Monday, September 27, 2010

Sofitel is a luxury hotel with some surprising spaces

Amazing glass chandelier in the lobby of the Sofitel
The Sofitel brand is elegant and upscale. The Redwood Shores Sofitel property has layers of event spaces, all very luxurious. There were several spots that evoked warm feelings worth a special mention!

The Dock is a deck located outside, next to the lagoon, and it is a very pretty place to have a 50 person wedding ceremony. It was sunny when I saw the location, and it was so picturesque.

The Red Room in Bay 223 Restaurant is a unique place for private dining. It will only accommodate up to 12 people, and it is very chic. Sofitel has some great executive suites for recruiting sessions or closed-door conversations for a small group (under 5 people). The rooms are comfortable and sophisticated.

The Fountain area is a giant circular driveway with a beautiful, huge fountain in the middle, and events can be held here with or without a tent erected. This area is tucked away from the main entrance of the hotel, outside the conference spaces and ballroom. This outdoor space is sheltered from the wind and can accommodate up to 200 seated guests. An evening event surrounding The Fountain would be stunning!

Their peak season for events is July through October, and although this property caters to business travelers and their events, it has a great deal to offer social event organizers too.

Visit EventCounselor for more places to host your next business or social event in Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto and Redwood City.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Gardens, Artists and Weddings in Menlo Park

Photo by FC Photography
Photo provided by Allied Arts Guild
Gardens, gardens, beautiful historic buildings, and more gorgeous gardens! Allied Arts Guild is so beautiful that as soon as you walk onto the grounds, it screams "get married here!" The Allied Arts Guild's 3.5 acre property was purchased in 1929, to create a place where working artists could commune with natural, beautiful and peaceful surroundings. This was the brainchild of Delight and Garfield Merner (I love her first name) and the profits from the Allied Arts Guild's gift shop and other operations (events!) benefit the Lucille Packard Children's Hospital. Win-win.

The current artists working out of the Allied Arts Guild are diverse and the property has a shockingly perfect business meeting space too. The private conference room is a very spiffy, recently redecorated space that can host up to 24 seated conference-style with additional room for 20 seated participants (not folding chairs, but nice, cushy chairs lining the walls, not at the table). Cafe Primavera is the onsite restaurant and caterer for business functions.

You can try to book Allied Arts Guild gardens for photos. Yes, you will have to book a reservation to take wedding photos on the property and pay a fee, and believe me, once you see these grounds you will want to have your pictures taken there. I say try because they only allow one bride on the property at a time so if there is a wedding booked on the day you want to shoot pictures, you are out of luck. Best option if you are dying to have your wedding pictures taken on the Allied Arts Guild grounds is to have your reception there because they are booked for weddings solid through prime wedding season (April through October).

Photo provided by Allied Arts Guild
This location is unique because of the super beautiful event spaces (indoor and out), the business conference room and the property location on the Peninsula. I was inspired when I made my onsite visit by the fact that this place was purchased, developed and continues to support local artistry that is directly connected to everyday people in our community. This space is meant to stimulate art and and to provide serenity to think. If someone is able to tap into the spirit of this spot, you will undoubtedly plan an amazing event.

Visit EventCounselor to get more ideas on locations for events that will bring out the best in you in Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto and Redwood City.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Palo Alto's Old Faithful

Who hasn't taken a business associate to Il Fornio for a yummy and consistent meal? I keep going back because it is so dependable. The restaurant applies that reliability to their group customers as well. Host a seated dinner on the patio for a party of 80 or a smaller affair in the two private rooms for parties of 40 or 16. Whatever your size, you can't go wrong.

This location is a no-brainer if you are planning a small business luncheon or hosting a business meeting/luncheon combination. The larger space is very flexible and could easily host a great rehearsal dinner, cocktail reception or anniversary party. They also offer full-service catering and a monthly "passport" program where you can culinarily visit different regions in Italy through different tasting menus with other bonuses like a take-away gift and a chance to win a trip to Italy.

There is a lot to love about this restaurant for groups, not least of which is that there are several members of the executive team (Events Coordinator included) that have been with this location for over 20 years! This team has been hosting events in Palo Alto for a long time. That kind of longevity speaks for itself.

Visit EventCounselor to find more restaurants that would be a perfect fit to host your next business event in Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto and Redwood City.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Eating in a barn? Hardly!

The Patio at the California Cafe
I made plans to meet three girlfriends for lunch at the California Cafe in the Stanford Barn. Hearing the word "barn" set off all sorts of concerns about the meal and themes, but upon first service at the restaurant, my fears were put to rest.

The food was sophisticated and was presented beautifully on the plate. I was very impressed by the service, and the food we ordered was very good. The food was on the more expensive scale, but the restaurant delivered in all areas. I wasn't at all scoping the restaurant for event spaces, so my revisit to the space was from a new perspective   and I liked what I saw!

