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Small Meetings &
Meetings are continuing to return and smaller meetings, events and retreats are leading the way. While some are not yet ready to return to large scale events, smaller functions provide an opportunity to reconnect in a more comfortable setting for many.
These intimate functions have long served as an economic driver for a wide range of venues and destinations that have specialized in accommodating this particular niche.
“Small meetings, retreats and events play a large role in our industry’s continued recovery,” observes April Doughty, director of marketing for the Jamestown Hospitality Group. “At the beginning of the pandemic, restaurants were forced to think ‘outside of the box’ and find innovative ways to continue service to customers... Deep Blue at Kitty Knight offered several virtual events with food delivery to not only provide food to our guests, but also to lift their spirits in an uncertain time. As the world opened up again, customers began reaching out to book events on-site and our inn began to see an increase in overnight guests again.”
Small meetings and retreats are helping to get people together again. Returning to the workplace plays a key role in getting people out of their homes and back into routines, Doughty observes. “It will remind people they crave interaction with other people. Those interactions a critical to what the hospitality industry needs to recover."
Some things have changed since the start of the pandemic. Event groups now consider if there are adequate outdoor accommodations, or if the venue space is large enough (should anyone be uneasy about dining in smaller indoor venues).
“Deep Blue at Kitty Knight is a unique venue in that we not only have several event spaces, we also have 11
inn rooms in a historic 18th century home to accommodate overnight guests,” says Doughty. “We overlook the Sassafras River (on the Delmarva Peninsula) and are located just a few miles from several wonderful wineries for group excursions.”
"The history and unique nature of a facility built in the 1700s is not common. When you add the water views and sunsets it becomes transformative,” Doughty continues. “It allows the group to really engage with each other, whether in intimate groups or larger settings. In addition, to have the modern conveniences as well allows you to enjoy the history and be as productive as possible.”
“One of the benefits of a small group function is the intimacy,” notes Lou Marrocco, CMP, director of meetings and events for Visit Delco, PA. “When the group is smaller, the attendees feel like they are truly engaged… Privacy and level of service are very important to these groups. Having worked in Washington, DC at several functions where business is done, attention to detail and service all need to be at the highest level, which can be accomplished in a smaller, intimate setting.”
Marrocco also stresses the importance of discussing the goals and objectives with the planner, and then matching that up with the right Delaware County ven-
TOGETHER IS A GREAT PLACE TO BE.
Try Woodloch’s new team building activity: The Food Truck Challenge
Test your design and marketing strategy skills in this timed event to win over a panel of judges. Each team will receive a food basket, a secret ingredient and access to a pantry to create a delicious dish for everyone to sample. It’s not all about the food however- you will create and design a food truck, business name, marketing plan and menu. Are you ready? Let the challenge begin!
“When it was time to leave the resort, it felt like I was leaving home, and I really didn’t want to go!” -Danielle, Google
“I can’t say enough great things about my experience with Woodloch. Each year, our company plans an annual retreat to escape the day-to-day for a few days and enjoy activities and bond with our colleagues.” -Erin, SeatGeek
ues to achieve those goals. “Once we have done that, we work closely with our Delco venue and support them.”
“With more than 4,200 rooms, Delaware County offers a complete range of accommodations from full-service hotels to charming bed and breakfasts,” notes Amy Bohr, director of marketing, Visit Delco, PA.
"Located in the heart of America’s Garden Capital, Delaware County’s arboretums, world-renowned gardens, county parks and private preserves provide plenty of places to relax, explore and enjoy the outdoors year-round. The diverse dining scene has something for every taste, occasion and budget. From high-end dining to diverse ethnic fare, a bounty of delicious options awaits.”
Delaware County is home and centrally located to world-class attractions such as Brandywine Museum of Art, Longwood Gardens, Brandywine Battlefield, Subaru Park, King of Prussia Mall, Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum and more.
One challenge in accommodating small group business can be managing the per person cost involved. “Because there are fewer people, the overall per person cost is higher,” Marrocco explains. “Some clients do
not understand that. It helps to explain that the number of staff, for example, and the cost is proportionate with the number of guests and level of service. Some use one server per 15 or 20 people, if there are only 15-20 people in a dinner setting, you will need at least two or three staff to provide the proper level of service effectively. Communication is still a key factor in our work and is vital to the success of the meeting or event.”
At Woodloch Meetings in the Pocono Mountains, three properties comprise a single destination: Woodloch Pines; Woodloch Springs; and The Lodge at Woodloch. Each venue is unique in its offerings, but smaller retreats and meetings tend to choose either Woodloch Springs or The Lodge at Woodloch.
The Lodge at Woodloch, a destination spa, does limit group sizes to under 14 people, meaning that the property specializes in smaller events. Woodloch Springs offers vacation rental homes that range from 2- to 5bedrooms and bathrooms, which makes for a very unique meeting experience for smaller groups, many of whom prefer to meet in the property’s spacious houses - a comfortable, more casual setting, rather than spending the day in a more traditional meeting space.
Woodloch Pines offers a combination of small and larger meeting spaces with many activities that guests staying at any of the three properties can enjoy.
"We have found that smaller retreats and events give the attendees more one-on-one time with one another and give people the chance to connect a little deeper when compared to large scale events where people do not always get to interact directly with each attendee,” observes Matt Butler, corporate sales manager, Woodloch Meetings.
“When companies bring their staff to a destination, they want to be sure they will have the best service and facilities offered to their guests, as they are taking them away from their homes and families and want to ensure they are providing their employees with a vacation atmosphere that has a sense of relaxation with work mixed in,” Butler adds. “Private meeting and dining rooms ensure that all business gets done in a private manner, while the endless actives, beautiful scenery and top tier accommodations, cuisine and service ensure the vacation atmosphere is intact.”
Sometimes, finding the right size meeting room can present a challenge, particularly if groups are not staying in houses or prefer not to meet in houses. “We go over all Woodloch options in full detail from the point of first contact,” notes Butler. “Our sales managers will ask questions and gather as much information about the event as possible to find the perfect fit for the group within our three properties."
For retreats, Woodloch has over 30 activities scheduled daily, including: popular game show spin-offs; family-friendly competitions; Olympic-
style activities; scavenger hunts; and holiday-themed games. "Amenities such as a six-sided rock-climbing wall, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, bumper cars, go carts, bumper boats, kayaking, snowshoeing, snow tubing, ice skating, nightly entertainment like live music or comedy acts, and so much more,” Butler asserts.
Woodloch also offers an extensive portfolio of private, exclusive team building activities promoting the leadership skills, cooperation, strategy and tenacity needed to excel in the workforce. Alternatively, there are team building experiences designed simply to get the team together for relaxing and having fun, as well.
Woodloch also offers a series of Corporate Responsibility Team Building events that have an element of giving
back to either the group’s community or to an organization in the Pocono Mountains. All of these team building functions can be catered to groups of all sizes and are available year-round (weather permitting).
"Altoona provides a more personalized experience for smaller groups with more attention to detail, more individualized services and exceptional guest services,” asserts Mark Ickes, executive director, Explore Altoona, PA. “In addition to the Blair County Convention Center’s stellar breakout spaces with spectacular mountain views, some unique venues within the destination include: The Casino at Lakemont Park, which includes three distinctive spaces – the Grand Pavilion, the Soho Room, and the Third Edition; Liberty Hall at U.S. Hotel Tavern, the only restaurant in Blair County that is a
historical property; White Oak Hall located at Fort Roberdeau, the westernmost Revolutionary War site in America, among others."
Smaller group functions, meetings and retreats offer a particular group the opportunity to concentrate on specific issues within an agenda, Ickes explains. “As we all know, the opportunity for group and retreat participants to speak freely within an agenda offers the chance for growth and productivity, which larger groups may not offer as freely. Altoona’s smaller unique venues offer uncompromised privacy, as most are located outside of any main corridor within the destination."
Activities for smaller groups in Altoona include team building exercises and events at Lakemont Park, which has transformed itself beyond being a traditional amusement park into more of a gathering space. “They offer regulation-sized sand volleyball courts, two themed miniature golf courses, and vast green spaces for additional activities,” says Ickes.
Outdoor opportunities abound at Blue Knob All Seasons Resort, at Canoe Creek State Park, and along the September 11th National Memorial Trail that traverses through three towns in Blair County: Hollidaysburg, Williamsburg, and Duncansville.
Another unique experience is team engagement at Slinky Action Zone, not only located within the hometown of the iconic Slinky, but also home to the largest Slinky in the
world. This fun-filled attraction offers a two-tier laser tag arena, state-of-the-art video games, and a brewpub.
Inn at Perry Cabin boasts an air of exclusivity as it showcases only 78 guest rooms. Its park-like waterfront setting offers a variety of small, intimate venues both indoors and out.
“Given the number of guest rooms and smaller size of our historic meeting rooms, we are mindful of how we place groups to protect the experience and ambience of the inn as both leisure and group co-mingle,” notes Emily Wilhelm, executive meeting and events manager for Inn at Perry Cabin. “Our hands-on approach provides unique customizable experiences both on and off property in the town of St. Michaels, Maryland. Known for our exemplary service and hospitality standards, Inn at Perry Cabin offers an environment not typical of a corporate retreat.”
Planning a small retreat allows everything from the meeting content to the menu at each meal to be “out of the box,” Wilhelm notes. In addition, experiences and activities can be curated to the interests of each individual rather than creating excursions and buffets designed to appeal to a wide audience. “The expectation of privacy and top-tier service has always been an integral component of our brand at Inn at Perry Cabin, and it often is a deciding factor as to why groups choose us over the alternatives,” Wilhelm asserts. “The fact that we restrict the amount of group business we accept assures our clients that they have our exclusive, undivided attention.”
The historic footprint of Inn at Perry Cabin offers intimate indoor and outdoor venues that are intrinsically small-scale and customizable for small groups, uniquely designed to suit the small meetings market.
“We do not offer the typical large-scale buffet and numerous breakout rooms... The team are experts in guiding clients through the process of designing a program that meets all their specific needs and delivers on the high expectations and desired outcome,” Wilhelm states.
Activities available at Inn at Perry Cabin include: golf at a private, Pete Dye designed course - Links at Perry Cabin; the botanical Spa at Perry Cabin; and private charters aboard a fleet of eight sailing and motor yachts. The inn also offers a rich activities program that can be customized and hosted privately. The historic town of St. Michaels offers a myriad of experiences, too, from local libations and private tours of St. Michaels Winery, Eastern Shore Brewery and Windon Distilling Company, to unique dining options both on and off the water, to a plethora of history along the Chesapeake Bay at the Maritime Museum, to boutique shopping.
“Envision a private dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant accented by a belly dancer for entertainment, and then watching Fast and the Furious surrounded by mint condition antique cars at the Classic Motor Museum,” Wilhelm muses. “Everything about our resort and town is historically small-scale and small groups can take full advantage of all the offerings.”
"The Hyatt Place Dewey Beach ensures when booking a group event that it can be executed to the highest standard. This is our number one priority; therefore, all meeting planners can feel at ease when choosing our hotel for events,” Martinelli continues. “We have a number of team bonding experiences we can facilitate at our hotel, along with our award-winning event center and memorable culinary options.”
“With our 145 guest rooms, including 15 condominiums, bayfront event space and restaurant, along with our proximity to the beach, restaurants and shops, The Hyatt Place Dewey Beach is the ideal meeting destination,” says Ashlee Martinelli, regional director of sales and marketing, The Hyatt Place Dewey Beach.
The Hyatt Place Dewey Beach executes all events to the highest standard, asserts Martinelli. “The hotel boasts the same level of service for a 10-person corporate meeting to a 600-person gala. Our team's passion to host excellent meetings and create memorable experiences flows into all events that come to our beach locale.”
"The Hyatt Place Dewey Beach ensures when booking a group event, that it can be executed to the highest standard. This is our number one priority; therefore, all meeting planners can feel at ease when choosing our hotel for events,” Martinelli continues. “With a number of team bonding experiences, we can facilitate at our hotel, along with our award-winning event center and memorable culinary options.”
The Hyatt Place Dewey Beach encourages a fun meeting environment. From calming sunrise beach yoga to an adrenalin inducing outdoor spin class, many groups like to start the day with a wellness component. Next, host a lively sunset boat cruise on the Rehoboth Bay with some famous Dewey Orange Crushes. End the day by a beach bonfire complete with custom s'mores kits. “Our team can facilitate these and more opportunities to make your meeting a memorable experience,” Martinelli concludes.
While each of these venues boast different settings and environments, all provide impeccable service, wonderful amenities, varied spaces and personalized programs that are ideal for smaller meetings and retreats, allowing planners to find perfect partner venues in a wide range of destinations.
For those in search of places and destinations that are out of the ordinary for their upcoming meetings and events, the MidAtlantic Region offers a wide range of memorable options that are sure to inspire, motivate, spark conversation and creativity.
Unique sites can be found in just about any setting, from urban to rural, by the water or in the mountains, providing planners with a wide range of options and opportunities for their groups and functions.
Unique venues offer a great opportunity to get out of the typical office environment and go to a place that can make your group feel united, notes the events department of the Lambertville Station Restaurant and Inn, Lambertville, NJ.
Conducting events outside of “traditional spaces” can allow teams the opportunity to bond in new ways. Selecting a unique location that offers different experiences demonstrates an investment in the individuals involved and in the growth of the company, the Lambertville Station events team adds. New spaces inspire innovative and creative ideas.
Lambertville Station Restaurant and Inn offers 46 contemporary rooms and suites, the latter of which have been enhanced with a fireplace. The inn’s stately lobby features a master fireplace and honor bar, while its Creekside Room is a unique function space overlooking Swan Creek. Its riverside Ballroom hosts events for up to 200 guests and features floor-to-ceiling windows and views of the Delaware River.
A ceremony space and outdoor cocktail area on the banks of the river are additional options at the venue. Housed within a restored 19th century train station, the property also boasts several private rooms for memo-
rable meetings, conferences, retreats and more. Uniqueness and creativity are not limited to a venue’s architecture and décor. The chefs at Lambertville Station, for example, are known for their innovative American Cuisine. Their attention to detail creates a dining experience beyond that of standard banquet fare, the events team proclaims. “The experience, professionalism, and friendliness of the staff assure impeccable and flawless service,” they add.
The events team at Lambertville Station add that they provide professional event planners, customized catering menus, ample free parking, a business center and complimentary Wi-Fi in a location that is an easy drive or train ride to and from both New York City and Philadelphia.
The surrounding town of Lambertville, NJ and New Hope, PA on the other side of the river, meanwhile, together offer opportunities to get out and explore with activities like antique and boutique shopping, biking, canoeing, carriage rides and more.
“I think a unique venue can really elevate a typical event or meeting to one that is memorable and more enjoyable for people,” observes Hans Schreiber, director of sales and marketing, Lancaster County Conven-
tion Center and the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square in Lancaster, PA. “A lot of venues are good, but I think what makes a venue great and stand out from the rest are the unique features that cannot be replicated elsewhere. Here at the Lancaster Marriott and Lancaster County Convention Center, we have plenty of those unique features.”
The Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square and Lancaster County Convention Center is a unique property in that the hotel and convention center are seamlessly integrated on one property, making it ideal for hosting events and meetings. Lancaster itself is a unique destination in that it is centrally located and driving distance from a number of major cities, Schreiber adds. “I think our magnificent architectural and historic features also are unique; it’s not typical for a convention center to also have an official site of the Underground Railroad, but we have that here at the Lancaster County Convention Center.”
The Thaddeus Stevens and Lydia Hamilton Smith Center for History and Democracy is a historic site and former home
“Our advice to those looking to plan events at unique venues for the first time would be to select a location that supports you in taking that leap. Remember that your priority should always be your team, and your venue should be there to support you in that effort.”
- Lambertville Station Restaurant and Inn Events Team
and business of anti-slavery and pre-Civil War Congressman Thaddeus Stevens. Currently in development, the historic site will transition into a museum that shares the story of two remarkable Americans and the pivotal role that Lancaster and the surrounding region played in the operation of the Underground Railroad.
The Lancaster Marriott also is housed within the façade of the 110-year-old former Watt & Shand Department Store building, which was at one time on the list of the National Register of Historic Places. Also located within the convention center is the William Montgomery House, dating back to 1804 and referred to by historians as one of Lancaster’s great Federal Period mansions.
“A unique venue can inject fresh life into a meeting and drive attendance,” explains Susan Corrigan, director of sales and operations for the Cork Factory Hotel. “If an activity is planned, there is often something that cues into the history or specific identify of the property to give the event an interesting flavor.”
Cork Factory Hotel, built in 1865, occupies a building in Lancaster, PA that once housed Lancaster Cork Co. and features authentic industrial character throughout the mixed-use complex. “In any of our function spaces, you may find brick walls, iron fixtures, cork accents or pressed copper ceilings and, most important to all-day meetings, all spaces have natural light,” Corrigan exclaims. “Our small, highly-experienced staff and proximity to both downtown Lancaster and highways make
Cork Factory a great choice for successful events.”
When booking a unique venue, Corrigan advises that planners go in with an open mind and that they ask their sales contact about what kinds of experiences the property can provide that attendees wouldn’t find at a traditional hotel. A unique venue likely will have creative options that can be incorporated into the itinerary to give a program an unusual twist and make it the one still being talked about the following year.
“From lessons in throwing atlatl darts to mushroom hunts, ghost hunts and dogsledding, you never know what a venue might have in store for you and your group, so be open to the possibilities,” Corrigan adds.
Hosting an event at a nontraditional venue can help to deliver an unparalleled guest experience, asserts Christina Mayo, director of sales, All About Events, LLC. Event sites like museums, aquariums, theaters, public markets and sports facilities are generally not designed to accommodate private events as their primary purpose. However, each of these venues offer a very unique atmosphere for hosting a memorable affair.
“Hosting an event at a unique venue will boost guest attendance through guest curiosities,” Mayo explains. “When looking back on our favorite memories, we recall our surroundings and the environment that we were in. That same concept applies to producing a memorable event at a
nontraditional venue. Guests will remember the event due to their fascination of where the event was held.”
Mayo adds that a unique environment also serves as a topic of conversation. At events in these venues, there are more opportunities for guests to engage on social media, too. “Having an innovative, never-before-seen event space will encourage attendees to share their experiences online, and such an online presence will generate traffic to websites and social media pages, as well as build brand awareness for the professional vendors involved in producing the event.”
“What may seem like an incredible opportunity to utilize a unique venue for a meeting may not be a good fit for all parties involved. Content also is something to keep in mind to make sure the unique venue is appropriate and that the content will be well received in a non‐traditional environment.”- Hans Schreiber, Lancaster County Convention Center & Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square
“Untraditional venues might have a few restrictions that might relate to time constraints or to ensure the historic character of their building, space, and grounds remain authentic and preserved. As planners, make sure to inquire about potential guidelines or spe‐cial considerations when taking a unique venue into account. Examples of special considerations might include: event start time; load‐in; set up and breakdown; installation; sound levels; flash photography; red wine limitations; and use of candles.”- Christina Mayo, director of sales, All About Events, LLC
Use of a unique venue has another added benefit – a stunning backdrop. The exterior architecture and interior elements, such as a grand statue, stained glass windows, or an exposed industrial ceiling help to turn a nontraditional venue into an event space where planners can get creative, asserts Mayo. “The venue’s builtin ambiance also will help drive home the intended aesthetic and brand of the event.”
Housed in a National Historic Landmark building, the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, PA is one of the oldest and largest public markets in America. “Having the chance to hand-select Reading Terminal Market merchants to remain open, to serve a miniature and made-to-order menu item for a private event cannot be replicated at another Philadelphia venue,” says Mayo. “This ‘out of the box’ and unmatched experience of receiving fresh, prepared food from iconic merchants is what we call an ‘interactive dining experience.’ It’s an unmatched experience and the transformation from a public market to a private event is impeccable.”
“Guests might have visited a tourist attraction before,” Mayo explains, “but have they savored a five-course meal next to historic artifacts or sipped cocktails in a professional sports locker room? These are exciting immersive experiences that turn a good event into a memorable experience.”
“Retreats, small meetings and events flourish in venues that offer unique destinations,” states April Doughty, director of marketing for Jamestown Hospitality Group. Attendees are able to experience something
new and exciting together in a location that is not the norm, helping to create long lasting memories.
Jamestown Hospitality Group is a Wilmington, DEbased hospitality and event company with a diverse portfolio of upscale nightlife and restaurant venues. The large main dining room of Deep Blue at Kitty Knight on the waterfront in Georgetown, MD overlooks the Sassafras River and offers access to a private bar with seating for up to 100 guests. “Two farmhouse tables in our Parlor can seat up to 24 guests with access to a private covered porch and a semi-private bar,” says Doughty. “The Tavern can accommodate up to 40 guests with private entrance, bar and a smart TV."
“We have an 11-room inn that has been recently upgraded,” Doughty continues. “Delmarva Craft is a shuttle service that can take guests on day trip excursions to local breweries, wineries, downtown Chestertown, Rock Hall, and more… We partner with three local wineries to offer tasting tours, the marina directly below us offers paddleboards and water activities, and in-season there is a small tour boat charter that can provide excursions on the river.”
“We speak with guests every day that reminisce about their time at this property,” Doughty adds. “The connections they have made, the friends, the experiences and the memories. There is something about the amazing backdrop and its connection with nature that leaves an indelible imprint on the lives it touches and truly captures the memories.”
wowed by the experience.”
Choosing a unique event space provides an entirely new environment and platform in which employees can meet and explore new ways to engage, observes Leemor Daskal, vice president of Spare Time, Inc. “Multi-faceted venues provide guests memorable experiences that foster higher individual expression, greater working relationships, and positive experiences. Overall, hosting an event at an outside-the-box venue encourages greater work productivity, creativity, and loyalty in the long term.”
Daskal represents both North Bowl (a 17,000-square foot bi-level space) and South Bowl (a 25,000-square foot bi-level space with a 5,000-square foot outdoor entertainment venue) in Philadelphia, PA, describing them both as dynamic, vibrant, colorful entertainment complexes with a modern, yet retro motif.
“The interior spaces shock people in the best ways possible,” proclaims Daskal. “Our venues provide much more than just bowling, including dedicated private event spaces boasting top-of-the-line audio-visual equipment, catering services, arcade games, pinball, seasonal batting cages, pool tables, foosball, and air hockey. For meeting planners looking to book an event with bowling, friendly or competitive, South Bowl offers 26 bowling lanes, while North Bowl offers 17 bowling lanes.”
"Additionally,” says Daskal, “our menu packages feature buffet-style service and drinks fully customizable for any size party or celebration. Food options range from wood-fired pizza to elevated pub fare, including
burgers, wings, tacos, and vegetarian options. Event packages are curated for groups as small as 20 or larger groups up to 200. Our unique spaces allow people out of their everyday mold and shake up their monotonous and stagnant work routines.”
“Work meetings and events held in our venues, coupled with a game of bowling and other entertainment, provide a distinct one-of-a-kind team building experience that stimulates energy, connection, and ease while supporting employee innovation,” Daskal adds. “We pride ourselves on the competitive fun and camaraderie that the game of bowling offers which is a great ice breaker, or excellent way to end a long day. At our South Bowl location, we also have an outdoor space called The Yard, which is open seasonally and hosts even more activities including batting cages, bocce courts and shuffle puck.”
North Bowl and South Bowl also offer a dedicated onsite event planner to help take the stress out of planning an event. “From start to finish, we want clients to know that every choice and detail is tailored to our client's needs, and our team will be by their side for all questions,” Daskal assures.
Each of these venues has their own distinct features and characteristics that set them apart as being out of the ordinary. Presenting planners with many options, these properties help to turn any event or meeting into something that will inspire, excite, motivate and be long remembered.
“Our primary tip for planners would be to keep an open mind on what a unique
space can offer your team, and never make assumptions on what we can or can’t make happen. Most importantly, prepare to be
- Leemor Daskal, vice president of Spare Time, Inc.
“Share as much information as possible with the property representative early in the process, and perhaps customize some aspect of the event to the strength of the property, which can help to get a good result and a memorable experience.”
- Susan Corrigan, director of sales and operations for the Cork Factory Hotel
Update: Convention Centers & Large Venues
Convention and expo centers, as well as large scale conference centers and similar venues throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern U.S. have been upgrading their offerings, expanding, adding new services and amenities, gaining new certifications, becoming more sustainable, providing plenty of space, and offering event organizers a wide range of planning and support services from start to finish.
Here is a look at what is happening at some of these venues.
ATLANTIC CITY CONVENTION CENTER
Atlantic City, NJ www.meetac.com/convention-center
One of the East Coast’s largest convention centers, the LEED Gold and GBAC STAR-certified Atlantic City Convention Center is home to 486,600 contiguous square feet of meeting and convention space, 45 meeting rooms, and occupies nearly 31-acres. Committed to sustainable and energy-efficient efforts, the convention center has successfully reduced yearly energy consumption with the buildings solar array rooftop that consists of 13,000 individual panels and covers over 290,000-square feet.
"Formerly recognized as Meet AC, we are now doing business as Visit Atlantic City,” notes Alyssa Grover, communications coordinator for the destination marketing organization and spokesperson for the Atlantic
City Convention Center. “Our new brand takes ownership of the narrative of Atlantic City visually, emotionally, and verbally. We have developed a fresh and honest identity and welcome all to discover our eclectic seaside destination.”
"Visit Atlantic City is prepared to assist your meeting and event needs to ensure a successful event in Atlantic City. Our team is well-equipped to provide extensive help during the planning process along with an array of services, including locating the right space, assistance with attendance building, housing and much more," explains Grover. “Not only can Visit Atlantic City assist your meeting and event needs, but also offers unbeatable incentives for your next meeting or event. The Incentive Program is available to new groups or conventions booked or taking place between 20222026, and offers incentive funds to offset the cost of your event.”
In addition, Visit Atlantic City offers exhibitors and meeting attendees a special discount program, “Show Us Your Badge.” Each delegate badge offers special deals at local restaurants, attractions, and shops in Atlantic City. With more than 17,500 first-class hotel rooms citywide, attendees can enjoy a variety of accommodations. With over 1.8-million square feet of meeting space citywide, Atlantic City has a variety of meeting venues that include nine casino resort properties and 15 off-site venues. “Our Destination Services Team is ready to assist your group with extensive venue details and information," Grover adds.
BALTIMORE CONVENTION CENTER
Baltimore, MD www.bccenter.org
The Baltimore Convention Center has been awarded the GBAC STAR™ accreditation, the gold standard for prepared facilities from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC), a Division of ISSA, the World-Wide Cleaning Association. The center is the first to receive the accreditation from of a growing list of hospitality industry leaders in the Baltimore area working toward the goal of regional accreditation.
Twenty program elements that address specific performance and guidance criteria were met to be awarded the accreditation. Training and Certification is one element of the center’s five pillar Clean Space Commitment that demonstrates the importance of equipping the staff with the most up-to-date education and training.
“Visit Baltimore was proud to bring the GBAC certification program to Baltimore, and I’m so glad to see the Baltimore Convention Center taking this important, proactive step to help ensure that travelers, conventioneers and guests enjoy their visit to Charm City,” notes Al Hutchinson, president and CEO of Visit Baltimore.
BLAIR COUNTY CONVENTION CENTER
The Blair County Convention Center, home to more than 60,000-square feet of meeting and exhibit space on two levels along with outdoor patio areas, a balcony, pre-function space and an office for the event planner, offers a great deal of flexibility, both in its variety of available spaces and configurations, as well as in its staff who are always willing to assist in many ways across a variety of disciplines.
For food and beverage, the center’s catering team can serve as many as 1,000 attendees with approximately 90 percent of its menu made fresh in-house. They offer Cafés for trade shows that serve fresh, homemade food as a true enhancement to the show.
The convention center recently received approval to convert part of its lower-level exhibit hall into three new meeting rooms and four breakout spaces to accommodate increased bookings. The venue will add 4k smart televisions in all meeting rooms, as well as a new 20-person semi-executive meeting room with two screens for viewing comfort. Special phones are setup throughout exhibit and meeting rooms that provide direct connections to the facilities team, executive chef and other staffers, helping to both save time and personalize the experience.
“We hire people who take pride in what they do… During the period where we didn’t have a lot of business
because of the pandemic and restrictions, we did a lot of recruitment and training, so as soon as events returned we were well prepared,” notes Tom Schilling, executive director and executive chef for the Blair County Convention Center.
“Engagement of the guest in wanting to return is so important. You’ve got to build relationships that last. You do that by providing value and hospitality... I make personal connections with the planners and engage with the staff,” Shilling notes.
Altoona is situated near the center of Pennsylvania with access to major highways, and it is home to attractions like Blue Knob ski resort, the famous Horseshoe Curve, Delgrosso’s family-owned amusement park, Lakemont Park, as well as several golf courses for plenty to do in every season. “The hospitality of the surrounding community welcomes visitors,” asserts Shilling. “We have locally owned breweries and restaurants, and there is great variety.”
Including attached lodging, within a mile of the convention center is access to nearly 700 hotel rooms. Scully Excursions can provide shuttle transportation and arrange for day trips for attendees and families. Blair County Convention Center also works with the planner and the local destination marketing organization, Explore Altoona, in setting up itineraries and a wide range of services.
CHASE CENTER ON THE RIVERFRONT
Wilmington, DE centerontheriverfront.com
The Chase Center on the Riverfront is home to more than 80,000-square feet of conference and event space. “Though noted as a convention center, we work hard to provide an intimate approach with each of our clients,” explains Edward O'Boyle, general manager, Chase Center on the Riverfront. “Our goal is to provide unique food and beverage offerings, personalized service from start to finish, and amenities often found in hotel properties. We truly are the perfect option for
CONNECTICUT CONVENTION CENTER
Hartford, CT www.ctconventions.com
The Connecticut Convention Center is the largest convention facility between NYC and Boston, easily accessible by road, rail or air. The building overlooks the Connecticut River and downtown Hartford, and features floor-to-ceiling glass offering city views.
“We say that the Connecticut Convention Center is limitlessly functional and endlessly customizable, where an award-winning in-house catering team, and spectacular function space combine for memorable events,” proclaims Michele Hughes, director of sales and marketing for the center. “Groups that meet here in Southern New England get more personalized service than they tend to get in a large city.”
The convention center features 140,000-square feet of exhibit space, divisible into two halls: 80,000-square feet and 60,000-square feet. Conferences or corporate banquets of all sizes can be accommodated in the venue’s 40,000-square foot ballroom. A total of 14
those planners that need more space versus a lot of sleeping rooms… The surrounding Riverfront of Wilmington offers an array of options for outdoor activities and dining for groups, as well."
Planners and show organizers who choose the Chase Center will work with highly-experienced professionals that have backgrounds in the hotel and meeting planning industries, O’Boyle notes. “Our team prides ourselves in understanding the details of each event and supporting the goals of each planner separately. Our operations and culinary teams work with planners to craft memorable moments for each group, as well, making a huge difference."
meeting rooms and two executive boardrooms combine to make up 25,000-square feet of fully flexible meeting space, and there is 20,000-square feet of prefunction space with scenic views, as well.
The Connecticut Convention Center sits in the heart of Hartford, the state capital, a walkable city with a downtown area and surrounding communities that offer a wide variety of historic and cultural arts attractions, as well as scores of restaurants with cuisine that reflects the many cultures of those who live here. The Dash is a free circulator bus that operates on weekdays and during major city events with service departing from the convention center every 15 minutes with stops throughout downtown.
The convention center is connected to the 409-room Hartford Marriott Downtown, is adjacent to the Connecticut Science Center, and is across the street from the Front Street entertainment district and The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, the oldest public art museum in the U.S.
"In the coming months, our team looks forward to welcoming a variety of returning and new meetings, sports events and consumer shows that include the popular ConnectiCon and ‘90s Con, the 2023 NIKE New England Winterfest (New England Regional Volleyball Association), the National Business Aviation Association Maintenance Conference, and the annual Connecticut Flower and Garden Show," notes Hughes.
DAVID L. LAWRENCE CONVENTION CENTER
"The Platinum LEED®-certified David L. Lawrence Convention Center (DLCC) opened the Rooftop Terrace in June 2022. Our entire VisitPITTSBURGH Business Events team is really excited about this newly renovated space, as it is perfect for meetings, celebrations and more,” explains Andrew Ortale, chief sales officer for VisitPITTSBURGH and spokesperson for the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. “It boasts unrivaled riverfront and city views and also features expansive walkways, curated rooftop gardens and even flexible seating pods."
"As event planners reimagine the attendee experience, the Rooftop Terrace offers options beyond a traditional ballroom, meeting room or exhibit hall to bring their community together in a different way,” Ortale continues. “The space is more than 35,000-square feet with the flexibility to design a multitude of custom spaces, like an intimate dinner for 50 or a business reception for more than 1,500 guests. The Rooftop Terrace provides a distinct ‘wow’ factor, and the backdrop of our beautiful city, especially at night, is simply breathtaking."
DLCC is located in downtown Pittsburgh within steps of the Cultural District, which features a wide selection of world-class accommodations. An environmentally smart facility, the 1.5-million-square foot center features
313,000-square feet of exhibit space, including columnfree exhibit halls, 37 loading docks, 53 meeting rooms and a 31,000-square foot ballroom.
"Unique to the DLCC is its sloping roof, which helps pull cool air from the outside, providing the building with a natural air ventilation system,” says Ortale. “The center also leans into sustainability, as evidenced by its LEED® Platinum Certification, the highest rating in the U.S. From recycling to product use to conserving natural resources and more, a commitment to sustainability is made with each event, ensuring a reduced carbon impact, free of cost."
A major meetings destination, Pittsburgh is home to award-winning restaurants, a thriving arts and culture scene, numerous hotel accommodations and more. Within steps of the DLCC are several “Only in Pittsburgh” experiences and attractions, including The Andy Warhol Museum, August Wilson African American Cultural Center, and the Heinz History Center, which also can serve as unique off-site event spaces.
"Pittsburgh also is bursting with innovative thought leaders and industry champions, particularly in our region’s key market segments of technology, manufacturing, life sciences and healthcare, and education,” proclaims Ortale. “Our VisitPITTSBURGH Business Events team stands ready to connect you with these incredible community leaders.”
HAMPTON ROADS CONVENTION CENTER
Hampton, VA thehrcc.com
“The unique white sails that hang proudly at the Hampton Roads Convention Center’s entrance welcome visitors from all over for meetings, conventions and events,” proclaims Yuri R. Milligan, director of media and community relations for the Hampton Convention and Visitor Bureau and spokesperson for the Hampton Roads Convention Center. “Our recently renovated ballroom offers attendees an unmatched event space. The Hampton Roads Convention Center also has its GBAC STAR™ Facility Accreditation, making it a safe and sustainable venue for all by prioritizing occupant health and building maintenance.”
With 344,000 total square feet of versatile convention and exhibit space, the Hampton Roads Convention Center can accommodate nearly any event, from conventions with multiple breakout rooms to social galas; from RV and boat shows to athletic competitions. It features 35 flexible spaces for up to 14,000 delegates, including a 102,600-square foot Exhibit Hall and a grand ballroom with banquet seating for more than 1,600. The secondfloor outdoor terrace, covered by a canopy and overlooking fountains, provides a scenic setting. Finally, a covered walkway connects the center to a 295-suite Embassy Suites Hotel, and there are 1,600 hotel rooms within walking distance.
"Hampton is located on the Chesapeake Bay in the heart of Coastal Virginia between Williamsburg and Virginia Beach and within a short driving distance to hundreds of world-class attractions,” Milligan adds. “Explore Hampton’s 410-year history by visiting our museums and attractions. Hampton is home to Fort Monroe National Monument, the largest stone fort in the U.S., and the Virginia Air and Space Science Center, a NASA visitor center.”
HARRAH’S WATERFRONT CONFERENCE CENTER
Atlantic City, NJ
One of the key factors that makes the Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center so attractive to large group business is the amount of space it has to offer. The largest hotel conference complex from Baltimore to Boston, it boasts 100,000-square feet of space spread over two levels, including two pillarless 49,000-square foot ballrooms capable of being divided into 30 breakout rooms. In addition, the conference center is directly connected to Harrah’s Atlantic City casino resort, which has 2,590 guest rooms along with a range of restaurants and amenities that make the complex a onestop-shop in which to meet, eat, sleep and connect.
“Our location in the Marina District overlooking the Absecon Inlet provides not only stunning views, but it also is just minutes from iconic landmarks such as the Atlantic City boardwalk,” notes Steve van der Molen, vice president of meeting operations, Atlantic City for Caesars Entertainment. “Atlantic City has a rich history for event attendees to explore, but our resort also provides plenty to experience with new restaurants from celebrity chefs like Guy Fieri and our luxurious spa.”
KALAHARI POCONO MOUNTAINS
Pocono Manor, PA www.kalahariresorts.com/pennsylvania
Kalahari Resorts in the Pocono Mountains recently doubled the size of its convention center, adding even more state-of-the-art meeting space, built-in audiovisual, large registration offices, pre-function space,
“The Pool at Harrah’s also provides not only a unique amenity for attendees to use with its 90-foot-high glass dome and tropical flora, but it also is able to be bought out for receptions with up to 2,000 participants,” van der Molen continues. “Additionally, many of our sister properties have been undergoing renovations and have exciting new offerings. Caesars Atlantic City, for instance, is opening the East Coast outposts of Nobu Restaurant and Nobu Hotel early next year, as well as welcoming The Hook, an original show from the creators of Absinthe in Las Vegas.”
and so much more. The space boasts excellent acoustics, unique décor and is well-suited to accommodate events of all sizes
The property features 205,000-square feet of customizable meeting space, including three ballrooms, plus 33 meeting and hospitality suites. Free parking, complimentary Wi-Fi, an on-site business center, America’s Largest Indoor Waterpark, a culinary team that can create a tailored dining experience, access to world class dining on-site, along with a full-service spa add to the venue’s offerings. The surrounding Pocono Mountains boasts activities for all ages, as well, making this an ideal destination for conferences with a variety of attendee demographics.
LANCASTER COUNTY CONVENTION CENTER LANCASTER MARRIOTT AT PENN SQUARE
The Lancaster County Convention Center offers 90,000-square feet of meeting space, impressive architectural and historic features, and is seamlessly integrated with the 416-room Lancaster Marriott. Combining new world sophistication and old-world charm, the center features dedicated space for meetings from 5 to 5,000 attendees. And there’s something for everyone in Lancaster, from family-style fun and the surrounding farmland to nightlife, world-class dining, art, and more. Coming in early 2023, the Lancaster Marriott will unveil a brand-new spa.
"The Lancaster County Convention Center offers flexible expansive meeting and expo space to accommodate groups of all sizes, whether it’s 10 or 5,000 people, and everything in between,” says Hans Schreiber, director of sales and marketing, Lancaster County Convention Center and Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square. “The convention center also has Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) Certification Accreditation, which is the highest standard of health safety protocols for conference venues – one of only two accredited convention centers in Pennsylvania. The convention center’s dedicated and experienced event planning team is always available to help make your event a seamless success. Connected to the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, everything you need for your
meeting or event is available on-site - hotel space, meeting space, delicious dining, and more.”
The stacked layout of the property’s largest meeting rooms (Freedom Hall, Commonwealth Ballroom and Heritage Ballroom) is conveniently accessible via escalators. Located in the heart of downtown Lancaster, a walkable, easygoing city, the Lancaster County Convention Center at Penn Square provides a unique and welcoming location for events and meetings.
"Within the walls of the Lancaster County Convention Center is a remarkable historic site that reveals Lancaster County’s rich and varied history, giving meeting attendees a look at the historical significance of the site and surrounding area,” explains Schreiber. “Currently in development is the Thaddeus Stevens and Lydia Hamilton Smith Historic Site and Museum. This site will share the story of two remarkable Americans and the pivotal role that Lancaster and the surrounding region played in the operation of the Underground Railroad."
Lancaster offers groups all the benefits of a big city coupled with the charm of a small town, an easy drive or train ride from a number of regional destinations. “In Lancaster, we have a network of partners and organizations working to make sure Lancaster is on people’s radars for meetings, conventions, and just as a fun weekend getaway, too, so it’s easy to fill your group’s itinerary with a number of fun things to do during their time in Lancaster,” Schreiber notes.
PENNSYLVANIA CONVENTION CENTER
Philadelphia, PA www.paconvention.com
“The Pennsylvania Convention Center has gone to great lengths to maintain a healthy and welcoming environment for its visitors, exhibitors, clients and staff. We continue to make upgrades to the building to ensure a safe and comfortable experience for all,” states John McNichol, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority. “This year, the Pennsylvania Convention Center received its Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR reaccreditation for a second consecutive year, a sign of our continued commitment to the health, safety, and overall well-being of all who enter our facility. Additionally, as part of our latest capital improvement project, the facility now features advanced air purification technology and an upgraded HVAC system which can monitor, in real time, the air quality and system performance.”
"The Pennsylvania Convention Center, together with our trade show labor partners, has also just launched the Hospitality Industry Advancement Trust (HIAT) Fund program to support enhanced training opportunities focused in three general categories: safety, development of technical skills and customer service and hospitality: Safety, Skills, and Smiles. The program, believed to be the first of its kind, will improve workplace safety and the overall customer experience,” adds McNichol.
Under the management of ASM Global, the Pennsylvania Convention Center is a state-of-the-art facility that
is uniquely woven into the Philadelphia landscape. With over one-million-square feet of saleable space, one of the largest ballrooms in the Northeast, flexible meeting spaces and high-tech capabilities, the Pennsylvania Convention Center is a premier venue on the East Coast. “The customer experience is always our top priority and the facility has also just extended its Customer Satisfaction Agreement, ensuring planners will enjoy flexibility and cost transparency for years to come,” McNichol asserts.
"We also pride ourselves on the sustainability efforts at the Pennsylvania Convention Center,” McNichol continues. “We are committed to reducing the environmental impact of our operations and services. We have put in place a number of initiatives, such as increasing our daily purchase of renewable energy certificates to 50 percent, increasing our waste diversion rate goal to 50 percent, and eliminating single use plastics in the venue. These efforts further cement the Pennsylvania Convention Center as a ‘green’ facility. In addition, many of the center’s capital improvement upgrades have had a direct impact on the building’s energy efficiency.”
Being located in the heart of Philadelphia’s walkable Center City means the center is accessible to more than 14,000 hotel rooms, including 1,400 at the Marriott Philadelphia Downtown alone, the city’s largest hotel. The facility also is positioned near unique venues, including Reading Terminal Market, one of the country’s oldest public markets just steps away from the building.
PENNSYLVANIA FARM SHOW
COMPLEX AND EXPO CENTER
Harrisburg, PA www.farmshow.pa.gov
In 2020 and 2021, the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and grounds underwent more than $21-million in capital improvements and renovations, enhancing convenience and safety for the public, and creating a more energy and cost-efficient space that’s also more environmentally sustainable and more accessible for both human and animal visitors.
There were improvements to lighting, floors, electrical, ventilation, heating and cooling, as well as
more accessible entryways and a facelift to restore the building’s historical façade. In addition, parking lots were redesigned, adding 155 spaces to the nearly 9,000 existing parking spaces, green space was added, and on-site roadways were modified to reduce speeds and create better traffic flow.
"The complex's flexible floor plans make it easy to host everything from intimate gatherings to large exhibitions, concerts and sporting events,” explains Shannon Powers, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center. “Eight major halls and three arenas are fully-wired for our
clients' networking needs. Versatile seating options and exhibit space, as well as ample guest parking, comfortably accommodate simultaneous events."
"The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center is a unique and valuable asset to the Hershey-Harrisburg Region, the Mid-Atlantic, and Pennsylvania,” Powers adds. “We provide over one-million square feet of space under one roof, including 11 exhibit halls, three arenas, conference rooms and a spacious banquet hall. Our region features city amenities with the quiet charm of a family destination.”
ROLAND E. POWELL CONVENTION CENTER
Ocean City, MD ocmdconventioncenter.com
“Our recent renovations to the Roland E. Powell Convention Center, completed in 2022, include an addition of a 30,000-square foot multi-purpose dockside exhibit hall, a new 15,000-square foot bayside gallery overlooking the bay, the Performing Arts Center, a business center, and additional support spaces. The new exhibit hall connects to the existing main exhibit halls, allowing the center to host larger events,” says Kim Mueller, director of sales, Town of Ocean City, Maryland and spokesperson for the Roland E. Powell Convention Center.
“When you host your event with us at Roland E. Powell Convention Center, you have informed and experienced staff on hand to respond to your needs,” Mueller continues. “We partner with you to maximize the event experience by finding creative space solutions and focusing on enhancing your meeting or convention. As the industry is rebounding, we see planners under pressure to produce events with not only great content but also a
unique and unforgettable experience. Our goal is to reduce stress and help you create something extraordinary.”
“Most recently we are offering the Ocean City Beach Bundle for Sunday through Thursday groups, which offers our assistance with all pre- and post-event details and flexibility, but also a great deal. With the bronze level booking (500-999 rooms a night), planners will receive 25 percent off convention center rental, with 1,000-1,499 rooms, 50 percent off, and with 1,500+ rooms, 75 percent off,” Mueller adds.
Ocean City is a quaint coastal town with plenty of offerings for travelers to explore and enjoy, such as 10miles of beach, the boardwalk, waterfront eateries, championship golf courses, and more.
SARATOGA CITY CENTER
Saratoga Springs, NY www.saratogacitycenter.org
Located at the heart of walkable downtown Saratoga Springs, Saratoga City Center’s location offers attendees the opportunity to stroll the streets of this Victorian City, enjoying unique shops, fine restaurants, and outdoor parks.
"In 2020, the Saratoga City Center cut the ribbon on a brand-new parking structure. The new facility… has secure covered parking for over 620 vehicles. The building features a pedestrian bridge on Level 3… that leads directly into the City Center. A security guard is always on premise to offer an added level of safety. The City Center parking facility is a designated CDTA Trolley Stop for anyone interested in heading to the Saratoga Racecourse," explains Susan Baker, director of sales, Saratoga City Center.
The Saratoga Springs City Center offers 32,000-square feet of adaptable meeting and convention space - a conference complex offering a total of 58,000-square feet of dynamic conference space when partnered with the adjoining 242-room Saratoga Hilton Hotel, which can adapt into 28 multi-function spaces offering: street-level vehicle access allowing up to 13-foot
height entering the Main Hall; dedicated City Center paid parking structure attached to the building; a flexible catering policy that includes a list of preferred Capital Districts premier caterers; a flexible audio-visual and decorator policy with choices from preferred vendors; and complimentary Wi-Fi.
"Known for history, health, and horses, Saratoga is home to many national, state and local museums, as well as Saratoga National Historical Park, the ‘Turning Point of the American Revolution.’ A century ago, the carbonated waters brought visitors here; health and wellness are still an integral part of Saratoga,” Baker explains. “Best known for being the home of the oldest, continually operating horse track in the country, the Saratoga Racecourse has been attracting racing fans since the late 1800s. As you stroll around downtown, you can enjoy seeing dozens of majestic homes and buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and Landmarks.”
"Saratoga is quickly becoming known as a community that appreciates and offers the best of the arts,” Baker adds. “The Saratoga Performing Arts Center serves as the summer home of the New York City Ballet, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Live Nation concerts. In 2018 REVEAL International Contemporary Art Fair launched its inaugural event at the Saratoga Springs City Center."
VALLEY FORGE CASINO RESORT EVENT CENTER
King of Prussia, PA www.vfcasino.com/gather
Valley Forge Casino Resort, a property of Boyd Gaming, is the region’s only full-amenity gaming resort and features slots and table games, FanDuel Sportsbook, plus over 100,000-square feet of meeting, conference and banquet facilities, including five ballroom spaces as well as two luxury hotel towers with 442 guestrooms. The property also presents six dining options, live entertainment and nightlife. In 2023, the venue will launch a new banquet service menu, which will further enhance the food and beverage options available for meeting and event attendees.
Valley Forge Casino Resort’s flexible indoor and outdoor meeting space can accommodate events for 50 to 3,000 guests; while everything from intimate corporate events to large trade shows can be hosted at the 54,560-square foot Valley Forge Event Center. On-site
expert planners, together with world-class culinary and audio-visual teams at the resort, can customize space, provide flexibility, and will work to create custom meeting packages.
In addition, Valley Forge Casino Resort features restaurants, nightlife venues and live entertainment, an outdoor swimming pool and beach club. Being just outside the city, the property boasts free parking and lower occupancy taxes. Just minutes away is Valley Forge National Historic Park and King of Prussia Mall. Other local attractions include Elmwood Park Zoo, iFly Indoor Skydiving, and King of Prussia Town Center (retail, dining and entertainment).
WALTER E. WASHINGTON CONVENTION CENTER
Washington, DC eventsdc.com
Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia, has earned the WELL Health-Safety Rating for its three primary venues: Walter E. Washington Convention Center; Entertainment & Sports Arena; and the DC Armory. The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI)’s WELL Health-Safety Rating is an evidence-based, third-party verified rating for all new and existing building and space types focusing on operational policies, maintenance protocols, stakeholder engagement and emergency plans.
“We strive to lead the industry with our health and safety standards, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Samuel Thomas, interim president and chief executive officer of Events DC. “Our convention center is the first in the world to achieve this designation, and we are honored that the Entertainment & Sports Arena and DC Armory also achieved this impor-
tant recognition. This confirms that our commitment to health and safety extends beyond the pandemic.”
The Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Entertainment & Sports Arena, and DC Armory were each awarded the WELL Health-Safety Rating following the successful completion of third-party documentation review by GBCI to confirm it has met the feature specific intents and requirements.
The convention center boasts 703,000-square feet of exhibit space along with 198,000-square feet of flexible meeting and event space, including 77 meeting rooms. Able to host events large and small, the venue boasts a wide range of services from planning assistance to food and beverage to audio-visual, one of the largest public art collections in North America, and more.
The convention center is located in downtown Washington, DC and offers access to a wide range of dining, shopping, attractions and hotel rooms, many of which
WICOMICO CIVIC CENTER
Salisbury, MD wicomicociviccenter.org
"The Wicomico Civic Center features a 28,000-square foot arena, 10,000-square foot secondary arena, and 10 meeting rooms. Soon, we will have video boards in the larger arena that allow for video feeds, projection to a large group of guests, and livestreaming to virtual attendees,” notes Chelsey Jones, manager of the Wicomico Civic Center.
"We feature an on-site catering service, Encore Catering, which helps make the planning process easy. Our staff will work with you to ensure your event is a success,” Jones adds. "The Civic Center also offers free parking.”
The versatility of the Wicomico Civic Center makes it ideal for both large events and smaller ones, too. The Flanders Rooms can be broken out in various ways, from one large room to seven smaller rooms. Similarly, the Da Nang Rooms can be three separate rooms or one large one.
"We also have the ability to offer creative setups that go beyond seated meetings,” explains Jones. “For example, you could have a meeting in the Da Nang Rooms and attendees could walk down the hall to shoot hoops during downtime. As part of a recent trade show, we had a concert for attendees set up in the Midway Room. The Normandy Arena can host a few thousand people, depending on the layout of the event. The Midway Room can fit up to 1,000 with theater-style seating. The Flanders and Da Nang Rooms are customizable for smaller groups or additional breakout rooms.”
In addition to customizable rooms, a dedicated staff and on-site catering service, the Wicomico Civic Center is located in Wicomico County, a scenic area with plenty of parks and numerous waterways.
"The Drexelbrook is recognized as a premier corporate meeting location, with over 45,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space."
WILDWOODS CONVENTION CENTER
Wildwood, NJ wildwoodsnj.com/convention-center
"When it comes to holding meetings and events, planners, participants, and parents alike love the Wildwoods Convention Center,” declares Ben Rose, director of marketing and public relations for the Greater Wildwood Tourism Improvement and Development Authority and spokesperson for the Wildwoods Convention Center. “From meetings and consumer shows to basketball and gymnastics tournaments; to regional dance and cheerleading championships; to national wrestling and mixed martial arts competitions; the Wildwoods Convention Center offers everything you need to host a successful meeting, convention, event, and more."
The Wildwoods Convention Center offers 260,000-square feet of flexible meeting space, including a 75,000-square foot exhibit hall (configurable into two 37,500-square-foot separate areas); a 7,500-seat concert arena for live
shows; 30,000-square feet of lobby and prefunction space; 10 separate meeting rooms; state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems; upgraded free Wi-Fi; and a team of experienced support personnel and service professionals.
The convention center also boasts floor-to-ceiling ocean views from its outside deck, main exhibit hall, and lobby area from nearly every angle. These windows, along with a Tefloncoated translucent fabric roof, allow the entire building to be flooded in natural sunlight during the day. The Wildwoods Convention Center’s executive chef and seasoned catering staff will meet the needs of any event host with an array of catering, food service and concession services, as well as décor and theme consultations.
"Over the course of the last few years, the Wildwoods Convention Center installed an upgraded high-capacity Wi-Fi system, giving attendees unlimited free Wi-Fi service for up to 10,000 visitors simultaneously, as well as installing three new high-definition video webcams on the
roof… offering 180-degree views of the beach, ocean and amusement piers," notes Rose.
The convention center is situated directly on the Wildwoods’ free and spacious white sandy beaches and is adjacent to the famous Wildwoods’ 38-block boardwalk, offering the unique opportunity between meetings, trade shows, sporting and other events for visitors to take in scenic views. Additionally, over 8,000 hotel and motel rooms and 3,000 vacation rentals are within close proximity to the venue.
"Having so many opportunities for fun and unique activities makes changing up any event extremely easy and accommodating,” observes Rose. “Hosting annual events in the Wildwoods offers any attendee a variety of options to keep meetings fresh. If attendees are used to hosting an event in a center city or suburban location setting, offering a destination that allows attendees to traverse the Wildwoods’ beach and boardwalk creates an everchanging meeting experience and everlasting memories in a relaxed and fun atmosphere."
"In addition,” Rose continues, “due to its close proximity to the boardwalk and beach, the convention center is ideal for bringing families along to conventions, business meetings, expos, and more."
MEETINGS WITH A SIDE OF VITAMIN SEA
As business travel continues its return across the region, group travel and tours are slowly making their return as well. Though the groups may be smaller than in years past, people are demonstrating the increasing desire to get out and explore once again, particularly to locations and destinations with a number of options for outdoor activities.
With an increasing desire to see new things and explore familiar sites in new ways, today’s excursions are giving rise to a variety of new experiences and options for intrepid travelers.
“The primary benefit of taking part in a group tour is the social aspect of it all. You are with like-minded people who are just as excited as you are to see the sites and to be on this journey,” explains Melanie Hinton, vice president, communications and marketing for American Bus Association.
Hinton adds that the knowledge of a tour guide is another great benefit of group travel. Tour guides know the ins and outs of the destination as well as the best places to explore for a well-rounded trip.
Plus, Hinton adds, they do all the driving. “You don't need to worry about the planning, the gas money, where to book hotels... we take care of it all for you.”
Travel patterns have changed since 2019, Hinton notes. The ABA has continued to see smaller groups (largely friends and family traveling together) and fewer open tours. Most popular are specialty interest trips, behind the scenes tours, and more personalized itineraries. Many of these trends were underway before the pandemic, and are expected to continue to be the norm in the future.
“Travelers still want to be out in the fresh air,” says Hinton. “We will continue to see a big focus on national parks, vineyards, amusement parks and places where people can be outside and still be entertained.”
Responsible tourism has really taken off in the past few years, as well. “The idea of leaving somewhere better than when you arrived is really attractive to today's tourists. They want to experience areas like locals. Most of all, they want a unique experience,” Hinton notes.
People want to make up for lost time and also experience places in a new way. Many are looking for places that are “off the beaten path.” Though popular vacation hotspots are still being visited in large numbers, there continues to be an uptick in new locations that are attracting groups.
“There are a lot of added benefits when it comes to being part of a group tour… You’re led by a trained guide that’s familiar with all the details of the location. They love questions so don’t hold back! You’re also able to maximize your time. Having an arranged group tour is a great way to know when you’ll start and finish at a location. You’ll be able to bypass the lines, jump right in and fit more into your itinerary,” observes Scott Higgins, HMCC, director of sales for the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board.
“One of the leading tours in our area right now is the Trolley Tour at the Valley Forge National Historical Park,” Higgins notes. “This open-air trolley allows visitors to experience highlights of the national park while being led by a trained tour guide. It’s certainly a great choice during the spring and summer months.”
“In Valley Forge, we’ve seen a continued desire to be outside for group activities,” Higgins adds. “There's also a craving to see something new, which is why we created our newly launched History Pass. This pass allows individuals to tour historic locations throughout Montgomery County, PA while earning points to win prizes.” The pass includes a number of well-known sites along with others that are less familiar.
Delaware County, PA
The perfect location for meetings, events, and team activities
Baltimore, MD Washington, D.C.
New York, NY Atlantic City, NJ
Located just outside of Philadelphia, Delaware County is easily accessible from Philadelphia International Airport, major interstates I-95, I-276 and I-476 and public transit systems such as SEPTA and Amtrak.
With more than 4,200 rooms, Delaware County offers a complete range of accommodations from full-service hotels to charming Bed & Breakfasts.Lou Marrocco, Director of Meetings & Events
The Bustronome Voyage Gourmand takes place on a high-end, double-decker bus that stands out, in particular, for its panoramic glass roof that absorbs the gleaming beams of light and facades of the Parisian atmosphere.
This tour, which is unlike any I previously experienced, is perhaps the best I’ve ever taken. It is a delightful and savory way to discover the food and wine of a cultural capital while visiting its most beautiful monuments. The unprecedented concoction of beauty and pleasure on this luxury bus-restaurant is an out-ofthe-ordinary experience ready to arouse the senses. On board, 38 passengers treasure the 360° view of scenic squares, avenues and monuments of Paris while enjoying the best of its gastronomy.
The Best of French Cuisine
Chefs take over the first level of the double-decker bus and you can come down and watch them craft courses that can be savored as part of this true gourmet escapade. The menu evolves with each of the French chefs invited on board. Well-researched and inventive
fare defines the Bustronome culinary universe. Menus feature tasting formats composed of 4 dishes for a lunch or 6 for dinner, along with wine-pairings.
A musical program is carefully selected that allows guests to discover eclectic French music while sitting back in this chic and romantic restaurant on wheels making its way through Paris.
Chefs create menus carefully, composed solely of fresh produce, which can then be adapted according to the individual tastes of the group. Besides the French wine and champagne offerings, your host can pre-select a wide selection of other wines and spirits to accompany the proposed menus.
Also available in London, word has it that Bustronome may yet expand their culinary/tour footprint, and that may bring their unique tour experience to the U.S., as well.
The most popular group tour offered by Cape May MAC (Museums. Arts. Culture.) in Cape May, NJ is their Trolley/Physick Estate tour, which combines any of the organization’s 45-minute trolley tours with a tour of the Physick House Museum.
“Groups are looking for unique and customizable experiences,” asserts Susan Krysiak, director of media relations for Cape May MAC. “Nature and Eco/Agri-tourism offerings are popular. Off-the-beaten path or behind-the-scenes offerings are popular with groups looking for authentic local experiences. Cost of airfare has many looking toward domestic travel, which is positive for bus groups. ‘Mindful’ travel is on the rise, too, with more people focusing on sustainability and carbon emissions. Bus travel cuts down on emissions from air travel and from multiple people traveling separately.”
According to Susan Seifried, director, media and community relations for Visit Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, MD, a lot of people say they prefer group tours because all of the planning is done for them, which saves time and eliminates the stress of planning the trip. Traveling as part of a group also is generally more cost effective than traveling as an individual. Discounts provided to group travel planners enable them to pass along cost savings to their group tour participants.
Traveling as part of a group also presents an excellent opportunity to meet people who share common interests. Group tour participants may
And good ideas... in Lancaster County, pa
even develop lifelong friendships with others on the tour who they would not otherwise have had the opportunity to meet.
“Group travel is an excellent way for individuals to combat isolation,” explains Seifried. “Many people feel safer and more comfortable traveling as part of a group than they do traveling solo. A group tour provides them with a vehicle for getting out and about to explore new destinations and make new friends.”
Group tours of the U.S. Naval Academy are popular any time of the year in Annapolis. Individuals enjoy learning about the training ground for U.S. Naval and Marine Corps officers and catching a glimpse of the 4,400strong Brigade of Midshipmen as they stroll the Yard.
Getting out on the water is popular activity for groups visiting Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, too. Watermark Journey has a fleet of vessels and a host of themed cruises that enables it to match the right boat with the right group. In addition, the 74-foot twin Schooner Woodwinds; the 75-foot historic skipjack, Wilma Lee; the 77-foot schooner Liberte, and others provide group excursions on the Chesapeake Bay.
Watermark Journey and other Annapolis businesses offer a variety of walking tours, as well, including historic, architectural, African American, ghost and pub crawl tours that are perfect for groups.
Spring and summer months are an ideal time for exploring downtown Annapolis on a walking or trolley tour, enjoying a cruise along the Chesapeake Bay, and uncovering layers of history at Historic London Town and Gardens. The Annapolis: An American Story exhibition at the Museum of Historic Annapolis often serves as a helpful springboard for the beginning of these journeys.
The oldest State House in continuous legislative use in the nation is a great starting point for a tour tracing African American history in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. Two life-size bronze statues of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass were recently installed in the Old House of Delegates Chamber at the Maryland State House. These two abolitionists stand there as silent
witnesses to the ratification of Maryland’s Constitution of 1864 that officially abolished slavery in the state.
The nearby Banneker-Douglass Museum is Maryland’s official repository for African American culture and heritage. A monumental ten-foot sculpture of Harriet Tubman titled “Araminta with Rifle and Veve” is on display in front of the museum through September 30, 2023. It enhances the museum’s “The Radical Voice of Blackness Speaks of Resistance and Joy” exhibition that runs through December 2023.
In March 2022, Historic Annapolis Inc. opened a museum-wide permanent exhibition, Annapolis: An American Story, at the Historic Annapolis Museum, which spotlights the over 400-year history of the City’s diverse, free and enslaved visionaries and revolutionaries, and the significant role Annapolis played - and continues to play - in America’s story.
The Annapolis Maritime Museum, which is housed in the area’s last remaining oyster packing plant, is a state-of-the-art museum that immerses visitors in the history of the Chesapeake Bay and its people. In nearby Edgewater, the Woodlawn History Center at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center provides a glimpse into the area’s Native American settlements and the families who lived there. Built in 1735, Woodlawn is the oldest building in the Smithsonian collection still in its original location.
Neighboring Historic London Town and Gardens recounts the story of the colonial seaport of London Town founded in 1683, home to one of the earliest European settlements in the region. Along with Annapolis City Dock, Historic London Town and Gardens has been designated a “Site of Memory Associated with the Save Route” by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Annapolis City Dock is a must visit any time of year. Groups will want to stop by the Kunta Kinte / Alex Haley Memorial at the head of Ego Alley that pays tribute to the author Alex Haley of the novel Roots, the story of Kunta Kinte, a slave from Gambia who arrived in Annapolis aboard the Lord Ligonier in September 1767.
Those interested in learning more about the Chesapeake Bay and Annapolis and Anne Arundel County’s maritime history will want to visit the Annapolis Maritime Museum and Park and its new, nearly $1-million museum-wide permanent exhibition, Our Changing Waterfront. Reimagined exhibits invite groups to experience the Chesapeake Bay and local history through interactive and immersive displays covering three main themes: Bay Healthy, Oyster Economy and History, and Annapolis Waters.
Visit Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland in Hanover, where there is much for groups to experience, including: FanDuel Sportsbook; Sports & Social Maryland - a dining and entertainment venue; The Hall at Live! - a multi-use 4,000-seat concert and event venue; and Arundel Mills Mall just a short walk away. At the mall, Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament invites groups to enjoy jousting, horsemanship, falconry, and a four-course, utensil-free meal served in a castle-like space.
Another potential tour stop is the renovated National Cryptologic Museum, the NSA’s principal gateway to the public, providing visitors with a glimpse of some of the most dramatic moments in the history of American Cryptology, people who devoted their lives to cryptology and national defense, the machines and devices they developed, the technology they used, and the places where they worked.
A DAY ON
ONE-OF-A-KIND TEAM BUILDING IN THE POCONOS
Located within a two-hour drive of New York and Philadelphia, the Poconos region encompasses 2,400square miles of hills, forests, lakes and rivers. While you’ll find classic nature adventures like hiking, biking, horseback riding, kayaking, skiing, snowboarding and more, there are out-of-the-box open air activities for groups to try, too.
Many of the pastoral farms throughout the area offer opportunities for visitors to get a first-hand look – and taste – of their hard work. Nothing brings people together like food, so what better way to enable meeting attendees to connect than by visiting the fields and furrows and seeds where delicious meals get their start?
One of North America’s largest Regenerative Organic Farms calls this region home. Inspired by founder Ashley Walsh’s search for nutrient-dense foods to support
a healthy diet and lifestyle, Pocono Organics broke ground in 2015 on 50-acres of land in Long Pond, next door to Pocono Raceway. The property’s growing area now stretches across 380-acres and 38,000-square feet of greenhouse space, with recently-added CBD products making Pocono Organics the world’s first and only Regenerative Organic Certified hemp grower.
Take advantage of the farm’s event opportunities and learn about what it takes to meet the gold standards of regenerative, sustainable, and organic agriculture. The event planning pros on the Pocono Organics team take the time to understand each group and work with organizers to create the right experience.
At the adjacent Pocono Organics Market & Café, Chef Lindsay McClain, a champion from Food Network’s show Chopped, concocts organic, farm-to-table dishes
and offers workshops and cooking classes. From cuisine to comfortable accommodations, exclusive lodging is available next door at The Village at Pocono Resort.
Open to team building, meetings and tours, The Farm at Blue Mountain Resort in Palmerton began planting in the spring of 2021 at the foot of the property’s popular ski slopes. Visitors turn off winding country roads to find a fragrant field filled with fresh organic vegetables, decorative and colorful flowers, and stunning views of the mountain. The Farm sends up seasonal fresh produce to be cooked and served to guests at Slopeside Pub and Grill at Blue Mountain Resort, with any extra harvest going to local food pantries.
Take a tour to learn about The Farm’s crops and hard-working honeybee pollinators, or strengthen your team’s collaboration, communication and leadership skills during a custom program crafted by on-staff team building facilitators. Finish off the afternoon with a healthy picnic lunch; breakfast and snack also are available, as well as event add-ons like indoor meeting and banquet space, use of the high ropes course or ziplines, or even an overnight stay at Blue Mountain’s group campsites.
Add a team building event that’s educational, inspiring, and tasty to your group’s event itinerary. Visit PoconoMeetings.com and start planning your team’s day on the farm, and browse the wide variety of other group activities and spacious and state-of-the-art conference facilities available in the Pocono Mountains.
If you’re looking for unique and outdoorsy team building activities for your next meeting or event, look no further than the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.
LocationReport NEW JERSEY
“We are seeing great pent-up demand for live business and consumer events,” said Meet AC’s President and CEO, Larry Sieg. “Not only will Atlantic City see boosted economic impact through this healthy tourism influx, but the destination will also enjoy the rise of new hotel, retail and attractions including the highly anticipated Island Waterpark at Showboat Hotel, which will be the largest indoor beachfront waterpark in the world.”
Caesars Atlantic City debuted two new upscale restaurants: Hell’s Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay and an outpost of the famous, highend Japanese chain, Nobu. The restaurants are part of an overall $400-million investment into the three Caesars Entertainment properties in Atlantic City: Caesars, Harrah’s, and Tropicana.
Borgata’s Old Homestead Steak House reopened in December after undergoing renovations that include a newly designed dining room, expanded bar and more. Also in December, Borgata reopened the newly renovated Miralto, a high-limit slot lounge.
Two new roller coasters are coming to the iconic Steel Pier. The first is a Spinning Wild Mouse coaster, featuring tight turns, sharp drops, and cars that freely rotate a full 360-degrees as they travel the track, which is set to open in 2024. The other new attraction, a Sky Rocket II model roller coaster, is expected in 2025. The Steel Pier ride also will boast a large digital sign that draws attention to the park.
Following a $15-million casino floor remodel, Ocean Casino Resort has added a new sports venue, intertwining an entertainment bar and lounge along with an immersive gaming and sports wagering experience.
Atlantic City anticipates adding a new attraction by summer of 2023 with the debut of Island Waterpark. Located at Showboat Hotel Atlantic City and spanning 103,000-square feet, it will feature an array of waterslides, lazy rivers and swimming pools. It also will include retail outlets, party rooms, lounge areas, and a retractable glass roof.
A new 14-room property, Cardinal Restaurant and Hotel, is expected to open in 2023 as one of several investments being made in the “Orange Loop,” an area encompassing various properties along St. James, Tennessee, and New York Avenues.
A new indoor/outdoor meeting space with a retractable roof is available all year long!
over 1400 attendees.
MEETING ROOM LEVEL
square feet of meeting space including: • 53,337 square feet of exhibit space • 25,162 square feet of meeting space 33 meeting rooms available Meeting and dining space is located on one level.
Contact the Sales Department at Bally’s at 609-340-2233 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A partnership between Stockton University and Meet AC is poised to bring Stockton faculty to the resort to provide lectures and educational workshops for meeting and event professionals at national conventions and meetings. Offering unique workshops and events has become a recruiting tool for meeting and event planners. The partnership with Stockton offers the opportunity for programs that are both educational and entertaining.
“This unique collaboration has shifted the way we sell AC, helping to change perceptions, and adding value to customers considering the area for a future conference or sports event. We are creating the blueprint for other destinations to follow and are excited about the future possibilities,” noted Howard Munves, Meet AC’s DC national sales manager.
Earlier this year, Atlantic City welcomed back meetings, conventions and sporting events, inviting planners to “meet safe, face-to-face” in Atlantic City. In celebration of Global Meetings Industry Day, Meet AC has released a new video to celebrate the return of in-person events throughout the destination.
“Not only is business travel important for the human interaction it allows, but it is a significant economic driver for the destination, not only for our convention center, but our casino and hotel partners, restaurants and attractions,” observed Sieg. “We have put protocols in place that allow planners and attendees to meet safely in person at the Atlantic City Convention Center, and we’re excited to continue to welcome them back with open arms.”
Featuring more than 17,500 first-class hotel rooms, 2.2-million square feet of flexible meeting space citywide and 486,600 contiguous square feet of exhibit space at the LEED Gold and GBAC STAR-certified Atlantic City Convention Center, the destination can cater to groups of any size.
North Beach Atlantic City, NJ atlanticcitynorthbeach.com
With a new energy, delicious eateries and a boardwalk overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, North Beach Atlantic City has quickly developed into the city’s cultural epicenter and premier go-to destination for entertainment, events and fun at the shore.
This unprecedented Atlantic City alliance includes Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, Steel Pier, Resorts Casino Hotel, Ocean Casino Resort, Tennessee Avenue restaurants, Showboat, and the Absecon Lighthouse.
Since its inception, North Beach Atlantic City has hosted an annual premier oceanfront firework spectacular to officially kick off the summer season. North Beach also is home to “Music Row Mondays,” which features live music and food and beverage specials running from the start of summer through Labor Day.
Proud to help support the local community, North Beach Atlantic City recently hosted the Salvation Army Atlantic City’s Red Kettle “Love Beyond Christmas” kickoff at The Wheel Deck at Steel Pier and presented the Salvation Army with a $5,000 donation.
North Beach Atlantic City is the ideal meetings and events destination on the East Coast because it offers a broad range of fun and memorable activities for everyone, including renowned casinos, rides and family attractions, beaches, world-class restaurants and bars, headliner entertainment, and more.
The Wildwoods is a haven for hosting year-round events. The award-winning Wildwoods Convention Center plays host to meetings, conventions, retreats, events, and youth sports, accommodating groups as small as 100 or as large as 10,000.
Along with being home to five-miles of free beaches, the Wildwoods also boasts a 2.5-mile boardwalk that features shops, arcades, carnival games, three amusement piers with over 100rides and attractions, three beachfront waterparks, and nearly 300 eateries.
Looking ahead to 2023, the Wildwoods are already planning for new and exciting amenities, attractions, businesses, events, and more.
Visitors can find an event happening nearly every day of the week throughout the summer at locations including: the Wildwoods Convention Center, Byrne Plaza, Fox Park, Olde New Jersey Avenue, four outdoor amphitheaters, on the beach, and even on the boardwalk.
The inaugural Spring Indoor Vendor and Crafts Fair comes to the Wildwoods Convention Center on April 22, 2023. Bring the family and have fun! The event is free to attend. Red Bull Beach Scramble (ATV races) will take place on May 5-6, 2023, while the Body, Mind and Spirit Fair will take place on September 23, 2023.
In 2023, the Wildwoods welcomes back the third annual Barefoot Country Music Fest June 15-18, 2023 on the Wildwood beaches. Major headliners, including Blake Shelton, Darius Rucker, Kid Rock, Parker McCollum, Jon Pardi, Michael Ray and Lainey Wilson are slated to perform alongside over 40 national, regional, and local artists throughout the four-day music festival.
The fun continues well into the autumn season, too. The Wildwoods’ “Second Season” starts up after Labor Day Weekend, offering visitors a host of events every weekend through the end of October. Fall events include: The Race of Gentlemen Vintage Car and Motorcycle Beach Drag Races; the Olde Time Italian Festival; the Irish Fall Festival; the Seafood and Music Festival; and the Fabulous ‘50s Weekend.
The Inlet is planning on building a new four-story building, which will include rentable units and a ground-floor food establishment.
The former Lu Fran Motel is under new ownership and will be operating as The Beach House Motel.
MudHen Brewery Company has announced the building of cottages at different locations throughout the Wildwoods, opening sometime in 2023. The new company, MudHen Hospitality, will consist of properties that will feature six unique two-bedroom luxury cottages, a four-bedroom single family house, swimming pool, recreation area, bicycles and golf carts, and laundry facilities in each unit.
Wildwood Hospitality Group, LLC is set to open a new boardwalk hotel named The Wild with two new floors, a total of 75 hotel rooms, a rooftop swimming pool, and a restaurant.
The Oceanview Motel in Wildwood Crest was purchased by Madison Resorts in 2022 and will be going through a $12-million renovation. The project includes adding suites, a restaurant, renovating all existing rooms, a modern café, a lounge area, firepits, an infinity pool, cabanas, and a wedding venue. Phase one of the project will be completed by Memorial Day 2023 and open to the public. Phase two is set to be completed by Memorial Day Weekend 2024.
Quinn’s Original Fudge Island will open at the former location of the Original Fudge Kitchen in North Wildwood. The new fudge shop is scheduled to open this February.
The new retro Sinclair Gas Station, formerly the Riggins Gas Station, Wildwood is scheduled to open in 2023.
Sinclair Gas Stations first opened back in 1919. The brand became a big hit during the 1950s with its mascot, the Sinclair Dino, and its catchy radio ads. Sinclair is adding to that with a master plan that includes a retro sign, throwback gas pump, a giant Dinosaur, and the addition of a shopping center.
The National Marbles Tournament, a Wildwoods tradition since 1922, is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2023. The tournament annually attracts “Mibsters” from across the country to play more than 1,200 games of marbles.
The City of Wildwood has been awarded a five-year designation from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ Neighborhood Preservation Program, which provides funding to assist with economic and community development projects designed to help revitalize the designated area and ensure future economic success. Development has already begun with a number of major projects now under construction.
Boardwalk construction and resurfacing is a five-phase, multi-year project that will see most of the boardwalk in the City of Wildwood refurbished and replaced. Phase 1 was completed just before Memorial Day Weekend 2022.
Cape May County, NJ
Cape May County businesses are reinventing the vacation experience in Cape May County. Full tourism recovery is expected and 2023 in the wake of the pandemic, and some changes are coming from Ocean City to Cape May.
Cape Square Entertainment Complex in Rio Grande in the newly renovated County Commons is set to open in the spring of 2023, redefining entertainment at the Jersey Shore. Comprising 55,000-square feet, it will have something for everyone, including: eight state-of-the-art movie theaters, 16 lanes of upscale bowling, an arcade, and a golf simulator. There’s also Cape Kitchen and Craft (offering two dining experiences), two unique bars, and an outdoor beer garden.
After a brief closure over the winter of 2021-2022, The Inn of Cape May debuted an updated aesthetic complete with refreshed rooms, refurbished common areas, and eclectic new dining and drinking destinations. As was the original intent, the historic seaside hotel continues to offer a classic beach vacation made more enjoyable by plush, modern amenities and experiences in a relaxed, yet refined, atmosphere.
Formerly the Merion Inn and purchased by the Kulkowitz Family, owners of the Mad Batter restaurant and Carrol Villa Hotel, The Cricket Club is touted as Cape May newest concept in Contemporary American Flair. Chef Jon Davies’ menu features local ingredients paired with global flavors.
A new hotel brand called Mahalo will join its sister hotel brand, Icona - famous for the Icona Diamond Beach and Icona Windrift with two properties in Wildwood Crest and one in Cape May. The first Mahalo brand hotel opened in summer 2022, two doors down from the ICONA Diamond Beach resort.
Previously known as The Capri, the beachfront property in Cape May is currently undergoing a full renovation and will reopen as Mahalo for the 2023 season. Located just steps from the beach, plans include all-new natural island-inspired hotel rooms, suites, and two-story condos accommodating up to 12 guests.
Mahalo is Hawaiian-style hospitality in which guests are welcomed and served in the spirit of Aloha. Mahalo welcomes families seeking upscale beachfront accommodations and resort-style experiences.
In addition to all-new fresh, natural island-inspired hotel rooms and suites, Mahalo Diamond Beach guests will enjoy special amenities such as meeting the property’s colorful Mahalo Macaw, exploring the area on its beach cruisers, catching a ride to the boardwalk on the Mahalo shuttle, a unique swimming pool water feature, and on-site beach chairs.
Madison Resorts has acquired the Montreal Beach Resort in Cape May, with more than $2-million in renovations to the property expected.
The former Coast Hotel at the Old LaCosta property in Sea Isle City is now the Ludlam Hotel. The owners renovated the entire facility. On the property is a bakery/café and an outside cocktail bar.
In Ocean City, the Port O Call Hotel is newly renovated for this year, while the Flanders Hotel is adding new features all the time. The Scarborough Inn is renovating the entire B&B and will be introducing many new specials.
Yesterday’s Creekside Tavern in Marmora changed ownership, bringing a fresh vision in creating a unique restaurant experience that includes a bar, restaurant and store.
In North Wildwood, the North Shore Bar & Kitchen’s bar and restaurant is undergoing a complete renovation and expansion. Pigdog Beach BBQ in Wildwood is expanding its out-
door seating. Also in Wildwood, Pink Cadillac Diner will undergo a complete renovation, along with an updated menu, while The Cove Craft Cocktails and Cuisine has new ownership, has been renovated, and offers a new menu.
The Isle of Capri Motel in Wildwood will become Seaport Inn and will undergo a full renovation.
The Crest Arts Pavilion, located on the former site of the Wildwood Crest Library, will feature a terrace with tables, chairs and umbrellas, picnic groves, a great lawn perfect for concerts and festivals, as well as pollinator gardens, art installations, seating nooks with fire pits, Adirondack chairs, chaise lounges and more.
Exit Zero has taken over the restaurants and retail at Cape May Ferry Terminal, embarking on a two-year renovation. The new Cafe 64 is open in the lobby of the building, with three new restaurants having been added, as well.
Many Cape May County business owners have stated that meetings and convention business is picking up. The Wildwoods and Cape May conventions centers are seeing a return of conventions and adding new ones into 2023 and 2024. Business owners and meeting planners are thinking out-of-the-box to attract meetings and conventions to the Jersey Cape.
“There is a significant amount of new investment throughout the county. Our Jersey Cape visitors will find new or expanded business ventures in every resort. Nearly 90 percent of our visitors return to Cape May County each year to enjoy our beaches, boardwalks, and diverse attraction stock. It makes good business sense to continue to upgrade the visitor experience,” said Diane Wieland, director of tourism for the Cape May County Department of Tourism. “In 2023, our visitors will find new hotels, restaurants, attractions, and more in their favorite Jersey Cape neighborhoods.”
LBI & Southern Ocean County, NJ www.sochamber.com
Renovations are underway at major properties in the area, such as at Drifting Sands and Spray Beach, which are located oceanfront on Long Beach Island’s sugar-sand beaches.
The Mariner, located “On the Boulevard,” also will be renovated this season, offering more options for special events and groups.
Hotel LBI and The Mainland offer year-round lodging with full-service facilities. The recently renovated Sand Castle Inn is available to groups for complete rental, as well.
“Our region features mainland as well as oceanfront resort communities. With openings of unique restaurants, shops and popular fast-casual catering available, there is even more flexibility for small groups and conventions,” observes Lori Pepenella, president of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce.
Burlington, Camden & Gloucester Counties, NJ www.visitsouthjersey.com
South Jersey is a treasure as both a tourist destination and a business center because of its broad range of environs, wealth of gathering spots, and convenient location with access to transit and two major airports. South Jersey offers farm fields, historic downtowns, the storied Pine Barrens, plus the Jersey Shore, and ever expanding, nationally lauded wine, craft beverage and cuisine industries.
Gloucester County is a bustling center for Amazon fulfillment these days, with large hotels and meeting spaces populating the I-295 corridor through the county, especially in the Washington Township, Williamstown, Glassboro and Deptford areas. This business travel has necessitated plans for expansion: The Best Western in Williamstown had a major expansion and branding change in 2020, becoming a Holiday Inn Express.
The Gloucester County Dream Park is a 277-acre state-of-the-art equestrian facility in Logan Township that frequently hosts large corporate events. The traveler demand from these business centers has had an overflow benefit for the Swedesboro, Mullica Hill and Pitman downtowns, which are home to historical attractions, theaters, arts and many fine dining establishments, as well as wineries such as William Heritage (Mullica Hill) and breweries such as Bonesaw Brewery (Glassboro).
USS Battleship New Jersey along the waterfront in C amden, NJ; photo courtesy: Visit South Jersey & Michael Snyder (Spark Creative Group); credit: Lou Tisone
There are a number of meeting spaces available at Rowan University, such as the Ric and Jean Edelman Planetarium. Additionally, the Rowan University Ric and Jean Edelman Fossil Park, slated to open in 2023, will house opportunity for business meetings and team building events within its large, newly constructed space overlooking an active archeological excavation.
Mount Laurel remains the epicenter of business in Burlington County. A crop of hotels, restaurants and attractions surround major thoroughfares here. Aloft and Westin remain standouts, but there are a number of business-friendly spaces at each of the major chains in the area, as well. Business travelers to Burlington County easily can access other attractions in Southern New Jersey given the access to major roadways provided by Mount Laurel’s hotel epicenter, but need not leave the county for a variety of experiences.
Nearby Moorestown, historic Burlington City and Bordentown offer charming downtowns and dining, while the Pine Barrens offer unparalleled outdoor fun. Valenzano Winery in Shamong is an experience unto itself, and right in Mount Laurel is a state-of-the-art Top Golf location, which frequently hosts corporate after-hours and team building affairs.
The city of Camden and its picturesque waterfront looking out onto the city of Philadelphia from across the Delaware River is home to Rutgers University, international corporations like Subaru of America, Holtec International, and Campbell’s Soup, as well as the Philadelphia 76ers practice facility. Camden is a business epicenter in Camden County and South Jersey, as businesses and universities continue to build and expand in this city. In addition, the American Basketball Association recently established the Camden Monarchs professional basketball team here, as well.
Downtown in Camden City, interesting meeting options abound. Adventure Aquarium is one of the most soughtafter meeting spaces in the area, hosting board meetings with views of active shark tanks, an impressive ballroom space, and a Delaware River-fronting patio with sweeping views of the Ben Franklin Bridge.
Battleship New Jersey (BB-62), the most decorated ship in U.S. Naval history, is docked for tourist exploration and is a popular meeting venue option along the Camden Waterfront.
As far as cuisine in the city of Camden, Anthony Bourdain named Donkey's Place cheesesteaks the best in the nation in recent years; it’s now a stop on the Anthony Bourdain NJ Food Trail, along with nearby Tony & Ruth Steaks.
There are a multitude of social volunteerism opportunities in the city of Camden, with Cathedral Kitchen, Ronald McDonald House, and The Camden Salvation Army Kroc Center right in town; these provide customized and wellorganized team building opportunities for groups large and small.
Business travelers rely on one of New Jersey's most robust business centers nearby, the centrally located DoubleTree by Hilton Cherry Hill Philadelphia in Cherry Hill. With 45,000-square feet, 400 guest rooms, and its largest meeting space at nearly 12,000-square feet, this property checks all the boxes for large capacity business needs with overnight access on-site.
Greater Princeton, NJ www.visitprinceton.org
There is something for everyone to enjoy in the PrincetonMercer Region. Centrally located between New York and Philadelphia, and easily accessible by car, train, bus, or plane, visitors will discover hundreds of hidden gems in Princeton and the surrounding towns.
This region is ideal for conferences, meetings and events, offering endless options for business as well as leisure pursuits. This year, several organizations held week-long events in the region, visiting historic landmarks, enjoying premier accommodations, cultural attractions, fine dining, sports, wineries, entertainment, world-class shopping and scenic parks.
“This business was instrumental not only in bringing revenue to our hotels and restaurants, but also out-of-town visitors,” noted Warrie Howell, managing director, Princeton-Mercer Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are working on a new marketing campaign to highlight the region to help return our tourism numbers to pre-pandemic levels. Our goal is not only to attract more out-oftown visitors, but also to encourage locals to take advantage of all the region has to offer.”
Graduate Princeton hotel will open in Princeton in late 2023.
The Trenton-Mercer Airport is set for a major expansion in late 2023. The current terminal will be demolished and replaced with a new facility.
Popular chef Jason Dilts has joined forces with Dominic Maglione for a new venture - Louie's by Chef Jason located in Robbinsville. Joanne Canady-Brown, owner of local bake shops, The Gingered Peach, Lawrenceville will take over operations at The Purple Cow Ice Cream. In addition, Quaker Bridge Mall is expanding its food options by adding four new restaurants.
Grounds For Sculpture is partnering with Klip Collective to present a reimagined after hours, multi-sensory light and sound experience designed to engage with the Ground For Sculpture art and horticulture collection called “Night Forms: Infinite Wave,” now through April 2, 2023.
Triumph Brewery is opening a new location in Princeton in 2023. Hermes, Palmer Square is opening in the fall of 2023 on Palmer Square in Princeton.
Hamilton Jewelers opened Hamilton Home in Princeton, as the family-owned jewelry and watch retailer unveils this new homeware and gifts store as they celebrate their 110th anniversary.
AT THE CENTER OF IT ALL
Our perfectly situated state is just a day’s drive from some of the most populated areas of the U.S. — and, as a top international airline hub, we’re an easy 昀ight away for the rest. No matter where you gather in New Jersey, you’re in close proximity to state-of-the-art convention facilities, IACC-member conference centers, unconventional meeting spaces, 昀exible group accommodations, a well-connected transportation network, world-class dining, crowd-pleasing recreation and entertainment and 130 miles of shoreline. That’s how meetings and conferences in New Jersey offer unparalleled access…and success.
Start planning your meeting by calling 609.292.4239.
Across the river from Staten Island, business and leisure travelers can stay in Elizabeth while visiting The Big Apple at almost half the cost of staying in NYC. They also can expand on experiences during their stay, getting two destinations for nearly the cost of one. With hometown charm, diversity, authenticity, and an off-the-beaten-path feel, Elizabeth has a unique story to tell.
Elizabeth Tourism was started in 2015, explains Jennifer Costa, president and CEO, Greater Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce, and executive director, Elizabeth Destination Marketing Organization (Elizabeth Tourism), and in just a few short years since has elevated itself as both a convenient travel gateway and tourist destination in New Jersey.
“One of the largest projects we have ever worked on is about to take flight here in 2023,” Costa notes. “Elizabeth is along the waterfront across from Staten Island, providing a direct waterway into New York. To that end, we soon will be launching the Elizabeth Fast Ferry, which will offer a direct connection from the Newark Liberty International Airport into New York City (South Street Seaport Area-Lower Manhattan).”
The Elizabeth Fast Ferry will run on biodiesel fuel, Costa notes. “We’re trying to promote sustainable tourism - more eco-friendly… caring for our environment and alternative solutions… We took part in an event called Climate Week NYC talking about the Elizabeth Fast Ferry initiative and the upcoming launch, which will be coming in spring of 2023. Also in the near future, we are planning on an all-electric ferry terminal and ferry operation at the Elizabeth waterfront.”
The City of Elizabeth was awarded a $5-million planning grant that will help fund the project. “We’re in-line with the United Nations’ Development Goals, so we’re cross partnering with NYC Tourism, as well as the Downtown Alliance and The (South Street) Seaport to help create economic development on both sides,” Costa adds.
New aesthetic signage around town and the DMO's "enteractive" mobile app, GoElizabethNJ, is increasing their visibility and presence, helping to build the tourism brand. Historic sites and attractions around town also are enhancing signage to emphasize the importance of Elizabeth’s rich his-
tory. Famous figures like Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr both lived and attended school here.
Elizabeth also has a robust and growing dining and nightlife scene. “Our campaign is ‘Want to travel the globe? No passport needed. Take your tastebuds on an adventure’,” Costa proclaims. Plans are in the works with the local parking authority to create a “park and dine” shuttle service as a way to meet the high demand for local restaurants and to satisfy the need for additional parking in certain areas. Similarly, a “park and play” shuttle is planned for the local nightlife scene.
Two new venues that opened in December are Second Level, a dining and sports bar venue, and also Mexology, a high-end, fine-dining Mexican experience complete with authentic décor, speciality drinks and mixology, as well as performing Mariachis and other live entertainment. There's even a speakeasy in the basement and outdoor seasonal patio called "TALUM."
Another newer restaurant is Rancho Matteo offering a unique Columbian two-story experience with a 40-foot LED screen in a massive and attractive facility that is reminiscent of stepping into the country of Columbia.
Up the road, experience Parador Rojo, offering a Columbian dining experience of its own with live entertainment. The Garden restaurant, bar and lounge a few blocks away gives the feeling of being in downtown SoHo, while promoting impressive artistry. The Morris Avenue District is gaining fame for its vibrant dining and nightlife scene. The many collective Colombian restaurants and pastry shops in the area also are noteworthy, being called the up and coming culturally vibrant section of town: Morris Avenue/Colombian District.
The Garden restaurant gives the feeling of being in downtown SoHo, while promoting impressive artistry.
Elizabeth Avenue is home to second-generation familyowned City Tavern that was recently renovated, along with El Buen Gusto and Don Felix.
Meanwhile, in Midtown the new Juliet Creperie has opened, a French restaurant offering savory and sweet crêpe options, along with a wide variety of hot and iced drinks.
Bar Code is a nightlife venue with multiple rooms and a capacity for several thousand people. A dynamic state-of-theart venue with LED lights and incredible sound, it serves as a small concert venue with a stage as well as a swimming pool with cabanas. This facility draws audiences from all over the country.
“While we don’t have a convention center, we do have a lot of venues that can host meetings and events in unique, fun and inspirational settings, including Bar Code,” explains Costa. “We do have large and small conference spaces… and we do have several hotels that can service meetings and events.”
In Midtown, a $74-million NJ Transit train station is being built that will offer service directly into New York as well as to the Jersey Shore.
The FIFA World Cup is coming to Elizabeth in 2026, and the city draws team and sporting events, too. Elizabeth Tourism also is working with the U.S. Navy in partnership on events to celebrate its commissioning of a new submarine this year called the USS New Jersey.
New kiosks are being added at outdoor locations throughout downtown as well as in some hotel lobbies in the coming year. They will be dynamic and interactive, listing arrival times of flights and trains, and also will tie into the local police department, enhancing security features and capabilities. Visitors will be able to use them to build itineraries, as well.
“We do have a new office and a new home for our Elizabeth Tourism Welcome Center,” Costa adds. “Operating out of the same location is our chamber of commerce and our business center with shared workspace capabilities. We also have a new art exhibition gallery where we’re having tours. People coming through are able to set tour times and have the opportunity to meet local artists… We have a growing arts community that our tourism office leads, as well, commissioning different art murals in Elizabeth.”
Hudson County, NJ www.visithudson.org
Two big upcoming projects in Hudson County include the Centre Pompidou in Jersey City, which is an outpost of the Parian Centre, and a multi-million-dollar renovation planned for the Loews Jersey Theatre, which will restore the property to its original glory. Once finished, both will be major event spaces in the county.
Canopy By Hilton, Jersey City Arts District opened in 2020, featuring a restaurant, fitness center, bar and shared lounge in Jersey City. Boasting family rooms, this property also features a terrace, evening entertainment, and a tour desk.
Scheduled to open in 2024, the Centre Pompidou × Jersey City museum will be located at the heart of historic Journal Square, creating a program that emphasizes education through hands-on artistic and cultural experiences, with a community component, and an art laboratory for cultural and educational programming. Exhibitions will be created with modern and contemporary artwork from the Paris Centre Pompidou’s collection.
The historic Loew’s Jersey theater, also at Journal Square, closed this October in preparation for its multi-year transformation into a 3,330seat, state-of-the-art performance venue. Improvements will include: state-of-the-art visual and acoustic upgrades; revamped concessions and ticketing areas; changes to meet ADA requirements and expand seating; and more. The theater is projected to reopen in 2025.
American Dream Mall has slowly been rolling out new attractions and shops over the past few years, along with a number of new restaurants.
A COHNversation with Jim
Jim Cohn, publisher of Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine, talks with Destination Marketers about how they work with planners, some highlights of their destinations, and how they overcome challenges and adversity.
LARRY HUTTINGER, Director, DMCP , CMP Destination Philly A.C., a DMC Network Company
JIM: As a DMC, what do you like corporate/association planners to ask of you?
LARRY: We like for them to ask questions about our destination and what can be done for them that would be impactful. For example, questions about including a giveback component and the options that can be provided. Questions about what makes the city unique and how they can experience it within their event time. Asking if there is a takeaway experience that their group can enjoy that will provide lasting memories.
JIM: What are some of the hot buttons when you’re trying to sell a destination?
LARRY: For us, the hot buttons would translate to activities that resonate with the clients. That would include:
• Mock Gaming, which still is very popular and a way to get those attending the event to get acclimated to new games that are available on the casino floor they may not have tried before due to the risk with their own money.
• Venues outside of Casino Resorts that are new, different or that have history attached to their location.
• Outdoor or indoor team building activities that bring a group together and provide insight about themselves and those around them.
• Creating themed events that can capture the imagination of the group with New Levels of Entertainment.
JIM: What has been popular in your destination and what do you think will be popular in 2023?
LARRY: Recently, groups have asked about getting tours of the city that include visits to historic and key sites, such as the Lighthouse and Boardwalk Hall where the Atlantic City Museum is located and the largest instrument in the world is housed, and the newest addition by City Murals, with their artistic offerings now numbering close to 100.
For 2023, what is coming is new eateries in the Orange Loop - an urban renewal area of the city between Tennessee and New York Avenues and St. James Place. Additionally, the new Indoor Water Park will complete the family entertainment offerings at Showboat at a cost of $120-million dollars.
JIM: Are there any challenges you are facing these days?
LARRY: A big challenge for us is to communicate effectively about the retraction of COVID-19 at this time, and its impact on our collective community of CVB partners, hotel partners, and the many vendor partners that support us overall. In some cases, we all as a DMC community have lost solid vendor partners due to the two-plus years of loss of business for many of them. Also, the significant increase in cost for services such as transportation, food and beverage and décor, as well as staffing cost and availability.
Sharon DeFelices, Corporate Event Strategist, Mosaic Meetings and Events, LLC, and Food, Nutrition and Wellness Expert/Corporate Event Strategist and Creator, The Blueprint for a Healthy Meeting®, Pittsburgh Region
JIM: What are some of the hot buttons when you’re trying to sell a destination?
Sharon: Airports! While budget-friendly cities are becoming more popular for meetings, ease of travel to and from the destination is definitely a decision-influencing factor. Pittsburgh is a second-tier city and an affordable option for meetings. I do wish there were more direct flights to the city. Currently, there are 56 airports that offer direct flights to Pittsburgh from 47 different cities in three countries.
Pittsburgh International Airport currently is undergoing a transformation with a Terminal Modernization Program that has the goal of creating a more efficient and enjoyable passenger experience. It is an exciting project and hopefully will bring more air traffic and flights to the city.
JIM: What has been popular in the Pittsburgh area and what do you think will be popular in 2023?
Sharon: People are often surprised at what Pittsburgh has to offer to its visitors. Many remember the Pittsburgh of the 1960s and 1970s, when smog, fog and dust blanketed the city. In the 1980s, when the steel industry came to an end in Pittsburgh, the city struggled to hold onto an identity. Over the past four decades, the city has been rebuilt and reborn. Its historical roots run deep, but work has been done in the communities, on the riverfronts, to the economy and the city’s culture, to make sure that future is bright for Pittsburgh.
Drawing on the industries that now put Pittsburgh on the map as a destination, The Carnegie Science Center offers exhibits such as the Robot Hall of Fame and team building opportunities like The Fab Lab. The Buhl Planetarium and the Works Theater offer unique experiences for corporate groups. If you are looking for a meeting destination for science, technology, environmental or energy companies, put Pittsburgh on your short list. You can see industry in action at these venues.
The culinary landscape has definitely changed over the past 10 years, though tried and true Pittsburgh experiences should not be missed (Primanti Brother’s sandwich, anyone?).
One experience that should not be overlooked is taking one of the inclines up Mount Washington for a bird’seye view of the city. Take the Monongahela Incline from Station Square after a wonderful dinner at The Grand Concourse or catch the Duquesne Incline near the South Side and watch the city lights come up from Monterey Bay Fish Grotto or The Lemont, Pittsburgh’s only Five-Star, Diamond Award winning restaurant. Pittsburgh’s inclines are the among the oldest and longest operating funiculars in the U.S. and are a fun and interesting way to kick off or wrap up a delicious group dinner.
RobCarachilo, Principal and Event Producer Roberts Event Group
JIM: What do you like corporate/association planners to ask of you?
Rob: We like them to ask how we can make their experience in Philadelphia memorable. The answer to that starts with a conversation. Listening to the history of what they have done, learning what has worked, and finding out what their goals are. We always say everything starts with an idea. Roberts Event Group helps our clients take that one idea and create a program that will have a maximum impact on their audience during their stay.
JIM: What are some of the hot buttons when you’re trying to sell a destination?
Rob: The beauty of the region is that it’s the type of destination that can easily sell itself. Clients are drawn to the area by the ease of access and promise of incredible history, top-tier restaurants and a vibrant arts and culture scene.
Some of the hot button issues that Roberts Event Group and our local partners in events, hospitality and tourism face are ensuring the health and safety of visitors, resources including supply chain and labor challenges, along with managing costs in today’s economy.
Using our knowledge and experience, the Roberts Event Group team, in collaboration with others in our industry, will help make the attendees’ stay memorable and a positive experience.
PHLCVB ANNUAL LUNCHEON
November 23, 2022 – Philadelphia, PA – The Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau welcomed the region’s hospitality industry to the largest networking event of the year! Over 800 attendees converged on the Philadelphia Museum of Art and were excited for this year’s theme, ‘Celebrating the Fine Art of Hospitality’, which was designed to coincide with the Museum’s current major exhibition, Matisse in the 1930s.
Proceeds from this year’s celebration benefitted the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau Foundation. The Foundation supports activities that promote Philadelphia as a top-tier destination, hospitality education programs, and legacy projects that benefit the local community. Photo Credit: Wise Owl Multi Media
NEW JERSEY TOURISM CONFERENCE SHOWS GROWTH IN ALL DIRECTIONS
December 1&2, 2023 – Atlantic City, NJ – The New Jersey Tourism Industry Association was grateful for the overwhelming support and participation at their 2022 New Jersey Conference on Tourism. "Growing New Jersey by Tourism", the official industry conference was held at Resorts Casino Hotel. The crowds included emerging leaders, professionals, community advocates, and business management working in the dining, lodging, attractions, government, economic development, arts, history, and technology. The schedule offered two days of the latest information including keynote speakers, focus sessions, Certified Tourism Industry Professional programming, networking, and surprise appearances. The Tourism Conference Committee was co-chaired by Judy Ross, Destination Montclair and Alex Heiman, Tempest, and included NJTIA President Lori Pepenella, Southern Ocean Chamber, Megan Black of Greater Newark CVB, Heather Colache from Meet AC, Jennifer Costa, Greater Elizabeth Chamber, Ben Rose, Greater Wildwoods and Michael Snyder, Spark Creative and Visit South Jersey.
The two-day schedule was filed with dynamic sessions with keynotes that included Neil Frauenglass of Visit Philadelphia, Adam Sacks of Tourism Economics, Jeffrey Vasser of New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism and updates on the Certified Tourism Professional program in partnership with Stockton University. The Celebration of NJ Tourism luncheon was highlighted by the NJTIA Excellence in Tourism awards and recognized 2022 winners New Jersey Wildwoods, Hunterdon County Economic Development & Tourism, Elizabeth DMO, and Algonquin Arts Theatre. The evening networking reception was sponsored by the Garden State Wine Growers Association offering best of NJ Wines.
Sponsors included: State of NJ Division of Travel and Tourism, NJ CRDA, Garden State Wine Growers Association, NJPBS, Meet AC, NJ Historic Trust/Journey Through Jersey, Forge Apollo, ArtPride NJ, Greater Wildwoods, Hudson County Cultural Affairs Tourism Development, Miles Partnership, NJ Advance Media, Lloyd D Levenson Institute, Tempest, Zartico, Aloysius Butler & Clark, CarVertise, Effectv, Greater Newark CVB, Simpleview, Spark Creative Group, Visit South Jersey, Elizabeth DMO, AAA World, AirBNB, Bandwango, County Of Passaic Dept Cultural & Historic Affairs, CTM Media Group, Dana Communications, Journera, Lou Hammond Group, Meadowlands Live CVB, Monmouth County Tourism, NJ Chamber of Commerce, Orange 142, RootRez, Seaside Heights, Southern Ocean Chamber, Wander, Adara, Epsilon, Ocean County Business Development & Tourism, Orsted, Suasion Communications Group, Edible Jersey, and Mid Atlantic Events Magazine. njtia.org
Adam Perle, ArtPride NJ, Mike Snyder, Visit South Jersey & Spark Creative, Heather Colache, Meet AC, Ben Rose, Greater Wildwoods Tourism Authority, Lori Pepenella, Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce, Carolyn Burtnick, Monmouth County Tourism and Judy Ross, Destination Montclair
MPI MIDDLE PA ANNUAL HOLIDAY RECEPTION & SILENT AUCTION
December 8, 2022 – Lancaster, PA – MPI Middle PA celebrated the holiday season with members and guests at their Annual Holiday Reception & Silent Auction. This always festive networking event was held
WHAT’S NEW IN VIRGINIA
Rivers Casino in Portsmouth opens January 15th. The 400,000-square foot casino features seven restaurants, a Four-Star Hotel, a 3,000-seat event venue, movie theater, and more.
