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MID-ATLANTIC

EVENTS May | June 2021

Exciting To Meet Outdoors

With 300 meeting venues, 50 golf courses, and almost 100 miles of trails for biking, Montgomery County, PA’s outdoor spaces will have you staying a few extra days to explore after your meetings.


TOP REASONS TO HOST YOUR EVENT IN VALLEY FORGE & MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PA

1. Convenient Location 40% of the United States population can drive to our east coast destination within one day.

2. Value Offered Valley Forge and Montgomery County offers affordable room rates, low taxes and free parking throughout the majority of our hotels.

3. Montco Wellness for Events Provides easy access to information planners need to make informed, con昀dent decisions about hosting events within Montgomery County, PA.

4. World Class Hotels and Venues Valley Forge features more than 80+ world class hotels and over 300 meeting venues. Large or small, we have options to 昀t meeting needs.

5. Unique Teambuilding Possibilities Numerous breweries, indoor sky diving, ziplining, escape rooms, culinary challenges, outdoor activities and a world class zoo.

6. A Craveable Restaurant Scene More than 1,600 restaurants make up our incredible

NEWLY REFRESHED

restaurant scene. Our restaurants feature everything from farm to table, top notch steakhouses, unique counter service with many featuring private dining spaces.

7. Best Shopping in the United States! With the largest shopping mall on the east coast, quaint main street boutiques and shops and tax free shopping on

See it today. Live it tomorrow. Explore nearly 100 hotels and attractions in Montgomery County, PA

clothing and shoes, we’re a shop-a-holic’s dream come true.

8. Complimentary Planning Services The Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board offers

CONTACT US AT:

PLAN YOUR NEXT MEETING:

complimentary planning assistance to help create a

meet@valleyforge.org

meet.valleyforge.org

productive and memorable Revolutionary Event!


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grandcapemay.com • 609.884.5611 Oceanfront @ 1045 Beach Ave • Cape May NJ


in the fuseeing what was to be d an kid a as ir Fa 's neral w York World ture. One pavilion, Ge fu my be Exploring the 1964 Ne to s wa at wh tually landing d thinking about for a while before even ture got me excited an nd ou ar d ve mo er lat e evolution of d, which Progress, was about th Electric's Progresslan of el us ro Ca e th as sneyWorld in Tomorrowland at Di ected our daily lives. aff electricity and how it er the course head several times ov my in ck stu t go ion vil at the pa ed to explore the The song that played once again. So, I decid ing ink th share me t go d an my industry friends to of me so of this crazy last year ite inv d an eetings) Progress Carousel of (tourism/m their thoughts.

” beautiful tomorrow… “There's a great, rnbofignet, working, and we are optimistic that meetings will emerge from

t. A more positive one.” rsonal contact and the retu se gatherings in a new ligh “Guests yearn for interpe the w vie l wil es nde Atte Visitors Bureau this stronger than ever. CEO, Pocono Mountains Chris Barrett, President and

ever y day…" of d en e th t up. Seca ng ni hi "S businesses are opening a positive indication that

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utiful tomorrow…'vaccinated and seeing ea b ig b t a re g a 's re "The more people being paign in gress is ultimately tied to

. Pro a recovery cam future of travel to the U.S ’re getting ready to launch “We’re optimistic about the for more than a year, we g sin local industry partners erti our adv h g wit sin g pau rkin r capital. We’re also wo ’s ion increased travel. In DC, afte nat the the Walter E. to s itor vis to bring more rds at in-person events at partnership with Events DC mitment to health standa com ing plan, so ’s pen DC g reo nin term erli g und lon nners by also will be a clear, ss gre Pro . to instill confidence in pla ues events.” ven and and erson meetings Center, hotels, restaurants n for higher capacity in-p pla and Washington Convention nts me uire req the s can understand DC customers and businesse ent & CEO of Destination Elliott L. Ferguson II, Presid

dream away…" ween DMOs and a st ju ) ot (n 's w ro or "And tom e, trusting relationships bet to be in the elves in developing genuin

izing it is only an ante always have prided thems that sentiment while recogn “The best in the industry tes ala esc her furt ortant considerations, ss' gre I think 'pro ve are now even more imp ser we se tho their guests and clients. of es viti siti logy.” ial and emotional sen in operations and techno game, not a driver. The soc ns for the highest protocols atio ect eau exp Bur s new h itor wit Vis ng & alo Conference Director, Chester County Susan Hamley, Executive

iful tomorrow…” ut ea b ig b t a re g a 's "There Jim Cohn - Publisher Mid Atlantic Events Magazine


Remember how good it feels to dig in to something new? From tasting local cuisine, discovering a piece of history, to exploring wide-open parks, Delaware County, PA makes it easy to dig in to your next meeting.

VisitDelcoPA


CONTENTS May z June 2021

Al Zone, Elmwood Park Zoo; Kiara Greenidge, Sheraton Valley Forge Hotel; Mike Bowman and Lisa Karl of the Valley Forge TCB; Kristofer Fair, Bluestone Country Club; and Ken Lawrence, Montgomery County Board of Commissioners;

MID-ATLANTIC

EVENTS May | June 2021

Exciting To Meet Outdoors

photo credit: Oliveto Media

PAGE 15 - The Leatherstocking Golf Course along Lake Otsego at The Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown, NY

PAGE 10

FEATURES

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Montgomery 100 miles of trails for biking, 50 golf courses, and almost your meetings. With 300 meeting venues, extra days to explore after will have you staying a few County, PA’s outdoor spaces

Golf and Adventure in Montgomery County Montco offers the outdoors to those looking for multiple day meetings

15

Golf, Adventure and Creative Outings Regional destinations with plenty of outdoor activities

20

Emerging Destinations Growing cities and counties attracting groups and meetings

26

Summer Sojourns Drive-to destinations for meetings, vacations and excursions this summer

34

Unexpected Offerings Places and spaces with much more to offer than meets the eye

PAGE 26 - The Chatwal Lodge, a luxury retreat in Bethel, NY situated on 60 acres in the Catskills; photo courtesy: Sullivan Catskills

56

Conversations to Inspire Forward Motion Going outside for events and meetings

EVENTS EXTRAS

6 Publisher’s Letter 44 Guest Experiences: Food and Beverage Offerings 54 Dineable - Catered (Virtual) Events 58 PEPP Talk - Speaking Up for Event Professionals Location Reports 62 Northeastern PA: Pocono Mountains, Lackawanna County, Luzerne County, and the Lehigh Valley 70 Central PA: Altoona, Happy Valley, Lancaster, Gettysburg, York, Hershey-Harrisburg, and the Cumberland Valley 78 Western PA: Erie and Pittsburgh

PAGE 44 - Carryout service at Maggiano’s was always popular and has increased in popularity during the past year. 8

May z June 2021

80 81 82

JOMBY - Uniting People Through Food EventMakers Around The Region


Mid-Atlantic Events Staff PUBLISHER & EDITOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jim Cohn MANAGING EDITOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Rich Kupka DESIGN & PRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . .Dana Kurtbek-MME Media FEATURES EDITOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Lydia Young TRAVEL EDITOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Ken Alan EVENTS DIRECTOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jennifer Johnson CONTROLLER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Robert Conrad CONTRIBUTING WRITERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Sharon DeFelices, Sheena Pradhan

ADVERTISING & SALES 215-947-8600 ad-sales@eventsmagazine.com

EDITORIAL OFFICES 1800 Byberry Rd Ste 901, Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006 215-947-8600, ext. 110 editor@eventsmagazine.com Opinions expressed in editorial submissions contributed to Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine are those of the individual authors exclusively and do not represent the opinions of Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine, its staff, its advertisers, or its readership. Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine and Tri-State Events Magazine, Inc. assume no liability or responsibility for independently contributed editorial submissions or any typographical errors, mistakes, misprints, or missing information within advertising copy.

- Chester County Conference & Visitors Bureau - Discover Lancaster - Green Meetings Industry Council - Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association

Vol. 34, No.4

International – Greater Philadelphia, South Jersey and Delaware - International Live Events Association – Greater Philadelphia, North Jersey & Washington DC - Meeting Professionals International – Middle Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Philadelphia & Potomac - Mid-Atlantic Society of Association Executives - National Association of Catering Executives – Greater Philadelphia/South Jersey - Ocean City, MD Convention and Visitors Bureau - Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association - Pennsylvania Society of Association Executives - PHL CVB - Pocono Mountains Convention & Visitors Bureau

Connecticut Delaware Maryland New Jersey New York Pennsylvania Virginia West Virginia Washington, DC

- Professional Convention Management Association Greater Philadelphia - Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board - Visit Bucks County - Visit Delco, PA

Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine is the bi-monthly, Mid-Atlantic publication, bringing information about the Hospitality and Meeting Industry to Meeting, Seminar, Trade Show, Overnight Accommodation, Special Event, Conference, Convention, for Association, Corporate, Group and Individual Planners along with Hotel, Resort, Conference Center, Attraction, Banquet Facility General Managers, Directors of Sales, Catering and Conference Services. Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine (ISSN 0896-3967), is published bi-monthly by Tri-State Events Magazine, Inc. Copyright 2021 by Tri-State Events Magazine, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Abundant Golf and Outd

Montgomery County, PA is an enticing gro

Montgomery County is a group destination that truly does offer a little bit of everything. “With so much space to stay and play, Montgomery County is the perfect place to gather for an event, meeting, or celebration,” said Mike Bowman, President & CEO of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board (VFTCB). “There is such a variety of things to see and do here from outdoor activities like teeing off at one of our 50 golf courses, or exploring nature along our almost 100 miles of trails and dozens of parks. We’ve got family-friendly attractions like Elmwood Park Zoo and LEGOLAND Discovery Center. Our shopping is world-class from the King of Prussia Mall and Philadelphia Premium Outlets to quaint Main Street boutiques. Plus, a vibrant nightlife with 200 arts and culture venues, 1,600 restaurants and 30 Montco Makers (breweries, wineries and distilleries).”


door Adventure

oup destination for multi-day meetings

Marina Kats of Kats, Jamison & Associates and Kathryn Covolus of Lexis Nexus at the Annual Montco Golf Classic at Bluestone Country Club


M Rachel Riley and Lisa Karl of the Valley Forge TCB with Kiara Greenidge of the Sheraton Hotel Valley Forge.

ontco, as it is known, is home to 80 hotels with a combined 9,400 guestrooms that offer affordable rates, one of the lowest hotel occupancy taxes in the region (4 percent), and free parking.

The county is home to 300 cutting-edge venues able to accommodate groups that are large, small and every size in between - all while making them feel comfortable at the same time. Montco also is home to 1,600 restaurants, 200 arts and cultural venues, almost 100 miles of trails, worldclass shopping (from the iconic King of Prussia Mall to downtown boutiques) and other attractions (even family-friendly ones). Its offerings are those typically found in a city setting, but without all the traffic and congestion. Montgomery County has seen an increase in planning activity among groups in the areas of life sciences, technology, and even social gatherings, such as family reunions and weddings. The area boasts an array of affordable spaces and popular outdoor activities, such as the Elmwood Park Zoo and the Valley Forge National Historical Park. After almost a year of staying home, people are ready and looking to reconnect with family, friends and industry colleagues, and the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board (VFTCB) stands ready with the resources and contacts to help them get back to gathering.

Ken Lawrence, Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, Kristofer Fair, Bluestone Country Club and Al Zone, Elmwood Park Zoo.

­12 May­z June­2021

Truly a golf destination, Montgomery County is home to 50 of some of the most historic and topranked golf courses in the country (that’s 300,000-yards of play!). It’s almost challenging to drive through the county and not come across one. Conference clients love adding an outing to


their opening agenda, where it allows a unique networking setting for attendees. Social events, such as weddings, like to sneak in a round of golf before their big day. And in Montco, the VFTCB notes, it’s not just about the bride and groom’s big day, it’s about their big weekend! Thanks to its outdoor and physical distancing characteristics, golf isn’t just for golfers anymore. The sport has attracted new players – men, women and children – due to pent-up demand and limits on other sports and activities. The National Golf Foundation estimates there was a 14 percent increase in rounds last year, despite shutdowns in March and April, and demand was evi-

dent from June through the end of the year when approximately 75 million more rounds were played than the same stretch in 2019. And, it’s not just the golf industry that’s booming, but also golf business in general with some retail sales (equipment, apparel and accessories) rising more than 20 percent nationally. According to Missy Peart, president of Macoby Run Golf Course in Green Lane, PA, on a 64-degree sunny spring day, her course didn’t have an open tee time available for the entire day. “My proshop attendant texted me earlier today, saying, ‘What if I told you we were going to run out of carts and have golfers lined up at the tee on a Tuesday in March and the greens and tees were just aerated?’”

“In conversations with industry associates and customers, 2021 is predicted to replicate 2020 in golf participation,” she continues. “People have found the game again with seemingly more time to play and will continue to enjoy golf.” Golf in 2020, Peart explains, was like nothing she could have envisioned or predicted. “It soared beyond the days of the 1990s when golf courses were being built at a rate of 600 per year to accommodate the surge in participation. COVID-19 affected industries across the board and golf was without a doubt positively impacted. People have been indoors more than ever in the last year and being outside to enjoy nature and play a sport with friends is a win-win. Our course provides the quiet of nature for the golfer, because we aren't near any highways or build-

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Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­13


ings and you don't hear much beyond the crack of the club. Everyone needs the connection to nature after being in front of screens for work and school all week long.” “When things were totally shut down last year, I saw families golfing together on a Friday evening during the week in the summer and you didn't see that much pre-COVID because everyone's schedules were so packed with activities,” she adds. “The future reality of golf will, without a doubt, be impacted as more leisure time options open up again at full capacity, but we will try our best to lure as many new golfers to the game or bring them back and keep them golfing for generations to come.” MontcoGolf.com has more than 22,000 pageviews since 2020 with almost 1,500 tee times booked through its online booking engine partnership with GolfNow. The VFTCB anticipates this trend to continue for another strong season in 2021, which is why they hosted their annual Travel Rally and Montco Golf Classic at Bluestone Country Club, along with other golf events and tournaments, and they have partnered with several golf media outlets, as well as the Philadelphia PGA to celebrate their centennial this year. Golf isn’t everyone’s game, and that’s not a problem in Montgomery County! Montco offers many unique experiences for taking groups and visitors outdoors. Enjoy almost 100 miles of trails, some of which run through the Valley Forge National Historical Park, for pet-friendly running, hiking, biking and even horseback riding. There are dozens of other parks and historic sites along Montco’s Patriot Trails. Explore walkable town centers and main streets. Feel the breeze while ziplining at Elmwood Park Zoo, or the Canopy Tour at Spring Mountain. Go fishing or move down the Schuylkill River on a canoe. Discover parts of Montco along the Colebrookdale Railroad, or during a hot air balloon ride. With more than 60 towns and main streets to explore, visitors can step back in time and find some unique gems within Montgomery County. ­14 May­z June­2021

Whether at the Colebrookdale Railroad or the Carousel at Pottstown, visitors will find an unexpected experience. There’s also the American Treasure Tour and its collection of unique items from America’s past. Imagine having a scavenger hunt through one of the largest malls in the United States. That’s just one of the unique team building options within Montgomery County, but there are so many more! Groups can make their own bath and body items at Scent and Sip in Lansdale, or head over to the Valley Forge National Historical Park to hear from General George Washington himself! From laser tag and paintball to escape rooms and axe throwing to cooking classes and indoor skydiving, leadership and history are in the county’s DNA. No matter where a group goes, they’ll find a common way to bond and build together. Montgomery County also is home to numerous well-established organizations such as Pfizer, GSK and Merck, as well as many others within the Life Sciences industry. Its location just outside Philadelphia offers employees of these organizations convenient travel across the country, and these companies have access to highly regarded educational institutions, such as the University of Pennsylvania. The spacious and affordable venue makeup of Montgomery County helps support meeting and event needs with conference centers and numerous full-service options, and even the option to buyout event spaces. Plus, the county is wellsituated to welcome these types of groups with its abundant outdoor activities, such as golf, its eclectic dining options, and more than 30 award-winning Montco Makers (breweries, wineries and distilleries). The VFTCB stresses the critical importance of helping to support the Life Sciences, as their programs help to fill Montco hotels during the week, and also bring many highly respected jobs to the area.


Golf, Adventure and Creative Outings Everyone these days is looking to take their functions outside where attendees can enjoy fresh air while physically distancing and staying safe and comfortable. Perhaps no outdoor activity is more popular or in higher demand than golf outings. Not everyone plays, of course, so planners are always looking for additional outdoor adventures and creative activities that can provide the same sense of safety and reassurance for event attendees who aren't out on the greens and fairways.

Eagle's Landing Golf Course in Ocean City, MD; photo courtesy: Ocean City, MD CVB


Here are a few properties and destinations that offer planners golf, outdoor adventures and other creative options from which to choose for group outings and experiences. ROCKY GAP Rocky Gap Casino Resort in the Appalachian Mountains boasts lakeside views, luxurious amenities, award-winning restaurants, spaciously distanced outdoor activities, and a high-energy casino experience amid the natural beauty of Rocky Gap State Park. “There is truly something for everyone here,” asserts Skylar Dice, general manager for Rocky Gap Casino Resort in Flintstone, MD, “whether an adventure-filled getaway, a corporate event, or family reunion.”

Allegany Passage) and the Western Maryland Scenic Railway are both very popular among visitors to the area. History buffs will enjoy the numerous historic sites around the greater Cumberland area, as well. “We work with several local businesses who offer team building options and have an incredibly creative sales team that knows how to go above and beyond to ensure a world class experience for our guests,” Dice asserts. “We have some big things in the work in terms of entertainment at the resort and continue to work with local health officials to ensure that our plans are in line with local health directives.”

The on-site golf course, celebrating its 20th anniversary this spring, recently was named one of Golfweek’s “Best Casino Courses.” Ideal either for a business meeting or social round, this 7,000-yard, par-72, 18-hole course offers five tee boxes at each hole to allow players to adjust according to their handicap.

THE OTESAGA

The only Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course in Maryland, it also offers a 50-spot driving range, two large putting greens, two chipping areas and a practice bunker. The front nine is carved from mountainous, tree lined terrain with numerous dramatic elevation changes, while the back nine is spread across expansive, gently rolling meadows.

On the banks of picturesque Otsego Lake, The Otesaga Resort Hotel offers one of the area’s most elegant and sophisticated resorts. Business and leisure travelers alike will enjoy discovering the charm of Cooperstown, nicknamed “America’s Most Perfect Village.”

"There is plenty of adventure year-round at Rocky Gap and in the surrounding area,” notes Dice. In addition to being home to Rocky Gap Casino Resort, Rocky Gap State Park includes 3,000-acres of land with dozens of scenic hiking and mountain biking trails, plus a 243-acre lake. “Throughout much of the year, Rocky Gap Casino Resort is an outdoor playground with a boathouse on the lake, pedal boat rentals along with canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Fishing is another popular activity, as is bird watching. Rocky Gap’s spacious grounds offer oversized chairs and several firepits for lounging, as well as bocce and cornhole games.” Dice adds that Evitt’s Homesite Trail on the north side of the lake provides fantastic views, and the GAP bike trail (Greater ­16 May­z June­2021

Located in the foothills of the Northern Catskill Mountains in south-central New York state, Cooperstown is a scenic, easily accessible drive from most major cities in New England and the Mid-Atlantic.

There’s much to see and do at and around The Otesaga, including biking scenic paths around Otsego Lake, boating (including renting canoes, row boats, kayaks and paddle boards), fishing, and swimming at the resort’s outdoor heated swimming pool or on the lakeside deck. Of course, there also is golf at the resort’s highly rated Leatherstocking Golf Course, tennis at the property’s two allweather courts, and spa treatments at the resort’s Hawkeye Spa. Considered one of the East Coast’s most scenic and challenging golf courses, Leatherstocking Golf Course at The Otesaga offers a premier golfing experience in a picturesque, natural setting. The 72-par championship golf course features 18 holes of rolling terrain and elevation changes


REIMAGINE | REINVENT RECONNECT that finishes along the shoreline of Lake Otsego. Rated consistently as one of the top golf courses in the state, the resort is well-versed in hosting group golf events and outings, averaging hosting around 10 large golf outings each year. The Otesaga offers golf instruction by certified PGA professionals, and has a golf pro, sales managers and catering sales managers, all of whom work with planners to ensure a first-rate group golf experience. Filled with history and nostalgic charm, Cooperstown is home to the world-renowned National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, yet it offers plenty more that even non-baseball fans will love to discover. During the spring, summer and early fall,

guests love strolling the village’s delightful Main Street, which is lined with interesting boutiques, galleries and various restaurants, bars and coffee shops.

Events

For art and culture aficionados, The Otesaga can arrange for groups and visitors to enjoy guided tours and activities at the outdoor Farmers’ Museum, which recreates what life was like on a farm in the early 19th century. Across the street is the Fenimore Art Museum, which houses a rich collection of artwork. Please note that, due to COVID-19, certain activities may be limited or unavailable based on current conditions and guidelines. The resort also offers unique experiences and customized packages for guests to enjoy with the award-win-

PL ANNING

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Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­17


ning Ommegang Brewery and the celebrated Glimmerglass Festival, among many others. At the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the resort can arrange for groups to enjoy several unique experiences in the warmer months. One fun team building activity offers groups the opportunity to play a baseball game at the historic Doubleday Field followed by a specialty “Ballpark Classic” lunch that includes hot dogs, burgers, Cracker Jack and more. The Otesaga recently held a cooking class for a group outside on their east lawn, too. Groups also can enjoy receptions or dinners outside on the Pro Shop’s patio or on the Pool Patio (both of which overlook Otsego Lake). The resort’s Kingfisher Tower Room opens directly to the outdoor Firebar with lake views, so guests can enjoy the feel of an outdoor/indoor event. Groups can take advantage of customized golf clinics with Matt Smith, head of instruction at Leatherstocking Golf Course, as well. Whether for a short golf clinic or a half-day golf school, Smith will tailor the experience based on the group’s team building goals. For example, the “Nine, Wine and Dine” scramble format tournaments are popular for less experienced golfers who may be intimidated by a full day out on the course.

OCEAN CITY, MD Ocean City enjoys a moderate climate compared to much of the East Coast. Luckily, despite being as far east as one can get on the coast of the Mid-Atlantic, often storms or severe winter weather skirts the area, making long-term planning a bit less stressful for those who want to arrange a visit. Its wide, clean, award-winning 10-mile beach attracts generations of families year-after-year. In fact, many convention and meeting attendees turn their trip to Ocean City into a family vacation. There is plenty in the area to do, as well. While one family member attends a convention, the rest can relax or play on the beach, play golf, stroll the three-mile boardwalk or take in antiquing nearby. In fact, there are 17 golf courses nearby, and they are award-winning. Many of the courses are particularly attractive because of the backdrop of surrounding coastal bays. The wildlife and natural aspects of the courses are stunning, as well. Ocean City’s municipal course, Eagle’s Landing, has received numerous awards and recognition for the surrounding wildlife and scenic views. ­18 May­z June­2021

Rounds of golf can be informal or an organized tournament. Most of the courses offer clubs that can accommodate groups for dinner or casual networking events, as well. Additional outdoor options include water sports and soft water adventures, from jet skis to kayaking and paddleboarding, which are abundant around Ocean City and in Worcester County. Hiking, birdwatching and open-air adventure are prevalent throughout the county, too. Sightseeing boats offer educational experiences as well as sightings of the wild ponies of Assateague in season. Alternatively, visitors can take a car ride to Assateague in any season to visit the educational center and look for the ponies that are gathering and grazing. There are walking trails and even tour companies who offer outings at this sought-after beach area. Local breweries and wineries are great places at which to relax after a day of meetings, as is a walk on the beach. Charter boat fishing here in the White Marlin Capital of the World is something not available in many other cities. Additional local recreational and team building opportunities include laser tag, amusements and arcades, as well as paintball. Soft team building can include a stroll along a walking trail, wildlife sightings, or time scheduled on the boardwalk. Fresh sea air and open beach spaces are well suited to hosting successful, safe gatherings.

DELAWARE COUNTY, PA “Located in the heart of America’s Garden Capital, Delaware County is ideal for the growing number of weekend bookings our inns and hotels have enjoyed throughout the early spring,” observes Steve Byrne, executive director for Visit Delco. “With more than 36 gardens located within 30 miles, each has a unique history, style and wonder about it. Most have quiet areas for reading, like Scott Arboretum’s forest Amphitheater, or Chanticleer’s enchanting variety of creek gardens, the Tea Cup Garden and more.” “Business travelers come with coworkers to relax at the end of a workday before enjoying a great dinner at one of our renowned Main Line restaurants,” he adds. “For guests staying in our extensive Brandywine Country, world famous Longwood Gardens is just minutes away.” Over weekends or after intense business workshops, groups can visit the Brandywine River Museum of Art, or historic Newlin Grist Mill that offers outdoor fishing and hiking trails.


Mike Bowman, Valley Forge TCB, Steve Byrne of Visit Delco, PA, Ashley Grier, PGA , Overbrook Golf Club and Jake Markezin, Valley forge TCB Photo Credit: PGA REACH Philadelphia / Matt Frey

There also is scenic Ridley Creek State Park, and the county-seat town of Media offers great shopping and outdoor dining every Wednesday night and second Saturday from April through September. While Delaware County may be small in size, explains Byrne, it carries a powerful punch when it comes to golf courses. “Three of the 15 courses in Delco have hosted more National Championships than anywhere else. Merion Golf Club in Haverford, one of the most famous golf courses in the world, has hosted 18 USGA Championships, most recently the 2013 US Open. In 2022, it will host the Curtis Cup Match and in 2026 the U.S. Amateur.” Newtown Square’s Aronimink Golf Club will be the site of the 2026 PGA Championship and most recently hosted the 2020 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Other notable tournaments have been the 1962 PGA Championship, 1977 U.S. Amateur, 2003 Senior PGA Championship, AT&T National in 2010 and 2011, and the 2018 BMW Championship. In Springfield, Rolling Green Golf Course hosted the 1976 U.S. Women’s Open and the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. Delaware County also boasts extensive trails for walking, hiking and biking, plus parks with something to offer everyone from the experienced hiker to the lover of nature to the casual walker. There also are places to explore and even canoe and kayak. The first Urban Wildlife Refuge in the nation was Delaware County’s John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. First Settled by the Lenape Indians, it offers a chance to hike and even canoe one of the most pristine sections of the Delaware riverfront. Managed by the National Park Service, visitors cannot

even use a tripod to take photos without permission because the tripod stand disturbs the land. Birdwatchers have noted seeing hundreds of species – many of which live here, but many more that stopover on migrations north and south. There is no admission fee and it is open sunrise to sunset. Historic Tyler Arboretum showcases many trails that appeal to both leisure and business travelers. Children love climbing its life-sized tree houses, taking selfies in its life-sized birdhouse, and visiting other wonders scattered throughout its beautiful grounds, while adults will find joy in its gardens and forest trails. Glen Providence Park in Media is a 33acre park that was originally dedicated as a bird sanctuary. Visitors can still enjoy bird watching in addition to walking, hiking, fishing and more. For those seeking something different for team building, Middletown Archery offers lessons to archers of all ages and skill levels, while Hidden Valley Equestrian Farm, ideal for small groups, offers event space, horseback riding, training and lessons on the grounds of Ridley Creek State Park.

Alternatively, the nationally renowned Bates Motel and Complex can host team building adventures, as well. Arrange an evening of “horrifying” team challenges, haunted hayrides and haunted houses, along with creepy cornfields. These challenges are great for demonstrating team courage, fight vs. flight tendencies, and more. Finally, the Board & Brush team building program features hands-on DIY workshops that can be catered and provide the perfect opportunity for teams to socialize, collaborate and have fun, all while creating a unique piece of art. They provide instruction, all the materials, music and a fun atmosphere that helps build morale. Each of these destinations offers a wide range of creative team building activities, opportunities for golf, as well as adventures and outdoor excursions that attendees can enjoy safely. As more groups are ready to gather once again, destinations such as these provide wonderful options to explore. Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­19


Emerging Destinatio Several destinations throughout the Mid-Atlantic region have been garnering a lot of attention in recent years, each featuring a growing list of offerings that appeal to a wide range of audiences. Their continued growth has made them especially attractive for both meetings and tourism, and, as pandemic restrictions continue to ease, each of these destinations is prepared to welcome back groups and business safely. ­20 May­z June­2021


Leesylvania State Park in Prince William County, VA; photo courtesy: Prince William County Office of Tourism; credit - Jen Slack Photography

ons

Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­21


Top of the 7's Ballroom at The Hotel at The University of Maryland, College Park, MD; photo courtesy: Experience Prince George's

Prince George’s County, MD Prince George's County boasts an inviting and robust hospitality sector that features an array of settings and venues to suit various tastes, including surroundings that are luxurious, boutique, rustic, contemporary, and avantgarde. Planners appreciate the affordability, uniqueness and accessibility of choices within the county, as well as its proximity to the nation’s capital, which can serve as a bonus for group excursions. A suburban-urban destination on the outskirts of Washington, DC, Prince George’s location provides an ideal getaway for travelers seeking a blend of experiences and adventure. The county also is renowned for its National Harbor waterfront district, which features vibrant outdoor cafés, aquatic activities, fashionable shops, worldclass entertainment, MGM Casino, and ­22 May­z June­2021

the 180-foot-tall Capital Wheel with its breathtaking views of the Potomac River. “We also are home to Six Flags America & Hurricane Harbor Waterpark, College Park Aviation Museum, National Wildlife Visitor Center, and various performing arts centers, such as the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, which draws travelers of all ages throughout the year,” explains Rhonda L. Walker, interim director of sales and marketing for Experience Prince George’s, the official destination marketing organization for the county. Growth in the county continues among its commercial, retail and transportation spaces, including healthcare development with a new teaching medical center at the University of Maryland Hospital in Largo. A mixeduse development project in the vicinity of New Carrollton will house corporate

offices, residential units, retail spaces and a hotel; and the arts and culture scene is buzzing in the Gateway Arts District in Hyattsville - a hub for artists, boutique storefronts and access to the Metro. A new light rail Metro line is slated for completion in 2022 that will help make it even easier to get around the area. The hotel sector will feature renovations to Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor, and also at the Crown Plaza in Greenbelt. Ongoing enhancements also are underway to major area highways. Experience Prince George's has stayed abreast of the changes and developments within the tourism and hospitality industry both regionally and nationally, Walker notes. “We have been vigilant in boosting our brand and capabilities to offer a unique tourism and hospitality portfolio that aims to


further attract the meetings and events, and travel and leisure audiences. To ensure we widened our reach, we remained engaged and active with hospitality organizations in the leisure, group and meetings industry as we employed multiple communications and marketing strategies,” she explains. “We are excited about Prince George's County's future in the space of tourism, travel, and hospitality,” Walker continues. “New businesses are being developed, creative opportunities are arising for economic development, and we have succeeded in remaining sustainable and visible during one of the most disruptive times in global tourism. By identifying our strengths and recognizing the road ahead, we have been able to boost our brand and position our county on a path for being recognized as a destination that brings travelers, businesses and organizations for enrichment, adventure and experiences.”

Altoona, PA Altoona and Blair County, a small destination full of big adventures, is known for classic, authentic fun, as well as value and variety.

The destination is home to two amusement parks, DelGrosso’s and Lakemont. DelGrosso’s Park, also known for its culinary experiences, is part of a family of companies that includes the oldest family-owned manufacturer of pasta sauces in America, and is home to Laguna Splash, the only Italian-themed water park in the country, which recently underwent a $12.5-million expansion. Lakemont, which opened in 1894 as a trolley park, is the home of the world’s oldest-surviving roller coaster, listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks, along with newly developed mini-golf courses, volleyball, batting cages, and basketball courts ideal for group and team leadership events. The Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum offers event spaces that include a theater, an outdoor railyard and an early 20th century bar. The world-famous Horseshoe Curve is a National Historic Landmark that opened in 1854 as a significant engineering marvel at the base of the Allegheny Mountains to more efficiently move trains as part of America’s westward expansion. Its observation deck offers a unique area from which to view trains traversing the vast mountainside.

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Other experiences include themed train excursions on the Everett Railroad, the Mountain Lion Observatory, and the western most Revolutionary War site, Fort Roberdeau. This reconstructed fort is in one of the state’s richest agricultural regions, Sinking Valley. Altoona is home to minor league baseball, too, with the AA affiliate to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Altoona Curve. Abundant four-season outdoor recreation surrounds Altoona with numerous winter and summer sports opportunities at Pennsylvania’s highest skiable mountain at Blue Knob All Seasons Resort. There also is bicycling along the September 11th National Memorial Trail, which links the three 9/11 sites in New York City, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania, a wide selection of golf courses, and various land and waterbased recreational opportunities at Canoe Creek State Park. “With 550 new hotel rooms within a two-year period, as well as the destination’s current award-wining hotel properties, Altoona’s capacity to accommodate overnight visitors is positioned at an all-time high, especially for meetings, conferences, events and group travel,” observes Mark Ickes, executive director of Explore Altoona.

that will feature enhanced videography, photography and itinerary building ideas along with the introduction of limited user generated content on social media.

Hampton, VA Hampton is in the heart of Coastal Virginia between Williamsburg and Virginia Beach and within a short driving distance to hundreds of world-class attractions. Ideal for adventure seekers and history lovers, visitors can explore the city’s 410-year history in its museums and attractions, such as Fort Monroe, the largest stone fort in the U.S. Fort Monroe features a museum and visitor center along with guided and self-guided tours that tell the stories of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to English North America in 1619 to the end of 242 years of slavery culminating with emancipation. Known for its waterfront location, beaches and rich history, Hampton also is home to flexible facilities and attractions to explore, “From the Sea to the Stars” (the Sea to the Stars promotion for groups that offers a combination ticket mixing history, adventure and water recreation).

“As a marketing organization that promotes leisure travel and the growth of conference, event, and group travel, we value having new properties and experiences to showcase complementing the destination’s existing… facilities,” he adds.

The Virginia Air and Space Science Center in downtown Hampton is home to galleries with plenty of room for distancing, including its innovative Space Explorer Gallery that opened in December 2020.

Blair County has realized a 30 percent increase in travel spending over the past decade. Explore Altoona’s efforts to continue this growth include a fully integrated destination marketing program encompassing a newly enhanced digital presence. In addition, the DMO is in the midst of a new website project

Three new hotels have opened in Hampton within the last three years, including one within walking distance of Hampton University, the Virginia Air and Space Science Center, harbor tours, restaurants and breweries. Downtown near the Hampton Convention Center is a variety of restaurants, plus retail and entertainment outlets.

­24 May­z June­2021

“At Hampton Convention and Visitor Bureau, we have expanded awareness by promoting the destination with rich visual content and packaged experiences,” explains Mary Fugere, director of the Hampton CVB. “We have developed and marketed easily-accessible online walking, driving and virtual tours, an attraction combo-ticket and brewery pass. We work well with our tourism partners in the city and share opportunities for grants, promotions and trends with them. We also have created - with our partners - a tour, 400 Years Forward, that explores Hampton’s rich black history and heritage sites.” “We are very excited about the continued growth of Hampton and we are looking forward to cutting the ribbon on the new Hampton Virginia Aquaplex slated to open in summer 2022,” she adds. “The facility will host swimming and diving competitions, community swimming programs and a splash park.”

Prince William County, VA With major attractions and a vast array of culinary venues, Prince William offers a premier destination for meetings. A short distance from Washington, DC, the county boasts affordable accommodations with scenic views and ease of accessibility to the nation’s capital. In addition, it also is home to the largest greenspace in the DC metro area with over 38-square miles of recreational amenities. A morning meeting overlooking a vineyard, a breakout session steps away from a golf course, or a cocktail reception at a historic site all help to create an experience that all attendees can enjoy in the area’s unique venues. Prince William County is home to a number of popular destinations that at-


Meeting space at Sweeney Barn in Manassas, VA; photo courtesy: Prince William County Office of Tourism

tract tourists and leisure travelers, as well, like historic attractions such as Manassas National Battlefield Park and the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Local live music venues include Jiffy Lube Live, Farm Brew Live, the Hylton Performing Arts Center, plus performances at area vineyards and breweries.

rium, independently-owned restaurants and outdoor attractions. All these new developments provide unique meeting venues with state-of-the-art technology, exceptional group experiences and affordable accommodations,” observes Mark Kowalewski, sales manager for the Prince William County Office of Tourism.

Shopping enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to Cabela’s, the Potomac Mills Mall, and Historic Occoquan. Outdoor recreation abounds at Prince William Forest Park and Neabsco Creek Boardwalk.

“The Prince William County Office of Tourism participates in trade shows, familiarization tours and media tours to promote the Prince William, Virginia as an ideal destination for adult and student groups, military and family reunions, meetings and events,” he continues. “One of the newest initiatives to market the county is ‘Passport to Prince William’ – a new digital deals pass for leisure visitors to utilize on the go.”

“Over the last several years, Prince William County has seen development in new hotels, event venues, such as Sweeney Barn, Bel Air 1740 and Brentsville Hall at Farm Brew Live, as well as agricultural experiences, craft breweries, wineries, a gaming empo-

“We are looking forward to the continued ‘Final Phase’ expansion at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, new dining experiences, as well as The Americans in Wartime Museum, a notfor-profit, cultural, and educational institution currently under development,” Kowalewski adds. “It will be dedicated to honoring those who have served in all branches of the United States military and on the home front, from World War I to the present.” He further notes that, as tourism continues to evolve in Prince William, new small areas throughout the county will integrate “smart-growth” development that will evoke vibrant gathering destinations for visitors and residents alike. These new developments will include “nodes” that will activate a “stay, live, work, and play” philosophy.

These destinations have grown steadily in recent years, emerging as go to places among meeting planners and rising in popularity among vacationers, as well. Despite the challenges of the last year, each of these locations is poised to welcome back groups of all kinds and continue their growth well into the future. Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­25


Summer Sojour

After spending over a year at home, people are be Some outstanding trips can be enjoyed throughou ­26 May­z June­2021


rns

Scenic overlook of the town of Asheville, NC; photo courtesy: ExploreAsheville.com

eginning to plan for travel and going on vacations once again. ut the Mid-Atlantic region, with options up and down the coast. Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­27


These are just a few of the drive-to destinations that can safely be explored by meeting goers, those traveling with family, or as part of a group tour. Asheville, NC In the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, Asheville boasts spectacular natural beauty, a vibrant arts scene, creative culinary options and inspiring venues of all sizes. With four distinct seasons and a temperate climate, it is a year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Back in 2017, Asheville was named Lonely Planet's "#1 Best in the U.S. Destination." In the years since, it has maintained this reputation among those who love travel, the outdoors, great food and the arts. For meeting planners, it’s a city that brings together the best of the outdoors with a host of modern conveniences. Visitors can wake in a top-rated hotel, stroll to a downtown cafe or restaurant for breakfast, attend inspiring business sessions, and enjoy a casual, fun networking event. Asheville offers a wealth of opportunities for groups, from team building to discovering a diverse culture to awe-inspiring nature. ­28 May­z June­2021

Explore Asheville's team of experts can help in sourcing local services and recommending venues, accommodations and activities in this relaxing mountain getaway.

tour, try safety-first mountain biking, or go flying through the canopy with increased sanitation and contact-free operations at the Adventure Center of Asheville.

“For those making summer travel plans with safety in mind, the Asheville area is a central locale surrounded by national parks and state forests and intersected by America’s Favorite Scenic Drive, the Blue Ridge Parkway,” notes Kathryn Dewey, sales manager for Explore Asheville CVB. “With thousands of miles of hiking and biking trails surrounding the area, Asheville is known for its… expansive views and famous natural attractions. While some hikes don’t have household-name recognition, a lesser-known path offers the chance to explore the mountain landscape with solitude on a trail less traveled.”

Asheville Wellness Tours offer in-person and virtual self-care experiences to meet travelers where they are, which could be virtually, from a hotel room, a cozy B&B or in the great outdoors – all while keeping the comfort level, interests and safety of their attendees in mind. Options include private yoga sessions, a meal by a private chef, forest bathing and more.

Enjoy a physically distanced excursion on the French Broad River on a standup paddle board (SUP) from Wai Mauna Asheville SUP Tours and Rentals. Explore Biltmore's 8,000-acres, go foraging or hiking in the woods on a private

Namaste in Nature, known for sunset, full moon and triple waterfall yoga hikes, has added vortex yoga tours, as the Asheville area is believed by some to have a natural concentration of spiritual, electric, magnetic and electromagnetic energy. The Asheville Picnic Company creates locally made to-go meals for up to four people and offers a fully catered picnic option for parties.


“Looking to find a personally tailored hike? Try Explore Asheville’s new Asheville Hike Finder, which allows for filtering results based on difficulty, length and distance from downtown,” suggests Dewey. “Pick out your view of choice from stunning waterfalls, wildflowers or mountain skylines.” Asheville’s music and performing arts scene boasts numerous outdoor and physically distanced venues, including Rabbit Rabbit (a collaboration between Asheville Brewing Company and The Orange Peel, Asheville’s nationally known rock club), Isis Music Hall, The Grey Eagle, Montford Park Players, and the Magnetic Theatre. Recently opened, Citizen Vinyl offers an immersive music experience with a recordpressing plant, independent record store, music cafe and bar. An outdoor sculptural work by environmental artist Patrick Dougherty, known as “Stick Man,” is on display at Biltmore through September 30, 2021, weaving locally sourced saplings and branches into intricate artwork. Starting May 1, Asheville By Foot Walking Tours will offer the “Asheville Art and Mural Tour,” a guided tour focusing on the history and stories behind Asheville’s public art. This year, visitors can finally explore the newly renovated Asheville Art Museum that was unveiled just before the pandemic, with safety measures and capacity limits in place. The $24 million-plus, state-of-the-art building features expanded gallery space, a lecture and performance venue, and a rooftop sculpture terrace. Also shuttered by the pandemic soon after opening its doors is LEAF Global Arts Center, a cultural and creative hub in the city’s historical black business district, The Block. The center provides Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­29


Crab boat at Cedar Hill Marina and Park in Bivalve, MD; photo courtesy: Wicomico County Tourism; credit: Max Demers Photography

Or enjoy America’s East Coast Mountain Biking Capital on two wheels. Head to Carvins Cove for miles of beginner to advanced single-track or take it easy and explore the colorful art sprinkled through the region on RIDE Solutions’ self-guided Art by Bike Tours. Food, cultural and music-centered festivals fill the calendar during the spring, summer and fall months. Check out Mill Mountain Theatre, Taubman Museum of Art, Center in the Square, Southwest Virginia Ballet, and Opera Roanoke. educational experiences for guests rooted in music, art and community via virtual offerings and advanced reservations for exploring the center. Many of Asheville’s 250+ independent restaurants offer outdoor dining, including some with fire pits and mountain views. Or grab a quick bite at breweries like New Belgium, Highland Brewing Company and Wedge Brewing Company, which often have a rotating schedule of visiting food trucks. “Despite the coronavirus' impact on the industry, new Asheville restaurants and culinary offerings showcase creativity, adaptability and fresh ideas,” explains Dewey.

Roanoke, VA Business and leisure travelers alike are attracted to Virginia’s Blue Ridge (VBR) for its offerings of metro mountain adventure, great cuisine and entertainment. VBR is accessible, affordable and safe, offering year-round physically distant activities like scenic drives and over 1,000 miles hiking, biking, paddling trails and more. Plus, Roanoke recently ­30 May­z June­2021

was named the 2020 “Top Adventure Town” winner by the readers of Blue Ridge Outdoors. Summer is a great time to enjoy Virginia’s Blue Ridge with so many options for entertainment and outdoor adventures. Paddle, camp and enjoy the scenic Upper James River Water Trail with Twin River Outfitters or head to Smith Mountain Lake for recreational boating along 500 miles of shoreline. Adventure at Explore Park in the trees (aerial treetop and zipline course) or on the ground hiking, mountain biking and camping. Top it off with delicious craft beverages and good food at the on-site Twin Creeks Brewpub. Check out Virginia’s Blue Ridge Cheers Trail (a collection of local breweries, wineries and distilleries) or go catch a Salem Red Sox minor league baseball game. Hop on the Roanoke Valley Greenway trails and head up to Mill Mountain to see the iconic, 100-foot tall neon Roanoke Star and Overlook, then explore miles of multi-use trails, pavilions, playgrounds and the Mill Mountain Zoo.

“The world is itching to travel and create memories together after a long year of quarantining,” observes Taylor Spellman, director of public relations for Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge. “Virginia’s beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains offer a well-deserved respite for families, business and leisure travelers.” The free VBR Savings Pass allows visitors to easily access discounts to local attractions, restaurants, and shops in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Sign up via text or email and discounts can be redeemed immediately.

Wicomico County, MD Wicomico County is a peaceful and relaxing destination with plenty for both business and leisure travelers to enjoy. It is home to many centrally located hotels, as well as unique accommodations such as bed and breakfasts and campgrounds. Host a meeting in a traditional meeting room or choose a more unconventional gathering space. Leisure travelers can experience outdoor activities, historic sites and attractions like the free Salisbury Zoo.


Farm-to-table dining is offered at restaurants throughout Asheville, NC; photo courtesy: ExploreAsheville.com

Visitors can bring a canoe or kayak and get out on one of Wicomico County’s numerous waterways. There also are opportunities for fishing and crabbing. The flat terrain is great for cycling, too, and the nature trails at Pemberton Historical Park are a scenic place in which to hike. Families can head to Arthur W. Perdue Stadium for a baseball game and cheer for the home team, the Delmarva Shorebirds. Admire artwork at the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, the Salisbury Art Space, or Salisbury University Art Galleries; then walk through downtown Salisbury’s Public Art Walking Tour. “Get a taste of the Eastern Shore with an all-you-can-eat crab feast at The Red Roost Crabhouse and Restaurant, located in a rural area of western Wicomico County. The adjacent Bull Lips Shanty and Dock Bar has a beautiful location where people can relax along the water,” suggests Vanessa Junkin, marketing and public relations manager for Wicomico County Tourism. “Visitors can dine outdoors at Evolution Craft Brewing Company, Tall Tales Brewing Company or Bordeleau Vineyards and Winery. There also are plenty of outdoor dining options – and all kinds of food - in downtown Salisbury.” “Getting out to explore a new-to-you place or favorite spot is refreshing, rewarding and rejuvenating,” she adds. ­32 May­z June­2021

“Wicomico County and its attractions are welcoming visitors to our beautiful area… We offer a great escape from the big city, with plenty of wide-open spaces and a perfect setting for natural physical distancing.”

The Grand Hotel Cape May, NJ The Grand Hotel is a waterfront destination resort with much to offer for business or pleasure, especially in the warmer months. Indoor and outdoor swimming pools, an outdoor tiki bar, complimentary beach chairs and cabanas available for rental are among its many offerings. For meetings, the hotel is home to more than 17,000square feet of function space that includes a Grand Ballroom with an enclosed porch overlooking the outdoor swimming pool and the beach. Its oceanfront sundeck is available for outdoor breakouts and group functions, as well. The surrounding Cape May County community offers a very attractive setting for day trips, weekend getaways and summer vacations, too. And there’s so much more than the beach to explore, including wineries, breweries and distilleries, plenty of shops and restaurants, a historic lighthouse, Victorian architecture, the Cape May County Zoo, Cape May-Lewes Ferry and so much more.


Ocean Casino Resort Atlantic City, NJ Ocean Casino Resort is an ideal location for both business and leisure in Atlantic City, boasting 1,399 guest rooms and suites, upscale restaurants, casual dining options, signature day and nightlife experiences, 135,000-square feet of gaming, the world’s largest Topgolf Swing Suite, a William Hill Sports Book, Exhale Spa, fitness center, salon, Sky Garden and over 160,000-square feet of dedicated function space overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. “We have a lot of exciting plans for the summer – we just announced a reinvestment of $15 million into the resort, our team members, and the community,” exclaims Peter Ciccone, senior vice president of hotel sales for Ocean Casino Resort. “A portion of this capitol will go toward the implementation of an all-new high-limit table games venue, unique Asian gaming space, as well as two new guest lounges for Ocean Rewards cardmembers.” He adds that new pathways will be installed throughout the casino so guests may easily navigate between games, including more than 250 new slot machines. “We also will be expanding several of our non-gaming amenities, including pools and cabanas, beach, culinary hospitality, and entertainment experiences.” Convention customers can look forward to even more offers in the fall. Ocean Casino Resorts’ five destination restaurants present guests with a diverse collection of extraordinary culinary experiences, including: Spanish tapas at Jose Garces’ Amada; American Cut steakhouse; modern Italian at Dolce Mare; the rock n’ roll gastropub Villain &

The Sky Garden Grille at Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, NJ

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The Chatwal Lodge in Bethel, NY, a luxury resort in the Catskill Mountains; photo courtesy: Sullivan Catskills

Saint; and Harper’s, an innovative brunch spot. Topgolf features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the ocean, a new F&B menu, and a selection of exciting virtual games that include golf, baseball, hockey and even zombie dodgeball. The storied history of Atlantic City, along with its ever-evolving attractions and amenities, make it an ultimate summer destination. Its world-famous boardwalk, beaches, restaurants and casinos combine for an exceptionally unique and intriguing place to visit. “Atlantic City is the perfect location to visit without having to get on an airplane,” notes Ciccone. “Taking into account the current travel restrictions and given the fact that we are located within driving distance of some ­34 May­z June­2021

of the most densely populated major cities in the country, there has never been a better time for planners to look at New Jersey as a prime regional location for their meeting and conventions.”

Wind Creek Bethlehem Bethlehem, PA Situated in the scenic Lehigh Valley, Wind Creek Bethlehem provides business and leisure guests with an escape from the typical day-to-day. At this integrated resort, guests have plenty of entertainment choices, as well as culinary options that appeal to all tastes with restaurants ranging from fine dining to quick bites. Guests also can shop at The Outlets at Wind Creek or try their luck on the casino floor.


Wind Creek is home to two restaurants by celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse, including its signature fine dining restaurant, Emeril’s Chop House - a modern upscale twist on the American steakhouse that boasts fresh, locally sourced steaks, handcrafted cocktails, and decadent desserts. Burgers and More By Emeril, another guest favorite, recently expanded into a larger location just off the casino floor. “The Lehigh Valley is teeming with character, entertainment, dining, and shopping. Its proximity to major metropolitan areas makes it the perfect spot for a day trip, weekend retreat, or weeklong stay,” says Alyssa Lippincott, national sales manager for Wind Creek Bethlehem. “There is something invigorating about taking a road trip to experience a nearby town or attraction - especially as the weather warms up,” she adds.

Catskill Mountains Sullivan County, NY The Sullivan Catskills has everything, from the original site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival (where Bethel Woods Center for the Arts and Museum is located today) to the largest New York State (NYS) resort casino, Resorts World Catskills, and the largest NYS indoor waterpark, Kartrite Resort Hotel and Waterpark, to YO1 Youvon Health Resort. Accommodations include upscale B&Bs, inns, vacation rentals and full-service resorts, all with unique variety and options. This all ties together with natural surroundings, such as the Upper Delaware and Catskills Preserve National Parks for hiking, kayaking and other outdoor activities, as well as fly fishing on the Beaverkill and Willowemoc Rivers. Bethel Woods Center for the Arts and Museum, Forestburgh Playhouse, Delaware Valley Arts Alliance and Catskills Arts Society are running full schedules once again. The Sullivan Catskills has an extensive trail system for hiking and biking, golf and numerous music venues. Distilleries, breweries, cideries, and wineries abound on an Artisan Brew Trail. There also is a popular legacy Dove Trail started to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. There are 50 doves throughout the Sullivan Catskills celebrating the diversity of the county and its hamlets. Soon, there will be 10 more doves added to this popular trail. Farms have a great relationship with most of the chefs serving meals at the restaurants in the Sullivan Catskills, so there are many farm-to-table options. The Farmhouse Project does complete meals in fields during the summer. “Short, more frequent travel is affordable and convenient,” notes Roberta Byron-Lockwood, president/CEO, Sullivan Catskills. “A visitor can spend a lot on beautiful accommodations or camp in pioneer covered wagons.”

Options abound around the region for safe travel this summer. As more people begin to venture out, these and other destinations are ready and waiting to welcome back groups and visitors once again. Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­35


Getting exactly what is expected from a nation (and for everything to go accord erally speaking, is a win when it comes meetings and events. Exhaustive prepar event helps to make sure that no detail

No planner wants unexpected surprises the way. Unless, of course, those surprise tendees and useful or beneficial to their


Phoenixville Foundry in Phoenixville, PA; photo courtesy: Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau

Unexpected Offerings

a venue or destiding to plan), gento organizing ration before the is left to chance.

s to pop up along es are for their atr event.

Sometimes the host property or destination of choice even has a few “under the radar” offerings that planners can incorporate into their guests’ experience that will enhance the meeting or event in some way. For those planners in search of places and spaces with more to offer than first meets the eye, here are a few options with unexpected opportunities that are sure to engage, impress and entice.


U.S. Naval Academy - Noon Formation in Annapolis, MD; photo courtesy: Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County

European Christmas Market, visitors are invited to join the fun. Just south of Annapolis, in Edgewater, MD, is the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), which conducts environmental research that helps policy makers to make sound, science-based decisions to safeguard the health of the planet for generations to come. This 2,650-acre site on the Rhode River is a great place to learn something new.