California Cafe has two semi-private rooms and two private rooms that would work for many different types of events. My favorite spaces at this location were the outside areas. The restaurant has a covered patio and a courtyard right off of the main dining room. The walls that surround the outdoor spaces are brick with green ivy growing up. I found it to be a naturally beautiful backdrop for an event.

The Courtyard sits to the right of the Patio
You could host a delicious sit down dinner with cocktail reception in the courtyard or a wedding reception with indoor and outdoor portions. I was surprised because this restaurant turned out to be a beautiful events location with a very flexible layout. Everyone I dealt with from the hostess to the events coordinator were all really nice and extremely professional, which does make a difference when wanting to impress your guests.

Business meetings would also be well-served in this spot. They have a ton of fun promotions (all of which I wish I could attend!), and they have a sick Happy Hour deal on Fridays, so you must pop over and check it out. If you haven't been by in a while, peek around at their event spaces and let your imagination take off!

Visit EventCounselor for more ideas on fresh locations to have your next event in Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto and Redwood City.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Need to plan a group dinner in Redwood City that is cozy, casual and Mediterranean?

The Fireplace Room is so cozy!
I ate at Mandaloun in Redwood City for a Mom's Night Out with some parents from my kid's class. The food was solid Mediterranean fare, but our placement in the restaurant was not that ideal. When I went back for a closer look, I saw some neat spaces that I missed on my first visit that would be much better for group events.

As you walk through the front door there are dining spaces to your right and to your left. These are also Mandaloun's semi-private rooms. One room has a fireplace, and one has a fountain mounted to the wall. They have glass pocket doors to serve as the wall that separates these spaces from the main dining space, and a heavy velvet, blackout curtain acts as the fourth wall to block off access from the main walkway that leads past this space and into the restaurant. These rooms are small and seat no more than 24, but are very cozy. I am ready to take my mom friends back to this joint for a second visit, and we are definitely reserving the fireplace room on a cool night (raging fire included)!

They also have a back patio that has heaters and space for up to 50 people seated. I envisioned a really fun company cocktail party with a Mediterranean buffet for dinner. This spot is a casual and inviting space for some serious after-work socializing.

They don't appear to have an onsite events coordinator, so I am unsure of how much group business they currently execute, but if you are willing to drive more of the planning and organizing, this could be a terrific spot for a company incentive event or a group dinner.

Visit EventCounselor for more ideas on places to have a Mediterranean meal with a group in Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto or Redwood City.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Location, Location, Location

The Courtyard
Photo by Matthew Millman Photography
The Garden Court Hotel has one of the best locations in the heart of downtown Palo Alto. The hotel itself has far more event space (7,000 sq ft) than hotel rooms (only 62!), so they are very focused on events, especially business events. Hosting so many business meetings means that their peak time is during the week, so plan ahead and book this spot early!

Why so popular? If you want to host a meeting in downtown Palo Alto, this property is surrounded by great restaurants and shopping. Each hotel room has a private balcony; and most face the inner court, which is beautiful both during the day and at night. The styling of this property transports you into a more relaxed environment, when really you are in the center of it all. To make the guest experience even more comfortable, the rooms were all redecorated within the last year.

The refurbishment wasn't just for the guest rooms. The Courtyard Ballroom was completely redone as well. They have two additional indoor spaces for events, and let's not forget the wonderful courtyard and balcony spaces for outdoor events. The combination of a business meeting in one of the inside meeting rooms and a cocktail reception in the courtyard or lunch on the balcony would be a very impressive event.

The Garden Court has a long-standing relationship with Il Fornio to provide all the onsite catering, and all the food is prepared in the Garden Court Hotel's kitchen by Il Fornio chefs. This property is unique in its location, styling and design aesthetics, and you should take a closer look at it for your next event.

Visit EventCounselor for more information on the best centrally-located places to hold a meeting or event in Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto and Redwood City.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Party with Rodin!

The Cantor Arts Center is a very special event space. It is only available to individual or corporate sponsors for rental ($10,000 and $15,000 respectively), but if you have the extra cash around, it is so exquisite  this museum has the largest collection of Rodin bronzes outside of Paris. Hello!!

This venue is about art in its highest form. It is a venue for attendees who will appreciate the space and the art. An event held here would be absolutely sophisticated and elegant.

Interested? First, go to the Cantor Arts Center and take a free to the public docent-led tour (check the schedule here), and if you want to schedule a group guided tour, click here for more information. While on your tour, imagine seminars in theater style seating in the auditorium. As you walk past the large windows looking out onto the green space, imagine a tent with white lights and passed hors d'oeuvres. Imagine a company holiday party amongst the rotating collections at the museum. Whatever you host here would be an affair to remember.

