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Facilities Summer / Fall 2017

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

& Destinations


For Association & Corporate Meeting Planners & Tradeshow Professionals

Getting Creative in Phoenix



The Association For Creative Industries Reaches New Heights in the Valley of the Sun 17

6 Strategies

for Saving on Citywides 61

Mid-Market Review 43

Atlantic City 14

New York 54

Andria LaJeunesse, CEM Vice President of Events & Education Association For Creative Industries

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AFTER A GOOD MEETING, A GREAT NIGHT’S NEVER FAR AWAY Step outside America’s Center to discover a city begging to be explored. Grab a slice at Pi Pizza, ride the bull at Ballpark Village, or catch a live show at the National Blues Museum. Take a break and find fun right around the corner. Turn your good meeting into a great adventure at

editor’s note

Facilities & Destinations SUmmer / fall

The Evolution of the Planner’s Art

For Association & Corporate Meeting Planners & Tradeshow Professionals


Volume 24 No. 2

Chief Operating Officer David Korn


ur special coverage of IMEX America appears in this issue, featuring an in-depth interview with IMEX Group CEO Carina Bauer and articles on various international destinations exhibiting at the show. Just as timely as our coverage is one of IMEX America’s major themes this year: innovation and creativity. It’s been a while since meeting planners evolved from coordinators to strategists, bringing a deeper understanding of how to align their events to the host organization’s goals. The next evolution is the growth of the creative side of planning. Particularly when the goal is engagement, planners need to consider themselves “event artists,” designing unexpected and compelling experiences for delegates. IMEX America will support this approach to planning in many ways. A few examples: Seminars in the Inspiration Hub will take place in inflatable domes; the Live Zone Open House on Smart Monday will include LEGO furniture and games to spark interactivity; the Lunchtime Live Zone sessions on Oct. 10 will feature performers and artists; and Thursday morning’s MPI keynote will be delivered by Brent Bushnell, CEO of Two Bit Circus, billed as “a master of interactive experiences and immersive entertainment.” Along those lines, this issue’s cover story includes a case study in creativity: the Association For Creative Industries’ new partnership with the Prime Site Award-winning Phoenix Convention Center. The ACFI’s annual tradeshow, Creativation, moved from Anaheim to the Valley of the Sun in January, and the association intended to ramp up engagement with a new design for the show. The convention center staff went the extra mile in helping to realize the ACFI’s vision of replicating a rich, urban landscape within the facility. The approximately 8,000 attendees were engaged, if not enthralled, with the new look. The innovative planner need not work on such a grand scale, however. Even the arrangement of seats and tables in a general session room can be an exercise in creativity. Sarah Michel, Vice President of Professional Connexity for Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, offers insight on creating room sets that promote knowledge sharing among participants. Read her column on page 62, and glean a few tips on how to reach new plateaus in your planning.

Associate Publisher Michael Caffin Editorial Director George Seli Contributing Editors Anthony Bilden Aryeh L. Korn Deborah Shapiro Creative Direction & Design Scott-Goodman Associates Circulation Manager Max Kimmel Editorial Assistant Gabriella Davino Business Operations Nadia Derelieva Business Development Officer Thomas J. Davis III © Copyright 2017 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.

– George Seli Editorial Director, Facilities Media Group

POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Facilities, 152 Madison Avenue, Suite 802, New York, NY 10016. Printed in U.S.A. Cover ad space is available by contacting a Facilities advertising account executive at (212) 532-4150.


In Brief................................................................................................................. 4

Facilities Summer / Fall 2017

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

Perspectives Saving Costs on Citywides, by Heather Seasholtz............................................. 61 The Dawn of the New General Session, by Sarah Michel................................... 62

For AssociAtion & corporAte Meeting plAnners & trAdeshow proFessionAls

GettiNG CReAtive iN PhoeNix the ASSoCiAtioN FoR CReAtive iNduStRieS ReACheS New heiGhtS iN the vAlleY oF the SuN 17

Value Destinations............................................................................................. 64


Strategies for Saving on Citywides 61

Mid-Market Review 43

Atlantic City 14

New York


IMEX Special Section......................................................................................... 23 Mid-Market Review............................................................................................ 43 Destinations Atlantic City....................................................................................................... 14 Arizona.............................................................................................................. 17 Newport Beach: Island Hotel............................................................................. 42 New York........................................................................................................... 54


& Destinations Today’s first-tier TM


markets are highly competitive, and many association planners are challenged to find both space and value in these cities. Phoenix, AZ, is a first-tier city that is providing a clients a more favorable experience, and reaping new business as a result. Among the new clients is the Association For Creative Industries, which met for the first time this year at the Phoenix Convention Center. The facility proved a flexible and creative partner. SPeCiAl SeCtioN


Andria LaJeunesse, CEM Vice President of Events & Education Association For Creative Industries

Facilities Directory............................................................................................. 59 Advertiser Index................................................................................................ 63 2 Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / fall


Jason Dixson Photography

Elliott L. Ferguson Destination DC

Maureen Ginty SMG CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA — ILEA Live 2017 took place Aug. 10-12 in Calgary. Featuring the theme “Creativity. Innovation. Collaboration,” the event saw a record turnout of nearly 500 individuals from all areas of live event production. The organization, which is celebrating 4

CHEVY CHASE, MD — This summer, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company launched The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, a unique venture into the cruise industry for a luxury hotel operator. The first of three yachts in the series is scheduled to take to sea in the fourth quarter of 2019. Voyages will range from seven to 10 days. The first ship will cruise a wide variety of destinations depending on the season, including the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America. The vessel will accommodate up to 298 passengers, and feature 149 suites, each with its own private balcony. Reservations will open in May 2018. DALLAS, TX — In August, Meeting Professionals International (MPI) named Darren Temple, CTA, as its new Chief Operations Officer. Temple previously served as the association’s Chief Business Development Officer, leading strategic business development and global sales planning. He will continue to report to MPI President and CEO Paul Van Deventer. LONDON, UK — ibtm events, part of Reed Travel Exhibitions, recently integrated ibtm latin america and ibtm america to create ibtm americas. The event will take place in Mexico City from Sept. 5-6, 2018. Kerry Prince, Portfolio Director, ibtm events, comments: “It’s no secret that the potential for growth in

Orange Photography

Kerry Prince ibtm events

its 30th anniversary, presented its 2017 Esprit Awards at the event. Among the many recipients were: Sharon Bonner, Bright Ideas Events; Carolyn Luscombe, CSEM, CSEP, CMP, Eclectic Events International Inc.; and Tamara Racic, Destination South Meetings + Events — each recognized for “Best Corporate Event” in different cost categories. In addition, Erin Clyde, Foundry Conferences & Events, and Rick Jobe, Jobe & Associates, were recognized for “Best Meeting/Conference Program” (under $500,000 and over $500,000, respectively).

Darren Temple, MPI’s new Chief Operations Officer, speaks at this year’s World Education Congress, held June 19-22 at the MGM Grand. Latin America is huge and that the region is increasingly being recognized as a major player in the industry. We believe that our event in Mexico, already highly successful, has real scope to further support the market to become a prime date in the global events industry calendar; therefore, combining the event to incorporate the North American market to create ibtm americas feels like a very natural evolution of the portfolio.” WASHINGTON, DC — Destination DC (DDC) recently announced a record 22 million total visitors to Washington, DC in 2016, up 3.3 percent over 2015. “Washington, DC had record tourism for the seventh consecutive year. Tourism is an economic engine for the District of Columbia, creating a $7.3 billion economic impact in 2016, according to IHS Markit, and supporting 74,654 jobs,” said Elliott L. Ferguson, DDC President and CEO. The city’s convention industry is also performing well. Washington, DC will welcome 21 citywide conventions and special events in FY18, with 422,434 room nights and a total economic impact of $361 million. The city is ready for the future influx of visitors with $11.8 billion in development underway and more than 4,000 hotel rooms in the pipeline. WASHINGTON, DC — In June, the Events Industry Council announced that 234 individuals passed the latest Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) examination. Furthermore, an additional professional succeeded in achieving the Certified

Meeting Professional – Health Care (CMP-HC) designation by passing an additional examination. More than 14,000 individuals in 51 countries and territories have earned the CMP designation since its inception in 1985. The CMP-HC designation was launched in 2014 to validate CMPs who have demonstrated a superior understanding and mastery of the unique healthcarefocused meeting knowledge. WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, PA — SMG recently launched its first-ever k’nekt training class designed for Convention and Visitors Bureaus/DMOs. “This class is evidence of the collaborative partnership SMG enjoys with its bureaus and DMOs. It exemplifies SMG’s vision for collaboration. Learning from and with each other will increase the effectiveness of everyone involved and help us all to achieve our shared objectives,” says Maureen Ginty, Executive Vice President, SMG. Members of the Irving, TX Convention and Visitors Bureau and Ontario, CA Convention and Visitors Bureau attended the initial class. Lori Fojtasek, VP of Sales and Service for the Irving CVB, commented: “My team has been so complimentary of the entire training. It is always great to hear from a seasoned staff . . . they learned so much and they plan to use what they have learned.” Jennifer Mendoza, Manager, Convention Sales, Greater Ontario CVB, offered, “The SMG k’nekt CVB Sales Professional Skills Training was by far the most comprehensive and focused training I’ve attended.”

Facilities & destinations 2017 Summer / Fall




Spectacular downtown riverfront location

20 minutes from the airport to downtown

Over 40 independent restaurants

See what it looks when we defy your expectations at


In Brief


David Gibbons Massachusetts Convention Center Authority

(Above): The Empire State Society of Association Executives holds its 38th Annual Conference in June at the new Albany Capital Center. (Top): Rendering of the Kentucky International Convention Center expansion

Ron King Huntington Convention Center ALBANY, NY — Since opening its doors on March 1, 2017, the SMG-managed Albany Capital Center has hosted 83 events, with 47 contracted events still to come this year for a total of 130 events scheduled in the first year alone. The total events for 2017 span 184 event days and result in 4,225 booked hotel room nights, bringing upwards of 60,000 guests to downtown Albany. For 2018, 40 events have been confirmed thus far, spanning more than 86 event days. “The Capital Center is introducing business to Albany that has never been here before and also providing the opportunity for some important current clients to grow their business and become more valuable to our destination,” said Michele Vennard, President and CEO, Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

BOSTON, MA — The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority recently issued a design and feasibility RFP for master planning services for the 70-acre campus of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC) in South Boston. Proposals from bidders are due back to the Authority on Sept. 20, 2017. “It has been a dynamic and disruptive decade in our industry which has mirrored the dramatic changes that have occurred in South Boston,” said David Gibbons, Executive Director of the Authority. “This is an exciting and appropriate time for the Authority to evaluate where we stand in the convention marketplace. We are asking our customers what they need and determining what we can afford in order to position the BCEC for long term success.” COLUMBUS, OH — The Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority (FCCFA) Board of Directors has approved a two-

Facilities & destinations 2017 Summer / Fall 6

year contract renewal for SMG to continue managing the Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC), which recently completed a $140 million expansion and renovation. The two-year contract extension begins Jan. 1, 2018 and concludes Dec. 31, 2019.  CLEVELAND, OH — SMG has named Ron King General Manager of the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland and the Global Center for Health Innovation, effective Sept. 13. King comes to Cleveland after leading the two million-sq.-ft. Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas for the past six years. Other previous positions include Event Services Director for the San Diego Convention Center, General Manager for the SMG-managed Puerto Rico Convention Center, and General Manager and Director of Operations for the SMG-managed Salt Palace Convention Center and South Towne Exposition Center.

LOUISVILLE, KY — Kentucky Venues has named Levy Convention Centers as the exclusive F&B provider for the Kentucky International Convention Center, reopening next August after an expansion and renovation. With a focus on local sustainability and flavors, KICC will offer an in-house garden with education sessions on the importance of Kentucky farms, reducing carbon footprints and supporting local gardens. Delegates will also find an in-house bakery in addition to a coffee and bourbon bar featuring a local roaster, fresh produce from local farms, and bourbon tastings in the afternoon and evenings. “Kentucky Venues is evolving the Kentucky International Convention Center into a true world-class building with these renovations, and we’re excited to match this transformation with an equally world-class hospitality experience,” says Andy Lansing, President and CEO of Levy.

Facilities & destinations 2017 Summer 6


The rooftop infinity pool at the new Orient Jerusalem overlooks the Old City. ALBUQUERQUE, NM — The Wyndham Albuquerque Hotel and Conference Center, formerly known as the Hotel Cascada, has completed a $5 million renovation and rebranding. The project added a fitness center and upgraded the guestrooms and lobby. The 300-room property offers 30,000 sq. ft. of function space. DALLAS, TX — The Hotel Crescent Court is undergoing a $30 million “re-imagination” to be completed December 2017. The new look will bring a modern flair to the hotel’s “sophisticated Southern hospitality,” with a redesign of all 195 guestrooms and 31 suites, elevators, the 22,000-sq.-ft. spa and fitness center, and the hotel lobby and bar. FORT LAUDERDALE, FL — The 290 all-suite Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach opened in September. The property offers 10,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space and 10,000 sq. ft. of oceanfront outdoor space. Highlights include the 4,524-sq.ft. Ocean Ballroom, outdoor Ocean Terrace, 10 meeting rooms and event spaces, private conference facility entrance and a dedicated meeting concierge. FRISCO, TX — On Aug. 25, Omni Hotels & Resorts and the Dallas Cowboys officially cut the ribbon at the Omni Frisco Hotel, which first opened its doors on July 17. The 300-room hotel features 24,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including a 13,000-sq.-ft. ballroom. The 16-story property serves as the

cornerstone hotel of The Star development, which is anchored by the Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters and Ford Center. JERUSALEM, ISRAEL — The Orient Jerusalem, part of Isrotel’s Exclusive Collection, opened in August. The hotel offers 243 rooms and suites, as well as a selection of opulent accommodations inside two expertly preserved Templar Buildings from 1882 and 1883. Other highlights include the 4,265-sq.ft. Banqueting and Conference Center, Carmel Forest Spa and outdoor rooftop infinity pool with views of the Old City. LAS VEGAS, NV — On Aug. 9, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas unveiled a refresh to its guestrooms across both the Boulevard and The Chelsea Towers. The renovation will be fully complete in 2018 with 2,895 of the resort’s 3,027 rooms remodeled. LAS VEGAS, NV — In June, the MGM Grand officially broke ground today on an approximately $130 million expansion of its Conference Center. The project will add 250,000 sq. ft. for a total of more than 850,000 sq. ft. As part of the expansion, Stay Well Meetings will expand its footprint by 22,000 sq. ft. and encompass the Conference Center’s entire second floor. Function spaces will include a new 5,500-sq.-ft. outdoor courtyard, a 49,000-sq.ft. ballroom, a 32,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, three junior ballrooms Continued on page 10


Facilities & destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

Ready to IMPRESS Host your meeting in the city recognized by media, meeting planners and travel industry leaders as a premier destination. The Andy Warhol Museum

Savoy Restaurant

The beautiful and versatile 1.5 million-square-foot David L. Lawrence Convention Center will meet your every need. And, the variety of unique offsite meeting spaces are sure to impress as well. Best of all, awardwinning restaurants and one-of-a-kind attractions are just steps away from the center and downtown hotels. With so much to offer meeting planners and attendees, it’s not hard to see why prestigious events like PCMA Convening Leaders 2019 are being hosted in Pittsburgh.

Monterey Bay Fish Grotto

To find out how Pittsburgh can help plan your next meeting or to join an upcoming destination experience event, contact our sales team.

Kelli Donahoe, CMP, Director of Sales & Marketing 412-325-6174 |

In Brief


MGM Grand breaks ground on an approximately $130 million expansion of its award-winning Conference Center. On hand to celebrate this milestone were Dr. Deepak Chopra, MGM Grand President & COO Scott Sibella, MGM Resorts Senior Vice President and Chief Sales Officer Michael Dominguez, and MGM Grand Vice President of Sales Ernest Stovall. and 11 breakout rooms. The project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2018.


PLANO, TX — The new Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West Hotel offers

304 guestrooms in the midst of the $3 billion Legacy West urban mixed-use project. The hotel includes 30,000 sq. ft. of flexible conference and meeting space; a state-of-the-art fitness center; three restaurant options; club level with lounge; and an amenity deck with heated pool, cabanas, outdoor bar, grill and event space. PHILADELPHIA, PA — The Aloft Philadelphia Downtown, a new contemporary hotel in the former Liberty Title & Trust Building, opened on Aug. 31. Directly attached to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Aloft Philadelphia Downtown houses 179 loft-inspired guestrooms and 1,200 sq. ft. of flexible function space. PITTSBURGH, PA — Renaissance Fulton Pittsburgh Hotel, located in the downtown’s Cultural District, recently unveiled a newly renovated Symphony Ballroom. The 3,500-sq.-ft. space blends ornate architectural details with contemporary design elements, including floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views of

the Allegheny River and PNC Park. The Renaissance also houses nine other meeting areas totaling 10,000 sq. ft. RENTON, WA — The Hyatt Regency Lake Washington at Seattle’s Southport opened in July. The 347-room Hyatt is the only waterfront hotel within 10 miles of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. It offers 60,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor event space, and is working toward LEED Silver Certification. TORONTO, CA — A four-star Kimpton hotel is slated to open by mid-2018 in the high-end neighborhood of Bloor-Yorkville. The 189-room boutique property will offer 2,000 sq. ft. of ground-level meeting space and a Bloor Street-facing leased restaurant and bar. UNCASVILLE, CT — Elemis Spa in Mohegan Sun’s Sky Tower closed on Aug. 30 and will reopen as a Mandara Spa next spring, complementing the Mandara Spa that is already open in the Earth Tower.






LOS ANGELES, CA — Scheduled to open this fall, the 288room Sheraton Los Angeles San Gabriel Hotel will offer more than 19,000 sq. ft. of indoor

and outdoor function spaces. They include an outdoor garden terrace located adjacent to the pool and an Imperial Grand Ballroom measuring 11,341 sq. ft.

Continued from page 8


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• 100,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting and exhibit space • In-house catering, production and AV services • Directly connected by enclosed skybridge to 800 hotel rooms

585.232.7200 • Rochester, New York


CARIBBEAN & MEXICO — Marriott Caribbean & Latin America Resorts, a collection of 10 beachfront properties located throughout the Caribbean & Mexico, has a new group promotion, “Imagine That.” The package includes a complimentary 30-minute Meeting Imagined themed reception or break; complimentary meeting space/ private meal space based on group room block; an extension of the group rate either three days prior or after the departure; 20 percent off spa treatments at select properties; a private check-in area; complimentary transportation to the property for VIP guests; and much more. Group agreement must be

signed on or before Dec. 31, 2017 for travel between April 20, 2017 and Dec. 20, 2018. For full details, visit

DALLAS, TX — The Hotel Crescent Court recently launched two new group offers, both valid for groups booking 35 rooms or more. “Dapper in Dallas” Creative Breakout offers the option to add on a fully customized “Dapper in Dallas” breakout session experi-

Visit Pueblo!

ence in partnership with Stanley Korshak — the largest independent department store in the country (located on-property). “Destination Dallas,” valid for meetings booked now through November 2017, includes perks such as a one-hour beer and wine welcome reception, five complimentary upgrades for group VIPs, 10 percent discount on all spa services and 10 percent discount on all audiovisual equipment. Visit crescentcourt. com/meetings-and-events/ for more information.

LOS ANGELES, CA — The Sheraton Los Angeles San Gabriel Hotel is offering a grand opening promotion for meetings held after Dec. 1, 2017 Perks include a 4 percent discount off master-billed rooms, a signing bonus of 2,000 Starpoints for every 10 room nights booked, and a choice of either a complimentary onehour welcome reception, or one complimentary standard room or one room-type upgrade for every eligible 35 paid room nights. For more information, visit

Meeting Space Highlights: • Featuring over 21,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and 166 hotel rooms • Complimentary Wi-Fi and parking • In-house catering and AV Our facility is perfect for your next meeting, conference, convention, trade-show or banquet.

Pueblo Convention Center

320 Central Main Street Pueblo, CO 81003 (719) 542-1100 •

Facilities & destinations 2017 Summer / Fall 12

NASHVILLE, TN — The Kimpton Aertson Hotel, opened in June, is offering small groups (using 6-25 rooms) savings of 30 percent off, based on availability; hosted wine hour every evening with the GM; yoga mats in every room; complimentary WiFi on all devices; and other Kimpton-style

perks. Meetings must be booked by the travel-by date of Dec. 31, 2017. Visit kimptonhotels. com/stay/kimpton-aertson-hotelnashville-tn for details.

PALM HARBOR, FL — Innisbrook, A Salamander Resort is offering “Legendary Meetings” booking incentives including a two-hour cocktail reception on the PGA Valspar Championship Copperhead Course, $500 gift card, complimentary meeting room rental, 15 percent commission to thirdparty agency, complimentary golf club rentals and one free guestroom for every 40 booked. Visit meetings for details. The promotion is available for meetings booked and actualized by March 31, 2018.

