The right location and reasonable room rates are again the two most important factors in choosing a property for the event, according to a recent study by Destination Hotels & Resorts meeting planners. Nearby is the desire for high quality, local dishes. Close to Los Angeles, the affordable prices and restaurant deals with freshly made ingredients VenturaCountyWest meet all three criteria.
In just over an hour from Los Angeles, VenturaCountyWest (Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura) takes visitors from the hustle and bustle of the city to life without long travel times. "When you reach Camarillo, you are immediately greeted with hectares of farmland and majestic mountain views. You notice you start to relax right away," says Josephine Williams, CEO of the Marriott Camarillo Residence Inn. "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 range of meeting places. The Camarillo Ranch House, once owned by one of the founders of the city, can accommodate up to 600 guests for lunch or dinner in manicured front lawn and garden areas and 250 guests in its 5,200-square-foot "Great Red Barn." The Museum regularly organizes a sitting dinner for up to 250 guests in the hangar between World War II destroyers and memorabilia at Kamarillo Airport. Cal State University, the Channel Islands also offers rooms for public and private meetings.
A little further 101 are the cities of Oxnard and Ventura, which offer beaches and mountain scenery for small to large gatherings. "The accommodation and room rates are extremely competitive with all properties to the north or south of us," says David Dreher, director of the River Ridge Residence Inn by Marriott. "Meeting planners may be surprised to learn that VenturaCountyWest has more than 5,100 guest rooms and 200,000 square feet of conference and meeting space."
Locally sourced cuisine
With their proximity to agriculture and the ocean, destination restaurant chefs can choose between fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood. Nikki Newman, the new chef at the Coastal Grill at the Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort in Oxnard, is a recent graft from Colorado. "I'm amazed at the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables that are available throughout the year at VenturaCountyWest. Colorado has a three-month vegetable season," Newman says. "Here we have berries, tomatoes, citrus fruits and all kinds of greens. As the seasons change, I'm excited to incorporate fresh local ingredients into the menu."
Holding an asset
Another highly valued need for meeting planners for trend forecasting is the ability to organize active, adventure and well-being team building activities.
"Because our all-suite hotel is adjacent to River Ridge Golf Club, we attract a lot of regional sales and management teams. Golf is often a 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 it involves kicking soccer balls in a hole on a specially designed golf course. River Ridge was the first to create a FootGolf course in California It is much cheaper than golf and it takes less time for players to practice more than golf and you do not need experience to play. "
Other popular team building activities include beach volleyball, beach biking, hiking, kayaking, kayaking, surfing, whale watching, kart racing and tours to the Channel Islands. "There are also spa and tennis activities, as well as one of the hottest trends, GPS-powered scooter hunting," says Rebecca Evans, executive director of the Ventura County Lodging Association, which markets VenturaCountyWest. "Each city has its own unique and pleasing features. You can host a year's event in Kamarillo and get a completely different experience in Ventura or Oxnard next year. The same is the friendly and accommodating staff at all of our hotels that make it their goal to provide the best possible service."