If you are looking for a place to have a wedding ceremony, look elsewhere because they do not host any religious or political events. A very special anniversary dinner or a corporate dinner would be amazing.

Need more ideas for sophisticated and art-centered events? Visit EventCounselor and find your special event location in Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto and Redwood City.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

An upscale Northern California ranch in our own backyard

Having worked at a Rosewood property in the past, I knew some things about the Rosewood Sand Hill before I even arrived. The hotel would be luxurious, the food and beverage top shelf, the grounds would be impeccable, and the services would be spot on, and they were.

I wasn't expecting a sixteen acre property or only 121 rooms. The "theme" of this property is a Northern California ranch and while there is nothing thematic about this hotel, the Northern California ranch feel is woven into the decor and nomenclature ever so slightly. With that much acreage and so few rooms, you won't be surprised to find that this hotel has the largest hotel rooms with the largest bathrooms on the Peninsula.

The pool is gorgeous and
a poolside event would be spectacular!
Madera is the fine dining restaurant on property, but does not seat parties larger than 12 people. You can have larger parties (depending on your numbers) in any of their boardrooms, conference rooms, ballrooms, or a myriad of outdoor spaces, including poolside which is really breathtaking!

The average price per person for a dinner event is around $100 so an event held here will be upscale, elegant and on the more expensive end of the spectrum. They are experts at providing high-end service and if you plan an event here, you won't be disappointed with the level of service your group receives.

Located right across the road from most of the VC offices on Sand Hill, they are finely tuned into that market and have many supportive services like an onsite A/V company to serve their business clients. While most of us won't have an opportunity to stay at this hotel, the Rosewood Spa, Sense, is world-class and can be enjoyed by locals. To make things even easier, you can even book online.

Visit EventCounselor to get more ideas on where you can find an elegant location to have your next business meeting or poolside cocktail party in Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto and Redwood City.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Me, The Living Room and Project Runway!!

This is not my Living Room!
Luckily, I was paying attention the other day while visiting some possible event locations in Redwood City  otherwise I would have missed a little wine bar that changed its name to The Living Room. I don't even want to call it a bar or a lounge because it is so much more!

Picture this vignette — a soft, plushy living room sofa and chairs set, an electric fireplace and an ornate mantle, a flat screen television on the wall, a coffee table, an area rug, a glass of wine, some snacks, your four besties and the remote. No this isn't my house on a Thursday night, but you will find five of these separate, cozy arrangements at The Living Room in Redwood City. You will also find a bar pioneering wine kegs and working toward having the lowest carbon footprint of any bar on the Peninsula by not using any bottles or cans (not currently including champagne). The only wines served are those made within a 50 mile radius of Redwood City for all you locavores!

The special, neighborhood bar has a Nintendo Wii console and board games should your television viewing become boring. You can reserve the living rooms in advance and order food into the bar from any restaurant that delivers. They have even struck a deal with the cafe next door to deliver food to their patrons on real plates and with real silverware. Not too shabby.

Another scene at the Living Room
This amazing concept was developed by 2nd and 4th generation Redwood City folk. They seem like the people you went to high school with, and speaking of which, they are all graduates of Sequoia High so you can imagine the locals are loving this spot. You must check it out, and if you go on Thursday nights, we can sip local wines and judge the designers together!

Visit EventCounselor to find the best local wine bars and hang-out joints in Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto and Redwood City.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Three Seasons in downtown Palo Alto is off the beaten path

Three Seasons is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Palo Alto, even though it is located right in the middle of it all. I didn't see the restaurant at first, but I was pleased when I did find it. I loved the decor and the place smelled yummy.

The food did not disappoint! The scallops were cooked perfectly, and the green beans were delicious. They serve small plates as a part of their menu so you can try a bunch of different specialties  it is like Vietnamese tapas.

You will love dining on the outdoor patio
The restaurant has a giant bar, which is the centerpiece of the space. There is balcony seating along three sides of the restaurant, and they have wi-fi (a customer working in the bar area was looking very comfy!) and a super cute outdoor seating area. Three Seasons can do all sorts of configurations of the restaurant for events (group reservations v. section rentals v. full or partial restaurant buyouts) and customized menus. There is a new manager, and he is devising some new ideas for leveraging this space even further.

There isn't an enclosed meeting space, so it is difficult to imagine how effective a business meeting would be here. Focus more on hosting a group dinner, cocktail reception or buffet-style dinner in the upstairs balcony or outdoor patio. This event space would be a blast in which to host your holiday office party. They have a built-in DJ sound system in the balcony.

Visit EventCounselor for ideas on the best spaces for your next holiday party in Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto and Redwood City.