PHOENIX, AZ — Visit Phoenix’s “Meet Your Million” promotion includes up to one million Loyalty Reward Points; up to a $50,000 credit toward an opening reception; complimentary meeting room Wi-Fi at the Phoenix Convention Center at 1.5 mbps; complimentary guestroom Wi-Fi at participating hotels; and no attrition at Sheraton Grand Phoenix, Hyatt Regency Phoenix and Renaissance Phoenix Downtown. The promotion applies to qualifying citywide RFPs for meetings taking place during the 2019 calendar year. Groups must contract at least 1,000 rooms on peak utilizing all three participating hotels. The Phoenix Convention Center lease agreement and participating hotel contracts must be signed by Dec. 31, 2017.

Facilities & destinations 2017 Summer 12



Meet AC and Spectra invite groups to explore the resort city’s latest offerings


By Anthony Bilden

formation in 2014, is also part of he nongaming side of that success story. “We’re seeing Atlantic City’s appeal is the fruits of our labor this year,” growing, and that presents “We have a steady says Wood. “And next year is more opportunities for shaping up to be an exceptional staff that’s been meeting attendees who are not year.” At the Atlantic City especially keen on the casinos. on board with us Convention Center (ACCC), Expanding beyond the nostalgic “we’re ahead for the year so far attractions found on the Boardwalk, since the formation in number of bookings,” relates the city embarked on a $14 million Dean Dennis, General Manager of Meet AC.” project to build a 200-ft.-high of the Spectra-managed facility. observation wheel at Steel Pier, —Jim Wood, “We are 19 event days ahead of opening in October. Panoramic President and CEO, projections for the first seven views of Atlantic City and the ocean Meet AC months [of 2017]. In addition, 2018 will also be afforded by the 350-ft.and ‘19 are looking good; we’ve got high vertical Polercoaster, opening some new business on the books in 2019. A burgeoning festival and that we haven’t had before. A new one this year is the Pizza & Pasta concert scene adds to the diversions groups can enjoy during free time, Northeast Expo [Oct. 17-18]. In ‘17 we also picked up an Easyriders with highlights such as Big Name Beach Concerts, Atlantic City Bike Show Tour, and it’s coming back in 2018. The building has a Seafood Festival, Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival and The lot of repeat business over the years.” Other examples include the Annual Atlantic City Airshow. 16th Annual AnimeNEXT Convention and the 31st Annual Police “We’re obviously noted for being a gaming destination, but Security Expo, both of which returned in June, and the National we’re also a resort destination, and that can get overshadowed by Sports Collectors Convention, bringing more than 40,000 sports the gaming piece,” notes Jim Wood, President and CEO of Meet fans and memorabilia collectors to the ACCC in the summer of 2020. AC. “We are on a beautiful beach, and we have golf courses in the “Our team with Spectra and Meet AC does a really good job area. We offer many nongaming activities for people who want taking care of our clients to build that repeat business,” Dennis to go out and enjoy all that Atlantic City has to offer. So there is remarks. Meetings business from the Mid-Atlantic region remains a concentrated effort by our leadership and the leadership of the strong, and the city has seen an uptick in the corporate segment, CRDA [Casino Reinvestment Development Authority], which including many finance and insurance meeting groups. In addition, oversees the tourism district, to make sure that we have a diverse the sports market is growing. “We formed the Atlantic City Sports mix of leisure and entertainment venues.” Commission, which is a department of Meet AC, and we’ve seen That mix, together with an ever-improving convention center/ tremendous growth in that segment,” reports Wood. For example, hotel package, has attracted more groups to Atlantic City in recent the Red Bull Global Rallycross took place at Bader Field in years. Of course, the convention sales effort, led by Meet AC since its 14

Facilities & destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

(Clockwise from top): Rendering of the new observation wheel at Steel Pier; AnimeNEXT at the Atlantic City Convention Center; the Atlantic City Air Show; and the opening ceremonies at MPI’s 2016 World Education Congress. August, and Boardwalk Hall will host the 39th Annual American Finals Rodeo in November. The New Jersey State High School Wrestling Championships are also held annually at Boardwalk Hall. As far as the ACCC, “we have almost a half million sq. ft. of exhibit space that works well for the cheer and dance type events, basketball, gymnastics, martial arts and more,” says Dennis. “Many buildings around the country are looking at sports [events]. They bring family, not just the attendee, who are going to be spending three or four days in your economy.” Speaking about events that are good for business, Atlantic City’s meetings industry certainly reaped rewards from hosting the MPI World Education Congress last year. “The properties have told us they’ve seen bookings because of the MPI WEC, which is great news,” says Wood. “Much of the business was single property-driven business, but we’ve also seen our business [at Meet AC] uptick. The surveys that we got back from MPI were extremely strong. We received marks that were in the mid to high 90s in terms of what people saw from Atlantic City, from the different venues, the events, the parties, the transportation and so on.”


Groups meeting in Atlantic City in the future will likely give even higher marks to the convention center, which is pursuing its Master Plan to upgrade the 20-year-old facility. “The plan took input from long-term clients on how we can improve the operation,” says Dennis. “No. 1 was the restroom renovations; we have our first bids now for it. It’s also important to becoming LEED certified, by having those low-flow faucets, etc. We’re getting the final labor bid to get LED lighting installed, and we’re looking at pricing for new wayfinding and digital signage, including a larger marquee on the inside. We’re also looking to renovate Exhibit Hall A into more of a ballroom concept.” These upgrades, many of which will likely be completed next year, will add to a recent million-dollar investment into the convention center’s Wi-Fi system. Dennis, who served as GM of the Owensboro Convention Center until he transitioned to the ACCC last November, considers himself “an old-school relationship guy. I make the effort to meet everyone of our clients when they come in. I try to meet them every show day to see how things are going, walk the floor, and make sure they have a real sense that we care about their business.”


The most significant recent investment in Atlantic City’s meetings infrastructure is the new Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center, host of MPI’s 2016 WEC. The conference center nicely complements the ACCC as another choice for large groups, and the competition between Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall


The Atlantic City Convention Center will be undergoing several renovations as part of its Master Plan

the two is minimal, Dennis notes. at Tropicana Atlantic City will “Our job is not so much to compete link the Tropicana and Chelsea locally as it is to compete regionally Tower via a skybridge. The “It’s been a personal and nationally to bring in that Borgata’s improvement project, opportunity to really larger business.” The $250 million completed last year, included the Waterfront Conference Center opening of a 3,200-sq.-ft. outdoor engage [the trade includes two 50,000-sq.-ft. ballrooms pool; beer garden; Premier, (divisible into 29 sections), making it an 18,000-sq.-ft. nightclub; unions] in our process the largest convention center–hotel and a new restaurant concept, to make sure we’re complex from Baltimore to Boston. Angeline, by celebrity chef Its facilities are directly accessible Michael Symon. offering the service, from the 2,587 guestrooms at quality and flexible Harrah’s Atlantic City. Some MEET AC: CONTINUITY nice conference center options for environment that planners are AND COLLABORATION smaller groups have also come The best starting point for online, including Borgata Hotel looking for.” selecting among Atlantic City’s Casino & Spa’s 18,000-sq.-ft. Central —Dean Dennis, prime meeting facilities is the Conference Center (opened in May) General Manager, Atlantic City Convention Center Meet AC, a one-stop shop for and the 15,000-sq.-ft. conference all the city has to offer. And center at Resorts Casino Hotel planners can establish long-lasting (opened September 2015). relationships with the sales staff, Among several notable rewhich is helpful when bringing in repeat business. “We have a steady openings, the Taj Mahal will deliver a new experience when it is staff that’s been on board with us since the formation of Meet AC,” says introduced as a Hard Rock property on Memorial Day weekend Wood. “There is continuity with our convention services team as well.” next year. Hard Rock International has purchased the Trump hotel Collaboration is also a hallmark of Atlantic City’s meetings and is investing $500 million in a property-wide renovation and industry these days: “We at Spectra are engaged fully with Gary to create a Hard Rock Casino and Hard Rock Café. In 2014, The Musich [Vice President of Sales] and his team at Meet AC,” Dennis Claridge hotel reopened as a fully restored historic hotel with 483 says. In addition, “we have a great relationship with the trade unions renovated guest rooms and is now branded as a Radisson hotel. In here. It’s been a personal opportunity to really engage them in 2016, the hotel added 15,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, bringing the our process to make sure we’re offering the service, quality and total meeting space to 100,000 sq. ft. flexible environment that planners are looking for.” Overall, “there Two major renovations, each roughly $50 million in value, will are very collaborative initiatives in the city right now,” he observes. also benefit Atlantic City-bound groups: The 2,129-room Tropicana “From CRDA leadership on to Meet AC, our teams, our unions, our recently enhanced its Boardwalk façade, upgraded its guestrooms partners — everybody seems to be rolling in the right direction. It’s and opened the multimillion-dollar AtlantiCare LifeCenter, billed been a very positive experience to walk into.” The teamwork among as the most advanced gym facility in Atlantic City. In addition, these parties will surely translate into a similar experience for Tropicana has purchased The Chelsea Hotel; the additional tower incoming groups. will bring Tropicana’s room inventory to 2,730. The Chelsea Tower 16

Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall



The Phoenix Convention Center “gets creative” for a major new client


By George Seli

hat planners look for in a convention center is a partner in realizing their event to its fullest, not merely a place to house that event. Andria LaJeunesse, CEM, Vice President of Events & Education for the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI), recently found such a partner in Arizona’s largest convention center. Housing a 312,500-sq.-ft. main exhibit hall, 46,000-sq.-ft. ballroom and 99 meeting rooms, the Phoenix Convention Center delivered the kind of function space the AFCI needed to host Creativation, held Jan. 18-22 for the first time in Phoenix. But just as importantly, the staff helped bring the convention’s new theme to life. The ACFI aimed to give its members — professionals within the creative industry — the experience of an urban environment at the show. “When we moved from Anaheim to Phoenix, we not only rebranded the association, but also the show, and we scratched the original tradeshow model and rebuilt it from the ground up,” LaJeunesse describes. “We were creative on our show floor and turned it into a city landscape: We had streets instead of aisles, everything was built with walls, we had a bakery and a bookstore — all things you’d see within a city. The convention center worked really well with us to help incorporate our theme. The catering department especially helped customize the [F&B experience] so it fit with our theme; we had an international pub, for example. They were really flexible and just as excited as we were about the new look of our show.” Bringing in about 8,000 delegates, Creativation is a citywide that benefitted from planning assistance from Visit Phoenix. LaJeunesse commends the CVB and its Director of National Accounts Sally Forrest for going “above and beyond to make

Facilities & destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

sure we had everything we needed and always checking in on us.” One highlight of the program was the CVB President’s awarding a 3D-printed “key to the city” to the CEO of ACFI, and welcoming delegates to Phoenix on opening day. A revitalized city awaited attendees during their free time. “There is so much more entertainment and restaurants downtown” in Phoenix today, LaJeunesse observes. “It’s very clean and feels very safe. So the feedback that we got from attendees was very positive.” Delegates also enjoyed two offsite events arranged by her team, one a gala at the Arizona Science Center and the other an after-party at The Duce, a Prohibition-era warehouse repurposed as an event venue. The former venue, located downtown, offers the CREATEMakerspace, a 6,500-sq.-ft. workshop ideal for ACFI’s creative industry professionals. The Science Center also hosted the association’s awards presentations. As for The Duce, “we cannot even describe how much fun that venue is. They serve food out of this retired food truck with an oldfashioned kitchen, [and offer] a DJ, dance floor and games. We’re going back next year,” LaJeunesse relates. A new rentable event venue in Phoenix is The Van Buren, an 1,800-capacity, 20,000-sq.-ft. concert facility that opened in late August. On the historical side, Wrigley Mansion, built in 1932 by William Wrigley Jr. of chewing gum fame, is undergoing a $1 million upgrade. The mansion accommodates receptions of up to 1,500 guests. For large groups who wish to hold special events onsite at the Phoenix Convention Center, the 2,312-seat Symphony Hall is a resplendent option. Located four miles from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and accessible by Metro Light Rail, the convention center 17

The Phoenix Convention Center “worked really well with us to help incorporate our theme. They were really flexible and just as excited as we were about the new look of our show.” —Andria LaJeunesse, Vice President of Events & Education, Association For Creative Industries

is surrounded by more than 3,000 hotel rooms, with five full-service hotels within walking distance. Among them are two properties that contributed to ACFI’s room block: the 1,000-room Sheraton Grand Phoenix and 693-room Hyatt Regency Phoenix. Phoenix’s hotel portfolio is also improving with several renovations, including the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort’s recently completed renovation of its suites and meeting space. The hotel offers 430 suites, 133 casitas and 48,000 sq. ft. of function space. This June, the Royal Palms Resort and Spa commenced renovating its 119 guestrooms, including its Presidential Suite, as well as select areas of its 20,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

their individual needs and match them with the right businesses and resources in the destination.” One of those needs may be an indigenous experience for delegates. Toward showcasing Scottsdale’s uniqueness, Blubaum recommends several attractions, including: Taliesin West, a Scottsdale National Historic Landmark and the former winter home and studio of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright; Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West; Fort McDowell Adventures, the perfect venue for a country western cookout; Los Cedros USA horse training facility; Desert Botanical Garden; and the Cloth & Flame hot-air balloon and dinner adventure. Continued on page 20


Nearby Scottsdale also has a variety of hotel projects to report, and these will benefit the many future groups that will visit the city. “Eighteen percent of the business we booked in 2016-2017 was for 2018 and beyond. We are continuing to build a strong business base for future years,” notes Kelli Blubaum, CMP, Vice President of Sales and Services, Experience Scottsdale. Both the medical and insurance/financial segments of the meetings industry are strong in Scottsdale, and the city is poised to welcome new group clients. “We continue to focus on new business for our destination. We are pleased to report that in the last fiscal year, 28 percent of our booked business was new business,” Blubaum adds. To introduce planners to Scottsdale, the CVB offers a variety of FAM opportunities each year, including the Site See & Fly Free promotion. “This program encourages planners to experience a customized site inspection and see firsthand what makes Scottsdale a top meetings destination. It is something we are proud to offer planners that other DMOs don’t,” says Blubaum. “One hundred planners visited Scottsdale as part of the program in the last fiscal year. Overall, it is a point of pride how closely we work with our clientele to understand 18

The Phoenix Convention Center welcomes delegates to Creativation.

The Scottsdale Waterfront, home to restaurants, boutiques and cafes

Facilities & destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

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Tempe Town Lake

“It is a point of pride how closely we work with our clientele to understand their individual needs and match them with the right businesses and resources in the destination.” —Kelli Blubaum, Vice President of Sales and Services, Experience Scottsdale

Continued from page 18

On the lodging front, a classic Valley of the Sun hospitality experience awaits at The Phoenician, a Luxury Collection Resort — the only Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond hotel in the greater Phoenix area. The property has begun the third phase of its enhancement project, which includes the construction of a new Athletic Club, with completion expected by March 2018. A 10-month redesign of the golf course, which will be reconfigured from 27 to 18 holes, begins in January. Other notable hotel upgrades include the following: • A $12 million renovation of the former Scottsdale Inn, reopening this fall as Hotel Adeline. The 213-room property will offer an 1,800-sq.-ft. ballroom among its function spaces. • The opening of a new innovative break station, the General Store & Trading Post, at the Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch, A Destination Hotel. • A recently completed $1.4 million renovation of The Tower, the Hotel Valley Ho’s “hotel within a hotel.” • The JW Marriott Camelback Inn Scottsdale’s addition of 35,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. Expected to be completed by June 2018, the expansion will bring the total meeting space to 95,000 sq. ft.


Easily accessible to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is Tempe, a budget-friendly option for small to midsize groups (10-500 attendees). The town offers memorable physical activities, 20

such as hiking in the Sonoran Desert, but also an intellectual and cultural atmosphere given the presence of Arizona State University. The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed ASU Gammage is home to Broadway productions and offers its 3,011-capacity performance venue for group rental. The 303-room Tempe Mission Palms, the only full-service hotel in the downtown, is located near two Valley Metro Rail stops with connections to Phoenix, the airport and the ASU Tempe Campus. The hotel’s 30,000 sq. ft. of IACC-certified meeting space includes the Palm Ballroom, accommodating up to 720 guests with banquet-style seating.


Another affordable meeting site in the area is Tucson, whose SMG-operated convention center offers over 205,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and catering by SAVOR…Tucson. Entertainment is plentiful here with the accompanying Tucson Arena, Tucson Music Hall and Leo Rich Theater. Planners can now bring groups to a new Marriott property in Tucson, the 136-room AC Hotel Tucson Downtown. The hotel is suitable for small groups, with four function rooms totaling 1,847 sq. ft. During free time in Tucson, attendees can take in a University of Arizona sports event and conduct a dine-around among the 40 locally owned downtown restaurants that helped Tucson become a UNESCO “City of Gastronomy.” Several new developments in the city are sure to enrich the experience for delegates even more. City Park, scheduled to open in mid-2018, will offer a food hall, two anchor restaurants, bowling alley, private event space and a 2,600-sq.-ft. outdoor deck for conferences or concerts. In addition, the region’s oldest and largest visual arts institution, the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block, began a renovation in June that will increase the museum’s capacity to exhibit its permanent collection and support blockbuster exhibitions. And for fans of climate-controlled golf, Topgolf opens its third Arizona location late this year. The three-level venue will feature 1,500 sq. ft. of private event space and 72 hitting bays that can host up to six players at a time. But arguably, nothing beats the great Southwestern outdoors, and golf aficionados will not want to miss the scenic, Tom Faziodesigned courses at The Lodge at Ventana Canyon. The views of the Santa Catalina mountains and Esperrero Canyon are among the most inspiring in Tucson, and Arizona itself. Facilities & destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

Phoenix Convention Center


lanners, you should expect more from your meeting space. Located in the heart of downtown, the Phoenix Convention Center promises more than 900,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, various meeting rooms, and best of all, a dedicated team to ensure your meeting is successful. Just minutes away from vibrant city life, bars and restaurants, live events and art galleries, the Phoenix Convention Center is poised to be anything but conventional and always eventful.

Chef-inspired tasting kitchen You read that right. The Innovation Kitchen lets you build and sample your own meals for your meeting with an in-house chef. Dull food is too often the norm for meetings and conventions of any size. The convention center opened a tasting kitchen nearly 10 years ago along with the expansion of its buildings to ensure that every corner of the service offerings were taking meetings from good to great. Plan a meeting with the Phoenix Convention Center, and you’ll get connected with the chef to create unique menu options your attendees will enjoy.

Truly versatile meeting spaces From national conventions to more niche audiences, the Phoenix Convention Center can accommodate your event. The facility’s flexible meeting space includes a 312,500-sq.-ft. main exhibit hall and a 46,000-sq.-ft. ballroom. Not to mention 99 meeting rooms, 61 loading docks, exhibit halls with pre-scored floors and an Executive Conference Center. Need something to better fit the arts?

The center is complemented by a 2,312-seat Symphony Hall and the 1,364-seat historic Orpheum Theatre. Your options abound.

Partners to turn your vision into reality Don’t let the convention center’s size fool you. Though the physical space is sprawling, a team of hosts will welcome guests and attendees from the moment they walk through the doors. The staff takes pride in offering you an assigned event manager to see your plans to fruition, from start to finish. Timelines, guidelines and always-open lines of communication are the staff’s forte. They work with meeting planners one-on-one, and can answer any questions during the planning process. Bring the Phoenix Convention Center your vision, and the staff will take it from there.

100 North Third Street, Phoenix, AZ 85004 • (602) 262-6225; (800) 282-4842• Facilities & destinations 2017 Summer / Fall


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Facilities & destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

2017 New offerings in education, networking and community service


his year, IMEX America aims to make meetings more purposeful. With new additions such as the Event Design Certificate Program on Smart Monday, the Association Leadership Forum and an expanded Inspiration Hub, planners can benefit from a wealth of insights on how to create meetings that fulfill strategic objectives and engage attendees. “Our Talking Point, ‘Purposeful Meetings: How to plan with deeper meaning, innovation and insight in mind,’ reflects issues which meeting and event strategists are already being asked to address,” says IMEX Group CEO Carina Bauer. “As well as a strong focus on fulfilling the overall meeting objectives and ROI, it’s about a shift toward more strategic planning — the planning and creation of ‘memorable moments’ not meetings, and ‘experiences’ not events. ‘Purposeful Meetings’ are engaging, inspiring and enjoyable, with long-lasting positive outcomes.” IMEX America itself will realize two key outcomes: showcasing the latest thought leadership in the meetings industry, and connecting planners with international destinations, major hotel groups, DMCs, meeting technology providers and incentive houses. It all takes place at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, Oct. 10-12. F&D staff will be in attendance to network with our industry partners among the massive turnout expected. “Last year’s show was our largest ever, with over 3,000 hosted buyers, 2,500 attendees and 3,250 exhibiting companies, and we’re on track to meet these numbers again this year,” Bauer says.


This issue’s coverage of IMEX America features a selection of international destinations that will be exhibiting at the show: Barcelona, Spain; Costa Rica; Florida; Macau; Panama; Puerto Rico; Mexico; and Zurich, Switzerland. Each is seeking to grow its MICE tourism, and has significant new meetings infrastructure developments

to share. IMEX America is a great platform for these international destinations, and several are new to this year’s show or expanding their presence, such as Abu Dhabi, Czech Republic, The Bahamas, England, Hungary and Ireland. “IMEX America attracts exhibitors and buyers from across the world, including those from emerging markets such as the Middle East and Africa, Asia and Latin America,” Bauer notes. The tech sector on the exhibit floor is experiencing significant growth. “We’ve seen a continued increase in interest from event technology companies and have developed a dedicated section of the show which caters to this sector, plus an educational area on the show floor — the TECHknowledge Area — to help planners get ‘hands on’ with some of the technology,” Bauer explains. “Our Event Tech Tours also introduce buyers to some of the latest technology developments, and they can also preview some of the latest technology startups at our #IMEXPitch competition. In addition to this, the promotional product sector has grown over the past five years.” New exhibitors on the supplier side this year include the Boston Convention Marketing Center, COMO Hotels - New York, Hotel Xcaret Mexico, Global Incentive Management DMC, Viking Cruises, Live Nation Special Events and CadmiumCD. Ten new hosted buyers will also be on the show floor: Best Cities, Double Dutch, Event Mobi, Westjet, ROOTS MICE – USA/Canada, Event Experiences by Incentive Concepts, Incenta Rewards, Hosts Global, Site South America and Kenes Group.


“Our wide-ranging free education program at the show is really first class. There are more than 180 engaging education sessions covering 10 very different tracks addressing current topics the industry is engaging with,” says Bauer. “This also includes exclusive education content for meetings strategists working in the corporate sector, at the Executive Meeting Forum, as well as the ever popular PCMA Business School.

Continued on following page


Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

Continued from previous page

“Our new education and

In terms of logistical changes, quality opportunities to networking program, Association the Inspiration Hub will be spend dedicated, focused Leadership Forum, is open to located with our Food Court time together.” in Hall G – accessed via an those working at senior leadership escalator in the middle of the PRIORITIZING CSR level within associations and halls. This has allowed us to IMEX America is expand the educational area.” covers multiple challenges of partnering with Spread The learning begins on Oct. 9 the Word Nevada, a association management and with Smart Monday, the popular literacy nonprofit, for the professional development day development.” first time this year. It’s presented by MPI. This year, the latest in a history of —Carina Bauer, CEO, IMEX Group attendees can work toward an initiatives showing IMEX’s Event Design Certificate by commitment to community completing Level 1 of Mastery. service, reflecting an During this full-day workshop, the Event Design Collective ongoing priority within the meetings industry. “We take will introduce the Event Canvas Model, a strategic event pride in helping the meetings industry do great things, management model for customer-centric events. and giving back to your host community is certainly Also new this year is the Association Leadership Forum. one of them,” says Bauer. “We work closely with the “We recognize that association professionals have specific team at our venue, Sands Expo, and they recommended requirements and challenges, and our show has always had a Spread the Word Nevada as a local charity they had dedicated learning and networking platform to address this,” previously worked with. The goal of Spread the Word Bauer explains. “This year, however, is the first time we have Nevada is to promote literacy among both children and developed a program, together with ASAE: The Center for adults within the state. Since 2001 they have donated 3.9 Association Leadership, which is tailored to association million books, and we’re hoping to boost this number leaders. Our new education and networking program, further with our new book donation area at the show Association Leadership Forum, is open to those working at this year.” Also worthy of note is the Clean the World senior leadership level within associations and covers multiple hygiene kits that attendees can create at the show. The challenges of association management and development. We’ve kits are then given to The Shade Tree, a local Las Vegas spoken to association leaders about their success and challenges shelter for homeless women and children. “We build on in order to pinpoint the topics which are most timely and relevant these charity partnerships year on year, and in 2016 an — and our program has been developed to reflect this.” amazing 833 hygiene kits were created by visitors at the Networking is a major part of the new Forum’s value show,” Bauer adds. proposition. “The Association Leadership Forum is a chance From new exhibitors to new networking and to have exclusive, in-depth time to brainstorm with top, fellow educational opportunities and an outstanding community association peers,” she adds. “Senior industry professionals service activity, this year’s IMEX America promises within associations occupy unique and powerful positions to deliver on all fronts. We look forward to sharing the within the meetings industry, and we know they value highexperience with our readers and industry partners. 24

Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

November 6-7, 2017 | Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing | Philadelphia, PA



EXPERT PANEL: MEETING OPTIMIZATION Industry Experts Discuss How They Are Driving Change, Establishing Best Practices and Innovating to Optimize Meetings and Events

CONFERENCE CHAIR Alice Woychik, Head, Meetings, Congresses, Events and Operational Controls, NOVARTIS BUSINESS SERVICES


Meredith Smith, Executive Director, Strategic Sourcing and Enterprise Services (SSES), MERCK & CO.

The Mother of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Discusses Bravely Embracing Life’s Struggles to Overcome Obstacles and Make a Positive Impact Nancy Frates, ALS Advocate, TEAM FRATE TRAIN




James Vachon, CMM, Associate Director, Events, Meetings and Conventions, TAKEDA PHARMACEUTICALS INTERNATIONAL

Writing Strong, Authentic and Powerful Emails That Grab Attention and Get Responses Sue Hershkowitz-Coore, Sales Trainer and Author, HIGH IMPACT PRESENTATIONS



Examining Strategies for Maintaining, Motivating and Encouraging Planners and Suppliers to Stay Engaged and Work As A Team Colleen Kenney, CMP, Associate Director, Global Events, Meetings, and Conventions, TAKEDA PHARMACEUTICALS INTERNATIONAL


Energizing Meetings With Alternative Approaches to Content Development and Meeting Execution

Protecting Your Meeting With Effective Crisis Planning and Risk Management Strategies

John Gidman, Vice President, SMALL PLANET MEETINGS

Brenda Rivers, J.D., President and CEO, ANDAVO MEETINGS & INCENTIVES

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A visually aesthetic city that has perfected the art of meetings


UNESCO World Heritage Site (one of nine ff the coast of the beautiful in Barcelona). With over 10,000 sq. ft. of total Mediterranean and its stunning floor space, Casa Batlló offers three different beaches, spread in front of the floors: The Noble Floor, The Attic as well Collserola Mountain range, as the Dragon’s Roof Terrace. Groups can Barcelona has evolved into one of the world’s enjoy a reception on the terrace, and then most popular destinations, attracting not head down to the Attic or Noble Floor for the only tourists, but association and corporate meeting session or dinner. meeting groups as well. The Catalonian Conveniently located on La Ramblas, capital is rich in history and culture, yet ever Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu evolving; it remains modern and relevant, (Liceu) has also become a central place for known for its unique architecture and meeting and events. The 170-year-old opera artwork. Whether taking a stroll through Las house, host of performances from some Ramblas — a pedestrian mall that has been of the greatest composers and musicians the center of Barcelona since medieval times including Strauss and Mozart, offers multiple — feasting on delicacies in La Boqueria function rooms, such as the main hall with market, or admiring the magnificent history a capacity of over 2,200. Upon entering the and architecture in the Barri Gotic — the Liceu, guests are greeted by the ornately heart of the Old City — there is something The nativity facade of the Basilica of the decorated historic lobby — an ideal space eye catching around every corner. Sagrada Familia for pre-function gatherings. The adjacent Known for his Catalan Modernist style, Hall of Mirrors, once used as a resting room architect Antonio Gaudí left a memorable for performers, can seat almost 200 people and close to 300 for impression on the city. Gaudí’s works, chiefly inspired by nature cocktail-style functions. Surrounded by mirrors and roofed with and religion, include unusual and remarkably creative designs a magnificent painting apropos for the opera house, the room from ceramics and stained glass. His world-renowned work can be provides a classic setting for dinners or social gatherings. The opera seen in mansions such as Casa Batlló and Casa Milà, nature parks house’s Foyer, built directly under the main hall, has state-of-the-art like Park Güell, and the church Sagrada Família, which Gaudí audiovisual equipment suitable for conferences or presentations, personally wasn’t able to complete, but is still under construction to and can accommodate up to 500. this very day with hopes of finishing his chef-d’oeuvre. While known for its art and architecture, Barcelona is also Planners looking to bring this architectural aspect of Barcelona prominent in the world of sports and athletics. The city hosted the into their meetings can host events in Casa Batlló, located on 1992 Summer Olympics, and is home to Camp Nou – FC (Futbol Passeig de Gràcia, one of the major avenues of the city. One of Club) Barcelona’s stadium. Seating over 99,000 people, it is the Gaudí’s most creative works, the mansion has been declared a


Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

(Clockwise from bottom left): The city’s vibrant nightlife; La Boqueria market; and Palau de Congressos de Catalunya.

access to private gardens — Los Jardines — that can be utilized for outdoor functions. Of note, PCMA staged its invitation-only Global Corporate Summit at the Fairmont and Palau de Congressos last spring. Susan Katz, then Vice President of Operations at PCMA, called the location “a perfect backdrop for this interaction.” At the other end of the line is the Fira Barcelona Gran Via. Continuing the city’s tradition of architectural excellence, the facility was designed by a Pritzker Prize-winning architect, Toyo Ito. The convention center is massive, with eight halls and close to 2.6 million sq. ft. of floor space, making it one of the world’s largest. Close to the airport as well as other rail lines, the venue has a number of hotels within walking distance. It has hosted ibtm largest stadium in Europe. Camp Nou has world for over a decade, and is also known a variety of halls and lounges that can host as the home of the annual Mobile World The modernized up to 1,500 participants, not to mention the Congress, the world’s largest gathering for soccer field and stands, which are available for mobile industry. Fairmont Juan Carlos I theibtm concerts and other private functions. world attracts in excess of 15,000 Another unique space is Las Arenas’ La meeting industry professionals annually. and congress center Cúpula, a former bullfighting ring, recently “Both Barcelona Convention Bureau and Fira are set within transformed into a multilevel shopping center. de Barcelona have evolved with us since our Its rooftop offers a large circular space of first event here,” said Graeme Barnett, Senior manicured grounds on over 27,000 sq. ft. that can host a variety of Exhibition Director, ibtm world, whose event the land of a former events. The venue is impressive indoors and has been in the city since 2004. “From arrival to out. Covered by the largest wooden dome departure, this city and all of the partners work Spanish estate. in all of Europe that provides for the flow of together as ‘Team Barcelona’ with an incredibly natural light, the rooftop is surrounded by an positive ethos to ensure that we deliver the observation deck granting impressive views best and most memorable experience for our of Barcelona sites, including the Magic Fountains, Venetian customers, both business and pleasure.” Barnett summed up his Towers, Fira Barcelona Montjuic and Museu Nacional d’Art experience in the city, calling Barcelona “one of the great places in de Catalunya. The Fira Barcelona, a trade fair institution whose Europe to hold events, conferences, congresses and exhibitions” and combined indoor and outdoor space exceeds 1.4 million sq. ft., declaring, “that is why we are staying.” includes the Museu Nacional, whose halls can be utilized to host Having commenced this piece with the Mediterranean, we would private events. be remiss if we omitted the sea-facing Barcelona International Convention Centre (CCIB). The modern structure, built in 2004, is also an architectural marvel. Its total space exceeds one million TWO ACCESSIBLE CONVENTION CENTERS sq. ft. and is quite versatile, taking full advantage of its location The city’s Metro (train) system makes it easy for delegates to get with multiple outdoor spaces overlooking the Mediterranean. around. A new line, the L9 Sud, built from the city’s suburban Zona Nearby there are in excess of 4,500 hotel rooms, including a number Universitaria neighborhood, recently gave direct access to two of affiliated with American chains. The CCIB also has an auditorium Barcelona’s prime meeting sites. On the north terminus of the line for congresses and keynotes that can seat 3,140. —A.L.K. in the Zona Univestaria district is the Fairmont Juan Carlos I and Palau de Congressos de Catalunya. The hotel — which recently completed an extensive modernization — and congress center are set within manicured grounds on the land of a former Spanish estate. Each has significant event space (26,900 and 43,000 sq. ft., respectively, the latter housing a 2,000-seat auditorium) and Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

We are grateful for the assistance of the Barcelona Convention Bureau, which organized site visits for our writers. The bureau is a go-to source for meeting planners looking to hold their events in Barcelona. For more information, contact Cecile Dorian, International Promotion Manager for the U.S. and Canada, at cdorian@ or +34 648 887 094.


costa rica With economic growth comes an improved meetings infrastructure By Rosa Laufer


t a breakfast in New York that preceded the New York International Food Show this past June, Maykool Lopez, the Director of Procomer, Costa Rica’s official trade promotion office, joked that the country was no longer a “banana republic, but more of a pineapple republic.” As far as agricultural exports are concerned, bananas are actually the country’s second-largest export. On a more serious note, Lopez told those in attendance of the diversity of Costa Rica’s economy. He explained that while food and agricultural exports may have brought him to the gathering that morning, technology, manufacturing and tourism each play a significant role in creating an environment conducive to the country’s health and welfare. Costa Rica’s growth, explained Lopez, is rooted in its free and mandatory education system for citizens, coupled with the abolition of its armed forces in 1949. Freed from the burdens of funding a military, the country has invested a significant portion of its gross domestic product back into its citizenry, which has resulted in “the best educational system in Latin America, and a highly skilled workforce.” The workforce continues to develop the country’s economy, producing and manufacturing products for export around the globe, and expanding the service economy created by tourism. One indication of Costa Rica’s economic health is a new international airport slated for completion in 2027. Currently, the country is reached primarily via two major airports: one in Liberia, a newer airport gaining popularity with travelers visiting the Pacific Coast; and the other in the capital of San Jose. Major carriers service both airports with year-round and seasonal flights from multiple gateway cities. The meetings and events industry is also a beneficiary of the economic growth. Opening in San Jose by the end of this year


The Arenal Volcano and denizens of the rainforest (above) are among Costa Rica’s scenic wonders

will be the country’s first major convention center, the Costa Rica Convention Center (CRCC). Construction began this past February on the facility, which will be comparable in size to convention centers found in many major European cities. Costa Rica President Luis G. Solis declared during a ceremony commemorating the construction that the “[CNCC] will benefit the entire country, and without a doubt it will invigorate the tourism industry.” He added that the CNCC “will better the image of the country as a consolidated tourism destination.” In a similar vein, Costa Rica Minister of Tourism Mauricio Ventura noted that the CNCC establishes “a precedent in the history of tourism in Costa Rica, with the hopes of competing in the global industry of meetings.” Without a doubt, the new convention center will do wonders Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

The new National Congress and Convention Center “will benefit the entire country, and without a doubt it will invigorate the tourism industry.” —Costa Rica President Luis G. Solís for MICE travel to Costa Rica. Tourism in general, particularly ecotourism, has been a major focus for the country for some time. During F&D staff’s first visit to San Jose, we attended the opening ceremonies of the annual Expotur — the sustainable travel market expo — in the stately Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica. The destination’s ecotourism efforts are also well served by celebrity visits. Indeed, actress Salma Hayek Pinault chose to recount her recent trip to Costa Rica while on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, spending a good deal of time telling the talk show host about her encounters with nature.

The Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa is an excellent lodging option for groups that value sustainability. Cascades and thermal pools surround the property.


On the country’s Pacific coast, the Jaco region has made efforts to attract MICE travelers. Known for its beaches and surfing, the city might serve as a launch point for excursions and teambuilding activities such as sport fishing or whitewater rafting. Up and down the coast planners can find a variety of resorts that can host small to midsize groups across the price spectrum, including the upscale Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort. The hotel offers about 200 guestrooms and suites, complemented by 18 event rooms and over 37,000 sq. ft. of total event space. In Jaco, the 152-room Croc’s Resort & Casino provides a beachfront, indoor meeting space of about 5,000 sq. ft. and patios surrounding the hotel’s signature pool (with a crocodile emblazoned into the floor). The hotel gets its name from the nearby crocodile population, many of whom can safely be viewed from the Tarcoles River Bridge in Carara National Park. Excursions from the region across the Gulf of Nicoya via catamaran to Tortuga Island give groups additional opportunities to appreciate nature, such as encounters with marine life in the nearby Curu nature reserves. Tortuga Island has become a favorite site for hiking through tropical forests, as well as for aquatic activities that include kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving.


The rainforest is synonymous with nature travel to Costa Rica, and in the country’s north lies the town of La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano National Park, a favorite destination for visitors. Within the park’s boundaries are said to live 850 different species of wildlife. While we were glad not to have encountered the reptilian life — the crocodiles we saw earlier in the trip sufficed for that genus — colorful frogs, birds, sloths and monkeys were among the creatures that amazed us. The rainforest is also home to countless species of plant life, creating a true tropical paradise. The Arenal Volcano’s last major eruption was in 1968, and it has technically been dormant since 2010. Seismologists do not foresee any major activity from the mountain volcano for centuries, so there is an abundance of time to enjoy the area. The volcano heats underground rivers in the region, creating multiple thermal hot springs around which resorts have been established. Spread out over 900 acres at the base of the volcano is the Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa. The resort’s founder, a certified architect, reclaimed Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

and reforested marshlands with native flora, and channeled the local hot springs flowing directly through the property, to create cascades and thermal pools around a hotel and spa. While there is a little more than 1,200 sq. ft. of indoor meeting space at the 103-room luxury property, the resort’s natural, relaxed surroundings are conducive for meetings. Hotel guests can bask in the numerous thermal pools of water flowing down from the volcano’s base, and even relax at a poolside bars. Dining options include two open-air restaurants with private garden areas for groups; the restaurants feature both international cuisine as well as native Costa Rican delicacies. Offsite excursions are available around the nearby town of La Fortuna, where guests can experience local food and culture or participate in activities unique to the area. Guests can explore wildlife and the surroundings via hikes and horseback rides. Ziplining and “Tarzan rope swinging” are also local favorites, as is swimming in the waters under La Fortuna Waterfall. Tabacon prioritizes the preservation of the environment. The property was credited with the highest ranking granted by Costa Rican Board of Tourism — “5 leaves” — as part of its Certification for Sustainable Tourism. Indeed, the property is constantly looking for ways to excel in this area. During a meeting F&D attended in New York last fall, Hotel Director Meni Mikowski surveyed a group of seasoned travel professionals as to their sentiment regarding providing local sourced water in glass pitchers in guestrooms, versus plastic bottles — glass clearly being a more sustainable choice, as well as one that could reduce waste both on and offsite. Concern for detail like Mikowski’s underscores Costa Rica’s devotion to sustainability. As MICE travel to the region continues to grow, perhaps awareness of environmental issues will soon be added to the list of the country’s exports. —D.K. 29


The growing presence of Las Vegas Sands adds to the region’s meetings appeal


the core created by Sands China, -Ma, or Mazu, is the with major U.S. hoteliers and mythical Chinese casino resort operators following goddess of the sea, suit. Development also continues after whom tradition for a series of new properties in has it, Macau is named. A-Ma’s the City of Dreams, adjacent to influence is strong throughout the Sands’ Cotai development. Its region. Amidst the tiled streets flagship property, the 780-room of the city’s historic center — a Morpheus Hotel, was nearing UNESCO World Heritage site — completion during our recent is a temple to A-Ma with pavilions visit will add a new dimension dating back to the 15th century, to Macau’s architecture, which predating the Portuguese traders already has been quite creative who settled in the territory. Atop and bold. the heights of Coloane, one Casino revenue may be a of Macau’s two main islands, major driver in the region, but the is the Mazu Culture Village. Macao Government Tourism Manicured gardens surround the Office is intent on creating more village’s replica Qing dynastythan just a haven for gambling styled temple, where the reverent within its borders. While historic offer tributes of food and incense. The Parisian Macao, the newest property at Sands Resorts Macao and cultural sites play a major role What is believed to be the world’s in tourism, international music, tallest monument depicting the jazz and fireworks festivals, as well goddess looks out over the sea as Grand Prix auto racing are some of the established annual events from Mazu Culture Village. that attract visitors. Sporting events have been on the rise, including The harmonious confluence of Portuguese and Chinese cultures the Macao Golf Open and upcoming inaugural Super 8 basketball has been a hallmark of the territory. Macau is also known for its tourney in Studio City’s 5,000-seat arena. Larger sports and legalized gambling; indeed, Macau surpassed Las Vegas in 2006 in entertainment events are frequently hosted at the Cotai Arena. The total revenue from this sector. Macau’s development since then has world-class venue is part of the Sands complex in Macau, which laid been incessant. F&D visited Macau during fall 2013 (see the feature the groundwork for much of the region’s current tourism product. in the Winter 2013/2014 issue), and the landscape today includes “There are plenty of things to do in Macau outside gaming,” dozens of new structures that have cost billions of dollars to build. New hotels in central Macau’s Cotai Strip area have supplemented says Ruth Boston, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Brand


Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

Management at Sands Resorts Macao. Boston has been a key architect promoting Macau as a MICE destination, previously having served as General Manager Sales and Marketing when the Sheraton Grand Macao commenced operations in 2011. Planners from Western countries, explains Boston, “aren’t always aware of all the other attractions in Macau. When potential businesses come to Macau for onsite inspections, they return with a completely different opinion.”


Las Vegas Sands, owners of Sands China, traces its roots to the tradeshow industry. The company built what has become the world’s largest privately owned convention center in Las Vegas — the Sands Expo and Convention Center. Although common now, at the time, Sands’ approach of integrating lodging, meeting space, gaming and shopping was trendsetting, and it led to the creation of both The Venetian and The Palazzo. Sands’ leadership saw a tremendous opportunity to recreate this formula in Macau, and commenced development of what it calls a “multiuse integrated resort” and casino operation in the territory. Going “all in” during the economic downturn that spanned the latter half of the last decade, Sands’ “gamble” — really following through on a well-calculated business decision — paid off. Today, the Sands Resorts Macao complex is a city unto itself, with seven hotels housing 13,000 guestrooms, an arena, more than 150 restaurants catering to every palate, 850 duty-free stores and a broad range of entertainment options. Total meeting space among all the properties exceeds 1.6 million sq. ft. In 2007, Sands Resorts Macao opened the 3,000 all-suite Venetian Macao, whose design elements are similar to The Venetian Las Vegas. The Macau complex houses 1.2 million sq. ft. of retail and dining areas, the arena noted above, an 1,800-seat theater and the region’s largest convention center with 1.2 million sq. ft. of flexible meeting and event space. The property’s successful reception led to the creation of six additional interconnected hotels, each providing guests with a unique experience. The impressive 4,001-room Sheraton Grand Macao (designated as a Sheraton Grand property after our previous visit) is well equipped to host association and corporate groups. With over 200,000 sq. ft. of flexible indoor space supplemented by generous pre-function areas and another 120,000-plus sq. ft. of outdoor space, the property is a meeting planner’s dream. The property connects with the Conrad Macao and Holiday Inn Macao for groups requiring additional space in a contiguous setting. Corporate groups visiting Macau (or the nearby Zhuhai Special Economic Zone) searching for an experience in an upscale setting may opt for a midnight dinner at the St. Regis Macao. Served in the style of the Astors (owners of the first St. Regis property in New York), a lavish meal might start with champagne and continue with an array of flavorful Macanese dishes, topped off by decadent desserts. The 400-room property has an outdoor lawn and over 14,000 sq. ft. of indoor event space, including its 6,764-sq.-ft. Astor Ballroom. The 360-room Four Seasons Hotel Macao is home to Zi Yat Heen, a Michlelin-starred Cantonese restaurant where groups can host small meetings in one of four private dining rooms. The architecturally stunning property houses over 27,000 sq. ft. of flexible event space. Many of the hotel’s suites afford views of the replica Eiffel Tower on the grounds of Sands’ newest offering, The Parisian Macao. A 3,000-room, masterfully designed resort property, the multibillion-dollar Parisian Macao was designed to provide guests with an authentic experience of the French capital, with 20 replicas of historic Parisian landmarks. Upon entering, guests will be in awe of the Fontaine de Mers that rests under a gilded dome painted in Renaissance-era style, surrounded by multi-tiered balconies. The Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

The picturesque shops at the Venetian Macao (above) and the Parisian Macao’s half-size replica of the Eiffel Tower (right).

design of the hotel shopping areas is reminiscent of the boulevards of Paris, with street artists and mimes roaming the malls in French costumes. Spacious guestrooms and suites provide hotel guests “an affordable luxury experience,” says Donna Campbell, Executive Director of Public Relations for Sands China. The hotel offers 56,000 sq. ft. of event space, and more space can be made available at the connected Venetian Macao. A memorable event at the hotel might include an outdoor buffet featuring the hotel’s signature French cuisine (or a wide selection of other international cuisines easily within the scope of the chefs), coupled with entertainment in the plazas and gardens that sit in the shadow of the hotel’s half-scale replica of the Eiffel Tower. The hotel’s 1,200-seat theater hosts Broadway-style entertainment in the evenings, and is ideal for keynotes, lectures and presentations during the day. As a plus, Eiffel Tower-shaped chocolate made onsite and Macau’s popular Portuguese egg-tarts are a pleasant way to conclude the evening.


Macau is easily accessible via air, ferry from Hong Kong (Sands has its own private service) and ground transportation across the highly anticipated Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau bridge, scheduled to be completed by year’s end. There are no visa restrictions for residents of over 75 countries, making Macau an ideal destination for international congresses. With Macau’s government offering subsidies for groups that stay over three nights, there is additional incentive for planners considering the Far East to stage their function in Macau. —D.K. 31

The Panama Connection A tale of two Panama cities that welcome meeting groups to distinct paradises


n 2012, The New York Times listed Panama City, Panama, as the No. 1 place in the world to visit. Five years later, it’s still easy to see why. The glorious beaches, balmy year-round temperatures, beautiful architecture, must-have Panamanian food and the famed 48-mile Panama Canal are enough to make anyone want to experience life there. The canal’s Pacific Ocean port is quite accessible to the capital and largest city in the Republic of Panama. Indirectly, that iconic waterway led to the naming of another Panama City while the canal was being constructed in the early 20th century. An unincorporated town in Northwest Florida, known as Harrison, had the distinction of being the closest developed port on the U.S. mainland to the Caribbean entrance of the Panama Canal. Reportedly, the developer capitalized on that distinction and the construction project’s popularity by officially changing the town’s name to Panama City in 1909.

Today, the two Panama cities share another connection as upand-coming resort destinations in the meetings industry. Each offers that “tropical escape” atmosphere, which is complemented by sense of history in Panama City, Panama. Casco Viejo, the historic district, is “fantastic for strolling around and mingling with locals in its restaurants and bars,” notes Herman Bern, President of Bern Hotels & Resorts. “The beaches are close by, as is the rainforest. And Panamanians love visitors. We love hosting people and showing our country around. There is just such pride in doing so.” The beach is also relatively close to Panama City, Florida, which is roughly 10 miles from the town of Panama City Beach. A legendary Spring Break destination, Panama City Beach has become more welcoming to the meeting attendee with the banning of alcohol on public beaches. With the ongoing construction of the $193 million, 635,000-sq.-ft. Amador Convention Center, the future is also looking promising

Both Panama City Beach in Florida and Panama City, Panama (right) offer picturesque coastal experiences 32

Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

for large convention groups interested in Panama City, Panama. But for now its attraction as a meeting site is mainly on the resort side, as is the lure of its Florida counterpart. In what follows we profile two resorts that represent the best of what each Panama City has to offer: the Westin Playa Bonita Hotel Panama in Panama City, Panama, and the Sheraton Bay Point Resort in Panama City Beach.

Westin Playa Bonita Hotel Panama


Situated about 22 miles from Tocumen International Airport, this 611-room property features 20 meeting spaces totaling 65,000 sq. ft. Planners can choose from beach, mezzanine and lobby-level areas, where rooms can be set up to the group’s liking (e.g., reception, conference, banquet or classroom-style). Amenities include a business center, executive club lounge, 24-hour fitness studio and four beachside swimming pools. TRU Incentives, Inc., an Olathe, KS-based travel planning company, has repeatedly taken groups to the Westin Playa Bonita Hotel Panama. “This property has been the host to a few of the incentive programs TRU Incentives has planned,” says Tina Ulm, President of TRU Incentives, Inc. Recently, Ulm’s company booked the property’s Grand Ballroom for a group to host everything from an awards banquet to board meetings. While there, they even reserved the Pearl Club Pool for a little fun under the sun. “The company also hosted a carnival party with all the décor, including beads and a Panama hat for each guest,” Ulm says. Another Westin Playa Bonita Panama highlight, according to Ulm, is that the staff “totally understands what it takes to deliver a great program. I’ve known and worked with Gaby Herrera, who is the Director of Sales, and her history in the industry proves she can deliver,” Ulm says. “Regardless of the request, the onsite team will make it happen. Panamazing DMC should also be recognized for the role they played in the positive outcome of the program. They too were excellent to work with. … Panamazing was well prepared to overcome any obstacles that might have hampered any and all of our offsite events.” If meeting attendees are looking for a more intimate setting, Villa Bonita should be considered. A 20-room oasis exclusively available to Westin guests, this mega villa is ideal for corporate retreats. Owned by Bern Hotels & Resorts, it is a one-minute drive from the Westin Playa Bonita Hotel Panama. Groups will love the patio with its Pacific Ocean view, and the rooms, which are filled with curated pieces from the owner’s personal travels around the world. Attendees can escape to Africa and India in rooms filled with hand-carved elephants, woven baskets and more. Ann d’Eon, President of ADI Meetings & Events in Phoenix, AZ, highly recommends Villa Bonita. “Our guests were provided a personal experience from breakfast on the terrace to cocktails after dinner. The house manager greeted our guests each morning and greeted them at the front door each evening, no matter how late the hour. The service is unparalleled,” d’Eon describes. “The quality of each master suite, which includes a safari theme, exudes a feeling of a private chateau experience on the coast of Panama. Watching the ships line up for passage through the Panama Canal while indulging in the infinity pool is a memorable and bonding experience. I would highly recommend this exclusive villa for any company.” Meeting planners may also want to take groups offsite to stroll about the cobblestone streets of Casco Viejo, Panama City’s Old Town. Filled with cathedrals, hotels (American Trade Hotel showcases larger-than-life works of art in a chic environment), restaurants (Ocho y Medio serves up a delicious grilled salmon sautéed in citrus and butter), boutiques, native wares and more, this is a not-to-miss excursion. —Laura Janelle Downey

The top-notch complex earns kudos for its enviable location on the Grand Lagoon, away from the high-rise waterfront hotels. Coastal marsh surrounds the resort, adding an air of peace and tranquility. A 900-ft.-long scenic boardwalk leads to the resort’s private island and array of water activities. The reinvented Sheraton Bay Point Resort serves as both a quiet escape and a fun getaway, and has already earned AAA Four Diamond status, the only hotel to do so in Panama City Beach. The resort complex, originally a Marriott, was closed for 18 months to facilitate construction, which was completed earlier this year. Swimming pools were moved, all roofs were replaced and the lobby and dining facilities totally overhauled. State-of-the-art digital technology and Wi-Fi bandwidth were installed. Full fiber-optic capabilities in the meeting spaces now provide dedicated bandwidth

“Watching the ships line up for passage through the Panama Canal while indulging in the infinity pool [at Villa Bonita] is a memorable and bonding experience.” —Ann d’Eon, President, ADI Meetings & Events

Villa Bonita, available to guests of Westin Playa Bonita Hotel Panama


Take a property that commands the prime location on St. Andrews Bay, pour in $30 million to rebuild and renovate, and out comes the hip, rebranded Sheraton Bay Point Resort. The Panama City Beach property houses a total of 320 rooms, including five executive suites and 60 one- and two-bedroom golf villas with home-like touches and full kitchens. Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall


Sheraton Bay Point Resort, home to Pelican’s (left), a restaurant on the pier

to groups seeking streaming or online trainings. The Sheraton team can also produce a complimentary custom website for groups wishing to employ onsite technology and digital signage for their meeting. The new Sheraton Bay Point Resort brought in an experienced team and thoroughly trained new employees in the company’s mission to provide genuine hospitality and attention to detail. One example is culinary wizard Shane Miller, hired as Executive Chef. Miller, a winning chef on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen and Guy’s Grocery Games, can customize group menus or stage a cooking demonstration or hands-on cooking class for attendees. His Gulf Coast Louisiana roots are expressed in signature dishes such as Gumbo Ya-Ya and Gulf White Shrimp & Grits. When it comes to business, groups have at their disposal 60,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor flexible meeting and exhibition space designed to accommodate up to 750 attendees. That includes eight natural-light breakout rooms, the 12,000-sq.-ft. St. Andrews Ballroom and 8,000-sq.-ft. Grand Lagoon Ballroom, divisible into a total of 22 individual meeting rooms. A separate meetings entrance and registration desk caters to attendees, while shuttle service lets conference guests board the vehicles directly from their sessions. The Sheraton’s sprawling lawn space, St. Andrews Pavilion overlooking the Bay, and private island beach are ideal sites for outdoor receptions. Group dining options include Pelican’s, a covered but water-surrounded café, and Tides Restaurant, a more formal dining area with modern coastal décor. The resort prides itself on a wide variety of activity options that can be customized to a group’s goals and budget. Incentive award winners will be thrilled by a scenic helicopter ride directly from the hotel grounds. Should golfers want an illuminated nighttime threehole tournament, the staff will make it happen. Tennis players can sign up for a group cardio tennis round led by the resort’s pro on five HydroGrid clay courts. More athletic types may muscle up for YOLO Stand-Up Paddleboarding (onsite instruction provided), sand volleyball, kayaking, kite surfing or jet skiing. 34

Panama City Beach, known as the “Wreck Diving Capital of the South,” has 50 artificial reefs and a few sunken ships. Its warm, clear Gulf waters make excellent breeding grounds for sea turtles, schools of red snapper, puffer fish, dolphins, barracuda, sand dollars and horseshoe crabs. Those who prefer snorkeling have access to many of the same dive sites. Pre-plan to offer scuba lessons and a diver certification program onsite. The highlight for many Sheraton Bay Point Resort guests becomes the 20-minute ride on the Bay Point Lady and visit to Shell Island. The barrier isle may be the quintessential stretch of undeveloped, white sand anywhere. The property’s boat makes multiple scheduled trips daily, or for groups by appointment. Beach umbrellas, chairs and snorkel gear are available. For a larger group, consider chartering a 55-ft. catamaran or pontoon boat for a relaxing sail past St. Andrews Island and out to the Gulf of Mexico. Dolphins are frequently spotted along this route. Fishing around the region ranges from deep offshore waters to inland creeks and the bay, with both freshwater and saltwater options. Planners can hire boats and guides for the anglers and see who snares the catch of the day. Panama City is a destination for golfers as well. The Sheraton Bay Point Resort features Dewsweeper’s Golf Academy and two 18-hole courses. Northwest Florida’s only Nicklaus-design course presents a par-72 course measuring more than 7,100 yards. It challenges golfers with the natural terrain of scrub oaks, pines and salt-water marshes. The Meadows Course tests golf skills with occasional tight fairways, combined with numerous bunkers and lakes. Attendees will enjoy casual fare in the renovated Club 19 Bar & Grill both pre and post play. For relaxing renewal, send your guests for a massage, facial or manicure at the reborn Serenity Spa. The 12,000-sq.-ft. facility employs experienced therapists and features a sauna, whirlpool and outdoor, heated zero-entry pool with bay views. Panama City and Panama City Beach are each approximately a two-hour drive from Tallahassee and a one-and a half hour drive from Fort Walton Beach Airport. The Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in Bay County lies about 30 minutes from the resort. Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and Silver Airways offer many nonstop flights originating from Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Nashville and St. Louis. Although it may take a bit of thought to determine the most convenient way for a group to get to Panama City Beach, the attendee experience onsite will surely be worth the effort. —Debi Lander Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

Puerto Rico The El Conquistador resort exemplifies what the island offers meeting groups By Debi Lander


uerto Rico’s friendly culture, outstanding natural beauty and historical treasures combine with upscale resorts and convention facilities to make it one of the top meeting destinations in the Caribbean. The island’s hospitality portfolio includes over 15,000 guestrooms and more than 1.3 million sq. ft. of function space, the crown jewel being the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan. The center is well stocked in function space, with a 152,700-sq.-ft. exhibit hall, 39,500-sq.-ft. ballroom and 36,400 sq. ft. of meeting space, as well as the elegant Antiguo Casino, which is available for private functions. Puerto Rico also shines during attendees’ free time, and the future looks bright. By early 2019, San Juan will be home to the new District Live!, a five-acre hospitality and entertainment hub. The district will include a new 6,000-seat concert and entertainment venue managed by AEG Facilities. More physically active groups can engage in everything from golf to ziplining and rappelling in Puerto Rico, known for its beaches, undersea life, rainforests and underground caves. For example, meeting planners can organize kayak or boat tours to Bioluminescent Bay, or an expert-led hike through the El Yunque National Rainforest, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest system. Attendees can also travel back into Puerto Rico’s past by visiting the 500-year-old Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal in San Juan National Park. A bus outing to Old San Juan would also be of historic interest: The island’s geographic position made San Juan one of the key outposts of Spain’s West Indies dominions. Getting attendees to San Juan is easy as airlines offer hundreds of nonstop flights. Transportation to many other Caribbean destinations requires a connection in Miami to smaller planes and maybe a ferry shuttle after that. Adding to the ease, U.S. residents don’t need passports or money exchanges; they can simply use U.S. dollars. Be reassured: American law governs the territory, and the locals are as comfortable with English as their native Spanish.

Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

Puerto Rico’s historic forts and military history can be point of interest for visiting groups


During the 15th century, conquistadors conquered New World lands. Today, planners can enlist a modern El Conquistador in the challenge to deliver a winning conference. Located in Fajardo, the El Conquistador, a member of the Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, ranks as Puerto Rico’s largest convention hotel, in fact, the largest in the Caribbean. It sits imposingly on sprawling grounds 300 feet above the edge of the sea. 35

The El Conquistador offers 100,000 sq. ft. of flexible function space, including the high-tech Grand Atlantic Conference Center. The compound is divided into five villages, including Las Casitas Village, a separate luxury enclave of one- to three-bedroom villas, complete with The El Conquistador includes Las Casitas butler service and private pools. The Village (below) with its private pools swank hideaway was home to Johnny Depp while filming scenes in Pirates of the Caribbean on the resort-owned Palomino Island. Meeting space is plentiful: The El Conquistador offers 100,000 sq. ft. of flexible indoor/outdoor function space. The $42 million Grand Atlantic Conference Center includes cutting-edge technology. Ballroom options include the 21,090-sq.-ft. Grand Atlantic Ballroom and the 19,982-sq.-ft. Grand Caribbean Ballroom, complemented by 16 breakout rooms. In 2014, resort renovations refreshed the Pablo Casals Ballroom and the Miradorlevel meeting facilities with new carpeting, furniture and fixtures. The vast property’s charming funicular transports guests down to the Marina Village, the hub of a 35-slip private marina offering deep-sea fishing charters, sailboats, catamarans and yachts. Here guests can board the boat for the private Palomino Island, featuring a full array of beach and watersport activities. The island makes the perfect location for teambuilding events and is especially lovely for tiki torch-lit barefoot beach dinners. Covered facilities for sit-down meals offer a backup for those occasional rain showers. For more watersports, attendees and their families can visit Coqui Water Park. The 2.4-acre aquatic area features three highresort offers the free El Con 360˚ app featuring floor-to-ceiling speed waterslides, including one with an intense 40-ft. drop. Those virtual tours, points of interest, maps and video and photo galleries. wishing something tamer can lounge in an inner tube, swishing More planning assistance for the destination in general can be along the 8,000-sq.-ft. “lazy river.” Evening events based around the obtained through Meet Puerto Rico ( pools or the waterpark add tropical pizazz to the program. Puerto Rico deserves the moniker of “golf capital of the Caribbean,” with around 30 courses, 15 of which are considered world class. But guests will not need to leave the resort to tee off. The El Conquistador’s championship 18-hole, par-72 golf course The El Conquistador renovated in 2014, and several other complete with practice putting green lies just steps from the upscale properties have recently completed improvement guestrooms. Tennis devotees have seven tennis courts (one a projects. Here is a sampling: stadium court) at their disposal, as well as a resident tennis pro. Exercise enthusiasts will love the immense fitness center that offers In February, the El San Juan Hotel & Casino reopened a wide range of workout options, and an ocean view. Afterward, following a $60 million renovation and joined Curio – A guests can de-stress and rejuvenate muscles and skin in the resort’s Collection by Hilton. 26,000-sq.-ft. Waldorf Astoria Spa. The Hilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort has completed On the F&B side, the El Conquistador’s talented chefs and a $2 million renovation that included the lobby area and catering staff create meals that mix the island’s cultural heritage bathrooms in 156 guestrooms. (including the Spaniards, the native tribes of the island, and Western Africans) with current food trends. Culinary treats Last winter, the Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel completed include island-grown coffee, piña coladas or DonQ rum punch in a multi-million dollar renovation that included all 240 a coconut, and tostones (twice-fried garlicky green plantains). A guestrooms and suites. In addition, nine meeting and precollection of fine-dining restaurants enable an onsite dine-around: function spaces were graced with new carpeting, décor, color Chops Steakhouse, a high-end steakhouse; La Piccola Fontana, schemes and lighting. presenting fine Northern Italian cuisine; and Blossoms, serving The Verdanza Hotel completed a soft renovation of Pan-Asian cuisine, including a sushi bar and teppanyaki tables. its meeting and banquets facilities and services last year, Overall, the El Conquistador has a variety of facilities, amenities and added 4,000 sq. ft. of new meeting space, for a total of and activities that will appeal to meeting groups. As both a planning 20,000 sq. ft. aid and a promotional/informational vehicle for attendees, the

Puerto Rico Resort News

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Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

Puerto Vallarta

Mexico’s “cultural heart” is also a meeting and incentive hub


uerto Vallarta, the cultural heart of Mexico’s Pacific Coast, offers meeting and incentive planners a vast choice of sites and activities. Attendees arrive at the modern Puerto Vallarta International Airport on one of over 2,000 direct flights from the United States and Canada. In 2016, tourists from those two countries made up half of the four million total visitors. Airport handlers greet each visitor with a sincere “Welcome to Puerto Vallarta.” That hospitality is promoted through the Sensitivity to Tourism campaign, but it’s also true that “friendliness is ingrained in our culture,” one local explains. “We understand the value of being a welcoming place.” Puerto Vallarta’s authenticity comes to life in its 100-year-old downtown. Stucco houses line the narrow cobblestone streets. New Orleans-style wrought-iron balconies, red-tiled roofs and cascades of flowering

Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

By Debi Lander

Our Lady of Guadalupe cathedral

bougainvillea appear everywhere. A regal filigreed crown tops the landmark cathedral, Our Lady of Guadalupe. The area is alive with Mexicans and expats, who live and work downtown, shop in mom and pop groceries, eat in non-chain restaurants and participate in local events. Apart from that cultural experience, Puerto Vallarta has increased in popularity among meeting planners because of its accessibility, excellent climate and convenient infrastructure for events.


Located just seven minutes away from the airport, the Puerto Vallarta International Convention Center houses over 100,000 sq. ft. of flexible indoor function space. Specifically, the ground level offers 53,821 sq. ft. of columnfree exhibit space (divisible into eight) with a 37

The Puerto Vallarta International Convention Center is located within 10 minutes of the majority of beachfront hotels (below) capacity of 5,000 people. The upper level contains 4,844 sq. ft. in a fully carpeted mezzanine. The area can be subdivided into three to nine breakouts. Throughout the center groups will find Wi-Fi connectivity, surround sound systems, air-conditioning, a fire-prevention system and closed circuit TV. The Convention Center includes a cafeteria that serves up to 300 people. Outside the building, groups can utilize an additional 400,000 sq. ft. of event space surrounded by a protected 415-acre estuary.


The majority of beachfront hotels are located just 10 minutes from the convention center. In total, the city provides over 22,000 guestrooms across luxury resorts catering to high-end incentives and corporate retreats, sprawling convention hotels, and boutique properties. All of these internationally branded properties face Vallarta’s famous clean, wide beach. Attendees will appreciate free time in the meeting schedule for poolside or beachside relaxation. For cocktail parties and group dining, many of the hotels have restaurants and landscaped private function areas close to or on the beach.


For gala evening entertainment, planners can organize a sunset boat ride to the Rhythms of the Night show, taking place inside a large amphitheater on the secluded shores of Las Caletas. Dozens of acrobats and dancers perform a professionally choreographed production inspired by the ancient people of Mexico. Following the show, groups can book torch-lit private dining areas under large palapas on the beach. An alternative is the pirate ship that can be booked for sunset cruises that finish with a flurry of fireworks over the water. Perhaps Puerto Vallarta’s most important landmark is the famous Malecón, a seaside promenade winding alongside Banderas Bay. This pedestrian walkway ties the entire historic city together, showcasing handcrafted folk art from the local Wixarika Indians, commonly referred to as the Huichols, plus jewelry stores, art galleries and boutiques. The most popular souvenir is tequila, the national drink, and many shops carry a tremendous selection. The Malecón is also the ideal place to hold a dine-around, beer tasting, cultural tour or “art walk.” Groups in search of an adrenaline rush can travel up into the mountains for ziplining, ATV tours, horseback riding, mountain biking, water tubing and rappelling down waterfalls. Others might enjoy a canopy walk along jungle bridges, a swim in natural river pools 2,000 ft. above sea level or a visit to the Botanical Garden, a colorful feast for the eyes any season of the year. Banderas Bay may well provide the most exhilarating group experiences, as well as powerful networking opportunities. Groups can start at Opequimar Marina Vallarta for a cruise or charter a high-speed watercraft for a scenic shoreline outing to Boca de Tomatlan, a dreamy secluded beach at the edge of the jungle. Boaters will also catch a glimpse of the house featured in the movie Night of the Iguana. Lunch can be reserved at a barefoot beachside café where the staff will prepare local specialties, such as fresh fish grilled over hot coals and what is perhaps the world’s best guacamole. Mike’s Fishing and Sailing offers a fleet of catamarans with expert guides. Snorkelers can try the nooks and crannies around Los Arcos, the iconic offshore rock formations. Sea turtles, giant manta rays, dolphins and whales thrive in the area waters. Every year between December and April, humpback whales migrate to the calm waters of Banderas Bay to mate and give birth. Mike’s also offers a variety of fishing options for the anglers in your group. 38

Day trip options include a visit to Hacienda Doña Engracia. The historic estate presents a tequila distillery space that is well designed for catered events. San Sebastian, one of Mexico’s Pueblo Magico or Magic Towns, lies just 45 miles from Puerto Vallarta. Here, attendees can effectively travel back 300 years for a look at Mexico’s colonial history. Further north lies a collection of small Mexican villages that have become very popular with incentive travel groups. The colonial towns of San Blas, the bohemian artist and surfing hamlet in Sayulita, and a few other unspoiled fishing villages provide an immersive glimpse into real Mexican life. Groups that have more time can consider a full-day outing to historical Guadalajara, four hours away. It’s the birthplace of mariachi. The trip might also include Tequila Town, the region bursting with blue agave plants used to make the national drink.

2018 PLANS

Construction of an enlarged cruise terminal and a 200 million-peso aquarium is currently underway. Once completed in next year, these facilities will merge education and entertainment with interactive demonstrations and hands-on activities for visitors. If you’re taking a small group to Puerto Vallarta in February 2018, consider the new Dinner in the Sky, a concept born in Brussels in 2006. It’s a group gourmet meal served and eaten in a cranesuspended venue, 150 feet up in the open air. The bird’s-eye views are breathtaking. The event proved so successful this year that it is returning to Casa Velas Resort in 2018.


• • • •

Participants will need a passport to enter the country. The Mexican peso is the official currency; however, U.S. dollars and credit cards are accepted in many establishments. Spanish is the language, but attendees will have no trouble if they only speak English.

The average temperature in the tropical climate is 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with 360 days of sunshine. For additional information on Puerto Vallarta, go to Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall


Switzerland’s financial capital offers a wealth of unique venues for groups

Lake Zurich


walk through Zurich’s old city is an experience rich with history. Centuries-old buildings with artfully painted walls depicting past owners give visitors a feel for the scope of the city’s history. Within the past decades, remains of a bathhouse that served the second-century Roman community of Turicum were unearthed near the River Limmat, which flows into the Rhine. Modern Zurich has expanded from its original walled confines to become a bustling metropolitan area approaching 1.5 million inhabitants — the country’s largest city. Accessible via rail and air from 180 destinations worldwide, Zurich is home to a landmark train station, Hauptbanhof Zurich, providing connections to major European cities. Zurich itself is easily traversable via foot, intra-city trolley, train as well as bicycle. These logistical advantages complement a wealth of unique venues in Switzerland’s financial capital, making it a boon for meeting planners. Even more site options are coming in the years ahead, with major renovations and construction projects underway.

The Park Hyatt Zurich’s lobby exemplifies modernity Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall


The $165 million1 renovation of the Kongresshaus Zurich and the adjacent historic Tonhalle are in motion and scheduled for completion in 2020. Centrally located and just steps from Lake Zurich, Kongresshaus has hosted groups of up to 3,000 in its 40,000 sq. ft. of space. The redesigned space will reapportion indoor space and extend the outdoor terrace that provides views of the lake and the Alps. Concurrently, larger groups can utilize space in the landmark music hall next door. Tonhalle, which dates back to the late 19th century, is primarily designed for concerts, but its halls and foyers can host lectures and events. The City Center area around the Kongresshaus has about 1,000 hotel rooms within walking distance, making the venue ideal for midsize groups visiting the city. One of the nearby properties is the 138-room Park Hyatt Zurich. The hotel is decorated in a modern style and its public spaces are filled with artwork — 90 pieces throughout the hotel, the largest a 584-sq.-ft. mural in the “living room” (main lobby). The luxury property’s newly renovated guestrooms are spacious, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and decorated with Italian granite. The Park Hyatt’s largest space, the Escherwiese ballroom, measures more than 4,100 sq. ft. The flexible space is divisible in three with pre-function foyer space providing an additional 1,400 sq. ft. with direct access through the lobby and a separate entrance on street level. The hotel’s mezzanine also contains a number of function rooms as well as pre-function space that includes a terrace overlooking the lobby and its artwork. Several dining options are available onsite. A boardroom and private dining area in the glass-enclosed, two-story Wine Cellar restaurant are well suited to smaller groups. The 394-room Motel One opened its doors after our visit concluded. Part of an expanding European chain of mid-scale hotels known for unique design and budget pricing, the Zurich property incorporates themes reminiscent of Switzerland and Zurich into its design — gold, the Alps, and the lake. 39

Kameha Grand Zurich, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection


A short distance from the City Center via streetcar is the Enge train station. The stately station is a central terminus from which passengers can head to the airport as well as the city’s main rail hub. Across from the station is the FIFA World Football Museum, a Hall of Fame of sorts for soccer’s World Cup tournaments. The museum is more than nostalgic, with interactive exhibits that engage visitors — from computer screens that detail soccer data in each country around the globe, to games where guests can kick soccer balls through mazes or goals to test their skills. The World Cup trophy is also on display. Event planners can secure the space for a memorable event after museum hours.


West of the Enge station on the site of a former paper mill is SihlCity. The area is made up of repurposed structures that include the offices of major multinational corporations as well as a large shopping mall. Within Sihl City is the Four Points by Sheraton Sihlcity, a 132-room property with about 7,000 sq. ft. of function space, the largest room measuring about 2,000 sq. ft. Much of the conference space is new, built atop the existing structures, and floor-to-ceiling windows provide a preponderance of natural light. Accessible via rail and a number of streetcars that stop in front of the hotel, the property is ideal for small to midsized conferences. Within walking distance from SihlCity, tucked away in a mostly residential area, is the Engimatt City-Gardenhotel. The privately owned hotel has meeting facilities for small to midsize groups. The hotel’s restaurant and adjacent garden terrace provide additional space to supplement its meeting rooms.


The railroad was a driver of boomtowns in the American West. A rail line connecting Southern Germany to the town of Oerliken helped it develop into an industrial hub. During the 1930s the city was incorporated into the expanding boundaries of Zurich; today Oerliken’s train station — with a century-old station house — rests at the halfway point between Zurich’s central train station and the airport. While industrial and office complexes drive a great deal of traffic to the area, the district is also home to some of the city’s stadiums and arenas, a major shopping mall and, directly across the road from the station, the flagship hotel of the Swissôtel brand.

Zurich’s tallest hotel, the 32-story, 347-room Swissôtel Zurich, was once owned by Swissair (now Swiss International Air Lines) and served as a hotel for flight crews. The hotel has evolved to suit the needs of today’s business traveler. The recently refurbished lobby area provides a casual, at-home feeling and has both Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts franchises to perk up guests’ mornings. From there, one could head off to the hotel’s many meeting or event spaces. At day’s end, the hotel’s Le muh Bar, which was awarded best bar menu in Switzerland in 2016, provides an opportunity for attendees to wind down. The hotel’s 31st floor, aptly entitled the Panorama floor, contains a series of spaces that offer panoramic views of the surrounding area, including the Alps. It has multiple rooms that are ideal for conferences and a variety of other functions. Swissôtel’s lower levels house its Convention Centre, whose City Ballroom spans over 6,800 sq. ft. and features 19-ft.-high ceilings.


Following the path of the city’s rivers northward is the Kameha Grand Zurich. In line with the goal of properties in Marriott’s Autograph Collection, the hotel provides guests not just a stay but an experience — in this case, of everything Swiss. A favorite theme throughout the property is chocolate, and the Marcel Wanders design of three of its main conference spaces tastefully incorporates differing shades of chocolate squares into the color scheme —

The expansive Hauptbanhof Zurich train station can serve as an event venue, having recently hosted a polevaulting competition


Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

Samsung Hall is a new venue available to convention groups

blonde (white), milk and dark. Carpet colors are designed to appear like the coloring of the foil wrapping. Planners will find the hotel has a generous amount of meeting and event areas, both indoors and out, including multiple rooftop spaces. The Kameha Dome, the hotel’s largest, has ceilings that exceed 22 ft. and over 7,500 sq. ft. of function space. With separate entrances allowing access from outside the hotel and adjacent patio space, the Kameha Dome is quite versatile. Its striking design includes floor-to-ceiling windows, ornate chandeliers and red drapery contrasted against black and white pixelated patterns of Swiss papercutting on the floors and walls. The hotel’s distinctive flavor is also played out in its 11 themed suites, and Michelin-starred restaurant.


Samsung Hall, opened at the end of 2016, is a multifunctional event space similar to convention centers in smaller U.S. cities. It can host live music and entertainment events, yet at the same time it is flexible enough to be fully functional as a convention hall. While we visited the 21,000-sq.-ft. main hall, a multinational CRM provider that had bought out the building was setting up for an event, giving us the opportunity to view how the venue’s hydraulic stage and retractable seating could be tailored to the particular needs of an event. The venue has additional space on its second level (over 5,000 sq. ft.), as well as terraces and other pre-function space. Like other venues in Zurich, Samsung Hall is easily accessible by rail and is located in walking distance from the train station. Farmlands lie immediately behind the venue, situated in a rural area of the city. Interestingly, Visit Zurich’s Ricarda Deragisch, Project Manager for the convention industry, noted that there are over 800 cows within Zurich’s city limits!


At Zurich’s international airport, an infrastructure development called THE CIRCLE will create a mixed-use “community” of structures in which “business meets lifestyle.” Opening for convention business in 2020, THE CIRCLE will include modular office space, a university hospital, shopping, dining, a park and two Hyatt properties — a 255-room Hyatt Regency and 299-room Hyatt Place. These will serve as headquarter hotels for THE CIRCLE Convention Centre, offering over 53,000 sq. ft. of function space. Management of the convention center as well as its catering operations will be handled by the Hyatt Regency Zurich Airport, said Sabrina Jakob, a sales executive with the hotel. Jakob stated that the booking of the three venues will be centralized, creating efficiencies for groups with differing needs and price points. While the primary focus of the venues will be the international congress Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

THE CIRCLE, opening for group business in 2020, will include a Convention Centre (above) market, the location of THE CIRCLE will make it a prime site for meetings and events looking for a European location directly accessible by air and rail to global destinations. —D.K. The Swiss franc (CHF) and U.S. dollar (USD) have traded recently at nearly equal values; as such, CHF and USD values are stated interchangeably.



Quick Take: Island Hotel Newport Beach


he April 18, 1870 edition of the Daily Alta — a San Francisco newspaper of the day — describes the naming of Newport Beach:


In 1860, the marshy lagoon that became Newport Harbor was first reported by the U.S. Coastal survey schooner HUMBOLDT, warning of “… a narrow mouth 50 yards in width blocked by a narrow bar and a frightful swell rolling at all stages of the tide, making it dangerous to cross in boats of any kind”. Ten years later, Captain Samuel S. Dunnels ignored the warning and brought his small stern wheel steamer, VAQUERO, over the dangerous bar and established a small shipping business just across the channel from where the museum now stands. A “New Port” was established, and the name stuck. Captain Dunnels and other developers at the time went on to build piers that generated trade for the port city. By the turn of the 20th century, the area was transformed, becoming noteworthy for its beaches and fishing. Today’s Newport Beach is home to a thriving marina and miles of waterfront activities, both on the Pacific Coast and in its Back Bay, a nature reserve with hiking and biking trails. Close to LAX and John Wayne Airport, the Orange County, CA city is an excellent option for meeting groups who wish to be close to popular attractions but away from distractions. Among the lodging choices is the 295-room Island Hotel Newport Beach. Located within footsteps of the headquarters of PIMCO and Pacific Life, the luxury hotel is a prime site for planners looking to stage events geared to the investment and insurance sectors. And as a privately owned hotel, it may afford planners additional 42

price flexibility, as well as the ability to avoid some of the red tape and protocols that are common with brand-name hotels. Housing an 8,700-sq.-ft. ballroom, the city’s largest, and 30,000 sq. ft. of function space overall, the Island Hotel Newport Beach offers a comfortable setting for a variety of events. Suites on the upper levels of the property can be used for meetings and events, granting attendees a bird’s-eye view of the Pacific Coast. Among the area’s standout diversions are the nearby, upscale Fashion Island mall and two offsite Tom Fazio-designed golf courses. Many of the hotel’s outdoor poolside and patio areas can be directly connected to indoor event rooms, an asset in Southern California where the weather is temperate most of the year. Regarding the setting, Ashley Powell, owner of Mission Viejobased event-planning agency Agape Planning, commented, “We chose Island Hotel Newport Beach for our recent three-day event. . . . Our guests loved being outside on the terraces for our cocktail receptions. Once inside, the ballroom provided a stunning backdrop for our event’s décor and theme.” Powell concluded, “The service and cuisine were stellar.” Roni Trinidad, Vice President of Funds and Operations for global fixed-income manager PIMCO, shared similar sentiments regarding the catering and service at the property: “The staff is very professional, and they easily make requested adjustments to details of the program and meals — when both are already in motion. The quality of the food is exceptional, and we appreciate the customization of the menus. The staff’s attention to detail and the high quality of customer service is why we return to the Island Hotel, again and again.” —D.K. Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall



New reasons to put second-tier destinations first

his year’s showcase of second-tier cities includes nine solid choices for planners looking for excellence in meeting facilities, lodging, recreational options and local character. When it comes to that quality, the proof is in the booking, one might say, and Savannah, GA, is a case in point. Last year, the Visit Savannah sales team recorded 219,524 meeting- and convention-related room nights, topping 2015 totals by almost 20,000 room nights. While the increase is surely due in part to the proficiency of the sales representatives, it is also the result of a surge in planners’ interest in bringing groups to this developing southeastern city. “With the evolution of the product in terms of its diverse lodging options and our exploding retail and restaurant scenes, more conventions and groups want to bring their business to our city,” remarks Visit Savannah President Joseph Marinelli. Attendees can also experience exciting new developments in St. Louis, MO, featured in the Mid-Market Review for the first time. This spring saw the opening of the North Arch Grounds, a boon for the restaurants and entertainment venues in the adjacent Laclede’s Landing. The historic riverfront district, a former industrial hub dating to the 1700s, is growing with new eateries opening on its cobblestone streets, coupled with highlights such as the Wax Museum and the new Purina Dog Park. “While the renovation of the Arch grounds was under way, we were making improvements of our own to help enhance the experience for our visitors,” says John Clark, President of the Laclede’s Landing Community Improvement District. “Chief among those is completion of phase 1 to renovate and rebuild our infamous cobblestone streets to improve the surface for both pedestrians and automobiles.” Of course, no second-tier city can shine in the meetings industry without a competitive convention center, and both Savannah and St. Louis are outstanding in this regard. The former is home to the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center, which was awarded LEED Gold certification for Existing Buildings this summer by the U.S. Green Building Council. The 330,000-sq.-ft. waterfront complex is the first convention center in Georgia to earn this certification. St. Louis is home to the equally impressive America’s Center Convention Complex, whose four venues include the Cervantes Convention Center and St. Louis Executive Conference Center. The convention centers featured in this year’s Mid-Market Review also include two recently expanded facilities: Boise Centre

Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

and the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Completed this summer, the Boise, ID facility’s $47.5 million expansion added 36,000 sq. ft. of space, resulting in 31 meeting rooms and 86,000 sq. ft. of flexible, modernized function space. And there was an immediate payoff for the city: In June, the center hosted the largest multiday convention in its 27-year history: the annual Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, which brought in 1,500 public health officials from around the country. Also completed this summer was the Greater Columbus Convention Center’s $140 million expansion and renovation project, begun in September 2015. The facility now features an additional 37,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, nine new meeting rooms, a renovated exterior and other upgrades (see page 50). Infrastructural investments are characteristic of mid-market cities that lead the way in the meetings industry. Two other cities featured in the following pages have convention center projects in the planning stage or under consideration. Oklahoma City, OK’s MAPS 3 capital improvements program includes a new Downtown Convention Center. Projected for completion in 2020, the facility would offer a 200,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall, 45,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and a 30,000-sq.-ft. ballroom. Meanwhile, Mayor Steven Adler, the City Council and Downtown Commission of Austin, TX are discussing funding measures for a potential expansion of the Austin Convention Center, part of the mayor’s proposed downtown investment strategy. While large-scale investments into a city’s hospitality product are sure to catch the interest of convention planners, less costly service upgrades can also show an attunement to planners’ needs. Early this year, Visit Austin introduced a new digital meeting-planning tool, The Austin Meeting Planner Guide (see “From research analysis and studying industry trends, we were able to create and now provide a more robust tool that offers an enriched planning experience,” said Tom Noonan, President and CEO of Visit Austin. “Users can conduct faster searches by narrowing down our properties that meet their needs. They can also browse through hotel and venue profiles as well as view and download Austin promotional tools, one sheets and information about the destination.” Indeed, mid-market cities that are as vibrant as Austin have much to convey to planners, and a digital tool makes the process more expedient. Learn what some of Austin’s peers have to report in the 2017 Mid-Market Review. 43

Austin, TX

Austin Convention Center Located in the heart of the capital city’s downtown, the LEED® Gold Certified Convention Center spans six city blocks


winner of the Prime Site Award every year since 1995, the Austin Convention Center has emerged as a leader in the convention and meeting industry. The Center offers 369,132 sq. ft. of exhibit and meeting space, including five column-free exhibit halls accommodating 1,289 10 ft.-by-10 ft. exhibit booths. Seven ballrooms ranging from 3,896 to 40,510 sq. ft. and 54 meeting rooms and show offices totaling over 58,000 sq. ft. complete the four-story convention center. Ample parking is provided in two parking garages with a total of 1,700 spaces. In January 2017, the Austin Convention Center hosted what is arguably the premier event in the meetings industry, PCMA’s Convening Leaders.

Technological Features

One of the most technologically advanced convention centers in the country, this gigabit-rated facility moves voice, video and data at over one billion bits per second. It offers a variety of in-house services including complimentary wireless Internet access, redundant high-speed Internet II access, plugand-play capabilities, and an onsite technical staff to help with networking needs.


Austin offers more than 33,000 hotel rooms, with 9,000 located downtown, including the 800-room Hilton Austin adjacent to the convention center. Additional nearby hotels

include: Four Seasons Hotel Austin, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn by Marriott, Hilton Garden Inn Austin Downtown, Radisson Hotel & Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown, Driskill Hotel, Omni Austin Hotel Downtown, Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel, the new W Austin, Hyatt Place Downtown Austin, the 1,012-room JW Marriott and the Westin Austin Downtown. The Fairmont Austin is scheduled to open in 2017.

Austin by Night

After conventions and meetings wrap-up each night, attendees can enjoy Austin’s entertainment districts — Second Street, the Warehouse District and famous Sixth Street. The Austin Convention Center is just down the street from the city’s vibrant nightlife, where visitors can also enjoy everything from fine dining in four-star restaurants, to down-home barbecue and authentic Tex-Mex. As the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin is home to nearly 250 venues that echo with the sound of country, rock ‘n’ roll, blues, jazz and Tejano.

Austin by Day

During the day, attendees can enjoy the capital city’s many historical attractions, including the State Capitol, the LBJ Presidential Library, the Texas State History Museum and the Blanton Museum of Art. Or they can experience the beauty of central Texas, captured by downtown’s Lady Bird Lake, bordered by 10 miles of trails enjoyed by runners, walkers and cyclists. Surrounded by three lakes and a network of parks, Austin offers the perfect environment for enjoying the best of nature.

Fast Facts: Facility

Location: Downtown Austin Total Area: Spans six city blocks 369,132 sq. ft. of exhibit and meeting space Exhibit Space: 247,052 contiguous sq. ft., column free Ballrooms: 40,510 sq. ft. level 4; 23,418 sq. ft. level 1 Meeting Space: 54 meeting rooms totaling over 58,000 sq. ft. Technology: Gigabit-rated facility, wireless Internet access, plug-andplay capabilities


Hotels: 9,000 downtown hotel rooms; adjacent 800-room Hilton Austin Airport: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, eight miles from facility Nearby Attractions: State Capitol, Sixth Street Entertainment District, Warehouse Entertainment District, University of Texas, LBJ Presidential Library, more than 20 museums including The Texas State History Museum, dozens of art galleries and historical attractions, Lady Bird Lake

Contact Information

Mark Tester, Director of Austin Convention Center Department Paul Barnes, ACCD Deputy Director/ Chief Operating Officer Amy Harris, Director of Sales

500 E. Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, TX 78701 • (512) 404-4200; Fax: (512) 404-4220 • 44

Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall


eeting planners have much to celebrate in Boise — Idaho’s growing capital city. Boise Centre, Idaho’s premier convention center, recently completed a $47.5 million expansion and now offers planners more than 80,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting and event spaces. This year, three new hotels have opened near the convention center to accommodate an increasing number of visitors. Getting to Boise is a breeze with nonstop air service from 20 major cities in the United States.

Boise, ID

Meeting and Event Space Located just seven minutes from the airport is Boise Centre, Idaho’s largest convention and event venue. A much anticipated convention center expansion opened this summer and includes nine new meeting rooms and a new ballroom with a spacious glass-enclosed lobby overlooking the city’s focal point, The Grove Plaza and fountain. In total, Boise Centre offers 31 versatile meeting rooms and event spaces all with a modern and contemporary design. Many rooms feature natural daylight with views of the nearby Boise Foothills or downtown skyline. At Boise Centre logistics are the staff’s specialty. The professional event team is highly experienced in hosting a variety of events from 20 to 1,500 guests. The convention center has built a reputation for providing exceptional culinary services with fresh, locally inspired menus, the latest in technology and audiovisual services, and the highest levels of guest service. Hotels Boise has a wide variety of hotels ranging from luxury to modern and boutique. This year, three new hotels are have opened within walking

distance to Boise Centre, increasing the total number of hotel rooms in downtown to 1,200. Another hotel recently broke ground close to Boise Centre and will open in 2018. Thousands more hotel rooms are available within a short distance of downtown. Compact, Walkable Downtown Surrounding Boise Centre is a compact, walkable downtown filled with cultural attractions, hotels, entertainment venues, more than 100 shops, 80 restaurants, and a number of microbreweries. Boise is also home to a lively nightlife scene, giving the city a fun and hip vibe. Historic and cultural food tours, wine tasting, free outdoor concerts and farmer’s markets are just a few of the city’s highlights. Visit the interactive floor plans at or contact Cliff Clinger, Director of Marketing and Sales, at (208) 489-3680 or cclinger@

450 West Front St., Boise, ID 83702 • (208) 336-8900 •

Location. Location. Location.

If you’re looking for a unique location for your next meeting, conference or special event, then we invite you to discover Boise Centre. Boise Centre is Idaho’s premier convention facility and features: • An ideal location in downtown Boise, just 7 minutes from the airport, and surrounded by restaurants, shops, hotels, culture and entertainment • 86,000 sq. ft. of flexible/customizable event space • A newly completed expansion with 8 additional meeting rooms and ballroom • Exceptional culinary services and a diverse menu with many locally sourced ingredients • The meeting space, atmosphere and professional event staff to deliver unforgettable experiences

Visit to view interactive floor plans or to submit an event inquiry. Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall


Hartford, CT

Defy Expectations

Hartford’s convenient location will attract a record number of attendees, and the revitalized downtown will create an experience they’ll never forget.


pend some time in Hartford and you’ll find a surprise around every corner: the expansive Connecticut Convention Center and connected Hartford Marriott, a vibrant redeveloped downtown and an innovative food scene. With easy access from the airport and a free downtown circulator shuttle, Hartford is easy to get to and around, leaving you with more time to meet, explore and connect. At the center of it all is the Connecticut Convention Center. Combining ample meeting space with visually stunning touches and unparalleled service, the Center is the premier meeting destination in the Northeast. Getting from work to play has never been easier when first-class entertainment and restaurants are just steps from your meeting. Enjoy tantalizing bites at over 40 independent restaurants, see a show at one of the nation’s leading resident theaters, the Hartford Stage, or catch the pulse-pounding action of the Hartford Wolf Pack hockey team at the XL Center. Or better yet, do it all. In Hartford, we don’t just meet expectations, we defy them. QUICK FACTS Downtown Hotel Rooms: 1,600 Attached Hotel: Hartford Marriott (AAA Four Diamond with 409 rooms) Convention Center: 540,000-sq.-ft. facility Nearest Airport: Bradley International (15 miles from downtown) Downtown Transportation: Free Hartford Dash Convention District: Front Street (directly across the street from the Center)

“The Connecticut Convention Center and Front Street have proven over the years to be the crown jewels of Hartford by boasting excellent meeting facilities, a diverse cross-section of restaurants, entertainment venues and relaxing nightlife.” – Africka Hinds, 2016 Conference Chairman Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority New in Hartford Two new hotels have been added to downtown Hartford. The historic Goodwin Hotel opened in the spring as a completely renovated 124room boutique property. Plus, the 81-room Candlewood Suites opened just a stone’s throw from the new Dunkin’ Donuts baseball park.

100 Columbus Blvd., Hartford, CT 06103 • (860) 249-6000 • 46

Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

OKlahoma City, OK


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-of-life projects and improvements throughout the city. 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 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.

Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

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 47



ittsburgh might be the greenest, hippest and friendliest city you haven’t been to — yet.

Green is the theme of Pittsburgh’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center. A Gold and Platinum LEED-certified building, the Convention Center is an architectural gem prized for the comfort it provides and the ample natural light that pours in, along with its many other environmentally sound physical and operational features. Inhabitants enjoy breathtaking surroundings, including views of the Allegheny River, through walls of windows and from open terraces. Or they can step into the rooftop garden to be surrounded by greenery in the form of native plants. The surrounding landscape can be explored up close by those who venture outdoors, and the adventure begins mere steps from the Convention Center. Visitors can walk alongside a stunning, cascading waterfall to the riverfront trail, where a walk or run along the water can reenergize the body and mind. Cycling enthusiasts can rent a bicycle from a kiosk directly outside the Convention Center and ride along the riverfront trail or the bike-friendly streets in town. Multiple nearby bridges span the Allegheny River and lead to the North Shore, where kayak rentals are available in season. Although always stunning, the iconic Pittsburgh skyline and unique mix of classic and modern architecture is particularly impressive when viewed from the water. Because the Convention Center is located in the compact and walkable downtown (which comprises only 30 blocks), sports venues, theaters, galleries, shops and restaurants are also just steps away. Nearby upscale hotels, all within walking distance, include the 616-room Westin Convention Center Hotel, the 596-room Omni William Penn Hotel, the 333-room DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh Downtown, the 402-room Pittsburgh Marriott City Center, the 300room Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel, the 712-room Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh and the 399-room Sheraton Station Square Hotel. The Convention Center’s features make it a favorite in the second-tier 48

market. The building offers 313,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, a 31,610-sq.ft. ballroom and 53 meeting rooms, including two lecture halls. The award-winning Convention Center staff and Visit Pittsburgh client services staff provide the outstanding and friendly customer service befitting such a spectacular setting. More than a meeting destination, Pittsburgh is a happening destination. Much of the recent buzz in the popular press reveals just how hip the city is, and how remarkably it has transformed. For example, a Condé Nast contributor wrote, “The furnaces are long gone, but this city’s on fire.” In addition, the Chicago Tribune said, “Steeped in spirit and flavor, Pittsburgh can lay claim to being one of the nation’s most underrated cities, with a beauty as breathtaking as it is obvious.” Esquire magazine stated, “Pittsburgh is definitely a must-see,” and the Huffington Post called Pittsburgh “the coolest American city you haven’t been to.” Mighty. Beautiful. Vibrant. The perfect setting for a powerful event.

1000 Fort Duquesne Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA (412) 325-6174 • Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

St. Louis, MO


n the heart of a revitalized downtown, a vibrant new hospitality

that is just steps from the America’s Center Convention Complex.

district continues to grow. With world-class hotels, restaurants,

The museum is an interactive treasure trove of sights and sounds

museums and entertainment venues, you’ll find that St. Louis is a

saluting the country’s indigenous music with numerous galleries

great choice for your next meeting or event. St. Louis is an acces-

and an intimate performance space for concerts to provide

sible and affordable destination that will keep delegates enter-

entertainment for meeting groups and special events. A 2,500-sq.-

tained with magnificent theater, live music, sports and more that

ft. private room offers flexible space for receptions or dining.

are all within reach. St. Louis is a foodie’s delight, with an endless array of diverse dining Located in the heart of downtown, the America’s Center conven-

options along Washington Avenue. Attendees will enjoy Peru-

tion complex provides more than 502,000 sq. ft. of continuous

vian, Italian, French, Mediterranean and more cuisine varieties from

exhibit space with 80 versatile meeting rooms, 1,400-seat Ferrara

around the world, all within walking distance of the America’s Center.

Theatre and the 67,000-seat Dome at America’s Center, providing planners with unparalleled flexibility and accessibility.

Arch 2018 World Premiere Program After five years in the making, St. Louis’ Gateway Arch has been

With some of the most Premier hotel brands in the industry, includ-

completely transformed with biking and running trails, space for

ing Marriott, Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, Hilton, Westin and Hyatt,

outdoor concerts and indoor events, and a new state-of-the-art

there are more than 7,000 available guestrooms in downtown St.

museum commemorating the westward expansion of the United

Louis and more than 38,000 rooms in the metropolitan area. If you

States. Through the Arch 2018 World Premiere program, plan-

are looking for that ideal single hotel or need 4,500 rooms peak for

ners and their attendees can benefit from VIP experiences at the

your citywide event, St. Louis can accommodate you.

Gateway Arch, as well as a series of incentives from hotels and event venues, and the America’s Center Convention Complex.

St. Louis is filled with unique offsite venues to meet the needs of

To learn more about the program, visit

your group. One must-see venue is the National Blues Museum


701 Convention Plaza, Suite 300, St. Louis, MO 63101 • (800) 916-8938 • Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall


Columbus, OH


Kevin Cross Ellen Dallager

he SMG-managed Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC) is delighted to share the results of its $140 million expansion and renovation project, completed in July. Now measuring 1.8 million sq. ft., the facility features an additional 37,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, bringing the total of contiguous exhibit space to 373,000 sq. ft., and 447,000 sq. ft. overall when the 74,000-sq.-ft. Battelle Grand — the largest multipurpose ballroom in Ohio — is added. Nine new meeting rooms and nearly 10,000 sq. ft. of additional meeting space have been added with the north expansion, reaching a new total of 75 meeting rooms. The adjacent Hyatt Regency meeting space was also renovated as part of the project. Already known as one of the busiest convention centers in North America, the GCCC’s 15,000-sq.-ft. Short North Ballroom is named for the nearby Short North Arts District. Both the 25,000-sq.-ft. Union Station Ballroom and the Short North Ballroom feature LED ceiling lighting systems and upscale carpeting, wall coverings and finishes. The ballrooms can be divided into sections. As part of the exhibit hall enhancements, second-level show offices enable show managers to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the tradeshow floor below. The South Café & Marketplace offers a bright, beautiful destination for guests to visit shops and quick-service restaurants, catch up on televised programs, recharge mobile devices and relax in a variety of seating configurations. Service providers located on Level 1 include Mills James, the production services company, and Fern, the general services provider. Levy, the facility’s exclusive caterer, opened Discovery Café, composed of the Homegrown Market, Columbus Grille, Crimson Cup and the CBUS Tap Room. Discovery Café also features the Smartfarm, which will provide 5,000 pounds of herbs and vegetables annually for culinary use in the kitchen 75 ft. away. Chefs can grow plantings to meet customers’ specific event needs. Live at Lunch, launched in May, is a musical series highlighting local entertainers to augment the lunchtime experience. The GCCC has nearly 4,000 parking spaces. Both the parking garages and convention center include artwork that is part of the largest collection of contemporary Central Ohio art created by school children and established professionals, including the 14-ft. interactive sculpture “As We Are” by Matthew Mohr. Parking facilities include the $18 million Goodale Garage that opened in 2016 and is connected by enclosed walkway to the new north expansion, providing a convenient point of entry for festivities. The Goodale Garage features colorful LED exterior lighting, plus local artwork at the elevator vestibules at each level. The unique combination of garage + gallery prompted a dedication ceremony speaker to refer to the structure as a “gallerage.”

The GCCC established a freestanding room exclusively dedicated to nursing mothers. Two Guest Services Centers are providing a variety of services within a single location, including mobility scooters. The facility exterior was enhanced by the creation of the Arnold Plaza with a statue of Arnold Schwarzenegger and features a distinctive Peter Eisenman design. The exterior landscaping is being performed in coordination with the city’s own High Street green streetscape projects to mutually heighten the area’s visual appeal. Event planners are enthused by the flexible, linear space the facility offers, along with the city’s largest contingent of friendly and knowledgeable staff of Certified Tourism Ambassadors ready to assist. Strategically located within one day’s drive or a 90-minute flight of the majority of the nation’s population and 10 minutes from John Glenn Columbus International Airport, the award-winning GCCC is nestled within a vibrant entertainment area, including the Arena District and Short North Arts District. Connected to the Hilton, Hyatt, Crowne Plaza, Lofts and Drury hotel properties by enclosed walkway, the GCCC is owned and developed by the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority (FCCFA). The GCCC is one of the largest convention centers in SMG’s portfolio.

400 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43215 • (800) 626-0241• 50

Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

Rochester, NY


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 famous for its more than 100 vineyards, excellent wines and numerous “wine trails.” With 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. 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 facility offers 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting/exhibition space, including a 50,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall, 10,000-sq.-ft. elegant ballroom, plus 22 meeting rooms of various sizes. The Greater Rochester International Airport — with 54+ flights daily — is just a 10-minute drive from the Floreano Center’s front door. Complimentary airport transportation is provided by all major hotels. Several entertainment districts surround the Floreano Center with restaurants and cafes, coffeehouses, pubs, dance clubs, music halls, theaters and more. Rochester boasts numerous museums, including the George Eastman Museum, the Susan B. Anthony House and the acclaimed Strong National Museum of Play. Rochester is also proud to be home to the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, a nine-day event featuring 300+ concerts with 1,500+ artists, as well as the Fringe Festival, a unique 10day event celebrating the arts with 500+ performances all over downtown Rochester. Rochester is a community known around the world for its high-tech expertise, which has led to the city being selected as the location for the Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Integrated Photonics. The Floreano Center itself gets high marks for handling all types of technology needs. The facility has a dedicated Internet connection over fiber optics to meet all of the growing number of technical requirements its customers have. This service, which is self-operated,


is available wireless throughout the facility and is boost-able from 200 MB to 400 MB. The Floreano Center features an in-house food and beverage operation, which includes an Executive Pastry Chef. In addition, the Riverside Productions and Riverside Catering divisions can even provide services to groups utilizing offsite locations throughout the region. Basically, the Floreano Center is New York State’s only one-stop convention facility. More than 1,100 rooms in a quartet 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 460-room Radisson, a 106-room Hilton Garden Inn, a 217-room Holiday Inn and a 338-room Hyatt Regency, which is undergoing a multimillion dollar renovation with completion slated for October 2017. Delegates also enjoy the convenience of walking between hotels and the Floreano Center in minutes using the enclosed skywalk system or the scenic riverside walkway. In sum, Rochester offers groups a compact convention district.

123 East Main Street Rochester, NY 14604 (585) 232-7200

Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall


xxxxx URL SAVANNAH, GA Caption:

Savannah Meetings Boost Attendance


eet in Savannah for a one-of-a-kind experience that mixes historic architecture, cultural attractions, coastal cuisine and scenic beauty with successful conventions, meetings and special events. Savannah’s eclectic sophistication will enthrall your attendees, and 22 park-like, moss-draped squares placed throughout the historic downtown will make them feel relaxed and focused. exxxx Elegant accommodations within blocks of abundant meeting venues make gatherings in Savannah a step above the rest. xxxxxxxxx Select Savannah as your host city and your event attendance is sure to increase.


The Savannah International Trade & Convention Center, situated on the Savannah River, offers a modern, spacious venue for your next meeting, convention or special event. With a total of 330,000 sq. ft., the facility offers 100,000 sq. ft. of prime exhibit space and 50,000 sq. ft. of flexible space. Up to 21 breakout rooms are in the space, including 13 meeting rooms, four executive boardrooms, a 25,000-sq.ft. grand ballroom and a state-of-the-art auditorium. A 45 ft.-by-30 ft. hanger door allows large equipment and aviation-oriented tradeshows to be displayed in the center’s exhibit hall. Additional meeting facilities located throughout downtown Savannah include the Coastal Georgia Center and the Savannah Civic Center. There are a variety of convention hotels throughout Savannah, including The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa (403 rooms), Savannah Marriott Riverfront (383 rooms), Hyatt Regency Savannah (347 rooms) and the Hilton Savannah Desoto (246 rooms). Nearly 5,000 rooms are available at various hotels in the Historic Meetings District and more than 15,000 total hotel rooms in the greater Savannah area. All hotels and meeting spaces in the Historic Meetings District are located within walking distance to numerous high-style boutiques, galleries, restaurants and more. Located just 15 minutes from downtown, the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport is one of the busiest in the Southeast.



