In 1990, the Oregon Convention Center in Portland debuted with much fanfare and the promise of an imminent, new convention hotel to occupy the adjacent empty lot. Now, 30 years later, that dream has been realized in the form of the Hyatt Regency Portland at the Oregon Convention Center.
Prominently situated in the in center of the quickly developing Lloyd neighborhood, which is also home to the Moda Center and the Portland Trailblazers, the new full-service Hyatt Regency has given both the convention center and nearby local businesses a powerful boost. With 39,000 square feet of meeting space and 20 event venues, the new hotel was designed to complement the neighborhood and embrace the hip Portland vibe.
“With the Hyatt Regency Portland at the Oregon Convention Center opening and the recent expansive convention center renovations, we believe that Portland will grow to be a top destination for meeting-goers in 2020, says General Manager Shane Nicolopoulos.
Developed by Mortenson, the new 600-room hotel design evokes the natural aesthetic of Oregon with a strong commitment to partnerships with local purveyors. The Market, a coffee shop/grab-and-go, is attached to the lobby and offers a seamless exit to a large outdoor plaza. Guests can purchase Oregon gifts, wine, coffee and specialty food items at the Market while enjoying a coffee, something Portlanders take seriously.
“The Market blends the personality of Hyatt with the personality of Portland,” says Justin Evans, area director of sales and marketing for Hyatt Hotels. “The majority of our products come from local companies, including the Portland Coffee Roasting Company.” An etched mural spans one of the Market walls, depicting the company’s unique coffee production process and adding artistic flair to the store.
And the flair doesn’t stop there. At the new Hyatt Regency, local art is abundant as evidenced by large boulders on display near the lobby elevator bank.
Touches of Portland are apparent throughout the hotel, but particularly in the lobby, where custom chandeliers, made from used bike chains, pay homage to the city’s flourishing bicycle culture. Small model bikes dot the tables in the lobby, and the sofas and chairs are covered in various patterns of Pendleton, which was founded in Oregon.
“The Pendleton wool adds splashes of color in the public spaces to contrast with the muted natural colors that emulate the natural Oregon landscape,” says Evans.
In the center of the lobby, the hotel bar offers spirits by local distillery Wild Roots and tap beers by Portland brewery Wayfinder, including a custom brew developed in partnership with the hotel. The lobby restaurant, Unity-Q, offers international takes on barbecue as well as locally sourced salmon.
“The restaurant offers an elegant take on Latin American and Asian barbecue flavors,” says Brad Gillespie, director of culinary operations. “Our open-concept kitchen also contains a large smoker for pork, chicken and beef.”
The hotel meeting space is located on levels 1-3, and each level is named after one of the rivers in Oregon (Deschutes, Willamette and Columbia).
The majority of the meeting spaces have windows, and in the spirit of sustainability, the meeting tables are topped with wood laminate, which eliminates the need for linens. The Regency Ballroom is the hotel’s largest venue with 11,822 square feet to host groups up to 1,200.
The third floor contains meeting space as well as a huge fitness center and the Regency Club lounge, which caters to Elite Status Hyatt members and special guests. It offers coffee and continental breakfast in the morning with gourmet snacks and drinks throughout the day.
“While some hotels are repurposing their concierge-level spaces, we are making a commitment to providing our most loyal customers with special amenities and a place to work, meet and just relax,” says Evans.
In early 2020, a $40 million renovation of Oregon Convention Center was completed. With new paint, carpet and a recently constructed walkway to connect the two sides of the convention center, the OCC remains the largest convention center in the Pacific Northwest with two ballrooms close to 60,000 square feet, 52 meeting rooms and two outdoor plazas. One of the two OCC ballrooms, the Portland Ballroom, is the largest in the state. The center’s 255,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space features retractable risers that can seat 2,200.
“The opening of the Hyatt Regency is a huge benefit, and having meeting rooms and a large convention hotel steps away makes for a beautiful sales package,” says Lisa Chan, sales manager for the OCC.
As part of the renovation, the new lobby ceiling features an upside-down topographic map of the Cascade Range. The wallpaper is designed to look like a natural forest, and the carpet’s colors and textures were custom designed to mimic lichen, a slow-growing plant that thrives in the wet climates.
“You’ll notice that depending where you are in the center, the carpet contains more color, particularly in the gathering spaces where you’ll see splashes of yellow and bright green which emulates what lichen looks like at its peak,” Chan says. With more than $2 million in public art on display in the center, including a 40-foot Chinese dragon boat, custom built in Taiwan, the center’s public spaces evoke an art gallery ambiance.
Known as one of the most sustainable convention the in the country, OCC maintains a rain garden which takes runoff from the roof and filters it through stone and sand before flowing into the Willamette River, which runs directly behind the convention center. The center also features one of the highest-producing solar power setups ever installed on a U.S. convention center with 6,500+ solar panels producing more than 25 percent of the facility’s electricity.
The OCC also imposes strict limitations on what types of materials companies can bring in. For example, foam core is prohibited. Chan says the center’s commitment to sustainability is a positive selling point. “Organizations worldwide are increasing their conservation efforts and becoming more socially responsible we are seeing more interest in sustainable practices,” Chan says.