Facilities & Destinations - Fall 2014

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BEDROCK COMMUNICATIONS, INC. 152 Madison Ave., Ste. 802, New York, NY 10016

Small-Market Review 28


Facilities & Destinations


For Association & Corporate Meeting Planners & Tradeshow Professionals

Meetings That Uphold Community & Environment

Driving company-wide baseline practices at Gap Inc. 26

Cruise Meetings The Latest Offerings 38

A New Service Paradigm for Conference Centers 22

Florida • Fort Lauderdale • Jacksonville • Orlando 44

Seattle 56

Julie Lindsey Director, Gap Inc. Global Events

A 600,000 sq. ft. convention center with a 152,700 sq. ft. exhibition hall, a 39,500 sq. ft. ballroom, and 15 meeting rooms that can blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, on a tropical island. In the Caribbean.

Our Convention Center has everything you could possibly want or need to ensure a successful event. Surrounded by lush rainforest and endless turquoise water, you’ll never look at meetings the same way again. Contact us at 1.800.875.4765 MeetPuertoRico.com

Facilities Destinations & FALL 2014



For Association & Corporate Meeting Planners & Tradeshow Professionals

Columns Looking Ahead...................................................................................2 Viewpoint............................................................................................4 Planner Perspectives Cruise Into Your Next Meeting or Incentive Program, by Karen Devine and Terri Schroeder..................................................................................20


Supplier Perspectives

Anticipatory Service, by Chris Kelly...............................................................22

Sourcing Strategies

Fair Play in a Seller’s Market, by Donna Wikstrand.............................................24

PRISM Hotel Awards Ballot...........................................................15 ELITE Awards Ballot.......................................................................35 Prime Site and Top Destination Awards Ballot..........................43 UpFront Destination Watch, Hotel Watch, Venue Watch......................... 6-19


State of the Industry Sustainability and Social Responsibility In Conversation With Julie Lindsey.............................................................26 F&D Small-Market Review...............................................................28 Akron................................................................................................30 Wilmington.......................................................................................32 Pasadena..........................................................................................34 Hot List Renovating Incentive Resorts..........................................................36 Cruise Meetings A Sea of Possibilities for Groups.....................................................38 Destination Spotlights Florida Orlando..........................................................................................44 Jacksonville and St. Augustine....................................................47 Fort Lauderdale.............................................................................51 Streamsong Resort.......................................................................53 Seattle...............................................................................................56



F&D: Sites & Cities Directory ...........................................................................................64 Ad Index............................................................................................68 56


Facilities & Destinations Fall 2014


Getting behind meetings on a global scale

For Association & Corporate Meeting Planners & Tradeshow Professionals



s we went to press, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) commenced its 53rd Congress, this year in the ancient Turkish coastal city of Antalya, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The association represents planners and suppliers for international meetings and events, with nearly 1,000 member companies and organizations in more than 90 countries worldwide. The Congress, which brings together the heads of major metropolitan convention centers from around the world, was celebrating one of its best-attended gatherings to date. ICCA’s Chief Executive Officer Martin Sirk was interviewed earlier this year on Event Alley (a talk show for the events industry), and made a number of poignant points regarding the role of the meetings industry on the global stage. Sirk noted that in the past, many governments would put tourism “to the back of the queue,” and it was not deemed important in the grand scheme of fiscal budgeting, when compared to social welfare projects. The view has changed, in part due to the new Global Report on the Meetings Industry by the UNWTO (World Tourism Organization), as well as several international studies demonstrating that business tourists and convention delegates can represent two to seven times more spend per capita than leisure tourists, as Sirk pointed out. Destinations are persuasively making the case to move tourism to the forefront, with decision makers “starting to integrate destination marketing with economic development,” he stated. This theme was echoed in Turkey, on digital signage that read “Destination marketing isn’t just about tourism, but also economic development.” At AIBTM earlier this year, industry leader Deborah Sexton, Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) President and CEO, expressed her desire to see the Meetings Mean Business (MMB) coalition go global, saying a failure to do so would be a “tremendous injustice.” David Dubois, President and CEO of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), conveyed a similar sentiment, hoping to get the message out overseas “within 18 months to two years.” It would seem that the MMB coalition has an ally in the ICCA. Whether one cites the U.S. Travel Association’s raising the MMB banner, or the ICCA’s assertion that economic development is a corollary of destination marketing, it appears that global forces in the meetings and events industry are banding together under a similar battle cry. It is our hope that these alliances continue to fortify the industry, including its venues and destinations, and in turn stimulate the growth of local economies. – David Korn Chief Operating Officer, Facilities Media Group dkorn@facilitiesonline.com 2

Volume 22 No. 3

Chief Operating Officer David Korn Associate Publisher Michael Caffin Editorial Director George Seli Contributing Editors Anthony Bilden Debi Lander Rosa Laufer Creative Direction & Design Scott-Goodman Associates Circulation Manager Winny Cheung Business Operations Nadia Derelieva © Copyright 2014 by Bedrock Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. Opinions expressed in by-lined articles and advertising copy are not necessarily those of the publisher. Advertisers are responsible for all costs, damages and claims regarding advertising insertions. Facilities & Destinations is published four times a year by Bedrock Communications, Inc., 152 Madison Avenue, Suite 802, New York, NY 10016. Telephone: (212) 532-4150. Fax: (212) 213-6382. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Bedrock Communications, Inc., 152 Madison Avenue, Suite 802, New York, NY 10016. Printed in U.S.A.

ON THE COVER Socially responsible and eco-conscious meetings are no longer a trend, but rather de rigueur at many companies, particularly Fortune 500 corporations such as Gap Inc. Ensuring that level of adoption often requires a “champion” of the values behind CSR. Julie Lindsey, Director, Gap Inc. Global Events, is a case in point.

Facilities & Destinations 2014 FALL

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©2014 PasadenaCVB


Roosevelt Row Arts District

Meeting milestones in “Small market USA”


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hicago hosted the U.S. Travel Association’s IPW 2014 this April, drawing more than 6,000 buyers, suppliers and media to the Windy City. Among them was Visit Orlando President and CEO George Aguel, who announced on the closing day that Orlando had welcomed 59 million visitors in calendar year 2013, setting an all-time record for U.S. destinations. The recordbreaking figure represents a 3 percent increase over the previous milestone set in 2012. “We are so pleased to announce this incredibly exciting news on the closing day of IPW 2014, when travel industry professionals around the world shift their sights toward next year’s IPW event in Orlando,” said Aguel. Meetings, conventions and tradeshows certainly helped Orlando to reach that milestone, and a major reason that segment continues running on all four cylinders is that the city sparks continued interest among planners with new hotels, attractions and convention center upgrades, as our latest feature on Orlando reports (page 44). We would like to juxtapose that “exciting news” from Orlando with exciting developments at cities that can’t accommodate the nation’s largest conventions, but can provide exceptional service to those they do host. Our inaugural Small-Market Review (page 28) includes Akron, OH; Pasadena, CA; and Wilmington, NC. Each is seeing quantitative evidence of its drawing power for small and midsized groups. According to their respective CVBs, Akron is on track to exceed last year’s number of events, Pasadena is welcoming some of its largest-ever conventions, and many recent meetings in Wilmington have seen higher-thanaverage and even record attendance. Orlando’s visitation milestone is well deserved, but there are hospitality professionals in many corners of the country who are equally justified in being proud of their tourism product, even if it comes in a smaller package. Our Fall issue will showcase what the best of these “small markets” — at least relative to Orlando — offer meeting groups in particular. – George Seli Editorial Director, Facilities Media Group gseli@facilitiesonline.com Facilities & Destinations 2014 FALL

Whether you have 50 or 5,000 attendees, we can put together the perfect package for your meeting or convention.


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Destination Watch The new Renaissance Cincinnati Downtown Hotel opened this summer in the city’s historic Bartlett Building, following a $50 million renovation. The 323room hotel’s 14,380 sq. ft. of meeting space includes a ballroom designed by famed architect David Burnham in 1901. The 178-room Hyatt Place at Anaheim Resort/ Convention Center opened in September. Located within walking distance to the Convention Center and Disneyland Resort, the hotel offers 1,200 sq. ft. of function space. Inn Marin, a 70-room boutique hotel located in Novato, CA, has installed Comcast Business’ advanced, 400Mbps fiberoptic Ethernet solution, providing guests super-fast broadband. Offering 1,200 sq. ft. of meeting space, Inn Marin is dedicated to green meetings and is accessible to Napa and Sonoma wine country.


British Columbia The Vancouver Convention Centre is the world’s first LEED Platinum-certified convention center, and it continues to make strides in the area of sustainability. In October, the Centre earned Level 1 Certification in both the Venue and Food and Beverage Standards set by APEX (the Convention Industry Council’s Accepted Practices Exchange) and ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials). Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) President Connie Bergeron, CMP, commended the achievement: “We are proud to welcome the Vancouver Convention Centre to the exclusive, but growing, club of GMIC members to achieve compliance with the APEX/ASTM standard for venues and for food and beverage. This successful effort by the Vancouver Convention Centre demonstrates a sincere commitment to and passion for responsible business practices, and it provides event organizers with confidence they are working with a proven leader in sustainability.” For more Pacific Northwest meeting news, see the Seattle feature on page 56. Facilities & destinations 2014 Fall


The Cox Convention Center is steps away from the vibrant Bricktown district, featuring a variety of canal-side restaurants, clubs, sports and music venues, plus nearby museums and attractions.





of meeting space.

1 Myriad Gardens

of exhibit hall space.

Oklahoma City, OK 73102

15K seat arena.

Phone (405) 602-8500


Destination Watch The Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour, Miami opened in October. The 124-room property overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and features a 10,000-sq.-ft. waterfront spa. Function space includes 2,400 sq. ft. of indoor space and 3,400 sq. ft. of outdoor terraces. The Miami City Commission has approved MDM Development’s plan for the 1,800room Marriott Marquis Miami World Center, a $600 million facility that would house 350,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. The 285-suite Seascape Resort in Aptos, CA completed a $1.5 million refurbishment in Octobber that includes upgrades to the resort lobby, front desk, 17,000 sq. ft. of conference space, and Sanderlings Restaurant and Lounge. Reportedly the world’s tallest Holiday Inn at 50 floors, the Holiday Inn Manhattan–Financial District has opened just blocks from the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in Lower Manhattan. The 492-room hotel offers fine dining in St. George’s Restaurant. 8


The Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) has reached several significant financial and other performance milestones since AEG Facilities took over the management of the City-owned facility in December 2013. The budget forecast received from the City department last November anticipated a deficit of $2 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014. AEG Management LACC, LLC re-forecasted a $1.6 million shortfall in February 2014, and reported a $290,000 operational surplus. “We are very pleased with what AEG accomplished this first year, not only significantly improving the operational efficiencies and the bottom line, but also improving The LACC's West Hall the customer service, security and overall maintenance of our convention center,” said Bud Ovrom, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Department of Convention & Tourism Development, in a statement. Under the leadership of new General Manager, Brad Gessner, and activation of AEG 1SOURCE, the LACC has solicited, negotiated and completed over 30 new contracts with service providers, contractors and suppliers to reduce costs. (See the interview with Gessner in the 2013-2014 F&D Planner Guide.) Waste Management was selected as the new provider for waste hauling, recycling, and trash compactors, which will save the facility $50,000 in operating expenses annually. Other major improvements include the following: Energy conservation programs resulted in the reduction in electrical usage by 2 percent year-over-year. Parking revenue increased by $1 million compared to the prior fiscal year. AEG Facilities developed a new marketing plan and initiatives to improve short-term bookings and assist the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board with citywide bookings. Levy Restaurants implemented the “Taste of LA” food & beverage program with a focus on procuring local vendors and products, while reducing the LACC’s carbon footprint.

• • • •

Facilities & destinations 2014 Fall

300,000 sq. ft. convention center 16,000 hotel rooms 125 downtown restaurants 10 minutes from international airport

With a variety of meeting rooms at the Wisconsin Center, affordable hotels, night life, natural beauty, & a casino — all in a convenient downtown area — you’ll find it easy here. visitmilwaukee.org | wcd.org




MEETINGS The summer season of conferences, conventions, business meetings, incentive travel, tradeshows and exhibitions is in full swing – and with it comes the positive impact to local businesses and economies. When meetings happen, economies grow, jobs are created and businesses achieve positive outcomes. Meetings and events help to build relationships, foster collaboration and facilitate deals and business success across industries.

Companies depend on face-to-face meetings to win new customers, close deals and develop high-performing talent.

Business travelers are twice as likely to convert prospects into customers with an in-person meeting than without one.

74% of frequent business travelers reported that in-person meetings with clients deliver a high impact on customer retention.

Business travel converts every

dollar spent into nearly $10 in new revenue for companies.


Government travel contributes nearly $33 billion to our economy and employs nearly

300,000 people.*

Nearly 445

million domestic business trips

were taken just last year.

In 2013, business travel added more than $265 billion to the U.S. economy – employing 2.3 million Americans - provided $42 billion in tax revenues, and generated $67 billion in total

payroll for the industry.**

Handshakes are good for business, our economy and communities.

Meetings Mean Business is a national communications and advocacy campaign to highlight the incredible value that business meetings, travel and events bring to the U.S. economy. Learn more and download our app at MeetingsMeanBusiness.com

10 Source: Oxford Economics and U.S. Travel Association *2012 Government Travel Economic Impact **2013 Business Travel Economic Impact

A Hyatt affiliate has sold the 216-room Park Hyatt Washington to a venture comprised of Westmont Hospitality Group and Thomas Tan, a member of the Bestford Hospitality Group, for approximately $100 million. A Hyatt affiliate will continue to manage the hotel under a new management agreement. The Washington, DC hotel features 12,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Destination Watch New Jersey Global Spectrum, facility managers of the Atlantic City Convention Center and Boardwalk Hall, have selected Smart City Networks to manage all technology and telecommunications services for both venues. The five-year contract took effect on September 1. “We are extremely honored to have been chosen by Global Spectrum to provide telecommunications services for these two iconic facilities,” said Mark Haley, President of Smart City Networks. “At Smart City, our primary goal is to ensure our venue partners are equipped and outfitted with the latest advancements in technology, and capable of hosting a wide variety of events attended by thousands of people.” Smart City, Global Spectrum and the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority will upgrade all technological infrastructure necessary for a full data and wireless network upgrade. Once these systems are completed, Smart City will provide network cabling, highspeed Internet access, turnkey data networking services, WiFi, and analog, digital and conference phone services for all events hosted by both facilities. Facilities & destinations 2014 Fall

"Green" comes in many different colors. Platinum, for one. The Oregon Convention Center shares its community's concern, respect and responsibility for the natural environment. We are proud to lead our industry in green building and results-driven sustainable practices. This is a commitment upheld by our administration, our partners, and our entire staff – a commitment that has been recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ® (LEED ) program at the Platinum Level. We offer an extensive waste recycling and recovery program that includes pre- and post-consumer organic waste, complete menus featuring locally- grown and organic food items and a host of facility features including storm water management and the most modern innovations. Our goal is to maintain OCC’s industry leadership as the preferred venue for green meetings. To learn more, consult with one of our experienced representatives to find ways to make your next event greener.

Oregon Convention Center A SERVICE OF METRO

777 NE MLK Jr Blvd

Portland OR 97232




UpFront Destination Watch The 255-room Westin Sarasota will open in the summer of 2016 as part of a brand-new development in the Floridian city’s vibrant arts district. Located 10 minutes from the SarasotaBradenton International Airport, the hotel will offer 15,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and views of Sarasota Bay. Starwood Hotels & Resorts plans to open The Westin Greenwood Village in Colorado by 2016. The 203-room hotel, offering 10,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, will be situated near the Denver Tech Center, a 900-acre development that is home to more than 1,000 companies. Offering views of the Rocky Mountains, the hotel will be adjacent to the Arapahoe Light Rail Station. In January, construction will begin on the Hard Rock Hotel Dallas–Fort Worth, the first Hard Rock hotel in Texas, with completion projected for January 2018. The 300-room hotel will be located in the new Grand Alps Village development in Grand Prairie, TX, future home to what is billed as the most advanced indoor snow facility in the world. The hotel will offer 50,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. 12

Synchronicities: A New Option for Coast-to-Coast Meetings The Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau, the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau and Visit Baltimore have formed a partnership to maximize ROI for meeting professionals who are taking an event to all three destinations. Recently named Synchronicities, it’s a “tale of three cities” many planners will want to hear. At this point, both the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) and the National Postal Forum are working with the partnership on future installments of their meetings. The IAEE will hold Expo! Expo!, its Annual Meeting & Exhibition, in Baltimore next year, Anaheim in 2016 and San Antonio in 2017. According to Casandra Matej, Executive Director of San Antonio CVB, “This alliance has allowed us to leverage the value of partnership and collaborate with industry colleagues to offer the IAEE Maureen Goodson membership a unique, Executive Director, valuable experience through National Postal Forum the tri-coastal rotation.” “One of the strengths of the Synchronicities partnership is the sharing of intellectual capital between the three cities,” says Tom Noonan, President and CEO of Visit Baltimore. “The communication between the cities will ensure consistent service delivery and simplify the meeting planning process.” The added value was evident to Maureen (Hite) Goodson, Executive Director of the Fairfax, VA-based National Postal Forum, who began working with the partnership about a year ago. “We were already scheduled to go into Anaheim in 2015, and we had 2017 and 2018 open,” Goodson recalls. “I was looking into Baltimore and San Antonio along with about eight other locations such as Minneapolis, Austin and Charlotte — cities that could provide us a good value. That’s when the sales individuals I was working with approached me and said, ‘We’re putting together a three-city alliance.’” Ultimately, Baltimore was selected for the 2017 convention and San Antonio for 2018. Continued on page 14 Facilities & destinations 2014 Fall

1996 Centennial Olympics Summer Games – International Poultry Expo – Super Bowl XXVIII – Super Bowl XXXIV – International Wood Working Fair – SEC Football Championship – 2002 NCAA Men’s Final Four – President George W. Bush – Med Trade – 2007 NCAA Men’s Final Four – 2013 NCAA Men’s Final Four – 2003 Women’s Final Four – Peach Bowl – Chick-fil-A Bowl – Material Handling Show MODEX – College Football Hall of Fame 2014 – SECO – Bronner Bros. International Hair Show – U2 360 Tour – Billy Graham Crusade Home of the Atlanta Falcons – Monster Jam – Tim McGraw - Bank of America Atlanta Football Classic – Corky Kell Classic - Georgia Hi High School Football State Championships – PITTCON - WrestleMania XXVII – Passion Conference – Kenny Chesney – the Rolling Stones – Usher – Microsoft – Auto Trader – Chick-fil-A Kickoff game – President Jimmy Carter – President Bill Clinton – ESPN Game Day – President George H.W. Bush – Hinman Dental - The Publix Georgia Marathon – Purina Incredible Dog Challenge – NACS Show SEC FanFest – 31 Gifts – HIMSS – FIRST Robotics – International Auto Show – MGX – Coverings – International Dairy Deli – Kitchen & Bath – Super Show – WrestleMania Axxess- MLB All-Star Fanfest 2000 – NBA All-Star Fanfest 2003 – American College of Cardiology – International Builders Show – COMDEX – National Business Aviation Assn.– American Academy of Ophthalmology – International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions – World of Concrete – National Association of Broadcasters – SHOT Show – American College of Surgeons– Digestive Disease Week– 1988 Democratic National Convention – PeopleSoft – Passion– SME Fabtech Southern Baptist Convention – The BOBBIN Show – Networld + Interop – E3 – Int’l Air Conditioning – Heating – Refrigeration Expo (aka ASHRAE) – True Value – Ace Hardware – Big South Volleyball – Paul McCartney – U2 Zoo TV tour – Cheersport– National Sports C ollectors Convention– Interbev – Interwire– TAPPI– American Society of Hematology– American Society of Anesthesiologists American Chemical Society – American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons – American Heart Association American Society of Clinical Oncology – American Academy of Pediatrics – SHRM

