and are scattered up and down the coast, giving Cannon Beach its rugged and irresistibly photogenic seascape. Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, perched a mile out to sea, only adds to the beauty.
Ecola State Park, on the town’s northern edge, dominates a scene of dramatic bluffs and cliffs hanging over the Pacific. Visitors can hike through the woods, on the beaches, and along the cliffs, or simply take a relaxing drive through this magnificent park.
Cannon Beach’s small-scale, weathered shingle ambiance can best be described as a browser’s paradise. Eateries, bakeries, bookshops, and especially galleries and glass studios abound in this village with a reputation as an artist’s colony. And, if galleries aren’t enough, the city hosts one of the best sand sculpture competitions in North America, which is in its 46th year this June.
An unusual culinary experience for groups of 20 or fewer is dinner at EVOO Cannon Beach Cooking School, where CIA-trained Chef Bob Neroni and co-owner Lenore Emery cook up a storm with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients for guests in a cooking-demonstration setting, explaining the ingredients and techniques on the journey from range to plate. Expect to be thoroughly entertained, educated, delightfully sated and struck with a desire to return.
Cannon Beach’s 97-room Surfsand Resort boasts the largest conference facility in town, with a capacity to accommodate up to 200 attendees. This handsomely refurbished resort offers well-appointed luxury rooms, and beach cabana service in the summer. The spacious conference room has one liability (and there are worse ones): a mesmerizing view of Haystack Rock towering over one of the most scenic beaches on the west coast.
Lower-capacity venues are perfect for smaller meetings and events: Hallmark Resort has meeting space for up to 140; Haystack Gardens, operated by Surfsand Resort and set amid park-like lawns and gardens, accommodates up to 60; Tolovana Inn has meeting space to accommodate up to 160; and the Chamber of Commerce has a Community Hall adjacent to the city park that’s perfect for groups of up to 150.
A meeting destination doubling as a retreat should have several things going for it: unmatched setting, engaging attractions, and first rate facilities. Cannon Beach has them all – year round.
Surfsand Resort Meeting Facilities, including Haystack Gardens:
Hallmark Resort Meeting Facilities:
Tolovana Inn Meeting Facilities:
Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce Community Hall:
EVOO Cooking School: