The West wasn’t won by those of a conservative nature. When considering the location for your next conference or convention, you can (excuse the pun) be conventional, or channel our adventurous ancestors by choosing a destination like Elko, Nevada.
True to the spirit of their hero, that’s what the Will James Society did. They brought their annual convention to Elko for the first time on Sep. 30- Oct. 3.
“In the 18 year history of the society, they’ve never used to the same location for their convention,” said Tom Lester, tourism and convention manager for the Elko Convention & Visitors Authority.
But Elko was such a hit with attendees, “They’ve decided to return next year. We get that a lot here.”
Boasting 100,000 square feet of meeting and event space and more than 2,000 hotel rooms, Elko is home to five casinos, two golf courses, a 3D theater, two sushi bars, a martini bar and more than 10 caterers.
And it’s growing: the Gold Dust West Casino is adding 200 rooms; the California Trail Interpretative Center will celebrate its grand opening in the summer of 2012 (although closed to the public, the center is open during construction and has a meeting room available to groups); and a new 85-room, $6 million-dollar TownePlace Suites Marriott is scheduled to open next summer.
>>All That Glitters
These are all solid basics for planning a meeting or event, but not what give Elko its unique character. The area has a long history of gold and silver mining and that tradition continues today.
Elko is the nation’s largest gold producer (fourth in the world), and April through October groups can tour the Newmont Gold Company.
The other gold comes on four feet: Elko is third in the nation for ranching operations. The 71 Ranch, which is both a working guest ranch and hosts corporate retreats and business meetings (watch for a feature on Nevada’s guest ranches in an upcoming issue of Nevada Meetings + Events), is an astonishing 2.5 million acres.
The area has a rich Basque heritage; according to cowboyshowcase.com, Elko County once had the largest concentration of Basque sheepherders in the U.S. In addition to Basque cuisine (try the 100-year-old Star Hotel and Restaurant), “For groups we’ll bring in Basque dancers,” notes Lester.
Elko has plenty of outdoor recreation options as well, thanks to two recreation areas, a national wildlife refuge, two scenic byways and mountains nicknamed the “Alps of Nevada.”
“Groups can enjoy hiking, biking, air ballooning and in the winter, heliskiing,” says Lester. Now that’s adventure.
>>Meet Me in Elko: Quick Facts
Elevation: 5,000 feet; arid desert conditions with average lows in the upper 30s in winter, upper 80s in the summer.