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UpFront Destination Watch This summer, the 347room Hilton Panama opened in Panama City, about 20 minutes from Tocumen International Airport. The hotel’s more than 23,000 sq. ft. of meeting space includes a ballroom with views of Panama Bay. The newly opened JW Marriott Santo Domingo is located in the upscale Piantini financial district of the Dominican Republic’s capital city. The 150-room resort houses 2,938 sq. ft. of meeting space and nine meeting rooms, including a 1,158-sq.-ft. ballroom. Le Méridien Suvarnabhumi, Bangkok Golf Resort & Spa opens in November. Features include an Infinity Pool and the 18-hole Summit Windmill Golf Course. The 223-room hotel’s largest meeting space is 4,521 sq. ft. Starwood Hotels & Resorts will launch the W brand in Marrakech in 2017 with the new W Marrakech in Morocco. The 148-room hotel will be located in the city’s dynamic Hivernage district, a 15-minute drive from Marrakech Menara Airport. Over 10,700 sq. ft. of meeting space will be onsite. 14

Synchronicities Continued from page 12 Clearly, all three cities need to work for a group in order for the alliance to be considered. The National Postal Forum draws about 4,000 mailing and shipping industry professionals, and in Anaheim, Baltimore and San Antonio, “we can feel like a big fish in a little pond,” says Goodson, “versus cities with really large convention centers where you may be sharing the space with other groups.” Anaheim, Baltimore and San Antonio have 12,909, 8,500 and 13,800 downtown hotel rooms, respectively, and convention centers with an average of 470,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space. In addition, attendees have a “downtown area with culture and things to do in the evenings in all three locations: San Antonio has the Riverwalk, Baltimore has the Inner Harbor, and Anaheim has GardenWalk, as well as Disneyland if you want to go in that direction,” Goodson adds. “To me, there were a lot of similarities between the cities in terms of what "I've seen city our attendees would look for.” alliances before, While attendees can expect a and the breakdown smooth transition between the seems to happen cities given those similarities, planners working with Synchronicities once you sign the can benefit from the flow of comcontract. I'm not munication between the CVBs seeing that here." regarding the meeting. “They all know what my meeting is about, and if they don’t know, their first phone call is going to be to their counterpart at the city I was just in,” Goodson explains. “So when they come to talk to me, they’re going to be fully informed and I’m not reinventing the wheel. They’ll know how many workshops I had, how large my general session was, and so on.” In terms of offsite events for attendees, CVB representatives will be able to make recommendations and structure site visits in the context of what they know the group did in a partner city, which saves time. Thus far, Goodson has seen ongoing information sharing between the Anaheim, Baltimore and San Antonio sales teams and convention services teams. “I’ve seen city alliances before, and the breakdown seems to happen once you sign the contract. What now? And I’m not seeing that here because they’re in constant dialogue between the different teams in the different cities, and that’s what I think makes this work much better.” As Synchronicities matures and draws new clients, other cities may well consider this kind of partnership, which “is a creative way to work with meeting professionals,” Goodson says. —GS

Facilities & destinations 2014 Fall

Facilities & Destinations


2014 Prime Site Meeting Hotel Awards Ballot VOTE for the top hotels, resorts and conference centers your group has used for its meetings in the last three years. Please base your vote(s) on the following criteria:

• Acoustics • Climate control • Proximity to airport and other transportation • Onsite or offsite lodging • Other support services • Front-desk operations • Setups and breakdowns • Attractiveness and functionality • Room décor • Technological capabilities • Quality of staff and conference planner • Quality/size of ballroom • Special packages • Teambuilding • Spa • Food & beverage/catering • Nearby attractions • Lighting Name of nominee_______________________________________________________________________ Name of nominee_______________________________________________________________________ Name of nominee_______________________________________________________________________ Check the award you want to nominate the above for: Meeting Hotel/Resort

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152 Madison Avenue, Suite 802, New York, NY 10016 Fax: (212) 213-6382 Email: ballots@facilitiesonline.com Facilities & destinations 2014 Fall



Hotel Watch

The new Wyndham Grand Jupiter at Harbourside Place Jacksonville is North Florida’s primary urban meeting destination (see feature on page 47), but groups looking for more natural environs can consider Honey Lake Plantation Resort & Spa, located in Greenville about an hour west of Jacksonville. Suitable for small groups looking to experience plantation life, the resort has recently launched Teamistry, which includes eight indoor and outdoor teambuilding programs on Honey Lake’s 4,800 acres: Hot Shots, a plantation version of sporting clays; Kill Zone, an archery version of Hot Shots; Phantom Clays at the Sport Shooting Multiplex; FishOn!, a bass fishing tournament; Chef’s Frenzy, a competitive cooking class; Alpha Dog, a variety of games at Howling Dog Saloon; Bucket Brigade, an outdoor relay; and Rocky’s Revenge, a GPSdriven scavenger hunt. 16

Wyndham Hotel Group’s latest projects can be found in the familiar East Coast meeting destinations of Florida and New York, but also in exotic locales such as Kenya. In Jupiter, FL, the 179room Wyndham Grand Jupiter at Harbourside Place opened in October with 15,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor function space, including the 5,000-sq.-ft. Preserve Ballroom. The country’s second deep blu seafood grille is another highlight. Down in Miami Beach, the historic Shelborne South Beach reopened as the Shelborne Wyndham Grand after a multimillion-dollar renovation. The 200-room hotel first opened in 1940 and is now home to Morimoto South Beach restaurant, as well as 15,000 sq. ft. of expanded function space. Following a $30 million renovation, the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel is transitioning into the second-phase of its restoration process, beginning in early January. The next phase consists of aligning the existing rooms with the Wyndham brands color palette as well as renovating the corridors with a full revamp incorporating new lighting, fresh paint and revived floorings. The 912-room Midtown Manhattan hotel houses 25,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. The brand’s first upscale hotel in Africa will be the Wyndham Amboseli Golf Resort and Spa, expected to open in 2017. Located near the Amboseli National Park in Kenya, the 290-room resort will offer a 300-attendee-capacity conference center and an 18-hole golf course with views of Mount Kilimanjaro. “As Kenya’s economy continues to grow, demand continues to increase for internationally renowned, world-class brands in virtually all segments, from budget through to upscale and extended stay,” noted Bani Haddad, Wyndham Hotel Group’s Regional Vice President for the Middle East and Africa. Facilities & destinations 2014 Fall

Artist's rendering of Camelback Mountain Resort's new Camelback Lodge, in Tannersville, PA

The Lodge will also feature several dining options, a luxury spa and Aquatopia, billed as the largest indoor waterpark and family entertainment center on the East Coast. Groups will have access to skiing in the winter, Camelbeach waterpark in the summer, and Camelback Mountain Adventures, offering a treetop ropes course, mountain Segway tours, ziplining and other activities. Facilities & destinations 2014 Fall

Johnny Knight Photography

Camelback Mountain Resort, located in the Pocono Mountains of Tannersville, PA, will debut Camelback Lodge next spring. The 453-room hotel will be complemented by a Conference Center with 20,000 sq. ft. of function space. The 7,450-sq.-ft. Grand Ballroom will be able to accommodate up to 400 guests for a banquet, and a separate Meeting Forum will include four breakout rooms, as well as a pre-function area. The facility will be equipped with state-of-the-art AV technology, as well as WiFi bandwidth that supports multiple portable devices. The Resort offers an additional 18,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Le Méridien executives gathered on Sept. 9 at Le Méridien Chicago – Oakbrook Center to celebrate the hotel’s grand opening. The 172-room property underwent a $25 million transformation that modernized the façade, added Chicago-inspired artwork and debuted the 58-seat El Tapeo, a rooftop restaurant serving authentic Spanish cuisine. (L-r): Rochelle Flory, Director of Guest Services at Le Méridien Columbus – The Joseph; Kellee Marker, Director of Sales and Marketing, Le Méridien Columbus – The Joseph; Jason Mack, General Manager, Le Méridien Columbus – The Joseph; Simon Fricker, General Manager, Le Méridien Chicago – Oakbrook Center; Maxine Elleby, Director of Sales and Marketing at Sheraton/ Le Méridien Charlotte; and Nancy Stachnik, Director of Sales and Marketing at Le Méridien Indianapolis. 17

UpFront Hotel Watch

and clearly a number of traditional meeting rooms. There is also an area where you can do product launches and bring cars and large equipment. Today, the Q Center is primarily used by the corporate segment, but part of the reason why Dolce has been asked to manage the facility is to diversify to other types The Q Center in St. Charles, IL of business, such as association meetings.” Dolce Hotels and Resorts has been named Dolce aims to improve the experience for planmanager of the Q Center in St. Charles, IL. The ners and groups in food and beverage, teambuildtransition began Sept. 1 with the sales and market- ing and meeting packages. On the F&B front, Doling component, and all other functions, such as ce will present Thoughtful Foods for Thoughtful catering and housekeeping, will transfer to Dolce Minds, a program offering customizable culinary by Dec. 15. experiences and locally sourced foods, as well as Featuring 1,042 guestrooms and 150,000 sq. ft. Nourishment Hubs, all-day break areas. of IACC-certified function space, the Q Center is Via Dolce’s Signature Events program, planners the largest conference hotel in the Midwest and will be able to coordinate teambuilding activities Dolce’s third property in that region, following the at the Q Center that reflect the culture of the opening of The Alexander, A Dolce Hotel, in destination. “We will be implementing concepts Indianapolis last year. “We have been searchthat have a local feel in Chicago, such as Chicago ing over the last number of years for a meetings fairs or Chicago hotdogs, or the famous Garrett location in the Midwest, particularly the Chicago Popcorn. It will allow customers to stay on proparea or surrounding suburbs,” noted Barry Golderty and do some fun things,” Goldstein explains. stein, Chief Revenue Officer of Dolce Hotels and Regarding complete meeting packages, Dolce’s Resorts, in an exclusive interview with F&D. “We standard CMP includes three meals, the Nourishhave many customers with pent-up need for that ment Hub, wireless Internet, meeting concierge part of the U.S. It’s a great hub, a great place to and more. However, “today the Q Center really rotate customers.” Thus, the Q Center “has been only sells one type of product, which is the CMP. on our list for quite a while” and is now Dolce’s We’ve learned that our customers want to buy first conference hotel in the Chicago area. differently. So, for example, if they don’t want to The Q Center offers groups considerable flexhave dinner onsite we’ll be able to modify that ibility to complement its sheer size. “It has a great package,” he says. “That will be a very significant array of types of meeting rooms; the ballroom change for the property and for the planners. It’s can handle over 1,000 people, which attracts a really just the way of the world. I always make the very large association crowd,” says Goldstein. “In analogy to how you buy in a restaurant off a menu: addition, there are a number of amphitheaters Today most of us substitute or ask for something which can be used for executive-style training, different.” —GS 18

Facilities & destinations 2014 Fall

UpFront Venue Watch New York City's Hard Rock Cafe Times Square (left) and a group venue at its sister property, the Hard Rock Cafe Yankee Stadium (below).

And when Madden launched their NFL 08 video game, we actually had Ozzy Osbourne perform on top of the marquee.” The primary At press time, the 88-year-old event spaces at Paramount Theater façade in Hard Rock Cafe Times Square include the LIVE Times Square was undergoing a windows renovaTheatre Venue, which accommodates up to 500 tion scheduled to be completed this winter. A guests, and the New York Room, with a capacity New York City landmark, the Paramount Building of up to 175. A full buyout would also include the is home to the thoroughly modern Hard Rock main café (about the same capacity as the LIVE Cafe Times Square, which debuted at that locaTheatre), for a total capacity of 1,200. The theater tion in 2005. The chain is known for its extensive has a 26-ft.-diagonal screen and a 23 ft.-by-30 ft. menu of high-quality American fare and collection stage with full concert AV built in. “We do a lot of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia. But the Hard Rock of ‘talking head’ group sales meetings, and what’s Cafe Times Square, as well as its sister property, nice about it is once the meeting ends, people the Hard Rock Cafe Yankee Stadium, are striving can transition into a post party on another level” to be seen as not only themed cafés, but also as of the facility, Pasquale explains. “The LIVE venue venues for corporate events. “We are a restaurant also has 13 flat-screen monitors, so you can have first and foremost, but we want to be known also the content on those monitors match the content for the ability to host great special events,” notes on the big screen.” John Pasquale, Director of Sales & Marketing, Located in walking distance to the Marriott Hard Rock Cafe New York. Marquis, Sheraton Manhattan and Hilton New The venues have made significant progress on York, Hard Rock Times Square offers complimenthat front, catering to corporate clients such as tary WiFi as well as F&B staff dedicated to private Yahoo, Saturn, Calvin Klein and Madden NFL. All events. “We have a basic menu package, but if a of these companies have made use of a particularly planner wants to do something different we are distinctive space at the Times Square location: a not scared to deviate from that and create a theplatform atop the digital marquee. Accommodatmatic menu,” Pasquale notes. “For example, one ing up to 30 guests, the outdoor space is suitable of our biggest clients and partners is Pepsi. Every for cocktail receptions and product launches. For year we do two events for them, and they always example, “when Calvin Klein re-launched CK One, want to change it up. So last year we brought in we built a giant bottle of CK One up there with someone to do crepes for dessert.” Overall, “we people inside it,” Pasquale recalls. “We displayed offer corporate groups turnkey service from start a Saturn car with a concert performed around it to finish,” including equipment rental, DJs, signage, when Saturn unveiled four cars for the New York décor and floral. —AB International Auto Show about eight years ago.

Facilities & destinations 2014 Fall


P L A N N E R P er s pe c t i v e s

Cruise Into Your Next Meeting or Incentive Program Cost control and customization are among the benefits for planners By Karen Devine and Terri Schroeder


• • •

inding interesting, creative and productive USD cruise pricing is guaranteed regardless of the locations to hold a meeting or incentive program destination. can be quite challenging, particularly when a Attendees need to pack and unpack only once planner must work within a strict budget. Cruise ships while visiting multiple locales. are one of the most popular site options today for many Every ship has complimentary function space and reasons. Nearly 170 new ships have been launched AV. since 2000, catering to the meeting industry on every Communication is easy with Internet level. These ships offer some and cell service on board. of the most dynamic and Groups can use a multitude of private innovative design concepts early 170 new ships function areas and dining options, the industry has ever seen, have been launched including themed specialty restaurants, with considerable added which are becoming more common. flexibility for groups of all since 2000, catering to Increased level of comfort. Ships are sizes. the meeting industry on offering luxurious bedding, flat-screen televisions, larger cabins Chartering a ship provides every level. and more balcony the utmost flexibility in staterooms. meeting, function and dining space. However, a nonCustomized for chartered cruise can also be an Corporate Groups excellent alternative for small Planners can add or or very large groups, as so customize private cocktail parties, shows and many ships offer a variety of award ceremonies; turndown and stateroom meeting spaces separate from deliveries; logos on menus and daily activity reception and dining venues. From programs; personalized door plaques; group a budgetary perspective, groups photos; and private shore excursions. Charters offer require no further transportation once even more customization options, such as flying on board, unlike meeting at the company flag from the mast; logoed key cards, a hotel, where oftentimes attendees must napkins, ice carvings, etc.; a private company channel be bussed to offsite dining and entertainment in staterooms; and simulcasting meetings to various venues. And with nonstop activities offered points throughout the ship. Chartering also allows throughout the day and night, the corporate planners to buy the number of nights they want and host can also be relieved of the cost of providing develop their own itinerary, onboard programming, entertainment. attendee dress codes, dining hours, menu choices and more. Let us review just some of the benefits of a meeting or incentive program on a cruise ship: Package Deals Variety of destination. Attendees visit diverse ports A cruise meeting is almost always less expensive than of call and enjoy more convenient embarkation ports. a comparable land program. In addition, planners


• • •


Facilities & destinations 2014 fall

have more cost control as they can work with an all-inclusive, guaranteed budget. For example, with an all-inclusive beverage package all charges are paid in advance. Overall, a cruise meeting includes: Multiple choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as additional snack and dining options Award-winning entertainment A variety of activities, including a daily program Full-service spa and health club A variety of meeting, breakout and function spaces, complemented by AV equipment Coffee breaks in meeting rooms Collateral/marketing materials to support the meeting

there’s teamwork happenIng here!

• • • • • • •

With all that added value, and the flexibility now offered by ships for group events, meetings are convenient to plan and operate. Indeed, once the cruise is booked, a planning team can breathe easy, as everything is on board.

It’s ImpossIble to convey all the strengths of our exceptIonal team In just a hundred words, so we Included a pIcture to add a thousand more. Why do clients love our team so much? It’s a combination of collaborative spirit, a ‘whatever it takes’ tenacity and decades’ worth of know-how. Every event we host is different, each client’s goals unique. But no matter how challenging or enormous the event may be, our team sees to it that every aspect exceeds the expectations of clients, participants and attendees. Event planning, promotion, hospitality, food, drink and beyond – our people manage it all with professionalism and efficiency. If your event is too important to trust to just any venue, talk to the team at The International Centre.

3 450+ EvEnts a yEar 3 $7 M rEnEwal Plan 3 500,000+ ft2 EvEnt faCIlIty 3 5,000 frEE ParkIng sPaCEs

Follow us!

the International centre staff (from left to right) Ron Bentley, Director of Event and Client Services; Sandra Martin, Sales Manager – Trade and Consumer Shows; Trevor Lui, Director of Operations and Sustainability; Lee-Anne Leckie, Sales Manager – Meetings and Conventions; Raiman Dilag, Manager of Information Systems and Technology; Rita Medynski, Sales Manager – Trade and Consumer Shows; Kevin Parker, Sales Manager – Corporate; Tawfik Shehata, Executive Chef; and Nadena Singh, Director of Events Management

Karen Devine, President of 3D Destinations (www.3ddestinations.com), brings 22 years of Docket / Client combined buyer and supplier experiencePublication to Insertion the meeting and incentive marketplace. She Date Ad Size has worked for incentive companies suchColour as Ad Number Carlson Marketing Group and S&H Motivation, Art to Publication as well as suppliers such as Four Seasons/ Regent Hotels & Resorts and Rosewood Hotels and Resorts. Joining Radisson Seven Seas (now Regent Seven Seas) in 2000, Devine became the Director of Charter & Incentive Sales. She opened 3D Destinations in 2004, offering customers a high level of service and expertise Facilities & destinations 2014 fall

InternationalCentre.com 6900 Airport Road, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada 905.677.6131 / tf 1.800.567.1199

with one point of contact for any cruise or destination search. Facilities & Destinations Magazine


Facilities & Destinations Magazine Fall 2014 Issue

Terri Schroeder, Group Sales & Marketing FP – Trim 7.125” W x 10.127” H (NO BLEED) Manager, 3D Destinations, has over 20 years of 4C professional experience within the hospitality Monday, October 20, 2014 and travel industries. She ran her own homebased travel agency successfully for over six years. Prior to opening her own agency, she worked as Marketing Director for a host agency with more than 30 independent affiliated agents. She began her career in the Corporate Offices of Hyatt Hotels International in Chicago. 2014 Issue


s u ppl i er P er s pe c t i v e s

Anticipatory Service

The fewer requests that attendees need to make, the better their experience By Christopher Kelly


esponse time has long been a widely adopted measure of service quality. However, a new approach called “anticipatory service” challenges this standard by addressing needs before they arise, thereby eliminating the “ask” in the first place. The anticipatory service model is especially relevant in today’s knowledge-driven workplaces where traditional demand service can disrupt collaboration and workflow processes. The trend toward anticipatory service is fed by the younger generations in the workforce, who have limited patience and a strong preference, if not an insistence, on do-it-yourself, user-controlled environments. People are more likely to do without a much needed resource than ask — and wait — for it to be provided. When applied to collaboration and work, anticipatory service focuses on four key areas: service, design, technology and culinary. Service Service is the underlying factor in the anticipatory model. The first step to success is to observe the patterns of need, which will help identify the implicit needs beyond the salient needs.

addition, the resources should be made visible so that workflow and productivity are not disturbed. Not every situation requires all of the resources, but anticipating the potential need can greatly improve the experience for participants. How can you identify these latent needs?

People are more likely

For instance, a presenter at a conference may be worried about fumbling over technology or having the time to interact thoughtfully with a large group of participants. Prior to the presentation, the service team should take the initiative to pull the presenter aside to demonstrate the workings of the technology and resources available (e.g., built-in microphones, audience response systems). This relieves the stress associated with uncertainty and allows the individual to focus and improve performance.

to do without a much needed resource than ask — and wait — for it to be provided.

In a professional meetings environment, this means providing appropriate resources beyond what was requested, resources that might support the meeting’s strategic purpose. Examples include technology, whiteboards, markers, pens/paper, snacks and so on. In 22

One possible way is stakeholder mapping, or identifying the different groupings of people that are impacted by the decision — e.g., meeting planners, presenters, participants, employees, guests, etc. Ask yourself, what is the stakeholder doing the night before, day of or after an event? What does the stakeholder normally do when he or she doesn’t have an event? Then, provide the resources to address the stakeholder’s objectives or problems for each instance.

Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

Design Design in this context goes well beyond the aesthetics and architecture of a meeting room or corporate office building; it’s about the combination of physical space and service. Let’s call it “design service.” The most effective environments take into account the objectives of the space and design purposefully to meet those needs.

Menus should be

“special order proof.” For example, why are glutenfree or low-salt items considered outside the ordinary and not standing options at a buffet?

There are several design services that are consistent no matter the corporate environments — well-lit rooms/spaces, built-in technology, food and beverage stations, etc. But when you anticipate the needs of a specific group or market, such as the meetings industry, different design service needs emerge depending on the type of meeting being conducted: meetings focus on the development of new • Generative content as a group. These are usually smaller meetings

— three to eight participants — and require the ability to capture, manipulate, retrieve and preserve the content that is created in the session. Thus, a meeting room needs multiple whiteboards, flipcharts and Post-It Notes to maximize productivity.

meetings are about making decisions, • Evaluative setting direction and planning for the long term. These

are usually small to mid-size groups (fewer than 20 participants) and require intense engagement. Large, information-rich displays are helpful to these meetings.

meetings are larger in size (50-300+ • Informative participants) and are intended to share predetermined

information (e.g., product launches, training seminars and shareholder meetings). This type of meeting commonly requires microphones, projectors and other communicative resources to be most effective.

Technology In today’s business world, there’s rarely an instance where technology doesn’t play a role in productivity. On top of the pure developments in business technology, millennials’ attitudes also impact the technological needs of the workplace. Built-in, user-friendly technology is key to enhancing productivity. The two biggest needs of corporate environments are access to electricity and Internet bandwidth. That may seem obvious, but think about an informative meeting with 300 participants. The question then shifts away from “Do you have these things?” and toward “Do you have enough outlets for participants to charge smartphones, laptops and tablets? Does the WiFi/ Internet access allow for all 300 participants to download a file at once?” Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

Culinary Food is a strategic consideration, not simply a fuel. A dining break helps to keep blood sugar up and provides a natural break to demanding meetings. But it can also easily become a distraction and adversely impact an otherwise productive experience.

Special requests and dietary restrictions are often an afterthought, requested with minimal notice. This creates unnecessary stress on meeting planners and the culinary team. The good news is that it can be avoided by anticipating the most common requests and only offering menus that are “special order proof.” For example, why are gluten-free or low-salt items considered outside the ordinary and not standing options at a buffet? It’s also important to consider the source of food and portion size. By using only fresh and varied ingredients, minimizing salt and sugar, and offering generous portions of veggies and protein, meals can be light and nutritious and not send participants into a post-meal stupor. Furthermore, avoiding large portions, plated meals and foods involving more than one utensil, helps promote socialization and networking during meal times. As I always like to say, you don’t want to be talking to your client or boss with a long piece of asparagus hanging out of your mouth because you couldn’t bite all the way through it. testing the model The ultimate test of a successful service model is a variation of the Net Promoter Score (a customer loyalty metric), which asks the lead delegate, “Did your meeting achieve its strategic objectives? What is the reason for your answer?” The responses will help provide insights into what could be anticipated next time to drive a more successful outcome. Hospitality and workplace environments are evolving, and the anticipatory service model is the future of business. Those that adopt the model are sure to succeed, while others will be left behind. Christopher Kelly is Co-founder and President of Convene (www.convene.com), a progressive developer and operator of hospitality-infused environments for the modern workplace. The company operates the nation’s fastest-growing full-service executive conference center network and offers design and management services to progressive, high-performance workplaces. 23

S o u r c i n g S t ra t e g i e s

Fair Play

in a Seller’s Market Hotel-biased contracts should not be among a planner’s concessions By Donna Wikstrand, CMP It’s a jungle out there.

increase the time it takes to reach a signed agreement, often having to be pushed to legal multiple times by both sides.

PwC forecasts hotel occupancy in the United States next year to reach 64.8 percent — the highest in 20 years. Average daily rates are projected to increase 5.7 percent in 2015, the highest increase since 2007, the year the recession kicked in. In many marketplaces the proverbial pendulum has swung in favor of the seller. As I write this in the height of fall, the “peakest” of seasons here in Boston, this marketplace shift is palpable. Logically, the demand environment slated for 2015 provides hotels with “more confidence to push for higher room rates,” PwC states. I do not begrudge hotels this position of power; it has been a long time coming and well deserved after years of much lower occupancies and rates.

The contract terms and

conditions are every bit as important as price, and a poorly written contract can cost you much more than a $25 difference in room rate.

But revenue is not all hotels are pushing for. They are also wielding the strength of this booming industry to offer contract terms that sometimes place the major burden of risk on the groups signing those contracts. Several chains have a new contract that protects the hotels in every way but leaves the clients open to more risk. These contracts 24

Indeed, planners have many hurdles to overcome in a seller’s market, including soaring rates, fewer pricing concessions, lack of availability and fewer off-season or “need” periods. In addition, hotels are being far more selective in choosing groups that best fit their formula for success, which is understandable. But hotel contract terms and conditions should not be altered based on the strength of a marketplace.

Accordingly, planners should bend on things that matter less and hold firm on the contractual issues based on fairness. The contract terms and conditions are every bit as important as price, and a poorly written contract can cost the host organization much more than a $25 difference in room rate. Hotel contracts are written by hotels to protect hotels. Planners need to make sure they protect their group as well. Toward that end, it’s important to be an educated consumer when it comes to contracts, and understand Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

what one is signing. A planner should not hesitate to ask questions about the terms and require logical and fair answers. In addition, staying up to date on contract trends is key. Here are some of the trends I am seeing, along with advice on how to best cope with this dramatically shifting marketplace.

the economic downturn many hotels with solid cancellation clauses but low deposits lost a lot of money, not being able to collect on cancellation or attrition. Though hotels vary on deposit amounts and due dates, they are generally larger and further out from the meeting dates as an overall trend. There is no sole solution here; just work with ake contract the hotel to establish a payment deadlines seriously, policy that you both can live with.


Attrition: The way meeting attendees book their guestrooms has evolved, as they have more and for this is the kind of more channels through which to Damages: Many hotel contracts marketplace that has procure lodging. Attendees are now indicate that the group is skilled at doing their own thing, responsible for loss and damage multiple groups and sometimes going outside the group to the hotel caused by the sales managers vying block to book a room. But they are group, but do not make the hotel for the same space. still guests in the hotel because of responsible for any damage to the the meeting, and the planner should group or its attendees caused by get credit for their rooms when the hotel or its employees. Stand calculating attrition. Insist on an audit clause, which by the Golden Rule and insist on reciprocal terms that provides that the hotel will review the attendee afford the same protections to each party. list against their reservation list and credit you for Contract Deadlines: There is typically a signature those rooms. deadline in every contract. Take it seriously, for this is Overperformance: In a robust market, meeting the kind of marketplace that has multiple groups and attendance can be higher, with invitational sales managers vying for the same space; the first one conferences being the toughest to predict. Contracts to reach the finish line wins! protect us from underperformance via attrition Despite any back and forth between planner and clauses, but seldom address overperformance. What hotel on contract terms, relationships still matter and if targeted, timely marketing, powerful content and should be preserved. They make this rocky road a bit a dazzling destination attract higher-than-expected smoother. Oftentimes the hotel sales manager can be attendance? Hotel revenue managers are quick to a planner’s advocate, helping the revenue manager shut a group down when it reaches the contracted see the bigger picture beyond the current meeting, block if they know they can sell the rooms at higher rates. Try to build in some allowable overperformance: whether that is loyalty to a longstanding client, future opportunity or other factors. In general, it’s Just as a hotel routinely allows you to fall off your best to work with hotels that appreciate the ongoing contracted numbers by a certain percentage, ask if relationship and share one’s sense of fairness. In the they can offer the group rate should you exceed the end, if a hotel draws a line in the sand, the planner contracted block, for a similar percentage, as long as should walk away. Risk management is too important group rooms are left to sell in the hotel. to ignore. But I still believe that if one respects the Resell on Cancellation and Attrition: Hotels seem other party and is a fair, educated partner, one will less and less willing to agree to resell clauses. A hotel rarely need to break off negotiations. does turn away other business once a group contracts Donna Wikstrand, CMP, is the Vice President of space. However, if the group cancels or has lower Conference Hotels Unlimited, a Massachusettsnumbers, it is fair that the hotel reduce damages if it based company that specializes in site sourcing is able to recover some or all of those lost revenues and contract negotiations for the offsite meetings by reselling to others. Such clauses need to be clearly of corporate and association clients. Before joining detailed, and although the calculation of resell is Conference Hotels in 1990, she spent the first 10 complicated, it’s not impossible. Resell clauses do not years of her career on the hotel side. Wikstrand cause hotels to lose money; they simply eliminate developed the curriculum and taught a class in hotels’ getting paid for the same rooms and space contract negotiation and management for meeting twice. professionals at Northeastern University for its Deposits: Aggressive deposits well in advance Certificate in Meeting Management program and is of a meeting’s dates are now common. During a frequent presenter to industry groups. Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall


S t a t e o f t h e I nd u s t r y

In Conversation With . . .

Julie Lindsey

Director, Gap Inc. Global Events

Sustainability and Social Responsibility

A meetings department can promote these values on a company-wide scale By George Seli


everal considerations come into play when selecting a community-service event for meeting attendees. The activity must be logistically feasible in the context of the program and destination, resonate with attendees, fit their skillsets and other demographics, and reflect the organization’s identity and brand. “We prefer to host community activities that have a lasting impact and align to the core causes of our Foundation,” notes Julie Lindsey, who manages a centralized events department that plans over 400 events per year for all of Gap Inc.’s divisions and brands. The company’s annual conferences “always have a CSR component,” she adds. Lindsey, whose planning career includes eight years at Oracle Corporation and a stint with a San Francisco DMC, is not only a proponent of CSR (corporate social responsibility). She also leads Gap Inc.’s green meetings program, and has spoken at Green Meetings Industry Council events.


an you give examples of innovative community service activities staged at Gap Inc. meetings? t one conference, our Foundation team provided interactive training and toolkits to help bring community involvement back to our employees’ businesses and stores. Rather than spending a few 26

hours on a community activity, they empowered our attendees to start ongoing community commitment with their teams when they return to work, which will generate a far greater return than a onetime community event. [The Gap Foundation (www.bewhatspossible. com) has seen more than 2,500 company employees around the world participate in its Community Leader Program.] At another event, we gave attendees the option to “opt out” of using shuttles, and these attendees received a pedometer to track their steps. We did this to promote wellness and reduce carbon emissions from shuttle buses. At the end of the event, we collected the pedometers and donated them to Girls on the Run [www.girlsontherun.org]. All of this was clearly communicated to attendees, so they knew what our goals were.


ost-event, what are the signs that a CSR activity has been successful? raction through social media and the level of commitment our store managers make to ongoing community involvement in their workplace after they return home from the conference.


ave you personally launched any initiatives to make your meetings more eco-conscious? If so, Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

“We gave attendees the option to

‘opt out’ of using shuttles, and these attendees received a pedometer to track their steps. We did this to promote wellness and reduce carbon emissions from shuttle buses.”



state re an And ser vice r -of-th d be turn atin e -a ve . gs r r E xperien a s h t te a ce M c i on on gh a aT e

. y. ge olog ky. s hn he s t ce. a rr

which new best practices are you most proud of? have developed company-wide baseline practices for green meetings. I’m proud of how the existence of baseline practices has inspired other employees and meeting stakeholders to do more and be creative in how they implement and communicate sustainable practices. Internally, we are not yet using the APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Event Standards to measure our event sustainability. But I anticipate we will down the line. [Implementing these standards, as well as the ISO 20121 sustainable event standards, can now be facilitated by the Sustainable Meeting Planner Program tool; see www. sustainablemeetingplanner.com.]

Let the mome you away…ntum c and arr ba y With one visit, you’ll k ck so many gro now w hy ups ag cho Master fully craf t o ai se e d fo to od Robust,


ow highly do a property’s green features and practices rank on your list of site search criteria? ur RFPs ask hotels to identify their sustainability practices, certifications and awards up front. Our short-list hotels are all asked to complete a detailed form that was designed using the APEX/ASTM Standards.


n what respects do you find that “going green” saves costs on meetings? ou will save money by producing fewer collateral/ printed materials. And if anyone is still providing bottled water, removing this can save thousands of dollars! The money can be invested in other components, such as a mobile app.


o you feel there is still room for improvement in sustainable meetings across the industry? bsolutely. I hear from hotels that most planners are not asking for sustainable practices. I think it is easy to get started, and there are a few things planners can accomplish with minimal effort and small or no cost. There are many checklists available, and a resource library on the Green Meeting Industry Council website [www.gmicglobal.org] that can help anyone “go green.” Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall


blog.mononaterrace.com ©2014 Monona Terrace



Three Cities That Have Mastered Their Meetings Niche

ities that are actively engaged in the meetings industry don’t simply welcome the meeting groups they can logistically handle. Rather, they embrace that demographic by marketing to groups of that size and facilitating events and experiences that will keep such groups returning. For example, Wilmington, NC, a city with a population of just over 70,000, “specializes in small- and medium-size meetings,” as John Sneed, Director of Convention Sales for the Wilmington and Beaches CVB, puts it. That devotion to smaller groups is what many planners desire when they bring a few hundred attendees, as opposed to a few thousand, into town. Fortunately, the United States is replete with cities that proactively cater to the small-meetings market, and in this review we profile a “coast to coast” sampling of three: Wilmington in the South, Akron, OH in the Midwest, and Pasadena, CA in the West.


Market Review

Hopkins International Airport.” Pasadena benefits from proximity to Los Angeles-area airports, says Jeanne O’Grady, Senior Director of Sales & Marketing at the Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau, “with convenient transportation in the city and throughout the greater Los Angeles area.”

While attractions and points of interest in smaller cities often lack the national and international recognition of those in Las Vegas, New York, Orlando and other first-tier hubs, a site inspection may have some pleasant surprises in store for a planner. He or she may not be aware that in Wilmington, attendees can explore Battleship North Carolina; rent the Bellamy Mansion Museum, dating from the mid-19th century; and enjoy an overall coastal atmosphere. “Surrounded by water, with the Cape Fear River to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to its east, Wilmington offers planners and attendees lots of scenic meeting options,” says Sneed, “Our Destination Some planners have familiar “such as oceanfront resorts Sales Team concerns about cities that are and hotel ballrooms and offers planners classified as second or third meeting rooms with ocean the convenience tier (due primarily to convenviews.” Similarly, planners of ‘flipbook’ tion center size and number may not know that Akron is of committable hotel rooms); the nearest city to Cuyahoga technology namely, that these cities are Valley National Park, known throughout all somewhat lacking in accessifor Brandywine Falls, the phases of their bility, points of interest for winding Cuyahoga River and planning.” attendees, and CVB services. historic houses. Pasadena –Gregg Mervis, President and CEO, Yet Wilmington, Akron and boasts 500 restaurants, more Akron/Summit CVB Pasadena certainly allay these per capita than New York concerns. The Wilmington City, which may also come Convention Center is a mere as a surprise. In addition, the four miles from the city’s international airport, home California School of Culinary Arts, one of only 15 to Delta, United and US Airways. Accessibility is also Cordon Bleu schools in the United States, is found a major reason “why planners choose Greater here. Akron,” notes Gregg M. Mervis, President and CEO The CVBs and convention centers in these cities will of the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors naturally offer staff and space that is proportionate Bureau and the John S. Knight Center. “Getting to their market, but the quality of these resources is here is easy with major roadways and two adjacent what really matters. The Akron/Summit CVB, for airports, the Akron-Canton Airport and Cleveland


Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

example, is ahead of the curve due to “The booking its Digital Concierge. “Our Destinapace has been tion Sales Team offers planners the nearing the completion convenience of ‘flipbook’ technology strong and we of its Riverwalk revitalthroughout all phases of their planhave recently ization. Meanwhile, the ning,” Mervis says. “From RFPs to bid Pasadena Convention booked some presentations, to attendee resources Center will debut the of the largest and promotional initiatives, we can 17,000-sq.-ft. Exhibiconventions to customize our materials to ensure tion Hall C in January. ever be held here our clients and their event delegates “The Hall returns to its in Pasadena.” know we’re talking to them directly former glory, including –Jeanne O’Grady, Senior Director of Sales & with the information they specifically the restoration of its Marketing, Pasadena CVB need.” Akron’s John S. Knight Center, original chandeliers,” which features 30,000 sq. ft. of exhibit says O’Grady. “Pasaspace and 24,600 sq. ft. of function dena also welcomes a space, offers customized F&B through an in-house new boutique hotel, dusitD2 constance pasadena. culinary department, “eliminating any chance of It is the first U.S. location for Thailand Hotel Group our guests being served a plate of typical convenand the first new hotel in Pasadena in more than 20 tion fare,” Mervis adds. The Silver LEED-certified, years.” SMG-managed Wilmington Convention Center is a standout in the area of sustainability, and offers a Due in part to the vitality of their meetings infrastrucfunction space one doesn’t often find in convention tures, each city is seeing an upward trend in group centers. “Attendees have the opportunity to enjoy bookings. “The booking pace has been strong and the riverfront breeze on the 12,000-sq.-ft. waterfront we have recently booked some of the largest convenevent lawn or take in the sophisticated maritime tions to ever be held here in Pasadena,” says O’Grady, design of the building and the vintage photographs pointing to new clients ranging from the Northern located throughout that celebrate Wilmington’s American Particle Accelerator Conferhistoric past,” Sneed ence to IMATS – International Make-up describes. Artist Tradeshow. In Akron, “we are on “Attendees have track to exceed the total number of 2013 the opportunity High-tech CVB events (185 events), which allowed us services, culinary to enjoy the to welcome more than 391,000 guests,” excellence and says Mervis. Meetings business is also riverfront LEED-certified strong in Wilmington, where “many breeze on the meeting facilities are groups report higher-than-average or waterfront event among the features even record attendance because of our lawn” at the that can be found in desirable coastal location,” says Sneed. Wilmington many small-market The debut of the Wilmington Convencities today. In adConvention Center. tion Center in late 2010 has made the dition, Wilmington, –John Sneed, Director of Convention Sales, city even more desirable. “The North Akron and Pasadena Wilmington and Beaches CVB Carolina Healthcare Engineers held are each becoming their first of three conventions in Aua little bigger with gust 2014. Previously the group held its new meeting facilities. “With six new hotel properties coastal meetings out of state because there had been coming online during the end of 2014 and the begin- no North Carolina coastal facility large enough to ning of 2015, Greater Akron will see a 10 percent accommodate their group.” increase in the total number of available guests rooms in Summit County,” Mervis notes. WilmingWe wish each of these high-performing cities continton saw the debut of the Courtyard by Marriottued growth in their infrastructures and success in the Downtown/Historic District early this year, and is meetings industry. Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall





Market Review

The John S. Knight Center (left) hosted a gala for the Akron Art Museum (below) in June 2007.


ettled among the rolling hills of the Old Connecticut Western Reserve and along the shores of the Ohio and Erie Canalway, Greater Akron has a rich heritage that is reflected in the ethnicity, lifestyles and social diversity of its residents and visitors. A leading world center in Polymer research, Akron/Summit County also plays an innovative role in science, industry and medicine. Attendees can experience numerous local attractions, including the Akron Art Museum, Akron Civic Theatre, Akron Zoo, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio’s only national park), Hale Farm & Village, American Toy Marble Museum, Hard Rock Rocksino, Ohio & Erie Canalway Towpath Trail and Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Greater Akron/Summit County offers groups 5,600+ guestrooms, including 742 rooms around the John S. Knight Center (DoubleTree Akron/Fairlawn, Hilton Akron/Fairlawn, Sheraton Suites Akron/ Cuyahoga Falls, Clarion Inn & Conference Center). The city also has several new hotels: Hilton Garden Inn Akron East, Residence Inn Akron West, Homewood Suites, Residence Inn Akron South, Fairfield Inn Akron/Fairlawn and Courtyard Marriott Akron Northside. The John S. Knight Center is a state-of-the-art exhibition, convention and banquet center, located in the heart of Akron Ohio’s vibrant downtown, and is named after the Pulitzer Prize-winning editor and publisher of the Akron Beacon Journal. In 1937, the Knight publishing family bought the Miami Herald, which began a series of purchases and mergers leading to the formation of the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain in 1973. This established the Beacon Journal as the original Knight headquarters of what has evolved to be one of the largest newspaper groups in daily circulation in the United States today. Offering tremendous flexibility, the Center plays host to large meetings and tradeshows held by national, regional and state organizations and trade associations, as well as smaller, more intimate business gatherings. Medical, religious, fraternal, corporate, legal education and government

organizations are among the many groups that have had successful events at the John S. Knight Center and have benefited from the expertise and help of the Center’s professional staff. The John S. Knight Center is surrounded by landmarks and attractions, all within easy walking distance. Directly adjacent to the Center is Greystone Hall. Formerly the Masonic Temple, the 1917 building is now downtown Akron’s most majestic banquet and special event venue. A two-story ballroom, sitting parlor, lounge and garden room provide inviting and elegant event spaces. The Akron-Summit County Public Library borders the Center on the west and the popular Akron Art Museum is directly to the north. Additionally, a wonderful variety of restaurants are located within blocks of the Center, promising cuisines to please everyone. At the John S. Knight Center, the space is as accommodating and flexible as the professional staff. The Center features an exhibition hall of about 30,000 sq. ft.; 12,000 sq. ft. of banquet space; an additional 12,600 sq. ft. of meeting space; and a 22,000-sq.-ft. lobby highlighted by the distinctive glass rotunda and spiral staircase. The lower level features an atrium-style concourse, 12 flexible meeting rooms and six permanent meeting rooms. The upper level features banquet room and ballroom space totaling 12,855 sq. ft. that can be divided into 5,080 and 6,775 sq. ft. to separate dining and meeting functions. The upper level’s exhibition hall has ceilings 30 ft. to the trusses and 48 ft. to the decking. The Center meets the Americans with Disabilities Act specifications, with features such as infrared audio communication and inductive loops for the hearing impaired. Additional services and benefits of the Center include: catering services, with a modern kitchen, experienced chefs and capable staff efficiently providing everything from continental breakfasts to sit-down gourmet dinners for groups of five to 3,500; state-of-the-art videostreaming, videoconferencing and wireless Internet connectivity; and an adjacent city parking deck connected to the Center by an enclosed skywalk.