With more than 45 daily nonstop flights via Allegiant, American, Delta, JetBlue, Silver, Sun Country, United and US Airways from Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas/ Ft. Worth, Houston, Minneapolis, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Washington, DC and more, it’s easier to get to the city than ever before. The low-cost CAT shuttle and DOT shuttle are available for quicker travel, including a direct route from the airport to downtown. Once you’re here, there are several ways to get around, with many visitors preferring to explore pedestrian-friendly Savannah by foot. With more than 45 cultural attractions, Savannah draws meeting attendees craving a diverse experience. Trolley, Segway and walking tours covering history, hauntings, architecture and food will fill down time with excitement and entertainment. Meeting attendees also are sure to enjoy Savannah’s palate-pleasing, coastal cuisine and farm-to-table fare served at restaurants throughout the city. As your host city, Savannah will work closely with the local hospitality industry and business community to meet and exceed your requirements. Southern hospitality combined with the array of services found in Savannah will help you create an expertly executed event for any size group. To plan your meeting in Savannah today, contact Jeff Hewitt at (912) 644-6416 or at

101 East Bay Street, Savannah, GA 31401 • (877) SAVANNAH; (912) 644-6424 •; 53 Facilities & Destinatins 2017 Summer / Fall

53 Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall



Javits Center builds toward a bright future for Manhattan-bound groups


By George Seli

ast year, New York City welcomed an estimated 6.1 million meeting and convention delegates from around the world, and many of those attendees gathered and what is arguably the state’s premier convention facility, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. The facility’s current size — 840,000 sq. ft. of flexible exhibition space, 102 meeting rooms and four banquet halls — is certainly suitable for many existing clients, but both the New York Convention Center Operating Corporation (NYCCOC) and Governor Andrew Cuomo recognized the potential to enhance the center’s footprint and accommodate new business. Thus was born the Javits Center’s much publicized, $1.5 billion expansion plan. Design firm LendLease Turner was chosen in January to lead the project, which broke ground on March 1 and is expected to conclude in 2021. According to Jerry Cito, NYC & Company Senior Vice President, Convention Development, the massive undertaking “will benefit future convention and exhibition show participants in a variety of ways. The added exhibition and ballroom space will allow for larger conferences and celebrations, while additional breakout spaces will provide intimate meeting locations onsite. The expanded green roof will showcase stunning views in a modern urban environment while hosting cocktail receptions. Also beneficial, the four-level truck garage will allow for a seamless load-in and load-out experience, increasing the efficiency of the nation’s busiest — and soon to become even busier — convention center.” 54

Specifically, the expansion will add 90,000 sq. ft. of permanent exhibit space to yield an approximately 500,000-sq.-ft. exhibition hall; 45,000 sq. ft. of state-of-the-art meeting room space; a 55,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, reportedly the largest of its kind in the New York region; 27 new loading docks; and an onsite truck marshaling facility that can hold a minimum of 229 trucks. On the sustainability side, the project aims for LEED Silver certification, and the expanded green roof that Cito highlights will include a terrace and pavilion accommodating 1,500 attendees for outdoor events. Manhattan may not be the first destination the sustainably minded planner considers, but the Javits Center has recently shown a commendable environmental stewardship, as evidenced by its firstever Sustainability Report, released in June. “From the installation of a giant green roof to new energy-efficient lighting, the Javits Center has made great strides in increasing its sustainability, and we are proud to issue our first Sustainability Report that details our progress so far,” said Alan Steel, NYCCOC President and CEO, in a statement. “The mission of the Javits Center is to spur economic activity, but we have to be more than just an economic engine. We must be a community partner, and this report illustrates our efforts to improve the quality of life for our staff, customers and neighbors.” The LEED Silver-certified Javits Center’s green roof is in fact the second largest of its kind in the United States, and provides a habitat for a massive community of birds in the midst of the “concrete jungle.” Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

The Javits Center’s “expanded green roof will showcase stunning views in a modern urban environment while hosting cocktail receptions.” —Jerry Cito, Senior Vice President, Convention Development, NYC & Company

Fortunately for planners, New York City’s hotel portfolio is expanding along with its convention center. The development is moving at a brisk pace, with 12 new properties come online since January, representing 2,033 guestrooms. A major addition was the 612-room DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel New York Times Square West. Other sizable properties that opened this year include the 344-room James Hotel New York NoMad, near Madison Square Park; the 310-room Embassy Suites by Hilton New York Midtown Manhattan; and the 250-room Hilton Garden Inn Financial Center, located in Lower Manhattan near Battery Park. Early next year will see the debut of The Times Square EDITION, a 452-room Marriott property boasting 76,000 sq. ft. of retail and F&B space. The 42-story building will also be home to the new NFL Experience.

(Above): Rendering of the expanded Javits Center (Left): The renovated Edison Ballroom, adjacent to the Hotel Edison While many of Manhattan’s new hotels are housed in sleek, modern high-rises, some planners are looking for an “Old New York” flair for their events. If so, the Hotel Edison and adjacent Edison Ballroom near Times Square is a site to consider. The art deco ballroom originally opened in the 1930s, and reopened in 2008 after an extensive renovation. At 17,000 sq. ft., it accommodates up to 1,000 guests for a buffet or cocktail reception and 500 guests for banquet-style seated dinner. A stage of up to 900 sq. ft. is available, along with a state-ofthe-art AV system and three full-service bars. Continued on following page


SEE US IN 360o AT GCHOTEL.COM | 516.663.7090 Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall


Continued from previous page

One advantage of a Manhattan meeting is the sheer variety of accessible offsite venues groups can rent. Following is a brief sampling, including a few venues from Brooklyn and the Bronx. Metropolitan West. Overlooking the Hudson River, this Hell’s Kitchen venue offers 12,000 sq. ft. of flexible space that can accommodate up to 712 guests, as well as catering and bar services. One World Observatory. Located atop One World Trade Center, One World Observatory includes the 102nd-floor Horizon Level with over 9,000 sq. ft. of flexible space for up to 300 guests. Skylight Clarkson Square. The 60,000-sq.-ft. Skylight Clarkson Square is a historic venue that once served as the High Line’s most southern terminal. The space accommodates up to 2,000 guests and comprises five studios that can be combined into one space. The Brooklyn EXPO Center. Located in Greenpoint, the EXPO Center houses 60,000 sq. ft. of event space suitable for design shows, tech expos and product launches. The New York Botanical Garden. Located in the Bronx, the garden offers event venues such as the Victorian-style Enid A. Haupt Conservatory (up to 1,000 guests with outdoor tent), the Garden Terrace Room (up to 330 guests) and Stone Mill, an outdoor terrace surrounded by evergreen trees with a capacity of 120 guests. Van Cortlandt House Museum. Surrounded by Van Cortlandt Park, the museum is housed in a restored Georgian-style mansion dating back to 1748. A New York City Landmark and National Historic Landmark, the mansion was briefly used by George Washington as a headquarters during the American Revolution.

• • • • • •


While the centerpiece of New York’s convention infrastructure is the Javits Center, there are several convention centers beyond the city that are strong in the state meetings industry and host national groups as well. Among them is Western New York’s Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. Accommodating groups of up to 7,000, the facility houses over 110,000 sq. ft. of function space that includes 64,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space, a 12,367-sq.-ft. ballroom and 21 meeting rooms. The convention center is also equipped with over 100MB of bandwidth throughout, allowing 7,000 users to simultaneously use the Internet. Delegates who have the opportunity to explore Buffalo will experience a revitalized city. A standout example is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House Complex, completed in 1907. The building fell into disrepair by the mid-20th century, but has reopened following a 15-year, $50 million restoration. Several venues are rentable for corporate functions: the Eleanor and Wilson Greatbatch Pavilion (150 capacity), Barton House (35) and Gardener’s Cottage (30). Another development is the growing selection of breweries and distilleries. For instance, the RiverWorks waterfront complex now has a craft brewery and beer garden; Buffalo Distilling Co. opened this year in the former Duchmann & Sons carriage manufacturing building in Larkinville; and Lakeward Spirits recently opened in the beautifully converted, 113-year-old Barrel Factory in the city’s Old First Ward. Speaking of repurposing historic buildings, the 88-room Hotel Henry Urban Resort Conference Center opened this spring in a restored, 19th century Romanesque-style building on a campus built by prominent architect Henry Hobson Richardson. Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in

A Rochester Renaissance


here are new reasons for groups to consider Rochester, thanks to recent multimillion-dollar investments in the city’s infrastructure. Changes will be evident as soon as delegates arrive at Greater Rochester International Airport, which has begun a $60 million transformation that will add new retail and dining options, charging stations for mobile devices and Bluetooth technology, and other upgrades. Once in Center City, groups will experience a redeveloped Main Street, complete with new restaurants and retail establishments, as well as logistical features such as bike lanes and pedestrian wayfinding signs. Main Street runs through the convention district, site of the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center (RRCC). Executive Director James Brown sees this “refreshing of the community” as a boon to the city’s meetings industry. “It’s been really positive, and I think the momentum will continue,” he says. Part of the momentum will come from the newly renovated Hyatt Regency Rochester. The 343-room hotel, connected to 56

the RRCC along with the 467-room Radisson Hotel Rochester Riverside, “will be a great product for us to sell to our existing and prospective convention groups,” says Brown. The $18.5 million renovation has updated nearly all guestrooms and suites to include features like 55-in. flat-panel televisions and luxurious Frette bed linens. Pieces from renowned artists now grace the lobby, and the hotel’s more than 20,000 sq. ft. of meeting space has been redesigned with new carpeting and wall coverings. Groups have several new F&B and social venues at their disposal: Morton’s The Steakhouse, The Street Craft Kitchen and Bar, Center City Terrace and Lounge (on the fourth-floor rooftop) and Starbucks. Outside the convention district, three other hotel projects are worth noting: the newly built Hampton Inn Penfield, the renovated Comfort Inn & Suites Henrietta and the renovated 248-room DoubleTree by Hilton Henrietta (featuring over 12,000 sq. ft. of function space). In addition, The Strathallan, billed as Rochester’s premier boutique hotel, opened a new full-service spa this year. Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

The Buffalo riverfront (left) and the ballroom of the renovated Marriott Syracuse Downtown. New York City, as well as Buffalo’s park system, designed the grounds and gardens. The hotel includes a 20,000-sq.-ft. high-tech conference center. In addition, the old Harlow C. Curtiss Building is now The Curtiss Hotel, a 68-room boutique hotel featuring an all-weather urban hot springs, rooftop patio and other high-end amenities.


While Buffalo has opened new hotels in historic buildings, Syracuse has restored a historic hotel. The Marriott Syracuse Downtown opened in August 2016 after a two-year restoration of the Hotel Syracuse, which dated from 1924. The Marriott marks its one-year anniversary with several achievements, including the accommodation of 75,000 visitors to Syracuse and the hosting of more than 1,400 business meetings. The 261-room hotel’s 41,000 sq. ft. of meeting space includes an IACC Conference Center. Attendees

“Our Executive Chef, John Eschler, is a workhorse and he’s creative. I would say we rival fine dining in many ways.” —James Brown, Executive Director, Rochester Riverside Convention Center

Planners will have two new offsite event venues they can partner with in Rochester. The Hilton Garden Inn Rochester Downtown is managing the 7,000-sq.-ft. Ballroom on Main. Scheduled to open next year, the ballroom will feature high ceilings and elements of the Alliance Building’s original architecture. An interesting themed space is now available at ArtisanWorks, a renovated factory building. The new, 200-capacity Casablanca Room is an ode to the classic film and features a stage, ambient lighting and customizable seating. Existing offsite options include the George Eastman Museum, Strong National Museum of Play and Finger Lakes wineries. Many state associations are well acquainted with the advantages of meeting in Rochester. The majority of the RRCC’s group business is state-based, and bookings have been increasing in the last few years. However, Visit Rochester and the convention center are also intent on drawing national groups. “One example of national business is Optical Society of America,” says Brown. “Optics was founded here in Rochester, and so they come here every two years for their national convention. It’s a really nice piece of business that brings several thousand engineers and professionals to Rochester.” A new Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

need not leave the premises for quality dining, as the restored hotel includes two new restaurants: Eleven Waters and Shaughnessy’s. Of course, there are certainly reasons to venture off property during free time. Syracuse is home to a variety of diversions, such as the Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park and the Landmark Theatre for the Performing Arts. Attendees also have a slew of entertainment available at the SMG-managed Oncenter, home to the 7,000-seat War Memorial Arena and the John H. Mulroy Civic Center Theaters. The latter include the 2,117-seat Crouse Hinds Theater and the 463-seat Carrier Theater. Conveniently, these venues all share a complex with the Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center, which offers a 65,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall, 15,000-sq.-ft. ballroom and 10 meeting rooms. A three-city block facility, the Oncenter is the heart of Syracuse’s events industry and a fine example of the dynamic venues that groups can find outside of New York City.

national client is the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, which held its 2017 Biennial Supreme Council at the RRCC in August. Approximately 2,500 attendees from the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction and around the world met at the RRCC and stayed at the Hyatt Regency and Radisson. The group also made use of the Eastman Theatre at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music, and offered a variety of diversions to delegates, including golf outings, wine tours, boat rides along the Erie Canal and salmon fishing charters on Lake Ontario. The Genesee River is in full view of the RRCC, which borders the river all along its west side. “We have what we call our terrace and patio, which is private to the convention center, but we also open it up for public events,” Brown explains. “It’s a really great space. Groups do receptions out there.” Inside, groups have at their disposal 100,000 sq. ft. of space that includes 25 meeting rooms, exhibit space for up to 400 booths, theater seating for 5,000 and banquet-style seating for 3,500. Banquet guests will enjoy some of the finest convention center cuisine in New York. Brown describes the origin of that F&B service: “The history of our food service goes back to Joe Floreano [past Executive Director of the RRCC]. … We were trying to cultivate a one-stop shop and really have control over the operation, not only the food service but also the maintenance of the facility and all the services we offered. So Joe had proposed in 1988, only three years after we opened, to take the food service in house, which for that time period was unheard of. It didn’t get to the quality and level it’s at today easily, but through significant effort by Joe and the team.” Today, the RRCC’s catering is well respected in both the meetings industry and local community. “Our Executive Chef, John Eschler, is a workhorse and he’s creative. I would say we rival fine dining in many ways,” Brown adds. Attendees will naturally want to explore some of the new eateries that are debuting as part of Rochester’s renaissance. But it’s nice to know that even if their F&B experiences are limited to the convention center, they will not be disappointed. —G.S. 57

Marian Bossard

Executive Vice President, Global Market Events The Toy Association, Inc.

The North American International Toy Fair was first held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center back in 1987. In an average year, the event draws nearly 35,000 industry professionals to the Big Apple. How will the Javits Center expansion benefit the Toy Fair? The Toy Fair now occupies all available space, in every exhibit hall, at the Javits Center. We also create additional exhibit and promotional opportunities in the public space. And still, we will wind up with an extensive waitlist in just a few weeks, five months before the show. An expanded Javits Center will allow us to properly address the increasing demand from the global toy community. Toy Fair New York is the premier marketplace for any company seeking distribution into the lucrative U.S. market. And so, the first thing we’ll do is utilize all viable exhibit space to answer that demand. Then there is the rest of the toy industry beyond buyers and sellers. There are entertainment licensors, inventors, package designers, etc. They represent the other bricks in the foundation of the toy industry. I hope to have added opportunity to create business education and opportunities for the broader toy and children’s entertainment community. And, who knows, maybe we’ll use the beautiful new ballroom for our annual Toy of the Year awards gala.

How would you evaluate your experience working with the Javits staff over the years? For many of our key customers and Association members, we create teams made up of Toy Association staff; Javits personnel from service departments such as electrical, cleaning, security and catering; and, of course, our general service contractor. Together, we commit to supporting these companies by connecting all the dots to ensure their success upon arrival. The Javits representatives have shown a keen understanding of how we are all part of the customers’ success. What kind of assistance does NYC & Company provide? Are there any services you feel they perform especially well? Over the course of many years, NYC & Company has been a good partner on special projects, such as creating a special Valentine’s Day promotion (the Toy Fair often falls on Valentine’s Day) with a NY Loves Toy Fair bag of candy kisses. They have also been very supportive with past attempts to create shuttle line giveaways in the form of restaurant gift certificates from their member restaurants. And they have a wealth of collateral material available for use in our marketing campaigns. The fact remains that the world loves coming to Toy Fair, and they love that it’s held in NYC. That aligns with our mission to get more of them to come. We’re always open to new ideas, and NYC & Company works hard to make sure that the New York tradeshow community is kept informed of upcoming opportunities, whether it’s new space coming online or campaigns they are running in key markets.



Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

Facilities & Destinations SuperBook Advertiser Index

Sites & Cities Directory Texas

Austin Convention Center

500 E. Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, TX 78701 (512) 404-4200; Fax: (512) 404-4220 Director of Sales: Amy Harris Live Music Capital of the World IDAHO

Boise Centre

850 West Front St., Boise, ID 83702 (208) 336-8900; Fax: (208) 336-8803 Director of Marketing and Sales: Cliff Clinger

A LEED® Gold certified, technologically advanced convention center located near downtown’s famous entertainment districts. Multi-level facility spans six city blocks; features 369,132 sq. ft. of meeting/exhibit space, including five column-free, contiguous exhibit halls (247,052 sq. ft. of total exhibit space), seven ballrooms (40,510 sq. ft. is largest) and 54 meeting rooms. Complimentary high-speed, high-density wireless services throughout; onsite engineers; proven ability PAGE to handle 7,000 simultaneous connections. Pre-function spaces offer downtown views. 3 Pedestrian walkway connects 3rd and 4th levels. Close to 9,000 downtown hotel rooms. Come experience the newly expanded Boise Centre, offering 86,000 sq. ft. of highly flexible meeting/event spaces. The facility houses 31 highly flexible meeting/event spaces all with a modern, contemporary design and the latest in technology; largest room is 24,426 sq. ft. Full-service catering services; professional event services team to assist with every detail. Located seven minutes from the airport in downtown Boise with multiple hotels within walking distance. A compact, walkable downtown surrounds Boise Centre with over 100 restaurants, shops, microbreweries and activities. PAGE 45


Connecticut Convention Center

100 Columbus Boulevard, Hartford, CT 06103 (860) 249-6000; Fax: (860) 249-6161 Director of Sales & Marketing: Michelle Hughes The CENTER of it all


Cox Convention Center

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


David L. Lawrence Convention Center

1000 Ft. Duquesne Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 (412) 325-6174; Fax: (412) 565-6104 Built Green. Working Green. Every Day!


