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Catering—San Diego’s desert offers unique catering options

When San Diego businesses consider catering options for meetings or special events, location should be foremost in the planner’s mind.

The surroundings can make all the difference for an event to be effective, whether it be for a group of VIPs, incentive winners, or an annual retreat.

The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which accounts for an estimated 30 percent of the county, provides breathtaking backdrops in an isolated setting described by The New York Times as offering “the rewards and complexity of a Zen Garden.”

The National Geographic Society places the park among its 50 favorite state parks, as reported in its Guide to the State Parks of the United States. There are more than 5,000 state parks in the United States, and this selection puts Anza-Borrego in the top 1 percent.

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Imagine you and your colleagues in the midst of 1 million undeveloped desert acres at sunset, sitting at a table with a white linen tablecloth, candles and a fine china dinner setup for filet mignon, surrounded by dramatic sweeping vistas, rugged mountains, colorful wildflowers and wildlife.

A more casual approach also can be arranged, like a desert barbecue with a country-western band, or a simple dessert buffet at the base of the 8,700-foot Santa Rosa Mountains.

– Pristine Locale Ideal

For Group Activities

The Anza-Borrego Desert is a pristine setting, ideal for incorporating catered events with group activities, such as paleontology, archeology, spectacular stargazing, four-wheel drive guided desert tours, dune buggy rides, interpretive nature hikes, nature talks, campfire programs and cycling. Wondrous historic and geological features including the 6 million-year-old formations of the Borrego Badlands, abandoned gold mines, extensive hiking trails and 600 species of native plants.

One popular desert destination is Hawk Canyon, an isolated area 10 miles outside of Borrego Springs. Surrounded by monstrous walls of seemingly endless cliffs, one San Diego business recently was treated to a barbecue dinner of New York steaks, Southwestern chicken, corn on the cob, zucchini, and herb crushed potatoes, all grilled and churned off the blazing cast-iron rods in home-on-the-range fashion.

As night replaced day and meeting-goers began to gaze at thousands of stars with toothpicks and full bellies, they were served Bananas Foster Flamb & #233;, a tableside sweet-tooth specialty prepared with flaming brandy, sliced bananas, and yes , vanilla ice cream. It was dessert in the desert.

A San Diego-based financial planning firm recently held a sales incentive getaway in Borrego Springs, which included a buffet-style Italian dinner overlooking a pool.

Since it turned out to be a cool night, heat lamps were provided to keep the guests comfortable on this January evening. To encourage a wide range of conversation among employees, the company requested one dining table, instead of two or three.

– Desert Spot Accessible

By Highways And Planes

Borrego Springs is accessible via Interstate 8 and highways 79 and 78. And private pilots can easily get to Borrego Springs by plane, thanks to Borrego Springs Airport, which features a lighted 5,000-foot runway and offers fueling and space for overnight or longer stays.

Location is a key consideration when looking at catering options, and San Diego’s desert is truly a unique setting, unlike any other in the metropolitan area. Known by the approximately 3,000 locals as “Palm Springs 200,000 people ago,” Borrego Springs remains unclogged from urban sprawl.

Choosing this part of the county could be an effective choice for a meeting or event.

For more information on the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, go to its Web site at (www.statepark.org). The Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce Web site can be found at (www.borregosprings.com).

Fogarty is director of catering and conference services at La Casa del Zorro Desert Resort.

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