John S. Knight Center, 77 East Mill Street, Akron, OH 44308 • (800) 245-4254 • visitakron-summit.org • johnsknightcenter.org 30

Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

Greater Akron, Ohio, is home to the region’s most convenient and affordable facilities for conventions, banquets and special events. Easily accessible from the interstate, turnpike and two

Northeast Ohio’s Top Meeting Points

AkronCVB_FullPg_SmMktMtgs_Dec13.indd 1

airports, Summit County features 13 full-service hotels with more than 5,400 guest rooms, plus a remarkable range of impressive gathering spaces, including the John S. Knight Convention Center. Call 800.245.4254 today to plan your next event with a member of our destination sales team. For more information, visit akron.travel.


/ S U M M I T

Convention & Visitors Bureau

800.245.4254 / akron.travel

10/31/2013 3:51:48 PM

North Carolina



Market Review


estination appeal is what sets apart Wilmington and its island beaches from other coastal destinations. Welcoming groups with a temperate coastal climate, the area has easy access to three beach towns (Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville). Meeting planners and attendees have many scenic meeting options, including the riverfront Wilmington Convention Center, riverfront hotels such as the Hilton Wilmington Riverside and oceanfront resorts. Many offsite facilities are waterfront and/or provide a unique historical or natural setting, such as the Battleship North Carolina, Bellamy Mansion, Airlie Gardens, Thalian Hall, as well as restored and renovated churches, warehouses, riverboats and more. Numerous other attractions, meeting facilities and fascinating facts characterize Wilmington: Downtown Wilmington is a 230+ block National Register Historical District. More than 400 film and television productions have been shot here, earning Wilmington the nickname “Hollywood East.” Nearly 8,000 guestrooms and suites 29 meeting facilities and over 40 unique meeting venues, from riverside to oceanfront Over 54 parks, plantations and gardens Over 400 dining establishments, many locally owned and within walking distance of the convention center Multiple championship golf courses within the area Water sports including fishing, scuba diving, kayaking, surfing, canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding and kite boarding Over 62 charter boats and fishing guides Over 45 diverse attractions and a wide variety of entertainment

Wilmington’s Riverfront provides a scenic respite for attendees between meeting sessions. (Below): The 2013 North Carolina Governor’s Conference on Tourism was held at the Wilmington Convention Center.

• • • • • • • • •

the convention center and host hotels that are located in New Hanover County.

The riverfront Silver LEED-certified Wilmington Convention Center is the largest convention center on the North Carolina coast and offers meeting capabilities from 20 to 2,000 people. It boasts a variety of spaces including a 30,000-sq.-ft. Exhibit Hall, 12,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, more than 15,000 sq. ft. of prefunction space and nearly 6,000 sq. ft. of additional meeting space. Groups that book the Wilmington Convention Center may qualify for dedicated door-to-door trolley service between

Convention attendees don’t just experience the convention center when they come to Wilmington; they can also venture out and take in the city’s walkable historic river district, which features more than 200 restaurants, shops and attractions in the downtown area alone. The 1.75-mile Wilmington Riverwalk along the scenic Cape Fear River is one of the area’s top attractions. The Riverwalk revitalization and expansion is nearly complete, connecting the Wilmington Convention Center to hotels, shops, restaurants, attractions, nightlife, tours and cruises.

505 Nutt Street, Unit A, Wilmington, NC 28401 • (877) 406-2356 • wilmingtonandbeaches.com 32

Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall




Market Review

Jamie Pham


Aside from the hundreds of thousands of people who visit Pasadena for the annual Tournament of Roses Parade and college football’s Rose Bowl Game to start each year, millions more descend on the city for a wide range of meetings and conferences. Nestled at the base of the majestic San Gabriel Mountains, just 10 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles, Pasadena is quintessential Southern California, with mountains caressed by the sun, radiant rose gardens and extraordinary turn-ofthe-century architecture. The city is easily accessible from Los Angeles International, Burbank, Long Beach, and Ontario airports. Shuttles, buses and light rail take passengers throughout the city as well as the greater Los Angeles area. The expanded Pasadena Convention Center sits at the heart of a multiuse complex that also includes the historic Pasadena Civic Auditorium and the Pasadena Ice Skating Center, surrounded by adjacent hotels, restaurants and shops. The city offers 2,500 guestrooms, more than 1,200 of which are within walking distance of the Pasadena Convention Center. The renovated, state-of-the art center now features a 55,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall, a 25,000-sq.-ft. ballroom and 28 meeting rooms, along with the 3,000-seat Civic Auditorium and a 22,000-sq.-ft. outdoor plaza. Pasadena is filled with unique venues for meetings and events, including the historic Rose Bowl Stadium field, press box and pavilion; Pacific Asia Museum with its authentic Chinese courtyard; the renovated Pasadena Museum of History, circa 1906; and the renowned California Institute of Technology. Within Pasadena’s 1.5-mile downtown core are retail areas, cobblestone courtyards, sidewalk bistros, and nightlife in three alluring shopping and entertainment districts. A tour of the town will lead to a beautiful tree-

Jamie Pham

ith pleasant warm weather throughout the year, pedestrianfriendly streets and walkways, five-star accommodations, endless shopping and entertainment options and more restaurants per capita than New York City, it’s no surprise that Pasadena, CA, is one of the nation’s top meeting and event destinations.

Pasadena’s Colorado Bridge (top), Civic Auditorium (above) and Crosswalk (left). lined shopping district along South Lake Avenue, while an eclectic mix of antique stores, galleries and specialty shops can be found in the Playhouse District. Old Pasadena, a 22-block historical area featuring 19th-century structures and quaint alleyways, is one of Southern California’s hottest main-street entertainment districts. Paseo Colorado is Pasadena’s three-block, open-air urban village, with its Mediterranean architecture, lush pedestrian promenades, courtyards and terraces. The birthplace of Julia Child and home to Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Los Angeles, Pasadena is a haven for “foodies” with more than 500 restaurants. Diners can choose from charming outdoor cafes, elegant dining rooms and everything in between. Pasadena takes on a whole new flavor after dark. Exciting nightlife ranges from jazz and comedy clubs to cultural performances at numerous renowned theaters and performing arts centers. Drawing from its rich cultural heritage, Pasadena features numerous world-class museums and historical sites. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens offers an extensive collection of literary classics, 17th- and 18th-century British and French art, and 150 acres of lush gardens. Seven centuries of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century are on display at The Norton Simon Museum, including masterpieces by Van Gogh, Degas, Rembrandt and Picasso. The Kidspace Children’s Museum features 20 interactive exhibits and two acres of gardens, waterways and outdoor learning environments. The Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau’s destination experts offer a host of services to meeting planners, most of which are free. These include hotel RFP distribution, site inspections, program assistance, promotional materials and more. The CVB also offers an online housing service.

300 East Green Street, Pasadena, CA 91101 • (800) 307-7977 • visitpasadena.com 34

Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall





Facilities & Destinations’

Elite Awards A meeting industry professional’s job is multifaceted. To truly shine, it takes a broad skill set, the kind of network that only comes with many years of experience, and oftentimes industry-specific advanced education. CVB executives must thoroughly know cities and the latest marketing techniques, planners must deliver memorable meetings and incentives on tight budgets, and tradeshow managers must be adept at myriad ways to maximize ROI for their attendees and exhibitors. On top of these “musts,” some professionals even find time to contribute to their field by participating in meeting industry associations, giving talks, writing articles in trade publications

and more. Facilities & Destinations honors our industry’s overachievers with the new ELITE Awards. We encourage our esteemed readers to make nominations for CVB Executive of the Year, Convention Center Executive of the Year, Meeting Hotel Executive of the Year, Association Meeting Planner of the Year, Corporate Meeting Planner of Year and Tradeshow Manager of the Year. Who among your colleagues and business partners is making an especially strong contribution to today’s vibrant meetings industry? Cast your vote today.

NOMINATION FORM CVB Executive of the Year

Corporate Meeting Planner of the Year

1. Name:_____________________________________________

1. Name:_____________________________________________



2. Name:_____________________________________________

2. Name:_____________________________________________



Convention Center Executive of the Year

Tradeshow Manager of the Year

1. Name:_____________________________________________

1. Name:_____________________________________________



2. Name:_____________________________________________

2. Name:_____________________________________________



Meeting Hotel Executive of the Year 1. Name:_____________________________________________ Company:__________________________________________ 2. Name:_____________________________________________ Company:__________________________________________

Association Meeting Planner of the Year 1. Name:_____________________________________________ Company:__________________________________________ 2. Name:_____________________________________________ Company:__________________________________________

Nominated By: Name, Title:___________________________________________ Organization:_________________________________________ Phone:_______________________________________________ Email:________________________________________________ May we contact you?  Yes____ No____ Please Fill Out Form & Mail Your Vote To:

Facilities & Destinations Elite Awards 152 Madison Avenue, Suite #802, New York, NY 10016 or Fax to: (212) 213-6382 or email ballots@facilitiesonline.com


F& D


Destin, FL

Phoenix, AZ



Coronado, CA


accommodations. A luxurious resort in a warm weather locale, complemented by golf, spa and fine dining, is a tried-and-true motivator for a sales force. But the country’s best incentive resorts do not rest on their laurels; they maintain and improve the quality of their guestrooms, meeting space and common areas through timely renovations. Following are five major incentive resorts that are renovating or have recently completed improvement projects, promising a fresh experience for well-traveled qualifiers.

Biltmore, 1] Arizona A Waldorf Astoria Resort Phoenix, AZ

arizonabiltmore.com The iconic Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, is revamping meeting rooms, ballrooms and pre-function areas as part of a multimillion-dollar renovation that will be completed this fall. Meeting facilities will receive a soft- and hard-goods upgrade that includes carpeting, wall coverings, lighting and air walls. Guestrooms and suites, the spa and salon, and the Prohibition-era Mystery Room are also being redone in the style of the landmark resort’s early years. The project will preserve the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired design of this 740-room resort, which offers 100,000 sq. ft. of function space, a 22,000-sq.-ft. spa and a scenic location by the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.

Hilton Sandestin Beach 2] Golf Resort & Spa Destin, FL

hiltonsandestinbeach.com Northwest Florida’s largest full-service beachfront resort has been investing in many improvements over the last few years: In 201213, a $12.5 million renovation covered the Emerald Tower, the resort’s 32,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and Seagar’s steakhouse. In 2013-14, another $12.5 million was invested in renovating the 36

Rich Niewiroski Jr.

Status: Hot category: Renovating Incentive Resorts FYI: Part of the reward for incentive trip qualifiers is the

Spa Tower, spa, lobby, three restaurants and indoor pool. In addition, the resort will begin construction on a 7,500-sq.ft. ballroom in November, scheduled for completion March 1. Located on the shores of the Gulf Coast, the 598-room Hilton Sandestin offers a world-class spa and fitness center, as well as six onsite dining venues, including an AAA Four Diamond restaurant.

3] Hotel Del Coronado Coronado, CA


A legendary Southern Californian resort, the Hotel Del Coronado completed a $13 million, two-year renovation this summer. The project included the lobby, restored to evoke a turn-of-the-century ambiance; 214 Ocean Towers and 97 California Cabanas; the Beach Village; and all 368 guestrooms and suites in the 126-yearold Victorian building. Sheerwater and Babcock & Story Bar have also received upgrades such as new interior finishes, millwork and furnishings throughout. The Hotel Del Coronado, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977, houses 757 guestrooms and 65,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

4] La Cantera Hill Country Resort San Antonio, TX


La Cantera Hill Country Resort, managed by Destination Hotels & Resorts, will be undergoing a multimillion-dollar transformation that includes the construction of a new spa, an extensive reconfiguration Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall



Tucson, AZ

5] The Lodge at Ventana Canyon Tucson, AZ

San Antonio, TX

of the front entrance, lobby and lobby bar, and a complete redesign of the San Saba Courtyard including a new event lawn. The project will also expand function space (currently at 39,000 sq. ft.), and redefine restaurants, bars and lounge concepts. Overnight accommodations and restaurant operations will be suspended during the major phase of construction from Nov. 3 through early April 2015. Two 18-hole championship golf courses are among the highlights of the 506-room La Cantera, which offers 39,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.


The Lodge at Ventana Canyon has launched the first phase of a multimillion-dollar renovation, scheduled for completion in January. All one-bedroom suites will be updated, while the second and third phase (to start following the first phase), will renovate the dining areas, pool and Jacuzzi, and expand the Golf House and Golf Academy. The AAA Four Diamond property has completed a renovation to the common areas, including the lobby, fitness center, patios and a portion of the grounds. Each of the Lodge’s 50 suites spans 800-1,200 sq. ft., and guests can also enjoy two Tom Faziodesigned 18-hole golf courses, set against the backdrop of the Santa Catalina Mountains.

Cruise Meetings Today

A sea of possibilities for groups, from high-tech theaters to expedition sailing By George Seli


he potential that cruise ships have as a site for corporate meetings has been increasingly realized since the early 1980s, when Miami, FL-based cruise event planning company Landry & Kling was founded. “We’ve been at it for several decades here, so we’ve seen quite an improvement. In the beginning it was almost exclusively incentive travel, because it’s a very logical fit,” says President Josephine Kling. “But there are many other kinds of corporate meetings and events that could use exciting venues. We’re seeing more evidence of the workability.” Kling mentions annual meetings, executive retreats, product launches and various client-facing events as possible matches for a cruise ship site choice. Cruise lines themselves are quite aware of this potential, and today, “I can’t think of any cruise line that isn’t interested in corporate business,” says Kling. 38

That means a great variety of options in brands, ships and programs — similar to the vast selection planners have among hotels and resorts. “The contemporary mass market includes those cruise lines you hear about, simply because they are huge, such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian. They all have over 20 ships and are continually bringing out new ships, which drives a lot of media attention,” Kling observes. But there are also less publicized high-end lines that promise very exclusive experiences to meeting groups. Kling cites Silversea Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line and SeaDream Yacht Club, “which has only two ships that carry about 100 people each,” she notes. “It’s very deluxe, but they don’t get a big media play because they’re only looking for a couple thousand [customers] a year. They have a different cache.” While these smaller-market lines lack as much media play, they still receive recognition. For Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

Regent Seven Seas Cruises recently completed a major refurbishment of its Seven Seas Mariner (left). (Below): MSC Cruises’ Sky and Stars Conference Room

“About 85 percent of our business annually is full-ship charter. It’s a very promotable” experience for attendees. –Sean Mahoney, Global Vice President of Corporate & Incentive Sales, Silversea Cruises

example, in its September 2014 CruiseTrends report, CruiseCompete ranked Oceania Cruises, a line offering five ships, as the Most Popular Cruise Line in the Luxury category. For many incentive travellers today, luxurious amenities are not as motivating as immersive experiences at less-familiar destinations. “Expedition” sailing takes relatively small groups of participants to regions such as the Galapagos, the Antarctic, remote parts of Scandinavia or the Greek Isles, for guided exploration. Clients often “don’t realize that you don’t have to go to the overpublicized ports in the Caribbean,” says Kling. Sean Mahoney, Global Vice President of Corporate Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

and Incentive Sales for Silversea Cruises, describes a voyage for only 16 solar eclipse enthusiasts to Ecuador. Such travellers are “motivated by the authenticity of their experience more than they are by the cost. And I think that’s probably true of our corporate and incentive guests too,” he says. “Insurance and financial services organizations have been conducting incentive travel reward programs for years. They are really the trendsetters for this type of travel. And the world is getting a lot smaller for these organizations that have been doing it for so long. They want new and exotic destinations on all seven continents throughout the year, and then they want new experiences in those destinations. So we partner with operators in those ports of call who have access to the best equipment, the best guides.” The exclusive experience can begin onboard, when a group charters a vessel and enjoys free rein over itinerary, use of function spaces, display of branding elements and so forth. 39

“Groups would love to charter whenever they can,” Kling says. “But it can be a puzzle to find the right opportunity,” namely a ship that fits the group’s size, desired cruising dates and budget. For example, a company can pay for a ship that sleeps 900 for a 500-person group, assuming it has the right availability and quality of amenities. Of course, that’s “not an ideal financial situation,” Kling notes, since the extra, unused beds factor into the cost. But when an ideal chartering option is found, the end result can be a great environment for networking and camaraderie among attendees. Everyone they run into onboard will be a member of their group, and unlike buying out a resort, all guests will certainly be staying “on property” most of the time.