Explore St. Louis

America’s Center Convention Complex, 701 Convention Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63101 (314) 421-1023; (800) 916-8938 President: Kathleen Ratcliffe

New York

The Garden City Hotel

45 Seventh Street, Garden City, Long Island, NY 11530 (516) 663-7090 Director of Sales: Matthew D. Fisher

The views are stunning, the space is immense, and the ease of booking an event is superior. 205,000 sq. ft. of meeting/exhibit space; dramatic riverfront setting; accessible to 23+ million people within a 2 ½-hour drive. 19 meeting rooms; 40,000-sq.-ft. ballroom; 180,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space/140,000-sq.-ft. main exhibit hall; 3,200-seat ballroom; attached to 409-room Marriott Hotel. 1,600 rooms (downtown); 6,500 rooms (within 30 miles). Attractions: Front Street District, Dunkin’ Donuts Park, Connecticut Science Center, The Old State House, Wadsworth Atheneum, Mark Twain House, Bushnell Park, PAGE New England Air Museum. 5 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. Multipurpose 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 PAGE offers an eclectic mix of heritage and hotspots. 7 Located in downtown Pittsburgh’s cultural district along the Allegheny River, the environmentally smart, Gold/Platinum LEED® certified, SMG-managed David L. Lawrence Convention Center features 313,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space with 37 loading docks, 53 meeting rooms and a 31,000-sq.-ft. ballroom. The center’s dynamic architectural design offers breathtaking views, open terraces and column-free space. Technology: Recently refreshed CISCO infrastructure supporting complimentary WiFi for attendees and a full catalog of exhibitor products and services from high-density wireless buyouts to customizable PAGE live streaming options. 9 With world-class hotels, restaurants, museums and entertainment venues, you’ll find that St. Louis is a great choice for your next meeting or event. St. Louis is an accessible and affordable destination that will keep delegates entertained with magnificent theater, live music, sports and more that are all within reach. The America’s Center Convention Complex offers 502,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, 80 meeting rooms, a 28,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, the St. Louis Executive Conference Center and the 67,000-seat Dome at America’s Center. There are more than 38,000 hotel rooms in metropolitan St. Louis. Downtown St. Louis has 7,000 hotel PAGE rooms, with more than 1,750 of those rooms within steps of America’s Center. 1 Located in the picturesque village of Garden City, the 269-room Four-Diamond Garden City Hotel is located only 12 miles from JFK Airport and 22 miles from New York City. The property offers 16 versatile meeting spaces, totaling 30,000 sq. ft., complemented by an onsite meeting manager. Wireless Internet access is available in all meeting areas and public spaces. Property highlights include the Polo Steakhouse and Red Door Spa. PAGE 55


Greater Columbus Convention Center

400 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43215 (614) 827-2500; (800) 626-0241; Fax: (614) 827-2659 Director of Sales: Anna Nash, CTA

Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

The magnificent $140 million expansion and renovation of the SMG-managed Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC) was completed in July. Located near John Glenn Columbus International Airport, across the street from entertainment districts and within a 90-minute flight or a day’s drive of the majority of the nation’s population, the GCCC is connected to five hotels and 4,000 parking spaces. The GCCC offers 373,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space and 447,000 sq. ft. overall, 75 meeting rooms, upscale ballrooms with LED-lighting in an array of color combinations, and the largest collection of PAGE contemporary Central Ohio art. 51 59


Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau

701 Brickell Avenue, Ste. 2700, Miami, FL 33131 (305) 539-3071 SVP, Convention Sales: Ita Moriarty New York

Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center 123 East Main Street, Rochester, NY 14604 (585) 232-7200; Fax: (585) 232-1510 Director of Sales: Kris Hughes


Kansas City Convention Center 301 West 13th Street, Kansas City, MO 64105 (800) 821-7060; Fax: (816) 513-5001 Director of Sales: Gemma Zook

New Jersey

Meet AC

2314 Pacific Ave., Atlantic City, NJ 08401 (609) 449-7100; (844) 855-6338 (MEET); Fax: (609) 345-6704 President and CEO: Jim Wood Your Northeast Business Address ARIZONA

Phoenix Convention Center & Venues

100 North Third Street, Phoenix, AZ 85004 (602) 262-6225; (800) 282-4842 Director of Sales: Debbi Foshee In the Heart of Downtown: Enjoy Our Space, Explore Our City Colorado

Pueblo Convention Center 320 Central Main St., Pueblo, CO 81003 (719) 542-1100; Fax: (719) 583-9351 Director of Sales: Katera Buckland

Greater Miami is a vibrant area whose renowned neighborhoods include South Beach, Coconut Grove and Little Havana. Among the area’s major attractions are American Airlines Arena, Pérez Art Museum, MiMo in North Beach, Bal Harbour and two national parks: Biscayne National Preserve and Everglades National Park. There are a total of 50,134 hotel rooms, and the Miami Worldcenter will add an 1,800-room Marriott Marquis when it opens in 2020. The Convention Center currently offers 500,000 sq. ft. of total exhibit space and 81 meeting rooms. The Greater Miami CVB offers groups banners, airport signs, destination, material, registration personnel services, website, promotions and more. The Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center is conveniently located in upstate New York, in the heart of downtown Rochester. It offers 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting/exhibition space, including a 50,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall, 10,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, 22 meeting rooms of various sizes, in-house food service, themed décor and floral services, as well as dedicated wireless Internet connection over fiber optics. There are over 1,100 hotel rooms, with 800 directly connected by an enclosed skyway. The Convention Center is surrounded by entertainment districts with restaurants, pubs, theaters and more. Rochester offers planners a PAGE compact convention district, and New York State’s only one-stop convention facility. 11 An energetic city forged by a rich history, Kansas City has a central location, is highly affordable and is brimming with eclectic cuisine, swinging jazz, one-of-a-kind museums, a thriving arts scene and fantastic shopping. One million-sq.-ft. Kansas City Convention Center accommodates everything from mid-sized meetings to citywide conventions – 388,800-sq.-ft., column-free exhibit space, 142,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, 46,484-sq.-ft. state-of-the-art Grand Ballroom, 48 meeting rooms. Arena houses 7,316 permanent seats, 2,405 seats on risers plus capacity for 1,000 theater-style on main floor. 946 guestPAGE rooms nearby; 3,500 downtown hotel rooms; 26,000 citywide. C3 Atlantic City is a hidden gem along the New Jersey shoreline, offering visitors much more than a seaside destination. Atlantic City is made up of more than 15,500 first-class hotel rooms that will suit the perfect accommodations for your attendees’ complete comfort and relaxation. The Atlantic City Convention Center is located within a few hours’ drive of nearly one third of the nation’s population and 20 percent of the country’s business addresses. The Atlantic City Convention Center provides 600,000 contiguous sq. ft. of exhibit space, as well as 45 meeting rooms, ample pre-function space and all the amenities you PAGE C4 would expect. The award-winning Phoenix Convention Center & Venues is within walking distance of shopping, entertainment, sports and theater venues, and is just four miles from Sky Harbor International Airport. There are more than 3,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of the center and more that 6,000 hotel rooms located along the Metro Light Rail System. Named one of the top-10 convention center facilities in the country, PCC&V 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 — all complemented by the 2,312-seat Symphony Hall and the 1,364-seat historic PAGE 8 Orpheum Theatre. The Pueblo Convention Center, managed by Spectra, currently offers over 20,000 sq. ft. of function space, including 16,200 sq. ft. of premium exhibit hall and ballroom space, 3,000 sq. ft. in five inviting meeting rooms and a generous 2,120-sq.-ft. pre-function lounge, making the facility ideal destination for your next meeting, conference, convention, tradeshow or banquet. Complemented by a 166-room Courtyard Marriott, the Pueblo Convention Center is scheduled for an expansion in 2018. PAGE 12


Visit Orlando

6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Suite 400, Orlando, FL 32821 (407) 354-5547; Fax: (407) 370-5014 Senior Vice President Convention Sales & Services: Fred Shea


Visit Savannah

101 East Bay Street, Savannah, GA 31401 (877) SAVANNAH; (912) 644-6424; Fax: (912) 644-6499 VP Business Development & Services: Jeff Hewitt


As the No. 1 meetings destination in the country, Orlando offers a world of possibilities for unique meetings and events. From low-cost accessibility and a top-rated convention center to a wide variety of hotels and world-class entertainment options, Orlando is an exciting gateway city for meetings of all sizes. Whether networking with colleagues at 400 ft. atop the new Orlando Eye or hosting a private company event in one of the city’s world-class theme parks complete with a fire-breathing dragon, no other destination delivers excitement quite like Orlando. Add its exceptional hospitality and you’ve got a recipe for success. Welcome to Savannah, est. 1733, waiting to charm you with tree-filled squares and perfectly preserved historic buildings. Savannah has the capacity to accommodate large groups in its convention, exhibit and meeting facilities, the largest being the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center. Total event space: 330,000 sq. ft.; exhibit space: 100,000 sq. ft.; ballroom: 25,000 sq. ft.; pre-function space: 6,600 sq. ft.; meetings rooms: 13; 14,000 hotel rooms citywide. PAGE 13

Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

Saving Costs on Citywides 6 strategies that can keep the budget for these meetings in check By Heather Seasholtz


4 Multiyear Vendor Contracts

itywides . . . the name alone can be scary and give the impression of high budgetary expenses such as rental, attrition, minimums, and ground transportation, to name a few. But don’t fear, as there are ways to reduce costs.

As a citywide event, you are likely contracted several years into the future. Work with your vendors to secure multiyear contracts if they can offer their services in the other destinations. Multiyear contracts typically offer concessions and various discounts as incentives for committing to a long-term partnership.

1YourEngage the CVB/DMO CVB (convention and visitors bureau) or

DMO (destination marketing organization) will be able to assist you with securing partners who are dedicated to the business of the city or destination. They can also assist in securing your room block and negotiating rates. Their job is to promote your event to the city and hospitality community to ensure their partners are servicing your program at the level they offered in their bid to host the event.

2Engage Early, Early, Early your internal and external vendor partners

5 Transparency

Be upfront and transparent with your vendors; it’s the only way they will know your needs. Communicate budget goals and constraints, service expectations, historical successes and opportunities for improvement. Allow your vendor to truly partner with you to meet the goals and objectives of your event.

Work with your

vendors to secure multiyear contracts if they can offer their services in other destinations.

early. Bring them to site visits throughout the planning process to ensure they are involved in decisions and can actively offer advice as you work through the challenges of your venues or the needs of the attendee. There are three reasons to contract your room blocks early: 1. Many events have groups who attend and are therefore looking to secure rooms together. To ensure these groups stay in your block, contract your rooms early, even if you do not plan to open your housing until closer to the meeting. This will ensure groups book in the block since you have the hotels. 2. Keeping rates down by minimizing the inflation of rates as demand increases. You will want to negotiate to ensure rates are competitive and comparative between hotels of the same quality, but you will also want to be fair to keep hotels from going too low, not just too high. The goal is to look consistent to the attendee. A five-star hotel at $159 and a three-star hotel at $199 does not look good for the planner, nor the hotel. 3. Maximizing your block at the hotels. Your goal should be to contract two thirds to three fourths of the hotel’s block for housing. Maximizing your block will ensure the hotel is selling more rooms at your negotiated rate versus rack or transient rates.

3 Contract Template for Housing

Use a contract template, which is specific to your meeting or organization, to secure each hotel. Your template should ideally include the following items: no attrition fees, comp rooms, guaranteed rates, meeting space, site visit rooms, concessions, protection if the hotel changes ownership, the method of reservation, cut-off date, rebate, force majeure, right to cancel without penalty if the meeting venue suddenly becomes unavailable, plus other valuable clauses important to the hotel and your organization. Facilities & destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

6 Shuttle Strategy Depending on the size of the citywide,

you may need to provide ground transportation. Shuttle transportation costs originate with the number of hotels, distance to the venue and hours of operation. By maximizing your block, you are minimizing the number of hotels needed and therefore securing hotels as close as possible to the meeting venue. Also, it would be best to establish a shuttle schedule to have your attendees arrive and depart during peak hours, which is usually the beginning and end of each meeting day. You can lower your cost of transportation by offering shuttle service hourly during off-peak hours, or not offering it at all during the times the meeting is in session in order to keep the audience engaged at the venue. While citywides can lead to high expenses, incorporating a few of these strategies should help you see cost savings, give you a better planning experience, and perhaps even make you shine in the eyes of upper management at your organization. Heather Seasholtz, CMP, is the Director of Meetings and Events at Mt. Royal, NJ-based Talley Management Group. Since 2000, she has been in the meeting and event management industry, on both the supplier partner and client sides. Seasholtz has managed meetings and citywide events for 10-60,000 attendees; one of those conferences uses 10,000 sleeping rooms on peak and includes various logistical components such as a stadium general session, special needs management, interpretation services, press and media management, community service engagement and security management. As a Certified Meeting Professional, she has planned meetings in corporate and not-forprofit environments in several industries. 61

The Dawn of the New General Session 5 key questions and 5 big ideas for designing this crucial event By Sarah Michel


oday’s conference attendees are collectors of experiences. Thanks to TED and TEDx events and talks, many now have high expectations coming into your conference for innovation, participation and that “wow” factor. They’re simply no longer willing to sit in the dark passively listening to an expert who is talking at them, not with them. Main room experiences are critical for bringing the profession together and making strategic leaps. Regardless of your budget, there are many things you can do to ensure your general sessions set the tone for your conference.

The Secret Sauce is Meeting Design

equity in the room and provide more sense-making opportunities. Position your speakers as sensemakers. General sessions that move from expertcentric (focusing on the speaker) to audience-centric (focusing on the attendee) are the ones that will be valued and ultimately amplified by the participants. 2. Community Gatherings For many attendees, the opening and closing general sessions are what they remember most. This is typically one of the only times when the community gathers together as one. Celebrate that. Consider bookending daily with opening and closing ballroom community experiences. Use an emcee who can weave the content from the day and facilitate peerto-peer learning through small group discussions. Think of your attendees as a global village gathering around the eneral sessions watering hole to share stories, ideas and that move from lessons learned.


Meeting design starts with the who and why. Who are you designing this session for (hint: not the speakers) and why are you holding this session/ conference? What strategic objective is this event advancing? If your goal is to create community expert-centric to 3. Innovative Room Sets and connection (what we call Connexity), then your As Jeff Hurt, my colleague at Velvet audience-centric general session design should support that. Once Chainsaw Consulting, says, “The way you you’re clear on the objectives of the session, begin to are the ones that set a room is the body language of your brainstorm about how you can design it to achieve conference.” Once you know the objectives will be valued and those outcomes. and desired outcomes of your session, Here are five questions you want to consider to help ultimately amplified get creative on how your room set can you select the right design for your session: support the behaviors you desire from by the participants. your participants. When they walk into 1. What is the objective (desired outcome) for your ballroom, what do you want them to the attendees? think, feel and do? Consider innovative room sets that will provide 2. What do you want the attendees to remember or do as a opportunities for co-creation, deeper learning and tacit knowledge result of participating? (know-how) sharing, which is really what your attendees want at 3. How do you want the attendees to feel after the session? face-to-face meetings today. 4. Do you want attendees to be engaged or passive participants? 4. Limit Pageantry and Stay on Time Main room experiences should focus at least 75 percent of the 5. Do you want to make an emotional connection with the time on the marketed message of the session. If you’ve invested participants? heavily into bringing in a professional or celebrity speaker, then One of the big filters we recommend you keep at the front of your leverage that investment and let your attendees get what they mind when considering the best session design is this: What is came to experience. Awards, volunteer recognition and state of the in the best interest of the attendee? Never let the needs of your organization should be brief and expedited. Take all precautions organization, the speaker or sponsor drive the design. to ensure that general session timelines are tight. Running over by more than a few minutes is unacceptable and you will receive Five Big Ideas backlash from the participants if you do. Here are five big ideas for elevating your general sessions and improving your outcomes and participation: 5. Focus on Connexity (Community + Connection) 1. Innovative Session Formats You know from your surveys that everyone wants more networking With information available at our fingertips 24/7, what drives value at your meeting. One of the times I felt truly alone was sitting in people to attend a face-to-face meeting today is not content. They’re an opening general session where I didn’t know anyone around me. coming to make sense of the content they’re drowning in. Consider Helping people find other like-minded attendees in a general session using innovative session formats that leverage the intellectual can kick-start a conference experience like no other approach. A good 62

Facilities & destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

emcee will bake in experiences to help make connections. If space permits, use a variety of seating options, but what is most important is to help people find their “peeps” easily and to avoid having anyone sitting alone in that big room.

Velvet Chainsaw Consulting created an innovative general session room set for a CoreNet Summit in Las Vegas. The idea was to facilitate community and connection among attendees.

Remember, happy, connected attendees who get great learning value from your meeting are your best evangelists for growing future attendance through word-of-mouth.

A 15-year meeting industry veteran, Sarah Michel is Vice President of Professional Connexity for Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, helping organizations deliver on the networking promise at face-toface meetings. She is a Certified Speaking Professional (awarded by the National Speakers Association), a nationally recognized expert on networking and the creator of the NetWORTHing® process. Michel is the author of Perfecting Connecting©, A Guide to Mastering Networking in the Workplace and coauthor of the e-book, Conference Connexity.

Advertiser Index Austin Convention Center...................................................................3

Looking Ahead Facilities & DESTINATIONS 2017-2018 Fall / Winter Issue

Boise Centre......................................................................................45 Connecticut Convention Center..........................................................5 Cox Convention Center.......................................................................7 David L. Lawrence Convention Center...............................................9 ExL Events.........................................................................................25 Explore St. Louis.................................................................................1 The Garden City Hotel......................................................................55 Greater Columbus Convention Center..............................................51 Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Convention Center..........................11 Kansas City Convention Center........................................................C3 Meet AC............................................................................................C4 Phoenix Convention Center.................................................................8 Pueblo Convention Center................................................................12 SMT expo..........................................................................................C2 Visit Savannah..................................................................................13 Facilities & destinations 2017 Summer / Fall


• PRISM Hotel Award and ELITE Award winners annual review of small-market • Our destinations and venues Forums: In-depth Q&As with industry • F&D leaders on the move from the pros on working with CVBs, • Tips incentive planning, meeting technology and more

latest domestic and international meeting • The industry news To subscribe, see page 58 in this issue. 63

Value Destinations

Book affordable meetings in America’s best small-market cities ALBANY, NY

Opened in March, Albany Capital Center accommodates up to 5,000 guests with 22,500 sq. ft. of ballroom/exhibit space, six meeting rooms spanning 9,200 sq. ft. and 13,500 sq. ft. of pre-function space. Located in the heart of downtown, this state-of-the-art facility brings easy access to all the amenities the capital city offers. What’s New: The Albany Marriott on Wolf Road has just completed the first phase of a $15 million renovation. The Times Union Center is undergoing a $19.6 million renovation, which will be completed November 2017.


The Fox Cities is known for the arts, culture, fine dining, exciting nightlife and great shopping. The 20 communities along the shore of Lake Winnebago and the Fox River offer both big-city amenities and small-town charm. What’s New: The Courtyard Appleton Riverfront Hotel opened in September. The Fox Cities Exhibition Center, slated to open late fall, will be attached via skywalk to the existing 40,000-sq.-ft. convention facility located inside the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel, which is opening this year.


Champaign County offers over 240,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and more than 3,800 hotel rooms, including several new properties. What’s New: State Farm Center completed a $170 million renovation in late 2016 that included air conditioning, premium seating, improved restrooms and concessions, a Fighting Illini Hall of Fame and many other amenities. The entire facility is available for rental, including private spaces such as the Traditions Club and Legacy Club.


Greenville is home to the TD Convention Center, offering 280,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space and 60,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. Unique event venues include the Cigar Warehouse, BMW Performance Center and Wyche Pavilion on the Reedy River. What’s New: Fluor Field at the West End recently completed a $10 million renovation. The Grand Bohemian Hotel is slated to open in 2018. AC Hotels by Marriott opens a new-build downtown hotel by summer 2019.


Las Cruces offers more than 3,000 hotel rooms and 128,000 sq. ft. of meeting space to accommodate groups of up to 1,400 attendees. What’s New: Visit Las Cruces recently assumed management of the Rio Grande Theatre. Groundbreaking for a Marriott Courtyard to be located next to the LEED-certified Las Cruces Convention Center will be this fall. The groundbreaking for the expansion of the convention center will take place in early 2018, with completion expected in spring/summer 2019.


Lincoln offers a variety of meeting venues ranging from unique facilities such as The Grand Manse Great Hall to cultural destinations like the International Quilt Study Center & Museum. The two largest facilities in Lincoln, Pinnacle Bank Arena and Lancaster Event Center, provide ample space for a variety of meetings. All of Lincoln’s downtown hotels have experienced function space renovations. What’s New: The Graduate Lincoln has competed a renovation of its 231 sleeping rooms and 15,000+ sq. ft. of meeting space.


Located in the heart of Illinois, the Peoria area is the home to the largest event facility downstate. With 110,000 sq. ft. of continuous exhibit space, a 11,330-seat arena and 2,200seat theater, 27,000 sq. ft. of ballroom space plus 17,000 sq. ft. of additional breakout rooms, the Peoria Civic Center accommodates a variety of events. What’s New: Holiday Inn Express and Suites East Peoria, Holiday Inn and Suites and a Four Points by Sheraton are slated to open in the near future.


The Sioux Falls CVB is a planner’s key to the city and can help to showcase what Sioux Falls offers attendees. What’s New: The Best Western Plus Ramkota Hotel & Conference Center is undergoing a $7 million renovation including meeting space lighting and décor; fitness center; new furniture and bathrooms in all sleeping rooms; and other upgrades. Next year, a 116-room Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites is expected to open on Elmwood Golf Course and near the PREMIER Center. The hotel will house 3,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.


Wichita boasts more than 1,000 restaurants, 33 museums, 22 attractions, 22 live theaters and eight shopping districts. The Century II Performing Arts & Convention Center is connected to the 303-room Hyatt Regency Wichita. What’s New: Alaska Airlines now serves Wichita with nonstop, daily flights to Seattle. New hotels include the 110-room Hampton Inn near Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport, 127-room Aloft Wichita Northeast, 118-room La Quinta Del Sol and a 120-room Hilton Garden Inn opening downtown this winter. Shannon Licygiewicz Director of Sales (518) 487-2009 shannon.licygiewicz@ Amy Karas Convention Sales & Marketing Manager (800) 236-6673 Leah Longueville Director of Sales (217) 351-4133 David Montgomery Vice President of Sales (864) 421-0000, ext. 104 Albert Herrera Convention Sales Manager (575) 541-2387 Derek Feyerherm Director of Sales & Operations (402) 434-5344 Joni Staley Director of Sales (309) 282-3280 Anna Eliason Sales Manager (605) 373-2025 Moji Rosson Vice President of Sales (316) 265-2800


Facilities & Destinations 2017 Summer / Fall

With a creative energy all its own, Kansas City is anything but business as usual. It’s a convention destination centrally located in the thriving downtown of Kansas City, Missouri where friendly people, affordable prices and local cultural are a given. The eight-square-block Kansas City Convention & Entertainment Facilities can accommodate every need with 388,800 sq. ft. of column-free exhibit space on one floor; 48 state-of-art meeting rooms; a 2,400-seat fine arts theatre; an arena that seats more than 10,700 people and a unique outdoor festival plaza. And not only is it all in one location, the complex is connected to major hotels and parking by skywalks and underground walkways. Encompassing more than 800,000 sq. ft. total, the Kansas City Convention & Entertainment Facilities can serve all of your meeting needs under one roof.

301 West 13 th Street, Kansas City, MO 64105 | 816-513-5000 |

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Facilities & Destinations - Summer/Fall 2017  

F&D's 2017 Mid-Market Review Issue. >>BONUS: IMEX America Special Section. Interview with Carina Bauer and international destination featu...

Facilities & Destinations - Summer/Fall 2017  

F&D's 2017 Mid-Market Review Issue. >>BONUS: IMEX America Special Section. Interview with Carina Bauer and international destination featu...