As the lone representative from the good ol’ US of A, I ventured to the great city of Vancouver B.C. to visit the site of the upcoming Region 8 conference at the Marriott Pinnacle in downtown Vancouver. I met with several members from our Canadian neighbor universities, and members of the Vancouver planning committee including Nadia Williams from Simon Fraser University. This trip ended with a very productive teleconference meeting to discuss details of the conference, which to remind you is March 20-22nd 2014! We will get to the details of the teleconference later.
I started my journey north from the Willamette Valley in the great state of Oregon and drove a total of 6 hours from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, arriving in Vancouver at about 4PM. The drive is wonderful, and crossing the border took very little time (about 30 minutes). I would like to remind everyone from the States that you MUST have a valid US passport and you need to be prepared for the 20(ish) questions that you will get from the border crossing guards, I received quite a grilling when coming over. You can get more information about passport travel here.
Once I arrived at the Downtown Marriott, (after a lengthy detour of downtown Vancouver and adjacent areas following a wrong turn) I was able to check in and enjoy the views from my huge room. The staff at the Marriott was very accommodating, in explaining how parking works around town, and at the Marriott (about $34 US, remember there is an exchange rate, although it is VERY close), and also about food and local events to check out during our visit.
The hotel itself is gorgeous! Not including the meeting areas (which I will talk about later) there is a wonderful fitness area and pool (which my wife particularly enjoyed), a sauna (YES! A SAUNA), a very large bar/restaurant, onsite parking, and spacious rooms. Once I was finished basking in the view provided from my room, I met up with the other members of the planning committee who were able to make the site-visit.
We decided to walk a couple of blocks (passing several restaurants and shopping options) to our dining destination, Milestones Restaurant. The walk was wonderful in the 70+ degree weather, but I hear in March it will be slightly wetter. This restaurant was very nice, sat us quickly, wide variety of menu options, and the food was superb. Though this is only one of the dozens of restaurants within walking distance from the hotel.
We then ventured out around downtown Vancouver, looking at the Olympic cauldron, several pieces of local street art, a giant globe (which Leigh McGregor knew she could carry on her shoulders), and talked about the scandalous exploits of celebrities in the area. At that point we ended out evening to pick up the work the next morning.
We woke up bright and early for a 9:30 (ok, not so early) teleconference between the 7 members of the committee in Vancouver, and several others from across the region (including our fearless leader Sally Garner, and unflappable budget coordinator Mary Chuinard). We talked about a variety of topics during our (EXACTLY) 1 hour teleconference. The topics ranged from the conference logo, to the hotel accommodations and price, transportation options and costs in Vancouver, communication outreach, everyone’s favorite topic SWAG, keynote speakers and the dreaded budget. We had great participation from our veteran region members and the newbie’s to the conference scene. Lots of input from all the sub-committees lead to a very productive conversation!
After we finished our call, the 7 members at the Marriott toured the meeting areas, and oh what areas they were. Huge spaces for breakout sessions, a giant ballroom for the luncheon and keynote, and a beautiful 360 view of Vancouver for our welcome reception.
Overall the trip was short, but amazing! The drive back took a little longer, about 9 hours because of traffic and wait time at the border. It took about 70 minutes to get back across the border, the whole time looking at signs talking about expensive medical costs (see photo) and info about duty free shopping. Once across the border, we hit the trifecta of traffic, Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia!
We can’t wait until March! The conference planning committee is extremely excited, and working very hard to make this conference great for everyone! Check out some more photos on our Facebook page. If you remember 3 things from this post it would be: Vancouver is beautiful, Get a passport, and Canadians say ‘eh’ a lot, and our conference will ROCK! More information about hotel/conference rates will be coming soon, as well as a call for proposals!
– Alex Kunkle, Communication Coordinator