Clients often “don’t realize that you don’t have to go to the overpublicized ports in the Caribbean.” –Josephine Kling, President, Landry & Kling

Chartering is a very significant piece of business for some lines. “About 85 percent of our business annually is full-ship charter,” Mahoney says. The size of the company’s “Classic Fleet” (Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper and Silver Spirit) at about 150-300 suites makes them “ideal for full-ship charter. It’s a very promotable [experience]. Oftentimes, attendees are not employees of the organization, but rather the organization is competing for attendees’ business if they’re dealers or distributors of multiple products. The motivational appeal of the destination and product thus becomes a key component in the selection process. [With a full-ship charter], they can tell their audience, ‘We’ve chartered exclusively for you one of the world’s top-rated cruise ships.’” Companies can also make a real splash for their guests through presentations and entertainment that take advantage of the advanced AV capacities of onboard venues. “The showrooms on each vessel 40

will typically be a place for the big meetings, such as the general session,” Mahoney says. “And those lounges have state-of-the-art sound, light and all of the tech features you would expect to find in what is a Broadway-caliber production facility.” Many cruise lines are touting high-tech features today, a standout being Royal Caribbean International with its new Quantum of the Seas. Following is a review of recent developments at several of the major lines, including new builds, renovations, voyages and onboard amenities. Carnival Cruise Lines

The newer vessels among Carnival’s “Fun Ships” offer rear- and front-screen projection for video and laptop presentations, in addition to all the standard amenities for groups: a variety of rooms available for private use, use of corporate banners on board, specially imprinted menus, cabin gifts, private cocktail functions, special land tours and ice carvings with company logo. Sailing on voyages ranging from three to 16 days, Carnival Breeze, Carnival Magic and Carnival Dream each boast 10 meeting rooms with a total capacity of 1,964-plus. Twenty-one other vessels with less meeting capacity are available, the smallest being Carnival Sunshine with eight rooms and 800plus capacity. Celebrity Cruises

Attendees can expect trendy, sophisticated F&B at sea these days, and a prime example is Celebrity, a brand known for its distinctive dining program. This year Celebrity introduced the Gastrobar aboard Celebrity Equinox. New to the Solstice Class, the craft beer and comfort food venue offers more than 40 “boutique” beers in addition to Celebrity’s varied selection of wines and creative cocktails. Gastrobar’s upscale casual ambiance is complemented by musical entertainment. Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruises is introducing a new expeditionstyle voyage traversing the Arctic Ocean via the legendary Northwest Passage, located 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle. In August 2016, Crystal — specifically the Crystal Serenity — will be the first luxury cruise line ever to navigate the route, maneuvering through 900 miles of waterways

Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

lined with glaciers, towering fjords, and vast unspoiled landscapes away from mainstream civilization and tourism, north of mainland Canada. “From reviewing operations with Canadian officials to meeting with Inuit elders of the Arctic who have provided their backing, our team has spent almost two years diligently gathering the field experts, information, resources and support to ensure an epic experience that is exceptionally rewarding and safe for guests and crew, and respectful of local lands and cultures,” said Crystal’s Executive Vice President Thomas Mazloum in a statement. “During this voyage, speakers will enlighten guests on information regarding climate change, and how it has impacted this passage.” MSC Cruises

A division of Mediterranean Shipping Company, an Italian-Swiss global corporation, MSC Cruises caters to the North American cruise market with MSC Divina. The 3,500-capacity luxury vessel sails the Caribbean and Western Mediterranean. Groups have a several function spaces available, including dedicated meeting space in the Sky and Stars Conference Room, with a capacity of 34; and the 1,600-capacity Pantheon Theater, billed as the largest theater at sea. “There are a few ships larger than the MSC Divina but they don’t have a larger theater,” notes Kling. “So you can’t assume that the size of the ship is proportionate to the size of the conference facilities. Everything is very different today than the old days, when the dining room would seat about half the number of passengers and the theater would also seat about half.” Kling has personally experienced the MSC Yacht Club onboard the Divina. A private enclave with 69 suites, the Yacht Club offers priority

check-in and check-out areas, signature Butler service, dedicated 24-hour concierge, access to private lounges and pool, a private MSC Yacht Club restaurant and more. Planners can book the club for top-tier incentive winners, for example. “MSC dedicated the Divina to American clientele, so the staff is trained in English. But at the same time they have not given up their Mediterranean influence on board. So your coffee, for example, is going to be real Italian coffee,” Kling observes. “That’s one of their key differentiating points: If you’re in the Mediterranean, you don’t really want to have a North American travel experience, at least many don’t.” MSC Divina leverages MSC’s exclusive partnerships with Italian brands such as Eataly (the popular Turin-based restaurant chain), Segafredo Zanetti (considered among the finest gourmet coffee brands in Italy and worldwide), Disaronno (the celebrated Italian liqueur) and Venchi (known for its high-quality chocolates and gelato). Princess Cruises

A subsidiary of Carnival Corporation & plc, Princess Cruises ordered a new ship from Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri this summer. Entering service in 2017, the as-yet-unnamed 143,000-ton vessel will carry 3,560 passengers and feature Princess’s signature elements, such as a soaring central atrium hub with multiple dining, entertainment and retail venues; the adults-only Sanctuary; Movies Under the Stars cinema experience; and 80 percent of all staterooms with balconies. Regent Seven Seas Cruises

This July, construction on Seven Seas Explorer began at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa, Italy. Due in the summer of 2016, the 750-capacity ship will reportedly offer the highest space-toguest and staff-to-guest ratios in the cruise industry. The company is also focused on improvements to existing vessels. In April, Regent completed a multi-million dollar refurbishment and upgrade to the all-suite, all-balcony ship Seven Seas Mariner. The project added new furniture, upholstery, lighting and wall coverings to the Grand, Master, Mariner, Seven Seas, Horizons and Penthouse Suites; a new LED wall to enhance the onstage productions at the MSC Cruises’ Pantheon Theater boasts a capacity of 1,600. show theater; and new steam rooms and

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flooring at the Canyon Ranch Spa, among other upgrades. In addition, Regent announced that for all voyages setting sail after Jan. 1, 2015, guests booked in Master, Grand, Seven Seas, Horizon, Mariner, Navigator and Voyager suites will receive unlimited complimentary Internet access. The Internet access is available for the duration of the cruise and is accessible in all public spaces and suites via the ship-wide WiFi system. Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean International’s newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, debuts in November. The Quantum Class spans 18 decks, carries 4,180 guests at double occupancy and features 2,090 staterooms. As its name implies, the vessel showcases high-tech diversions, including a skydiving simulator; North Star, a capsule that elevates 300 ft. above sea level for 360-degree views; and Two70°, a venue offering futuristic entertainment through Vistarama. Expansive floor-to-ceiling windows can be transformed into any scene, real or imagined, by combining 18 projectors to create an ambient surface over 100 ft. wide and over 20 ft. tall. Quantum of the Seas’ main theater is the 1,300-capacity Royal Theater. Quantum of the Seas will operate with robust bandwidth using satellites launched by tech partner O3b Networks. Speeds will reportedly match fast broadband connections onshore. Silversea Cruises

Silversea Expeditions’ all-suite Silver Galapagos underwent a second phase of refurbishment while docked in Panama in September. All suites, corridors and the Explorer Lounge were renovated using an elegant blue and beige color palette echoing that of the recently refurbished Silver Discoverer. The 100-capacity Silver Galapagos underwent an initial partial refurbishment last year, highlighted by the installation of new insuite bathrooms featuring rich marble detailing, plus a new fitness center, massage room, beauty salon, outdoor Jacuzzi and Silversea’s signature outdoor dining venue, The Grill. The ship’s complimentary shore excursions are guided by an experienced expedition team (certified by the Galápagos National Park Service). Attendees can experience up-close encounters with wildlife including sun-basking land iguanas, giant tortoises, 42

Allure of the Seas, the newest ship in Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class. (Right): Studio B, one of Royal Caribbean’s many onboard event venues.

sea lions, penguins and Darwin’s famous finches. Highly customized shore excursions are one of the brand’s distinctive offerings to corporate groups, Mahoney says. Overall, “what distinguishes Silversea is a commitment from the very top of the organization to corporate and incentive business. [That means] creating an infrastructure that allows you to respond quickly with creative solutions, being flexible as it relates to voyage itineraries and the deployment of the vessel, and carving out special charter voyages of a variety of nights, from three to more.” Viking Ocean Cruises

Corporate groups can look forward to a new opportunity to partner with Viking next year with the debut of the 930-passenger Viking Star. The company’s first oceangoing vessel was “floated out” in June with a ceremony at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard outside Venice, Italy. In addition, two sister ships, Viking Sea and Viking Sky, are under construction for delivery in 2016. Like Viking Star, Viking Sea and Viking Sky will sail in Scandinavia and the Baltic, the Western and Eastern Mediterranean, as well as two new itineraries for 2016 that explore the British Isles. The three ships are engineered at a scale that allows direct access to most ports, facilitating guest embarkation and debarkation. The company describes the vessels as exhibiting an “understated elegance” and “modern Scandinavian design.” Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

Facilities & Destinations


Awards of Excellence

VOTE for the top convention centers (Prime Site) and cities (Top Destination) your group has used for its meetings in the last three years. Please base your vote(s) on the following criteria: CONVENTION CENTERS • Attractiveness and functionality of meeting venue • Size and quality of meeting space • Quality of staff • Food & beverage service • Lighting and acoustics • Meeting technology and Internet access

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Awards of Excellence B al l o t

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Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall




New resorts and attractions give groups new reasons to meet in the “Theme Park Capital”


hile vacationers have long been drawn to Florida’s beaches, balmy climate, theme parks and other attractions, business travelers make up an increasingly important share of tourism to the state. Already a popular destination both internationally and domestically, the Sunshine State has made efforts to market itself globally via sponsorship of the US Open Tennis Championships, among whose viewers are the decision makers in the global world of business. “With business travel accounting for nearly nine million of Florida’s domestic visitors, and conventions, meetings, seminars and training events making up 58 percent of business travel to the Sunshine State, the trade audience is an important market for Florida,” states Paul Phipps, Chief Marketing Officer, Visit Florida. Through this and other upcoming marketing efforts, Florida hopes to increase its share of the ever-competitive business travel and meetings market. Perennially ranking high among the world’s most-visited cities, Orlando has been a force behind Florida’s growing tourism industry. As planners consider destinations that appeal to the broadest and most diverse base of attendees, Orlando has been fitting the bill as a top MICE destination for quite some time as well.

Facilities & Destinations met with Visit Orlando’s President and CEO George Aguel at the city’s Orange County Convention 44

Visit Orlando members have committed to an investment of $5 billion in capital projects throughout the city, including a $270 million renovation of the Orange County Convention Center.

—George Aguel President and CEO, Visit Orlando

Center to discuss what makes Orlando so appealing to planners, and much of the discussion centered upon the city’s unrelenting growth, which has made it easier to plan meetings in the city. Aguel notes that Visit Orlando members have committed to an investment of $5 billion in capital projects throughout the city, including a $270 million renovation of the F&D Prime Site Awardwinning Orange County Convention Center. Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

(Left): Diagon Alley, the latest addition to Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. (Below): Debuted last fall, the Promenade at Hilton Orlando is a 50,000-sq.-ft. outdoor event space.

reason why “50 percent-60 percent [of business travelers to the city] bring along families,” according to Aguel.

In addition, planners interested in offsite group activities will benefit from a series of attractions under development along International Drive that will debut throughout 2015, including the new Sea Life Aquarium and Madame Tussauds Orlando. Most prominent will be the Orlando Eye, a 425-ft. Ferris wheel scheduled to open in the first half of the year. By 2016, the surrounding Skyplex entertainment and shopping district will also feature The Skyscraper, a 570-ft. vertical roller coaster billed as the world’s tallest. Theme parks are also in expansion mode. Promoted in tandem with a temporary broadcast of The Tonight Show in Orlando, earlier this year Universal Orlando debuted its highly anticipated Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley attraction. Walt Disney World also has reported expansion plans. In addition to Fantasyland preparing to double its size, Animal Kingdom park will introduce a land inspired by the film Avatar. Scheduled to open in 2017, the land will feature floating mountains and bioluminescent rainforests. These kinds of attractions are a major Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

The influx of visitors has spurred new hotel construction, including higher-end properties such as the 444-room Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, offering 40,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. At Universal Orlando, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort will open in 2016. With 1,000 guestrooms and 131,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, the hotel will exhibit a Caribbean theme, and feature a tropical river and waterfall. This comes atop Loews Royal Pacific Resort’s meeting space expansion, from 85,000 sq. ft. to over 140,000 sq. ft. Scheduled for completion in the fall of 2015, the new space will include a 36,000-sq.-ft. ballroom. Speaking of vast event spaces, Aguel mentioned that “Orlando is so huge it can be daunting.” Yet the wealth of function space has the advantage of affording planners more possibilities. Along these lines, Aguel noted that in areas such as Downtown Disney, where shops need to be larger to accommodate the increased foot traffic, groups can utilize space after hours or buy out venues. We experienced firsthand what Aguel was describing. Pointe Orlando may seem like merely 45

Gayle Skelton, CPCE Senior Vice President Lea Brueckner & Company

Gayle Skelton brings a wealth of experience to Atlanta-based event-planning firm Lea Brueckner & Company. She led her own catering company in Dallas for 15 years and then worked for hoteliers Four Seasons and Rosewood for several years. Skelton was then hired as meeting planner with a major investment management company, prior to joining Lea Brueckner. As an in-house meeting planner, she held several client-facing programs in Orlando and recalls “amazing experiences” at Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar over three years. “When other planners ask me what I’ve done in Orlando that I’ve really liked, I recommend Cuba Libre,” she says. What do you feel makes Pointe Orlando’s restaurants a standout choice for planners? The great thing about that group of restaurants is that they refer each other [to planners]. They have a really good working relationship, even though they’re not owned by the same company. They’re very supportive of the meetings industry. You don’t see that everywhere. How does Cuba Libre demonstrate proficiency in handling groups’ needs? We brought parting gifts for the attendees, 200 nametags to be alphabetized, banners to be installed, and so on. Their staff helped with anything we asked them to do. Cuba Libre’s upstairs room easily accommodated our group along with entertainment we brought in. [The restaurant can source local Latin entertainment, from musicians to salsa dancers and instructors.] No décor is needed, which saves money. And the food is really, really good. What kind of impact on guests did you look for? My goal was to up the bar with each reception at the restaurant, because there were other companies competing for the clients to attend their event. When attendees got to the point when they said, “Be sure to go to the Cuba Libre event because it’s always cool,” then I knew I succeeded. 46

The recently opened Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort

a well-situated outdoor shopping mall, fortuitously located on the city’s busy International Drive, near the Orange County Convention Center and the Prime Site Meeting (PRISM) Hotel awardee Hyatt Regency Orlando. But as the sun goes down, Pointe Orlando can also participate in the city’s nightlife — as an event venue. During our visit, four of the mall’s 13 restaurants, clubs and bars were bought out for the evening and made accessible only to attendees displaying their convention badge. Catering to the diversity of the attendees, the event sponsors took over The Pub, a U.K.-themed sports bar that provided specialty beers and ales and an atmosphere that was relatively subdued, as compared to Tommy Bahama, where the beat of Caribbean steel drums and reggae music greeted guests. Many attendees opted for Cuba Libre and B.B. King’s Blues Club. Each club was nearly filled to its 1,000-person capacity, and revelers enjoyed their favorite music while they dined, drank, and danced into the night. Surveying the guests as our staff left for the evening, there was not a disappointed face in the house. For a city whose themes are magic-related, be it via Disney, its NBA club, or Harry Potter, another type of magic was evident that evening — meetings magic. How else to explain the transformation of an outdoor shopping center into a dynamic entertainment enclave for attendees? Yet such a feat is not uncommon in Orlando, where “people love being hospitable,” Aguel observes. That attitude may be the real driver behind the continual growth of the city’s tourism industry. —DK Orlando’s meeting hotels were featured in the 20132014 edition of the Facilities & Destinations Planner Guide. The city will be featured in greater depth in next year’s SuperBook. Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

d l o s y d a e r l a I was pace. And s e h t e on h t w e r h t l l i t s y e th . e e r f r o f n i . view e n i h s n e su h t e b t Mus

With easy-to-get-to destinations, unbeatable hospitality, diverse venues, and year-round value, nobody takes meetings more seriously than we do.


North Florida The River City and the Old City promise diverse experiences for groups By Debi Lander


ositioned along the scenic Atlantic Coast, Northeast Florida runs from Amelia Island down to Palm Coast and includes two major cities, Jacksonville and St. Augustine. The area blends city with beach town, history and golf, sunny skies and a sultry climate supporting live oak trees draped in Spanish moss.

The Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront (left) accommodates groups for outdoor events beside St. Johns River and Main Street Bridge.

High-rise buildings and hotels on the North and Southbank offer enticing river views, sometimes surprising guests with frolicking dolphins, and include “We held an outdoor reception well-lit walking or jogging paths overlooking St. Johns River. right outside the Many attendees later walked door. Numerous over to the nearby Landing for bridges, river taxis and the Skyway live weekend entertainment.” —Buddy Allen, Chair, Monorail, a free Prevent Child Abuse Society people-mover, offer transport back and forth.

The region is known as the First Coast because it’s where Ponce de Leon came ashore and named the land “La Florida.” The area is also the first region that southbound drivers encounter when they cross the state line on Interstate 95. With Orlando’s cachet in the meetings industry, Northeast Florida may not be the first option a planner considers in the state. However, a site inspection quickly reveals the area’s virtues, including numerous upscale hotels, a “prime” convention center, proactive CVBs and the Jacksonville International Airport, which is big enough to attract the major airlines, but small enough to keep the incoming attendee happy. Shuttles whisk passengers to the city’s hub in about 20 minutes. The River City

Jacksonville, or the “River City by the Sea,” is bisected by the north-flowing St. Johns River. 48

The Prime Osborn Convention Center evolved from the grand old railroad terminal and offers 275,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space and stateof-the-art technology. This is meeting space with distinctive character: high vaulted ceilings, stained glass and old wooden benches reminiscent of the railway’s glory days. Groups from 10 to 10,000 can be accommodated here, and more than 2,000 hotels rooms lie within a mile or two of the building. The Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, Omni Jacksonville Hotel, Crowne Plaza Jacksonville– Riverfront and Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk

Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

The World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine (above) and the famous 17th island green (left) at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.

are the main lodging choices for downtown meetings. The Hyatt is the largest with 966 guestrooms and 110,000 total sq. ft. of meeting space. The upscale Omni has 354 guestrooms with 14,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. Omni GM Burnell Goldman noted, “We can always overflow into the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts directly across the street if additional room is needed.”

In May 2014 the nonprofit Prevent Child Abuse Society brought 650 members from across the country and the Caribbean to Jacksonville’s Hyatt Regency. “The Hyatt and Visit Jacksonville staff went out of their way to work with us, welcome us and meet our needs,” said convention Chair Buddy Allen. “The hotel gave us a comfortable base with a friendly feel.” Florida itself ensured a pleasant experience for attendees. “The warm weather and sunny skies sure helped, too. We held an outdoor reception overlooking the river which was especially enjoyed by northern attendees, many of whom later walked over to the nearby Landing for live weekend entertainment.” Venues for events outside the hotels include the beautiful Cummer Art Museum & Gardens, with reception space above the formal gardens that remains

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pretty (and green) year round, plus after-hours access to the art galleries. The historic Florida Theater (opened in 1926) offers a professional stage where every seat has an unobstructed view. Numerous sporting-themed spaces can host gatherings, including EverBank Stadium, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars; the Baseball Grounds, home of the minor league Jacksonville Suns; and the enclosed Veterans Memorial Arena (built in 2003), which can seat 15,000.

The World Golf Hall of Fame contains banquet space, small meeting rooms and an outdoor natural grass 18-hole putting green — perfect for teambuilding or friendly competition.