Albemarle County will welcome two new wineries in 2023, Southwest Mountains Vineyards and Paradise Springs Winery. The Darden Business School in Albemarle County will open the Forum Hotel in April 2023. The new hotel will feature 199 rooms and suites, more than 19,000-square feet of meeting space, including a 6,500-square foot ballroom, as well as five acres of natural green space featuring an arboretum and botanical gardens.
Arriving in winter 2023, Hotel AKA Alexandria will bring a dramatic new addition to Old Town Alexandria and steps from the city’s flourishing boutique scene and waterfront.
The Crystal City Water Park in Arlington will reopen in 2023 with an entirely new presence, complete with new restaurant kiosks and seating areas, a full-service restaurant, new water features, and a stage. The new kiosks will highlight local, minority- and women-owned businesses, local favorites and renowned names.
NEW & OLD UPDATES
The Omni Homestead Resort's iconic Warm Springs Pools, reopened in December following a 14-month, $4-million rehabilitation. Rich in mineral content, its 19th century bathhouses have been sought by travelers for centuries. The stone basin of the Gentlemen’s Bathhouse was constructed in 1761, making it the oldest spa structure in the country.
Downtown Newport News, branded The Yard District in a nod to Newport News Shipyard, is quickly evolving into a scenic and vibrant hot spot. A restaurant row has popped up where Ironclad Distillery and Coastal Fermentory have established roots. Plans also are being made for a coffee and wine bar, retail shops, and a large full-service restaurant here in 2023.
The Virginia Scenic Railway, debuted in Fall 2022 allows travelers to sit back and enjoy the modernized ambiance of a 1940s passenger car through scenic Virginia, including the Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The multi-day Something in the Water Festival led by Virginia Beach native Pharrell Williams will return home to Virginia Beach on April 28-30, 2023. With a star-studded musical lineup, the event also highlights arts and culture through a series of performances, capsule events and community activities designed to highlight unity, celebrate diversity, and empower all.
Smyth County’s Hungry Mother Festival held in a Virginia State Park, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023. The Hungry Mother Festival is dedicated to the promotion of art, theater, and music and includes juried arts and crafts, live music, and favorite festival foods and will run from July 2123, 2023.
The Virginia American Revolution 250 Commission will commemorate the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution, the Revolutionary War, and the independence of the U.S. in the Commonwealth of Virginia, where much of this history took place. The celebrations begin in 2023 and will run through the 250th anniversary of American Independence in 2026.VIRGINIA.ORG
NEW YORK CITY TOURISM GROWTH
New York, NY – NYC & Company has announced that the city’s economic recovery continued in 2022 with an anticipated 56.4-million travelers arriving in the city by the end of the year. New York City remains on pace to attract 61.7-million visitors in 2023. The pace of tourism’s rebound helps fuel economic recovery supporting the leisure and hospitality sector.
Ongoing projects will support ongoing tourism growth including a new Moynihan Train Hall; an expanded Javits Center; the addition of more than 11,000 hotel rooms in the next three years; and new attractions, museums, tours and other offerings.
DC'S NEW SILVER LINE OPENS
Washington, DC - The new Silver Line extension opened with Metrorail service to Dulles International Airport in November 2022. The service will take Metro passengers to Dulles airport for the first time. The $3-billion, 11.5-mile Metrorail Silver Line extension adds six Metro stations in total, with the ride from Dulles International Airport to Metro Center in downtown Washington, DC taking approximately 54 minutes
FUN AT MOHEGAN PENNSYLVANIA
Wilkes-Barre, PA – Launched this past summer as part of a major property upgrade, The Hive Taphouse at Mohegan Pennsylvania boasts a lineup of local music this winter. New seasonal beers also are on tap, and the taphouse is home to two popular TopGolf Swing Suites and special themed nights like Taco Tuesdays and Burger Wednesdays.
WEBSITE FOR GROUP BUSINESS IN LAKE GEORGE REVAMPED
Warren County, NY - The Lake George Area, America’s “Original Vacation” spot, attracts tourists from all over the world to experience its mountainous landscapes and pristine waters. Warren County also is a destination for attendees of events, meetings, reunions and retreats, and sports events.
As a means to provide an online landing space for business travelers and event organizers the LGRCVB launched a refreshed, group-focused website: meetlakegeorge.com. The website works in conjunction with its counterpart: visitlakegeorge.com, serviced by Warren County Tourism, which offers a full array of leisure travel ideas.
“This refreshed website is a marketing tool that allows us to showcase the destination to those researching the area for meeting and gathering venues and other amenities event planners look for,” said Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce and CVB Executive Director, Gina Mintzer. meetlakegeorge.com
MAXWELL AWARDS GALA PARTNERS WITH MOHEGAN PENNSYLVANIA
Wilkes-Barre, PA – Maxwell Football Club has announced a partnership with Mohegan Pennsylvania as the new host venue for the 86th Maxwell Awards Gala on March 9, 2023. The Maxwell Club has hosted this event for 85 years, the first 65 years in Philadelphia and the last 20 in Atlantic City, NJ while featuring some of the most exciting names in football. Over the years, the club has honored many of the legendary players in collegiate and professional football.
“We’re really thrilled to partner with The Maxwell Football Club and to host what is an exceptional awards gala that honors football excellence at the Professional, Collegiate and High School levels,” said Anthony Carlucci, President and GM of Mohegan Pennsylvania.
EASTWIND OLIVEREA VALLEY TO OFFER ENHANCED EXPERIENCES
Oliverea Valley - Eastwind Oliverea Valley will debut in January 2023, bringing its signature Scandinavian-inspired accommodations. The boutique hotel in the heart of the Catskill Mountains features 30 unique guest rooms, all differing in layout and decor, and provides a respite from city living with on-site dining and yearround activities from skiing and snowboarding to horseback riding, fly-fishing, hiking and biking.
Southern Delaware Tourism 2023 Photo Contest
To celebrate Southern Delaware and to keep it top of mind throughout the winter with visitors planning 2023 travel, Southern Delaware Tourism is launching its 7th Annual Southern Delaware Tourism Photo Contest. Entries will be accepted through March 10, 2023. There will be one Grand Prize-winning photo as well as one winning photo in each of three categories: Southern Delaware Watersports; Southern Delaware Farmer and Foodie; and Southern Delaware Boardwalk Scenes.
MPI FORMS ALLIANCE WITH QUESTEX TRAVEL GROUP
Dallas, TX & New York, NY - Meeting Professionals International recently announced a partnership with Questex Travel Group. This will allow the organizations to work together to share knowledge, deliver market insights through year-round engagement and help members of the meetings community build their businesses. The Questex Travel Group has been a longtime partner of MPI, having brought quality education to attendees at its events for many years.
The collaboration includes initiatives for planners and suppliers that will give them new tools for business growth via multiple touchpoints, including online and inperson thought leadership programs.
Gulph Creek Hotels Management Expands
West Chester, PA – Gulph Creek Hotels has been selected to manage the historic Hotel Warner in downtown West Chester, the only full-service hotel in West Chester Borough. Management of the hotel represents an expansion of Gulph Creek Hotels’ independent boutique hotel portfolio.
“Hotel Warner is unique to Chester County and an important component of the vibrant West Chester downtown,” said Gulph Creek Principal, Derek Sylvester.
The Hotel Warner, a Historic Hotels of America member, opened in 1930 as the Warner Theatre, the history of which is kept alive with historical photographs in the lobby and throughout the corridors of the hotel.
Gulph Creek Hotels has also been selected as the management company for the 83-room Fairfield Inn and Suites Williamsport. Williamsport is best known as the host city for the Little League World Series.
MIXED-USE COMMUNITY TO BE BUILT IN ATLANTIC CITY
Atlantic City, NJ - Bart Blatstein, CEO of Tower Investments Inc., has announced a joint venture plan to develop a residential community in Atlantic City at the vacant Bader Field site in partnership with Philadelphia-based developer Post Brothers to create the new neighborhood within Atlantic City: Casa Mar.
The $3-billion-dollar development at the Bader Field site is designed to embrace the water, inspired and modeled after the canals of Venice and Amsterdam. Built on 140 acres, the neighborhood will include 10,000 residential units, 400,000-square feet of office and retail space, and 20 acres of trails, parks and amenities. The project will be developed in five phases over 12 years.
GREATER WILDWOODS TOURISM WINS TOURISM EXCELLENCE AWARDS
The Wildwoods, NJ – The Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority (GWTIDA) received two 2022 New Jersey Tourism Excellence Awards from the New Jersey Tourism Industry Association (NJTIA) at the recent New Jersey Conference on Tourism held in Atlantic City.
The awards were won in the categories of Public Relations and Advertising, and recognized the 2021-2022 campaigns that were conceived and executed by GWTIDA and its PR Agency, Suasion Communications Group and Ad Agency, Aloysius, Butler & Clark.
“To be recognized in two highly competitive categories for our 2021-2022 campaigns is a testament to our dedication to making the Wildwoods stand out as a top family vacation destination at the Jersey shore,” explained John Siciliano, Executive Director and CFO of GWTIDA.
The campaigns’ success came from not only attracting millions of visitors to safely vacation in the Wildwoods, but in garnering extensive media coverage, as well.
MEET AC CELEBRATES SPORTS AND CONVENTIONS
Atlantic City, NJ – In 2022, Meet AC and the Atlantic City Sports Commission hosted 210 competitions, conventions and sporting events across the destination, with 80 of the events taking place at the Atlantic City Convention Center. The destination was proud to host landmark events like the 113th NAACP National Convention, the Meet AC Atlantic City Airshow, and The Atlantic City Pickleball Open.
“Last year was a landmark year for meetings and conventions in Atlantic City as we began to see planner’s appetites for in-person meetings and events grow following the pandemic,” said Meet AC’s President and CEO, Larry Sieg. “With the continued surge in both leisure and bleisure travel, we’re expecting to build on the momentum into 2023 with exciting new events.”
Some of the events coming to Atlantic City in 2023 include: The Pool & Spa Show, January 24-26; Indoor Auto Racing, January 27-28; Via Exito Equipovision, February 2-5; 2023 USRowing Annual Convention, February 3-5; U.S. Futsal Northeast Regional Championship, February 17–20; NJ Music Educators Association 2023 State Conference, February 23-25; Progressive Atlantic City Boat Show, March 1-5; NJ State High School Wrestling Championships, March 3-5; MAAC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships, March 7-11; Tri-State Camp Conference, March 14-16; and the 2023 Skills Competition Eastern Atlantic States, March 30.
Wilmington - Vizient, Inc has hired Emily Ciancio as their new Event Manager, working remotely.
Baltimore - Mac Campbell has been named as the Baltimore Convention Center’s new Executive Director. Mac began his career at the Center as director of client services, bringing years of experience from his previous role as operations manager at Strathmore Hall Foundation.
Atlantic City - Gina Harrigan posted of her new positionDirector of In-Market Sales - Atlantic City with Caesars Entertainment Meetings and Events.
Atlantic City - Meet AC has announced the promotion of Jessica Kasunich to Director of Communications.
Lake George - The Lake George Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau's hired Lexi Carroll as their new Convention Services Coordinator. Lexi will service and support conventions, sporting tournaments and meetings booked by the LGRCVB sales team.
New York City - NoMo SoHo has announced the expansion of their culinary team with the appointments of Iwona
Luksza as Director of Food and Beverage and Evan Bergman as Executive Chef. Both will collaborate to elevate the property’s culinary offerings including the famed NoMo Kitchen, the new Rose Garden, the Library Café, and will oversee the catering and events department.
Harrisburg - The International Adventure & Trampoline Parks Association has hired Alexis Kierce as their new Director of Meetings and Membership Services, working remotely.
Kennett Square - The Chester County Conference & Visitors Bureau announced Andrea Fasula as their new Sales & Events Coordinator.
King of Prussia - The Alloy King of Prussia, a DoubleTree by Hilton has named Neal Yakupcin as their new Director of Sales & Marketing.
King of Prussia - The Crowne Plaza Philadelphia-King of Prussia and the Fairfield Inn-King of Prussia has hired Anne Deon as their new Director of Sales & Marketing.
Lititz - ChoiceLIVE announced the promotion of Jason Cataldi to CEO. Jason was most recently vice president of business development where he led the marketing and communications team, had overseen the sales department, and become a voice of the company's management team.
Philadelphia - Courtney Bell has been named Sales & Marketing Manager at Hard Rock Café Philadelphia.
Philadelphia - Emily Seltzer started a new role as Regional Marketing Manager at Hersha Hospitality Management.
Philadelphia - Comcast Corporation has hired Danielle McCauley as their new Director of Events, Campus Experience.
Philadelphia - Esther Wieman has been named Director of Alumni Relations at Thomas Jefferson University.
Philadelphia - Bishop-McCann has hired Katelyn Weeks as their new Program Manager.
Philadelphia - Aimbridge Hospitality has hired Rodney Tyre as the new General Manager for The Wyndham Hotel Historic District.
Pocono Manor - Kalahari Resorts & Conventions announced the appointment of Lauren Silberman as their new Director of Sales. Lauren brings over 23 years of sales and hospitality experience to the resort and will lead a tenured team of sales professionals. In her most recent role, she served as complex senior sales manager representing three historic properties in the Chicagoland area.
Wayne - The Embassy Suites by Hilton Philadelphia Valley Forge has hired James Wiley as their new Director of Sales and Marketing.
Leesburg - Lansdowne Resort announced the appointment of Lesly Connolly as National Sales Manager. With more than 30 years of hospitality experience, Lesly joins the resort after most recently having been with the Doubletree by Hilton Washington DC North-Gaithersburg.
- Destination DC has announced new appointments to its leadership team. Danielle Davis has been promoted to Vice President of Communications; Calvin Morgan is now Director, Information Technology & Business Intelligence; Torri Christian has been promoted to Director, Marketing; Andrew O’Connor to Director, Content Marketing; and Terri Carter to Director, People & Culture.
- The National Association of Home Builders has announced Damisha White as their new Meetings ManagerFacilitator, 20 Club Program.