The River City also flaunts beachside hotels, about 30 minutes away, such as the One Ocean Resort & Spa in Atlantic Beach. The posh and modern-styled facility has 193 guestrooms and 10 meeting rooms spanning 10,500 sq. ft. Covered outdoor events can be held beside the Atlantic’s surf. In addition, the hotel’s award-winning chef, Ted Peters, makes this property a foodie haven. Golf Heaven

For meeting groups interested in golf, Northeast Florida is sure to surpass expectations and bring rave reviews. The ultimate destination for golfers is TPC Sawgrass at Ponte Vedra Beach, home to THE PLAYERS Championship, often referred to as “golf’s fifth major.” The magnificent site offers full 49

banquet facilities with catering expertise. The Clubhouse is also known for hosting volunteer storytellers in the lobby and offering escorted golf cart rides to the TPC’s final three holes, including the famous 17th island hole, considered the world’s “most photographed hole in golf.” The preferred lodging for serious golfers is the 490-room Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa. The grounds border the TPC course and a cart path leads directly to the TPC Clubhouse. This upscale facility offers guestrooms in the main building and 80 one- and two-bedroom villas surrounding the palm-shrouded grounds. The Sawgrass Resort houses 56,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including the 16,000-sq.-ft. Champions Ballroom and a Tournament Hall with 12,500 sq. ft. of exhibition space. A five-minute Sawgrass shuttle takes guests to the Cabana Beach Club for private beach access. Meals in this glassed-in beachside restaurant are sure to please sand and surf lovers. The Sawgrass Spa is a 25,000-sq.-ft. sanctuary with 19 treatment rooms. The World Golf Hall of Fame, situated within World Golf Village and St. Augustine’s suburbs, offers interesting and informative tours for both golf enthusiasts and non-golfers. The attraction is the result of collaborative efforts between international golf organizations whose goal was to preserve the sport’s history and legends. Groups can tour the facility in as little as an hour, but many take two to three. Most favor the locker room area, where inductees have chosen their own mementoes to represent their individual stories. The multi-level attraction also contains banquet space, small meeting rooms and an outdoor natural grass 18-hole putting green — perfect for teambuilding or friendly competition. World Golf Village features two 18-hole courses and can offer group tee times and customized golf tournaments. Planners will also find the largest combination hotel and conference center between Orlando and Atlanta within the complex. 50

The Renaissance World Golf Village Resort & Convention Center

The 301-room Renaissance World Golf Village Resort & Convention Center houses 86,000 sq. ft. of total function space, including the 26,450-sq.-ft. La Terrazza. Additionally, the 250-room Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, a stately club dating back to 1928, offers two championship courses teeming with coastal wildlife and beachside dining and pools. The club’s spa is the largest in the area. The Ponte Vedra Lodge is a smaller, sophisticated hotel with just 66 rooms. The second-floor dining areas offer event space with dramatic shoreline views. St. Augustine

Moving south, about an hour’s drive from the airport or just 25 miles from Ponte Vedra, lies charming St. Augustine. The nation’s oldest city is celebrating 450 years of continuous occupation next year. The historic district on the bayfront is the region’s main tourist attraction, brimming with Spanish architecture, numerous historic landmarks and the old fort named Castillo de San Marcos, a U.S. National Park Memorial. Construction using coquina (shell-stone) rock began in 1672, and the structure is considered the oldest masonry fort in North America. Thirty-six buildings of colonial origin are still standing in the historic district. At a minimum, meeting planners will want to budget an afternoon of sightseeing or a meal in the Old City. Horse-drawn carriages are ideal for small groups, and trolley tours are available for larger parties. Another fun option is a visit to the Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

The historic Ponce de Leon Hotel is today part of Flagler College (left) in St. Augustine. For a different taste of history, groups can enjoy teambuilding aboard the city’s Pirate Ship Black Raven (below).

Pirate and Treasure Museum, which maintains a collection of authentic Smithsonian-quality pirate artifacts and interactive displays. The St. Augustine Lighthouse offers amazing views for attendees who would like the exercise of climbing 219 steps. In addition, The Pirate Ship Black Raven can sail up to 60 guests and offers teambuilding exercises. Millionaire Henry Flagler brought tourism to Florida beginning with his railroad and the Ponce de Leon Hotel, built in 1888 and now part of Flagler College. A tour of the goldenage hotel offers glimpses into the past, including a 100-ft.-high domed lobby, stained glass windows installed by Tiffany and electricity installed by Edison. An 8,900-sq.-ft. reception area is available for 400 guests. Still within the historic district, the Casa Monica, a five-star boutique hotel, offers 138 guestrooms and dining space for up to 270. The Fountain of Youth Archeological Park can handle groups of up to 1,000, and the Colonial Quarter has an outdoor banquet venue resting under the sprawling branches of an immense oak tree. This dining area also offers a professional Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

stage. The two-acre enclosure can be reserved in the evenings and includes costumed interpreters from the Spanish and British colonial periods, character actors and a pirate magician. Another offsite option is the new St. Augustine Distillery, located in the city’s former ice plant and ideal for small functions of up to 40 people. Larger groups can tour the distillery and enjoy tasting the craft gin and vodka. History, beach, golf, waterways and a dynamic downtown make Northeast Florida a sunny and stunning choice for meeting and incentive travel planners. One phone call to Visit Jacksonville and/or the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches VCB will answer all of a planner’s questions and needs. 51

Fort Lauderdale A growing Southeast Florida meetings hub


roward County is preparing to celebrate its centennial with “Broward 100 – Celebrating the Art of Community,” a yearlong, community-wide celebration beginning this month. Tourism professionals in Fort Lauderdale, the county seat, also have reason to celebrate as the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau captured four Flagler Awards last month at the 47th annual Florida Governor’s Conference on Tourism, held at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. Presented by Visit Florida and named in honor of Florida’s famed railroad and hotel magnate Henry Flagler, the awards recognize the exceptional tourism marketing efforts of Florida’s travel businesses, destinations and attractions. The GFLCVB placed in a total of seven categories, receiving three bronze awards for Niche Marketing – Urban Experience, Mobile Marketing for Sunny.org mobile, and Mixed Media campaign, respectively. 52

The Fort Lauderdale Marriott Resort Harbor Beach boasts South Florida’s largest private beach as well as an 8,000-sq.-ft. lagoon swimming pool.

Meeting groups bound for Fort Lauderdale not only enjoy the services of an award-winning CVB, but also 23 miles of beaches, 300-plus miles of inland waterways, fine dining, arts and culture, and a selection of more than 34,000 hotel rooms. Among the more luxurious choices is the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Resort Harbor Beach, Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

Resort expected to be completed next July. The Jimmy Buffett-themed project stretches five acres along Hollywood’s famed Broadwalk and the Intracoastal Waterway, and will feature seven restaurants/bars, multiple pools and a full-service spa. Bonaventure Resort & Spa recently renovated its 60,000-sq.-ft. conference center, as well as the aLaya Spa. Upgrades to the property’s 501 guestrooms are scheduled to be completed this year. The B Ocean Fort Lauderdale is now officially Facilities & Destinations staff visited the Fort Sonesta Fort Lauderdale, the brand’s first in Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach in April. Our the city. The property offers 204 guestrooms group enjoyed numerous watersports, including the and 8,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. The 104-room Courtyard very trendy stand-up paddleby Marriott Fort Lauboarding, diving and some of derdale East recently the East Coast’s best snorkeling, Broward County is planning reopened with newly thanks to Greater Fort Laudera 70,000-sq.-ft. expansion renovated rooms and a dale’s 69 miles of coral reef. The of its LEED Gold-certified new lobby. resort itself has a 200,000-sq.-ft. convention center, as well as Residence Inn Fort private beach (the largest in Lauderdale Airport & South Florida), where groups the addition of a 750-room Cruise Port opens this can hold teambuilding activities convention center hotel. month in Dania Beach. The such as Beach Olympics. Dining 156-suite hotel offers one, at Executive Chef Paul DaSilva’s 512-sq.-ft. meeting room. 3030 Ocean was another highThe 374-room Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach light of our visit. The restaurant constantly changes Resort has installed six wind turbines to help its menu in order to offer seasonal ingredients of power its facilities. Over 9,000 sq. ft. of function optimal quality. Two private dining rooms accomspace is available onsite. modating 10 and 20 guests, respectively, are availDiplomat Hotel Owner LLC, an affiliate of able at 3030 Ocean. Our staff also highly recomThayer Lodging Group of Annapolis, MD, has mends the cuisine at Market 17, a farm-to-table purchased the 998-unit Westin Diplomat organic restaurant, and the new Lobster Bar, offerResort & Spa for $460 million. Fort Laudering “surf and turf” in a nautical atmosphere. dale’s largest hotel, the Diplomat houses 237,306 sq. ft. of meeting space. The Marriott is located a mere five miles from the Fort Lauderdale International Airport, as is the Despite its numerous luxury accommodations, SMG-managed Greater Fort Lauderdale/ Fort Lauderdale is certainly not the kind of meetBroward County Convention Center. The first convention center in Florida and one of only three ing destination where attendees will want to stay in the nation to earn LEED Gold certification for an on property for the duration of the event. More Existing Building, the 600,000-sq.-ft. facility houses than 40 professional golf courses are in the area, and there is a developing urban arts district four exhibit halls, two ballrooms and 31 meeting to explore: FAT (Flagler Arts & Technology) rooms. Broward County is currently planning a 70,000-sq.-ft. expansion to the convention center, as Village. Las Olas Boulevard is renowned for its restaurants, and dining aboard a chartered yacht well as a 750-room convention center hotel. is yet another option for groups. Cultural venues include the Broward Center for the Performing Greater Fort Lauderdale is in fact teeming with Arts, the Museum of Art and the Bonnet House hotel and resort developments: The $147 million, 349-room Margaritaville Museum & Gardens, a historic landmark. —GS a 650-room property featuring the area’s largest seaside spa at 22,000 sq. ft., an 8,000-sq.-ft. lagoon swimming pool, and oceanfront dining. At the same time, the resort means business when it comes to meetings, offering groups 100,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor function space, including the 14,900-sq.-ft. Grand Ballroom and the 9,718-sq.-ft. Ocean Ballroom. Two 1,100-sq.-ft. boardrooms are available, as is a 60,000-sq.-ft. oceanfront terrace. The hotel is investing $6.5 million on renovating its meeting spaces.

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Streamsong Resort Meeting close to nature By Uri Strauss


owling Green, a Floridian town with a population of about 3,000, is not quite in proximity to the major airports, located 86 miles from Orlando International and 57 miles from Tampa International. But a great resort is worth the added ground transportation, and Bowling Green is home to an undeniable draw for meeting and incentive groups: Streamsong Resort. Situated amidst 16,000 acres of lush greenery, the secluded resort is ideal for attendees looking to “escape” into nature, far from the bustling metropolises of Orlando and Tampa. Heading down the winding Streamsong Drive en route to the property, it is evident how the building’s architecture beautifully complements the area’s rolling green hills. The front lawn, although meticulously maintained, melds smoothly with the organic environment. The building doesn’t attempt to force itself onto the location; it lets the 54

Mosaic, a global fertilizer company, opened Streamsong Resort last year. Since then, the resort has offered groups an idyllic alternative to Florida’s urban meeting destinations.

atmosphere speak for itself. Even the lobby pays homage to the surroundings with a panoramic window displaying the lake in all its glory. A certain attention to detail in the property’s design makes for several conversation-starters among meeting attendees. For example, the lobby sitting

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area’s ceiling is built to look like deck of a ship, and down the hallway lies a small “museum” that shows the history of the resort’s construction, along with a few curios that provide a nice material connection to the narrative. In each of the Lodge’s 216 guestrooms, participants will find a one-shelf library containing literary classics.

Streamsong’s Clubhouse offers conference space and views of the resort’s unique landscape.

The Lodge’s main dining area, Sotto Terra, is divided into two sections, The AcquaPietra Spa and other a primary one that is set up tradiSand dunes created recreational activities, such tionally with many small tables, from recovered as tennis, guided bass fishing and a secondary one set in an phosphate mining land and clay shooting, complement alcove that is suitable for lunch meetings. On the top floor is became the foundation Streamsong’s exceptional golfing. All of this recreation should Fragmentary Blue, an exquisite for the resort’s two appeal to the corporate group bar that opens onto a terrace dramatic, 18-hole that’s looking for a revitalizing with a spectacular view of the experience. night sky. The dining options golf courses. continue with the newly renoOf course, there are also busivated P2O5, featuring classic ness-oriented aspects to the getaway. Streamsong American cuisine, and Fifty-Nine, an elegant steak and seafood restaurant located in the Club- offers about 24,600 sq. ft. of meeting space, in addition to 40,000 sq. ft. of outdoor function space house. Executive Chef Richard Mendoza creates between the Lodge and the Clubhouse. The main excellent gourmet dishes with a first-class presentation, and can aptly handle attendees’ dietary conference center houses 14,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including flexible breakout rooms, as well requirements. The Clubhouse itself houses 12 as an air-conditioned rooftop pavilion. Particuguestrooms and 4,500 sq. ft. of conference space. larly impressive is the well-appointed teleconference room, which has a back door for IT staff Most corporate groups will be attracted to to come and go without disturbing meetings in Streamsong Resort for its golf courses, whose progress, as well as a revealable bar for breaks. All unique origin has resulted in a dramatic terrain. the meeting rooms have staff accommodations in Mosaic, a global fertilizer company, opened the their immediate vicinity, so help is available at a Streamsong Resort in early 2013 on former moment’s notice. While most rooms are of modphosphate mining country. Sand dunes created erate size, the meeting rooms on the conference from recovered land became the foundation for center’s main floor can be joined to accommodate the resort’s two 18-hole courses: Streamsong Red, about 100 attendees. The conference center is designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, and particularly well suited for brainstorming sessions, Streamsong Blue, by Tom Doak of Renaissance as the adjacent porch overlooking the greenery Golf Design. These course architects are top of is the perfect place to help creative juices flow. the line, Doak having designed four of the top Indeed, even during business sessions Streamsong 100 golf courses in the world. reminds attendees that they are close to nature.

Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall


On Location

Seattle A revitalized Emerald City hits a homerun in the meetings industry


ainfall in Seattle is not prevalent during the summer months, and this past summer, there was almost no rain during July — at least until our staff’s site visit. On Twitter, our Visit Seattle hosts humorously apologized for the rain, but it posed no problem, since our first stop from the airport was Safeco Field, where the New York Mets were to face the hometown Seattle Mariners. Built for baseball and to withstand the elements, the stadium’s retractable roof was closed and allowed our schedule to proceed as planned. In deference to the traditional baseball hymn, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” rooting for the home team was going to be a challenge. At the time, the Mariners were battling for a playoff spot with our beloved New York Yankees (postscript: neither team made the post season) and had just enticed a key Yankees slugger, Robinson Cano, to join their club. That said, we decided to enjoy the game and the ballpark. Much emphasis has been put on the team’s ability to generate revenue from suites, where corporate buyers can hold meetings and events at a prime location. Like most sporting venues, Safeco Field clearly has its share of suites, from right field all the way around to left. Of more interest to us were two event spaces in the outfield situated adjacent to the bullpen areas. The Patio at the Pen (capacity 55-75) and Power Alley at the Pen (capacity 100-200) were reserved during the game by local offices of two major Internet-service corporations. The open areas were set up with bars, food stations and tables for members of the groups to fraternize, discuss business and partake in game-day festivities. Both spaces, ideal for incentive outings or


Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

Symbolizing Seattle: The Space Needle observation tower, built for the 1962 World’s Fair.


Ben of bkdesignonline.webs.com

Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

Safeco Field offers special-event spaces for groups near the bullpen.

other visiting groups, are situated directly over the right-center field fence and afford attendees great views of the game. More information about

tourists, Horner searches for seasonal ingredients from surrounding farms to add some local flavor to his menus at the Marriott’s restaurant, the Hook and Plow. Available for private events, the restaurant also features a selection of local wines, beers and spirits.

While summers are low in rainfall, they are high season for tourism. Atop the normal surges in summer travel, Seattle is the port of departure for cruise ships heading northward to Alaska. David Dolquist, General Manager of the Seattle Marriott Waterfront, informed us that leisure travelers regularly extend their stays in conjunction with cruises, and many come “directly from the ships to the hotel.” The 358-room downtown property is located within walking distance of the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal, and provides guests with “an authentically local experience.”

The Marriott Waterfront is a great location for meetings as well, having recently completed a $2 million renovation of its lobby and more than 11,300 sq. ft. of meeting space. The redesign celebrates the city’s affinity for glass-themed art, featuring variations on the theme throughout the public spaces and meeting areas. The Executive Boardroom, seating 15, has been fitted with a new chandelier by local glass artist Julie Conway. Fused glass panels imported from Italy adorn the lobby and lobby bar, and floor-to-ceiling windows illuminate the lounges off the lobby area. The hotel’s main meeting space, the Grand Pacific Ballroom, can accommodate up to 900 guests. The foyer leading to the ballroom and other event rooms has pre-event space for cocktails or registration, and is conveniently accessible via stairs from the main lobby for offsite attendees or via elevator for guests staying onsite. The hotel also partners with the Edgewater Hotel to accommodate larger meetings in the area, particularly those held at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center. Both facilities are located along the waterfront street known as Alaskan Way.

game-day event spaces is available at http:// seattle.mariners.mlb.com/sea/ticketing/pregame_hospitality.jsp.

The locale definitely enhances the experience, with views of ferries crossing Puget Sound’s Elliott Bay and the historic Pike Place Market only steps away from the hotel. The public market, renowned for its fresh produce and seafood year round, is also home to restaurants and specialty food shops (including the original Starbucks site) that offer an array of products including baked goods, cheeses and even pickles, to name a few. We toured the market with the Marriott’s Executive Chef Thomas Horner. Prior to the arrival of 58

Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

Just steps away from the Seattle Marriott Waterfront (left) is the historic Pike Place Market (above).

Learn more about the hotel at www. marriott.com/hotels/travel/seawf-seattlemarriott-waterfront. Central Waterfront Modernization

The Seattle Marriott Waterfront recently completed a $2 million renovation of its lobby and more than 11,300 sq. ft. of meeting space.

As the global shipping industry developed and ocean liners increased in size, container ports moved to the south of the city, leaving the Central Waterfront hub. Part of the revitalization of the area was directed by the City of Seattle, with the hope of modernizing the waterfront to include a conference center, a cruise ship terminal, a maritime museum as well as commercial, recreational and residential facilities.

One of the results of the rebirth of Alaskan Way is the development of the IACC-certified Bell Harbor International Conference Center. The worldclass facility contains 100,000 sq. ft. of function space accommodating events from small meetings to tradeshows. Many of the meeting rooms have terraces with views of the Sound and Seattle skyline, as well as the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier. Bell Harbor’s larger spaces are flexible within and without. The 12,000-sq.-ft. Elliott Hall and the almost 10,000-sq.-ft. International Promenade both lead out onto the pier and can be combined to create an even larger space flowing indoors and out. In addition, Bell Harbor’s Bay Auditorium is Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

able to accommodate up to 300 people in an amphitheater-style room, ideal for keynote speeches or product demonstrations. More information about Bell Harbor and its sister sites, the Maritime Event Center, World Trade Center Seattle and Smith Cove Cruise Terminal, can be found at www. bellharbor.com.

The Edgewater Hotel can stake a claim to being Seattle’s “only waterfront hotel.” Built atop a pier for the 1962 World’s Fair, the 223room luxury hotel incorporates the feel of a “Pacific Northwest” lodge throughout its design, both outside with logs and wooden terraces, and inside with fireplaces, wood-framed windows and other rustic accents. Adorning the hotel lobby atop its fireplace is a “Wall of Fame,” recounting celebrity guests that have stayed at the property over the past half-century, including major rock stars such as The Beatles. The Edgewater also boasts more than 10,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, with breathtaking views of the Sound, as well as terraces. The signature space has to be the more than 3,500-sq.-ft. Olympic Ballroom, which features floor-to-ceiling windows and a circular design providing a panoramic view of the Sound and Olympic Mountains beyond. Adjoining the Olympic 59

True to its name, The Edgewater Hotel boasts some of the best views of Puget Sound in Seattle.

hotel and an intriguing Destination Hotels & Resorts property. Upon realizing the 1,236room Sheraton Seattle Hotel is directly across the street from the Convention Center, one naturally wonders why a pedestrian bridge connecting the two facilities has not been built. However, there is an entrance to the hotel designed as part of a recent renovation project that makes the Convention Center as accessible as possible.

While able to serve as a convention center hotel, the Sheraton is itself a formidable host for meetings and events, with 75,000 sq. ft. Ballroom are the 600-sq.-ft. Terrace of function space. A highlight is the Room and the more than 1,500-sq.-ft. The latest addition 35th-floor Cirrus Ballroom. At 3,400 Terrace. All of these areas can be comto the Washington sq. ft., it is not the largest space on bined to create a larger meeting space. State Convention site, but it does afford panoramic Additional information about the hotel’s views of Puget Sound and the city’s other meeting spaces, food and beverage, Center is the skyline. Larger ballrooms with and amenities can be found at www.edgeadjacent breakout and pre-function LEED-certified, waterhotel.com. space are located on the lower floors 71,000-sq.-ft. of the hotel above the lobby. AccesConference Center. sible via escalator from street level CONVENTION CENTER INFRASTRucture and as well as elevator banks from With more than 400,000 sq. ft. of meetrooms within the hotel, the second-floor Grand ing space, the Washington State Ballroom provides 18,300 sq. ft. of flexible space Convention Center is the address for major (maximum capacity 1,550) that can be broken groups and exhibitions that visit Seattle. Seattle’s down into four separate ballrooms. Exhibition ever-increasing popularity as a destination for organizers will note there is a direct, convenient business tourism led to a number of expansions path from loading docks into the Grand Ballroom. during the Convention Center’s nearly 30-year On the third level, also accessible via escalator history. The most recent addition to the complex and elevator, is the 9,440-sq.-ft. Metropolitan Balltook place earlier this decade with the opening room, which can be divided into two equal-sized of the LEED-certified, 71,000-sq.-ft. Conference rooms. Center, providing much needed space for returning groups that were outgrowing the Convention Both the Sheraton’s second and third levels Center and attracting new business to the Emerald contain numerous breakout rooms as well as City. For more information, visit www.wscc.com. more than 7,000 sq. ft. of pre-function space on A number of hotels service the needs of convention delegates, whose numbers increased in the years since the Washington State Convention Center expanded its meeting facilities. Among the lodging choices our staff visited were a major Starwood 60

the third level that can be utilized for meetings, seminars and other events. In addition to visiting groups, both the Metropolitan and Grand Ballrooms are sought after for local events, and the food and beverage teams at the hotel are able to accommodate specialty menus and/or work with

Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

Charlene Inoncillo Community Brand Manager, Moz

A Seattle-based online marketing software company, Moz hosts a growing marketing conference known as MozCon. This year, July 14-16, the event drew about 1,500 attendees (roughly 40 percent from outside the United States) and was held at the Washington State Convention Center. For lodging, Moz partnered with both the Grand Hyatt and Hyatt at Olive 8. According to Charlene Inoncillo, about 250 people were on the waiting list. That’s definitely progress, given that the first MozCon had about 250 attendees. What do you believe makes the city a draw for your attendees? I feel that Seattle has been put on the map, especially with the Super Bowl win. And with our conference being in the summertime, many of our attendees will travel with their families and make it a vacation. It’s a very family-oriented city. We sell tickets to the conference, but also the city to our attendees. Which free-time activities are most popular with the group? Sports fans went to a Mariners game, and Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

many visited Pike Place Market, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Aquarium and Pacific Science Center. The Grand Hyatt and Olive 8 are in walking distance to the Market and Science Center. How did Visit Seattle assist you? I worked with them to book our conference at the convention center. They’re also a great resource for many attendee activities, and provided contacts to get discounts for Seattle Mariners games. We also developed an app for MozCon that included top activities recommended by the CVB. How was the experience of working with the Washington State Convention Center? The No. 1 thing that stands out about the convention center for me is their phenomenal staff. Their employees blend in well with our attendees, who tend to be laidback professionals. Also, they give us the ability to do pretty much whatever we want with the space, and that is a huge deal for us. We’re a single-track conference, so we just need a big room to flip into an intimate setting with the help of an AV company we hire. 61

The Sheraton Seattle Hotel (left) and Motif Seattle (above) both support the Washington State Convention Center.

local caterers for kosherobservant clientele or Indian celebratory events. Pride in the property clearly permeated through all levels of staff that we encountered during our visit. For

more information about the Sheraton Seattle Hotel, visit www.sheraton seattle.com.

“We have the biggest draw when we hold the customer event in Seattle. Attendance increases tenfold.” —Cristine Demaio, CMP, Event Manager, Kenworth Truck Company

Coming off a $25 million, threephase renovation project that included an expansion of the hotel’s lobby, renovation of the guestrooms and meeting spaces, the 329-room Motif Seattle has quietly taken its place among the downtown hotels servicing the Convention Center. F&D met with Doug Phillips, Destination Hotels & Resorts veteran and the hotel’s Director of Sales and Marketing, over breakfast at the hotel’s Frolik Kitchen+Cocktails in order to learn more about property, rebranded in June. As with most hotels in Seattle, the ratio of business to leisure travelers at Motif leans more toward leisure, 40 percent to 60 percent, Phillips estimated. Noting that he was extremely pleased with his team’s diligence in pursuing and successfully engaging meeting planners to bring groups to the hotel, Phillips added that its association with Destination Hotels & Resorts, a collection of luxury, independent properties across the United States, would also be a driver for the meetings opportunities at the Motif. 62

Much of the hotel’s design reflects the unique spirit of the region, and the hotel’s meeting space is no different. One example is the artwork above the grand staircase connecting the hotel’s third- and fourth-floor meeting spaces — glassmodeled crosscuts of redwoods reminiscent of the lumber trade and forests that flourished in the region during the late 19th century.

The Motif’s third and fourth floors are accessible via two sets of elevator banks, in addition to the grand staircase, and are home to the hotel’s premier meeting spaces. The larger ballroom, the third floor’s Emerald Ballroom (8,915 sq. ft.), divisible into three partitioned rooms, takes up the entire level’s meeting space. The fourth floor’s Seattle Ballroom (5,957 sq. ft.) can also be divided into thirds, and that level also houses the breakout and boardroom spaces. The ballroom spaces on both levels feature floorto-ceiling windows that can be curtained to reduce glare. Also on both levels, Phillips pointed out a kitchen area called the Chef’s Cupboard, break stations with unlimited food and beverage packages for participants. The signature group venue at Motif Seattle is where we started our meeting with Phillips, the Frolik. The restaurant has a private dining area for smaller groups, but the more scenic space is its 4,000-sq.-ft. outdoor terrace, which is perfect for cocktail receptions overlooking Elliott Bay. There are heating Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

ies Media Group

s Guide

elements built into a bar stool seating area, as well as a fireplace to keep the space operable even when the Services Resource weather gets a bit chilly in the evenings.


UrbanRide Before departing we took a look at Avenue, one ofNewthe Presi421 7th York, NY 10001 (800) 525-5750; Fax: (212) 202-9638 dential Suites, which can alsowww.urbanride.net be utilized for meetings. Located on the hotel’s upper floors, the suites Chief Executive Officer: Jeremy Milikow Senior Viceunparalleled President: Mitch Bornstein, have viewsSVPof the Sound. Another outdoor space, a terrace area outside the hotel’s entrance ‘Leading Global Provider of Meeting & Event Transportation’ on Fifth can be used for smaller UrbanRide is aAvenue, global provider of ground transportation for meetingscocktail & events, and uses the top-of-the-line sedans, SUVs, vans, minibuses and motorcoaches. We“curbprovide receptions. Phillips touted the space as having our clients with IMS, our software that enables meeting planners to better manage transportation for their meetings, conferences, conventions, tradeshows other events. side appeal,” enabling attendees to view the&busy life We work exclusively with meeting & event planners and our customer service is the best in of the city while simultaneously taking a break from the business. UrbanRide is a one-stop solution for meeting & event transportation. it all. More information about this new property can be found at motifseattle.com.

An Attendance-Boosting City

A well-established hotel on the Seattle meeting Keppler Speakers scene is Dr., theSuite 425-room 4350 N. Fairfax 700, Arlington,Grand VA 22203 Hyatt Seattle, which (703) 516-4000; Fax: (703) 516-4819 houses 25,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including a www.kepplerspeakers.com Senior VP for Sales and Marketing: John Truran 5,671-sq.-ft. ballroom. Kirkland, WA-based With Keppler Speakers, creating memorable meetings never felt so easy. With over 25 Kenworth Truck Company has regularly held years of experience, we provide you solid, seasoned expertise, making speaker selection customer events at the Grand Hyatt as well as time theby stress-free by managing all of the details. Keppler Speakers saves you precious matching you with speakers who are right on target. From proven performers to dynamic LEED-certified, 346-room Hyatt at Olive 8 (11,000 rising stars, our speakers bring fascinating, real stories and a gift for inspiring audiences. sq. ft. of meeting space). The events draw

approximately 100-150 dealers, according to Cristine Demaio, CMP, the company’s Event Manager. “We have three facilities, one in Ohio and two in Washington outside of Seattle, and we always have the biggest draw when we hold the customer event in Seattle,” Demaio says. “Attendance increases tenfold.” Special events include dinner at the Diamond Club at Safeco Field and an Argosy Cruise around Lake Union and Lake Washington. “That’s where you can see the houseboats, Bill and Melinda Gates’ house and all the big mansions, as well as the University of Washington. It’s used as a networking tool for our customers and also just to showcase our city. We’re pretty proud of Seattle here.” Our whirlwind trip to Seattle did not give us time to sample an Argosy Cruise or see every meeting facility we wanted to, but it was clear to us that Seattleites have many local venues to be proud of, including the iconic Space Needle, the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks’ Century Link Field, and the great restaurants that make the city a haven for foodies. We hope to return to the region soon and make up for the omissions. —DK

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Meetings/Tradeshows/Exhibitions/ Convention Centers/CVBs/Hotels/ Resorts/Conference Centers


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Don’t Get Stuck in a Fishbowl! Don’t Get Stuck The Facilities Media Group in a Fishbowl! Facilities & Destinations The Media GroupGuide Facilities •Facilities Conference • Planner Facilities Facilities LIVE&•Destinations Booking Guide Facilities & &Event Management Facilities Event Management www.Facilitiesonline.com Facilitiesonline.com

Facilities & Destinations 2014 Fall

THE FACILITIES MEDIA GROUP Essential Planning Tools 93



Sites & Cities Directory

John S. Knight Center

Akron/Summit CVB..............................................................64

77 East Mill Street, Akron, OH 44308 (330) 374-8900 / (800) 245-4254; Fax: (330) 374-8971 www.johnsknightcenter.org VP of Sales: Dirk Breiding

Cox Convention Center.....................................................64 Georgia World Congress Center...................................64

The Center of All America® City

Akron – set among the rolling hills of the Old Connecticut Western Reserve and along the shores of the Ohio and Erie Canalway. The John S. Knight Center is downtown Akron’s showcase for great events. State-of-the-art video conferencing and streaming systems, onsite skilled support/service staff, full-service catering; 16 meeting rooms; 12,000-sq.-ft. ballroom; 30,000-sq.-ft. exhibition hall (41,000 sq. ft. total exhibit space); 12,000 sq. ft. of banquet space; an additional 12,600 sq. ft. of meeting space; 22,000-sq.-ft. lobby, highlighted by distinctive glass rotunda and spiral staircase. 5,400 hotel rooms county-wide. PAGE

The International Centre....................................................64 Meet Puerto Rico...................................................................64 Monona Terrace Convention Center...........................64 Oregon Convention Center.............................................66


Visit Orlando.............................................................................66


Pasadena CVB.........................................................................66

Cox Convention Center

One Myriad Gardens, Oklahoma City, OK 73102 (405) 602-8500; Fax: (405) 602-8505 www.coxconventioncenter.com Director of Sales and Marketing: Tim Linville

Phoenix Convention Center............................................66 Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center...............................................................66

Spanning more than one million sq. ft. and four city blocks, this complex is located at the heart of downtown Oklahoma City, a city both accommodating and affordable. Multi-purpose venue hosts everything from intimate meetings to major conventions, tradeshows, concerts and sporting events. 27 meeting rooms; 25,000-sq.-ft. ballroom; 100,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall; 15,000-seat arena. Free WiFi available; Internet access speeds up to one Gb; 1,400 of Oklahoma City’s 15,000+ hotel rooms are across the street. From arts and adventure to cowboy culture and family fun, Oklahoma City offers an eclectic mix of heritage and hotspots. PAGE

Virginia Beach CVB...............................................................66 VISIT FLORIDA.......................................................................66 Wilmington Convention Center.....................................68 Wisconsin Center...................................................................68


Toronto, Ontario


The International Centre

Georgia World Congress Center

285 Andrew Young International Boulevard NW, Atlanta, GA 30303 (404) 223-4200 www.gwcc.com Director of Sales: Mark Adams The Complex that Makes Event Planning Simple The Georgia World Congress Center, the fourth-largest convention complex in North America, features 1.4 million sq. ft. of prime exhibit space, 12 exhibit halls, 104 meeting rooms, three auditoriums and two grand ballrooms, including the 1,744-seat Sidney Marcus Auditorium and 33,000-sq.-ft. Thomas Murphy Ballroom. New, state-of-the-art digital signage will be installed at the GWCC, which is adjacent to the Georgia Dome and Centennial Olympic Park. The campus is also in proximity to the CNN PAGE Center, Philips Arena, the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola. 13

Puerto Rico



Meet Puerto Rico

Monona Terrace Convention Center

Ochoa Building, 500 Tanca St., Suite 402, San Juan, PR 00901 (800) 875-4765; Fax: (787) 725-2133 www.meetpuertorico.com Vice President of Business Development and Sales: Joyce Martínez Puerto Rico offers 1.2 million sq. ft. of state-of-the-art conference facilities, breathtaking natural attractions, championship golfing, resort spas and sizzling nightlife and casinos. The experts at Meet Puerto Rico, MPR, have liaisons to more than 250 members and can arrange luxury group accommodations and itineraries, gather proposals, coordinate site inspections and more. Recent/upcoming hotel openings include the Hyatt House San Juan, Courtyard by Marriott, Hyatt Place Manati and The Hyatt Bayamón & El Tropical Casino. The $29 million Paseo Puerta de Tierra project, a boardwalk linking historic Old San PAGE Juan with other popular tourism areas, is expected to open in late 2015. C2


6900 Airport Road, Suite 120, Mississauga, ON. L4V 1E8 (905) 677-6131; (800) 567-1199; FAX: (905) 677-3089 www.internationalcentre.com Sales Manager, Trade & Consumer Shows: Sandra Martin There’s Something Happening Here! Located three minutes from Toronto Pearson International Airport, The International Centre offers 548,000 sq. ft. of expansive and versatile function space, an exceptional culinary experience and a team of dedicated and knowledgeable professionals, many with CEM and CMP designations. Thirty-three meeting rooms, 125,500-sq.-ft. main exhibit hall, 48,000 sq. ft. of conference center space. State-of-the-industry AV equipment built in, ultra high-speed Internet, complimentary WiFi in the Grand Lobby. Forty brand-name hotels nearby, providing over 10,000 rooms. Recently completed Phase 1 of a $7 million improvement project PAGE that renovated Hall 1, added a new Connector building to Hall 5 and more.

One John Nolen Drive, Madison, WI 53703 (608) 261-4100; Fax: (608) 261-4049 Sales/Event Services Manager: Laura Cornell, CMP www.mononaterrace.com Where business and inspiration meet. Located in heart of Madison’s vibrant downtown on the shore of Lake Monona. Frank Lloyd Wright-designed, spectacular five-level structure features public promenades, meeting rooms with striking lake views, extensive rooftop gardens and the attached 240-room Hilton Madison (1,000+ rooms within walking distance); 250,000 sq. ft., including 85,000 sq. ft. of meeting/exhibit space; 23 meeting rooms; 40,000-sq.-ft. main exhibit hall; 5,540-sq.-ft., 320seat Lecture Hall; 14,000-sq.-ft. ballroom. The 68,000-sq.-ft. of rooftop gardens available for events. Wireless access throughout – Internet 2 access; business center, gift shop, PAGE art/exhibit area and expansive areas for registration/information needs. 27 Facilities & destinations 2014 fall


Cox Convention Center The Cox Convention Center houses 100,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, a 25,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, 21 meeting rooms, a 15,000-seat arena and a 6,500-seat theater, all connected by a skybridge to the 258-room Renaissance Oklahoma City Convention Center Hotel (66,000 sq. ft. of meeting space). The downtown area is only about 20 minutes from Will Rogers Airport, a streamlined facility that is easy to get in and out of. Oklahoma City offers 1,600 convention center district hotel rooms (16,000 overall), affordable rates, a hospitable atmosphere and cultural highlights such as the newly opened Exhibit C art gallery, displaying the works of Chickasaw artists. Other cultural highlights include the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, Oklahoma City Museum of Art and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.


klahoma City is investing $250 million in a new downtown convention center of approximately 470,000 sq. ft. (with about 235,000 sq. ft. of sellable space), replacing the Cox Convention Center by the end of the decade. The new facility is a continuation of the city’s resurgence that includes the nearby Bricktown entertainment district, home to canal-side restaurants, clubs and attractions. In addition, the expanding Boathouse District along the Oklahoma River provides exciting activities for attendees and their families. Since 1993, Oklahoma City has seen more than $5 billion of public and private investment in quality-oflife projects and improvements throughout the city.

Just west of the Cox Convention Center is the Myriad Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory. The Gardens underwent a $38 million transformation in April 2011, and now includes a restaurant, interactive water features, a new children’s garden, dog release area, grand event lawn and more. Attendees can also explore a variety of intriguing neighborhoods in Oklahoma City, including the Plaza District, with art galleries and specialty shops; Stockyards City, showcasing Oklahoma’s Western heritage; the Adventure District, home to the Science Museum Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Zoo and Remington Park Racing Casino; and the Boathouse District along the Oklahoma River, offering rowing, kayaking, cycling, ziplining, running and fitness activities. In addition, the Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau is a boon to planners, offering complete convention servicing and support through a computerized housing bureau and registration technology.

1 Myriad Gardens, Oklahoma City, OK 73102 • (405) 602-8500; Fax: (405) 602-8505 • coxconventioncenter.com Facilities & destinations 2014 fall




Oregon Convention Center

Visit Orlando

Eight miles of light rail from Portland International Airport, the LEED Platinum-certified Oregon Convention Center is ideal for conventions, tradeshows, auctions and banquets. Located in beautiful and lively downtown Portland, it is a favorite destination for many groups because of its world-class amenities, culinary excellence, leadership in sustainability and award-winning customer service. The OCC offers two grand ballrooms, 50 meeting rooms, 255,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space, in-house AV support and other high-tech services, and superior concession and catering offerings. A full-time staff of more than 110 professionals PAGE can handle events of 10 to 10,000 attendees.

Orlando offers more than 100 attractions, from unique outdoor experiences such as hot air ballooning, ziplining, and exotic race-car driving to its world-renowned theme parks including Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios Florida and SeaWorld Orlando. The city also boasts the second-largest convention center in the United States, offering 2.1 million sq. ft. of state-of-the-art meeting space and more than 116,000 hotel rooms in 450 hotels and resorts across the destination. The Convention Center is connected by covered walkway bridges to four first-class convention hotels including the Hyatt Regency Orlando, Hilton Orlando, Rosen Center, and Rosen Plaza and a PAGE total of 16,668 sleeping rooms within a two-mile radius.

777 NE Martin Luther King Boulevard, Portland, OR 97232 (503) 235-7575 www.oregoncc.org Deputy Director: Matt Pizzuti, CMP

6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Suite 400, Orlando, FL 32821 (407) 541-4270; FAX: (407) 370-5014 OrlandoMeeting.com Senior Vice President Convention Sales & Services: Fred Shea




Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau

300 East Green Street, Pasadena, CA 91101 (800) 307-7977; FAX: (626) 795-9656 VisitPasadena.com Senior Director of Sales & Marketing: Jeanne O’Grady Pasadena offers groups year-long warm weather, five-star accommodations, endless shopping and entertainment options, and more restaurants per capita than New York City. There are 2,500 guestrooms citywide, more than 1,200 of which are within walking distance of the Pasadena Convention Center. The expanded Pasadena Convention Center features a 55,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall (expandable to 80,000 sq. ft.), 25,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, 29 meeting rooms, 3,000-seat Civic Auditorium and 22,000-sq.-ft. outdoor plaza. Major local attractions include the Historic Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena Playhouse (California State PAGE Theatre), Norton Simon Museum and Pacific Asia Museum. 3 New York 23-46


Phoenix Convention Center & Venues

100 North Third Street, Phoenix, AZ 85004 (602) 262-6225; (800) 282-4842 www.PhoenixConventionCenter.com Director of Sales: Debbi Foshee A Whole New Angle on Meetings and Events The award-winning Phoenix Convention Center is within walking distance of shopping, entertainment, sports and theater venues, and just 15 minutes from Sky Harbor International Airport. More than 2,500 guestrooms are within walking distance of the facility, including 1,000 at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown and more than 1,200 at the newly renovated Hyatt Regency. The PCC boasts nearly 900,000 sq. ft. of function space, including 312,500 sq. ft. of continuous exhibition hall space, three ballrooms (46,000, 45,000 PAGE and 28,000 sq. ft.), and a 21,000-sq.-ft. Executive Conference Center. 4 Virginia


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Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center

123 East Main Street, Rochester, NY 14564 (585) 232-7200; Fax: (585) 232-1510 www.rrcc.com MEETING &CFEEVENT PLANNERS... Executive Director: Joseph A. Floreano, “Do it better at the Rochester Riverside you and your event are always the center of our attention!” NEED where MARKET DATA? Convenient upstate N.Y. location, scenic Genesee River setting. 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting/exhibition space; 22 meeting rooms; 10,028-sq.-ft. ballroom; 49,275-sq.-ft. main exhibit hall; 5,000-seat theater; dedicated Internet connection over fiber optics; wireless access throughout facility; 1,100+ hotel rooms in a trio of major hotels connect to thevenue, surrounded by entertainment districts with restaurants, cafés, pubs, dance clubs, music halls, theaters. Rochester offers planners a compact conPAGE vention district and New York State’s only one-stop convention facility. 5

Virginia Beach CVB

2101 Parks Avenue, Suite 500, Virginia Beach, VA 23451 (757) 385-4700; (800) 700-7702; Fax: (757) 437-4747 www.VisitVirginiaBeach.com/meetings Recognized for its great value and commitment to hospitality, Virginia Beach is centrally located on the East Coast, just 20 minutes from Norfolk International Airport and Amtrak, with more than 10,000 hotel rooms citywide and 7,000 rooms within three miles of the Virginia Beach Convention Center. Planners have endless options for fresh seafood and dining, downtown shopping, entertainment and unique offsite venues including Oceanfront, Chesapeake Bay and Town Center areas of the destination. The LEED-certified Virginia Beach Convention Center features a 150,000-sq.-ft., column-free exhibit hall, 31,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, 29,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and over 2,200 free parking spaces. PAGE C3


Visit Florida


Need to research venues for your event or meeting? Facilitiesonline has the most up-to-date news, information and listings available. The best part is, it’s all on a user-friendly, easily accessible website. The #1 News & Information Sourceneeds! One-stop shopping for all your market research for Booking Agents, Promoters, Talent Buyers & Special Event Planners

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Comprehensive Directory of Conference Centers,

2540 W. Executive Center Circle, Suite 200, Tallahassee, FL 32301 (850) 488-5607, (850) 205-3831 VISITFLORIDA.org Director of Sales, Meetings and Travel Trade: Cheryl Hatcher Florida Meeting . . . Must be the sunshine! While millions of visitors come to the Sunshine State each year, it is Florida’s repuFOR YOUR NEXT CONVENTION OR MEETING, LOOK TO THE CIT Y tation of value, hospitality and professionalism that make it a sought-after meeting THAT IS THE NBA’S NEXT JEWEL IN THE CROWN. destination. A key reason for this success is VISIT FLORIDA’s focus on giving the WHERE A STREAMLINED AIRPORT AND LACK OF TRAFFIC meeting professionals theAND resources MEAN YOU’RE IN FAST. WITH THEthey BESTneed to ensure attendees have a memoraRESTAURANTS JUST A FEW MINUTES’ WALK ble stay andAND anNIGHTLIFE exciting experience. VISIT FLORIDA invites planners to discover the FROM YOUR HOTEL, YOU’RE OUT EVEN state’s destination options, where noFASTER. two Florida meetings are ever the same, OUR MEET & GREET, OUR NICE & EASY. OUR PAGE but IT’S each one is sure to create wonderful memories of a lifetime.



Facilities & destinations 2014 fall


Visit Orlando

Orlando Raises the Bar Yet Again


rlando is constantly adding to its “wow” factor. With its wide array of resorts, famous attractions and comfortable yearround weather, Orlando is unlike any other meeting destination in the world. Home to world-renowned theme parks, Orlando is the ideal place to host an unforgettable event. Now open at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida is Diagon Alley, which connects by train to Hogsmeade, where groups can host a private event accommodating up to 1,500 guests. Afterwards, groups can continue the fun at Universal CityWalk, dining at Emeril’s or taking in the Blue Man Group or some music at Hard Rock Live. Looking to get your group into some fishy business? The colony of penguins at SeaWorld’s Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin is not to be missed. SeaWorld’s banquet facility, Ports of Call, can accommodate groups of up to 750 for catered functions. Rest up at one of several new Orlando resorts. The Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort opened in August, featuring a Tom Fazio golf course and a rooftop steakhouse with breathtaking views of nightly fireworks at the area’s theme parks. The B Resort & Spa in the Downtown Disney resort area is perfect for a function full of pampering and productivity. The property features over 25,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor meeting space in addition to its full-service spa. Pointe Orlando on International Drive will see some new additions this year as well. Attendees can enjoy an after-meeting cocktail at the new Blue Martini or chill out at Minus 5º Ice Bar, which is made entirely of ice. Don’t worry — everyone is provided with faux fur upon arrival! Also new to Pointe Orlando is RA Sushi, featuring distinctive Japanese fusion cuisine. The much-anticipated South Beach hot spot Mango’s Tropical Café & Nightclub is set to open in fall 2015.

Another Orlando must-see is I Drive 360, a new entertainment complex located on International Drive. The centerpiece of the project is a massive 400-ft. observation wheel, The Orlando Eye, surrounded by Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, Sea Life Aquarium, and various restaurants and shops. Already planning an event for 2016? Prepare to be amazed with the opening of SKYPLEX, an indoor entertainment complex with the first Polercoaster, a vertical ride dubbed the Skyscraper, which weaves through a 570-ft. tall tower — the tallest in Central Florida! SKYPLEX will also include 495,000 sq. ft. of retail and restaurant space with views of Orlando via an observation deck. The iconic Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World Resort is undergoing a major transformation. Disney Springs, its new name, will expand from 75 to more than 150 dining and entertainment venues oriented around a series of bubbling natural springs. The expansion will open in phases and completion is expected in 2016. Chef Masaharu Morimoto, known from his appearances on Iron Chef America, is opening a one-of-a-kind dining experience in the heart of Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort, summer 2015. From a growing collection of hotels and resorts to innovative meeting spaces to trendsetting entertainment, there’s no better time to bring your group to Orlando. Discover more at OrlandoMeeting.com and sign up for our monthly What’s New Webinar to stay up to date on all that’s going on in Orlando.

6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Suite 400, Orlando, FL 32821-8043 • (407) 541-4270 • OrlandoMeeting.com Facilities & destinations 2014 fall



Wilmington Convention Center

515 Nutt Street, Wilmington, NC 28401 (910) 251-5101 www.businessmadecasual.com Sales & Marketing Manager: Holland Soucy Business Made Casual At 107,000 sq. ft. of total space, Wilmington Convention Center is the largest convention venue on the North Carolina coast. Opened in 2010, the LEED-certified Center regularly hosts state and regional conventions, social events and banquets catered by SAVOR. Facilities include a 30,000-sq.-ft. Exhibit Hall, 12,000-sq.-ft. Grand Ballroom plus 15,000 sq. ft. of pre-function space, a 12,000-sq.-ft. event lawn and 5,784 sq. ft. of meeting space. Local attractions include The Battleship North Carolina, the Henrietta III Paddleboat, and Wilmington Water Tours, PAGE complementing more than 200 downtown shops and 40 restaurants. 33

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Wisconsin Center

400 West Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53203 (414) 908-6001; Fax: (414) 908-6010 www.wcd.org Director of Sales & Marketing: Trace Goudreau tgoudreau@wcd.org Milwaukee – easy-to-get-to, easy-to-navigate, visitor-friendly meetings destination known for its hospitality and beautiful Lake Michigan location. The Wisconsin Center, home to the $1.4 million Burke Family Collection of integrated and commissioned art, features 32 meeting rooms, a 37,506-sq.-ft. ballroom, 189,695 sq. ft. of total exhibit space; 4,100-seat Milwaukee Theatre and 12,700-seat U.S. Cellular Arena. Ballroom equipped with built-in rigging points and high-amperage power sources, complete Wi-Fi, audio-visual, satellite, video conferencing and remote network capability throughout facility. 1,543 hotel rooms connected PAGE by skywalk; 3,359 in downtown area; 15,000+ in immediate metro area. 9


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Advertiser Index Akron/Summit CVB.............................31 Cox Convention Center..................... 7 Visit Orlando.........................................C4 Georgia World Congress Center...................................13 The International Centre...................21 Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center..........5 Meet Puerto Rico............................... C2 Monona Terrace Convention Center.............................27 68

Oregon Convention Center...............................11 Pasadena Convention Center/CVB..............................................3 Phoenix Convention Center...............................4 Virginia Beach CVB...........................C3 Wilmington Convention Center............................ 33 Wisconsin Center...................................9 VISIT FLORIDA.....................................47 Facilities & destinations 2014 fall

Puerto Rico

Meet Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Convention Center


ith more than 1.3 million sq. ft. of meeting space and over 14,500 guestrooms throughout the island, a world-class convention center and an increasing range of accommodation options, Puerto Rico continues its emergence as one of the most sought-after meeting destinations offering delegates a distinctive and memorable experience. With recent additions to air service, renovated hotel and resort properties, and the opening of new properties, Puerto Rico is an attractive option for meeting and convention groups. In fact, Puerto Rico was selected to host 96 events for this winter season, including conferences, annual meetings and sports activities. This represents an estimated 40,894 room nights and a total direct spending of $23 million into the local economy, noted Milton Segarra, President and CEO of Meet Puerto Rico (MPR-Puerto Rico Convention Bureau). MPR is a private organization responsible for attracting meetings, conventions, tradeshows and incentive groups to Puerto Rico.

& Tourism Association Travel Marketplace, the Harvard and Tufts University women swimming teams, and the Oakley 2015 Retail Assault. NEW PROPERTIES, RENOVATIONS AND UPGRADES New hotels continue to open in Puerto Rico. The two newest include:

“Puerto Rico has everything to make a successful meeting or convention — including a state-of-the-art convention center, prime hotels and infrastructure — but with the advantage that we are on a tropical island in the Caribbean,” said Segarra. “The interesting thing about what is happening in these events is that it is not only the meeting in a conference room. Now planners are seeking experiences that make the event memorable. These groups are making trips to experience Old San Juan, Bacardi Rum Factory, El Yunque Rainforest, the bio bay and ziplining.” Groups range from multinational companies to medical and educational conferences to sporting events, among others.

Hyatt House San Juan – Hyatt House San Juan officially opened its doors this past October, becoming Puerto Rico’s first extended stay hotel as well as the brand’s first Hyatt House hotel outside of the continental United States. The 126-room property offers the conveniences of hotel living with the comforts of home, with studio and one-bedroom suites featuring panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and San Juan Bay. The hotel’s suites also feature full kitchens, living space with HDTVs and bedrooms with a plush bed. The hotel is part of a 113-acre Puerto Rico Convention Center District.

Segarra said that for November there are 30 groups for a total of 12,998 room nights with an impact of $7.2 million in direct spending for the benefit of the tourism industry. As an example, he mentioned the National Women’s Studies Association Annual Conference 2014, the Renewable Energy Latin American & Caribbean Conference & Exhibition (RELACCX) 2014 and the National Academy of Neuropsychology Annual Conference. During the month of December the island will host 20 groups for an estimated total of 8,834 room nights and a direct expenditure of $5 million. Newark Museum Meeting 2014, Harland Clarke National Sales Meeting and the 2014 Playbill Broadway in the Caribbean are some of the groups escaping the conventional for their meetings. January is the busiest month with 46 groups generating a total of 19,062 hotel nights and a contribution of $10.6 million. Groups include the Caribbean Hotel

Condado Vanderbilt Hotel – Since its inception in 1919, the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel has catered to sophisticated travelers who place one aspiration above all else — to pursue the lifestyle of five-star luxury and leisure within some of the world’s most exclusive destinations. Restored to its original grandeur by a meticulous renovation, this cherished landmark stands today as a monument to timeless elegance and style. On December 2014 the hotel will welcome guests with the unveiling of 319 elegant guestroom and suite accommodations resembling sumptuous private residences, many with dramatic ocean views, including 63 Commodore Suites and 42 Biltmore Suites.

Ochoa Building, 500 Tanca Street, Ste. 402, San Juan, PR 00901 • (800) 875-4765, (787) 725-2110; Fax: (787) 725-2133 meetpuertorico.com

Facilities & destinations 2014 fall


New York

JoSEPH A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center

Complementing the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center is The Penthouse (below), serviced exclusively by Riverside Catering. The Penthouse is located on the top floor of an 11-story midcentury modern building on the corner of East End Avenue and Main Street, offering expansive views of Downtown Rochester and placing a planner’s event in the heart of it all. The venue provides great access to the East End, business district, and future Midtown sites.


ochester is the northern gateway to the magnificent Finger Lakes region, with its rolling hills, lush valleys and 11 namesake lakes. It is also a region becoming famous for its more than 100 vineyards, excellent wines and numerous “wine trails.” With the recent addition of the New York Wine and Culinary Center in nearby Canandaigua, the wineries and farmer’s markets of the Finger Lakes region offer delegates meeting in Rochester wonderful day-trip options for pre- or post-conference enjoyment. Several entertainment districts surround the Rochester Riverside with restaurants, cafés, coffee houses, pubs, dance clubs, music halls, theaters and more. Rochester also boasts numerous museums, including the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography & Film, the Susan B. Anthony House and the acclaimed Strong National Museum of Play. Rochester Riverside’s newest dining experience is the eclectic Pier 45, located on the city’s spectacular waterfront along the shores of Lake Ontario. Groups will find everything from a light tapas-style menu to a full dinner service, large-scale gourmet desserts, a fully stocked custom bar and an inviting veranda that accommodates both planned events and impromptu get-togethers. Conveniently located in the heart of the city is the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center, with a scenic setting on the Genesee River featuring outdoor patios and balconies. The Greater Rochester International Airport — 150 flights daily — is just a 10-minute drive from the Convention Center’s front door. Complimentary airport transportation provided by all major hotels.

Located in a community known around the world for its high-tech expertise, the Rochester Riverside gets high marks for handling all types of technology needs. The Riverside Convention Center has upgraded to a dedicated Internet connection over fiber optics to meet all of the growing number of technical requirements our customers have. This service is available wireless throughout the facility and is scalable from 50MB Burst able to 200 MB. The Center features an in-house food and beverage operation, including a Pastry Chef. In addition, our Riverside Productions and Riverside Catering divisions can even assist groups utilizing space in other places throughout the region. Basically, we are New York State’s only one-stop convention facility. More than 1,100 rooms in a trio of major hotels connect with the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center to create a compact convention district in the center of the city. There is a 362-room Rochester Plaza; 465-room Radisson, which has completed a $6 million renovation of its facility; and a 336-room Hyatt Regency. Delegates also enjoy the convenience of walking between hotels and the Convention Center in minutes using the enclosed skywalk system or scenic riverside walkway.

123 East Main Street, Rochester, NY 14564 • (585) 232-7200; Fax: (585) 232-1510 • www.rrcc.com 70

Facilities & destinations 2014 fall


Phoenix Convention Center & Venues


hoenix offers groups a vibrant, walkable downtown district highlighted by fine dining, nightlife, sporting events, theater, art galleries and more. In fact, downtown’s Roosevelt Row was recently named one of USA Today’s 10 best city arts districts in America. And with more than 325 days of sunshine a year and an average temperature of 72 degrees, the weather is almost always permitting. It is thus unsurprising that in a 2014 survey of show managers, Phoenix ranked the second most popular destination for tradeshows and events. Named one of the top-10 convention facilities in the country, the Phoenix Convention Center will host the 2015 NFL Experience and International Media Center for Super Bowl XLIX. The facility offers more than 900,000 sq. ft. of meeting and exhibit space, including a 312,500-sq.-ft. Main Exhibit Hall and a 46,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, complemented by the 2,312-seat Symphony Hall and the 1,364seat Orpheum Theatre. Conveniences include 61 loading docks (22 of which are climate-controlled),

Facilities & destinations 2014 fall

exhibit halls with pre-scored floors, and an Executive Conference Center. The Phoenix Convention Center also offers superior telecommunications and network services that guarantee enough bandwidth to handle any size event. The Phoenix Convention Center is four miles, or just 15 minutes, from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Guests arriving at Sky Harbor have multiple transportation options, including the METRO Light Rail, which has a dedicated stop at the Convention Center. Downtown Phoenix has more than 3,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of the Phoenix Convention Center and more than 6,000 hotel rooms located along the METRO light rail system.

100 North Third Street, Phoenix, AZ 85004 (602) 262-6225, (800) 282-4842; Fax: (602) 744-2987 PhoenixConventionCenter.com 71


Virginia Beach CVB


meeting destination that rivals many others, Virginia Beach is the perfect balance of coastal beauty and vibrant urban amenities. Offering unique and exclusive meeting locations, the seaside city is the ideal location to bring people together year-round. With a primary focus on providing extraordinary service, the Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau’s dedicated meetings and conventions sales and service team has the tools and facilities to make every meeting a success. Boasting the first convention center in the country to achieve LEED® Gold Certification for Existing Buildings, the resort city continues to elevate industry standards for sustainability. The Virginia Beach Convention Center features more than 500,000 sq. ft. of space, including a 150,000-sq.-ft., column-free exhibit hall, 29,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, and a 31,000-sq.-ft. ballroom. The exhibit hall – divisible by four – features 40-ft. ceilings along with 10 ft.-by-10 ft. grids permanently etched into the floor to facilitate exhibit setup. Each of the four hall subdivisions is supported by services including meeting room suites, concessions and prefunction and registration spaces. City-owned and managed by experienced CVB professionals, the facility offers competitive rates and is situated just blocks from one of the Mid-Atlantic’s most beautiful beaches. A few minutes from the oceanfront, Town Center rises with upscale shopping, dining and entertainment, providing the perfect downtown experience. The cultural centerpiece of the city, the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts is in a class by itself. A performing arts venue with theater-style seating for 1,300, the Sandler Center features a Grand Lobby and outdoor performance plaza. The Virginia Beach CVB prides itself not only on excellent venue options, but also on a well-trained and experienced

staff always prepared to provide exceptional service to meeting planners. Planners can now get acquainted with the staff via the “Meet the Team” feature on the Virginia Beach Meetings website. To further the destination’s focus on sustainability, the Virginia Beach CVB’s “Give Back” program, One Beach, One World, offers groups the opportunity to be matched with a local or international charity or nonprofit organization seeking voluntary support. The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program broadens the reach for groups wanting to help others. The CVB has partnered with several organizations in six key areas: Combating Homelessness; Hunger & Domestic Violence; Assisting Youth & the Elderly; Supporting the Armed Forces; Restoring & Protecting our Environment; Community Service General; and International Outreach. Virginia Beach has more than 18,600 acres of state parks and wildlife refuges, over 121 navigable miles of waterways and 35 miles of ocean and bay beaches to explore. Other local attractions include The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium, Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research & Enlightenment and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, to name a few. Planners have endless options for fresh seafood and dining, downtown shopping, nautical fun and entertainment. Centrally located, Virginia Beach is a mere 20 minutes from Norfolk International Airport, with multiple daily departures and nonstop destinations, and 45 minutes from Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport. It is a 3.5-hour drive from Washington, DC, seven hours from New York City, and also can be reached via an Amtrak station in the neighboring city of Norfolk. Accommodation options are plentiful with more than 10,000 hotel rooms citywide, 7,000 of which are located within three miles of the convention center.

2101 Parks Avenue, Suite 500, Virginia Beach, VA 23451 • (757) 385-4700; (800) 700-7702; Fax: (757) 437-4747 VisitVirginiaBeach.com/meetings 72

Facilities & destinations 2014 fall


Grande Lakes Orlando

This is never the same destination twice. When it comes to meetings and events, Orlando always over delivers.

The area around The Orange County Convention Center is home to some exciting new changes. The convention center itself has begun an incredible $187 million improvement project. And just steps away you’ll find I-Drive 360, a dining and entertainment complex with a host of distinctive diversions that your attendees can look forward to after the day’s events. From a growing collection of luxury properties to innovative meeting spaces to trend-setting entertainment. There’s more to meetings and events in Orlando. Visit us at OrlandoMeeting.com.

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