Annapolis, MD Close to both Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD, Annapolis is the gateway to North America’s largest estuary, the Chesapeake Bay. A National Historic Landmark, too, it is world renowned as America’s Sailing Capital and as one of the top waterfront destinations in the U.S. Whether getting out on the water, touring historic sites, feasting on Chesapeake Bay cuisine, embracing the lively local arts scene, exploring boutiques and specialty shops, or staying in charming historic inns or hotels - a host of experiences await. A visit to the U.S. Naval Academy, which has been training officers for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps since 1845, provides the opportunity to observe midshipmen in noon formation; visit the Naval Academy Museum’s world-class exhibits; dine with midshipmen at the Drydock Restaurant; or catch a Navy sporting event. Nature lovers will find much to explore along the Chesapeake Bay, as Annapolis and the surrounding countryside boast more than 500-miles of shoreline. Learn to sail; charter a boat; or go stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing, or kayaking. Want an unexpected way to ­38 May­z June­2021

get around? Visit City Dock and take a water taxi to a local restaurant or historic attraction. Speaking of historic attractions, Annapolis has been called a “Museum without Walls,” with more 18th-century brick buildings than any other city of comparable size in the nation, including the homes of Maryland’s four signers of the Declaration of Independence. The Maryland State House is the oldest in continuous legislative use. The Banneker-Douglass Museum documents Maryland’s African American history from slavery to the present day, while the newly redesigned Annapolis Maritime Museum and Park chronicles life on the Chesapeake Bay. Something else that’s unexpected? Annapolis’s downtown Historic District is less than one square mile in size, which means these attractions (along with a host of unique dining and oneof-a-kind shopping options) are all within walking distance of each other. What’s more, festivals and events abound in Annapolis and the surrounding countryside. From the First Sunday Arts Festivals and Dinner Under the Stars to the World's Largest Crab Feast and Wednesday Night Sailboat Races to West Annapolis’s Oktoberfest and

In addition, SERC is home to Woodlawn, a 1735 residence that is the oldest building in the Smithsonian Institution’s collection. Architectural renovations have just been completed to the property, and plans are to provide exterior architectural tours this summer. The Smithsonian also is installing an exhibit that will open to the public in the spring of 2022 that will recount the 3,000-year history of the site. While much of SERC’s public programming went virtual during COVID-19, plans are to begin reintroducing in-person activities, including SERC’s popular Science Saturdays, as COVID-19 restrictions lift this summer. Alternatively, planners can add some unexpected (and unusual) art to their itinerary this May, as internationally acclaimed artist Patrick Dougherty will create an environmental art installation in Annapolis fashioned from sticks and locally sourced living saplings on the front lawn of Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts where it will be on display for the next three years. Golf enthusiasts are invited to be among the first to schedule a tee-time at the newly opened Preserve at Eisenhower Golf Course, an 18-hole public golf course with features that are beneficial to the environment.


CHESTER COUNTY’S

Versatile Venues

Springton Manor

Phoenixville Foundry

The High Point

Loch Aerie Mansion

430 West

Duportail House

Discover a variety of venues, from national brand hotels and modern meeting spaces to historic landmarks and Victorian mansions. Enjoy special booking incentives for added value.

View Venues BrandywineValley.com/Meetings Contact Courtney Babcock for planning assistance: Courtney Babcock, Director of Sales Chester County Conference & Visitors Bureau (484) 840-7213 MeetinCC Courtney@BrandywineValley.com |

Trust in adherence to CDC guidelines.

Chester County Safety Commitment


Scenic fall in Jim Thorpe, PA in the Pocono Mountains; photo courtesy: Pocono Mountains CVB; credit: Glen Onoko

Pocono Mountains, PA

will find quaint roadside markets and cool ethnic dining spots that provide cultural experiences.

The Pocono Mountains encompasses 2,400 square miles of rivers, forests, lakes, hills, historic downtowns and iconic family resorts in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The area boasts plenty of surprises, including indoor waterparks, national and state parks with breathtaking natural surroundings, plus great dining and entertainment, and storied regional resorts.

Zip lining, paddle boarding, whitewater rapids, ropes courses, axe throwing, spa treatments and casino gaming at Mount Airy Casino Resort provide opportunities for adventure at every turn. From golf courses in the spring, summer and fall to ski resorts in the winter, there’s no shortage of recreation in the Poconos.

With options available for every size and type of group, the exceptional meeting facilities in the area provide immediate access to ample outdoor attractions. In addition, nearby and on-site activities are available in every season.

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“The wide variety of offerings available in our region can add just the spark needed to take a meeting or event from ordinary to extraordinary,” Case exclaims.

The Wildwoods, NJ

“Monroe County boasts an outlet shopping experience at The Crossings, with numerous name brands to pick from just down the road from Camelback Resort, Barley Creek Brewing, Big Pocono State Park, Pocono Raceway and so much more,” explains Valerie Case, HMCC, sales manager for the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau. “In the Poconos, you don’t have to travel great distances to enjoy a variety of experiences; having all of these favorites close to one another is something that should leave visitors pleasantly surprised.”

The Wildwoods Convention Center offers 260,000-square feet of flexible, state-of-the-art meeting space along with a team of experienced support personnel and service professionals. Situated on the boardwalk overlooking the beach and ocean, the center boasts spectacular views from its outside deck, main exhibit hall, and lobby area. Floor-to-ceiling windows, along with its Teflon coated translucent fabric roof, allow the entire building to be flooded in natural sunlight during the day.

Stroudsburg and Delaware Water Gap are great towns within shouting distance of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Visitors also

The Wildwoods Convention Center also offers impressive dining options for all groups and events. The executive chef and expert 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 consultation. As of April 2021, the convention center was operating at a capacity of 150 persons for youth sporting events and 25 people for meetings and conventions under guidelines set forth by the State of New Jersey. The venue anticipates being allowed to operate at larger capacities as indoor gathering restrictions continue to be eased and/or lifted. The destination’s free white sand beaches provide the perfect spot for a walk along the surf between meetings or swimming, kayaking, fishing, body surfing, or just relaxing and soaking up the summer sun. Home to numerous events throughout the summer season, these beaches also serve as an ideal venue for concerts, festivals, youth sporting events, monster truck beach races, and vintage cars and motorcycles beach drag races. The boardwalk is full of surprises with two-and-a-half miles of pure sensory overload. It boasts over 100 rides and attractions (that’s more than Disneyland!), ranging from world-class roller coasters and three waterparks to carnival-style midway games, arcades and myriad retail shops and eateries (more than the Mall of America!).

the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, a permanent, half-size replica of the memorial in Washington, DC. Offering a destination that allows attendees to traverse the Wildwoods’ beach and boardwalk creates an ever-changing meeting experience and lasting memories in a relaxed and fun atmosphere. Especially now, it is important for destinations to provide fun and unique activities for event goers to enjoy after the day’s meetings or events. The Wildwoods are the ideal location to enjoy the calming benefits of “Beach Therapy.” Or, itineraries can easily be assembled for groups that include activities like team building on a fishing boat, a whale and dolphin watching cruise, a scavenger hunt on the boardwalk, a golf outing, or a clam bake on the Convention Center’s back deck overlooking the beach and ocean. There’s always something going on in the Wildwoods to enhance the overall experience, including over 160 annual planned events and festivals.

Chester County, PA

Biking is a refreshing way to explore the island, including on the boardwalk, various bike paths and on streets and along the back bays via special “bikes only” lanes.

The Brandywine Valley has a rich tradition of horticulture from the benevolence of the famed du Pont family to arboretums paying homage to Pennsylvania (Penn’s Woods). This heritage resonates throughout the greater Philadelphia region, earning the area the moniker of America’s Garden Capital.

The variety of dining in The Wildwoods is a tasty surprise to some, whether it’s fine dining by candlelight, casual fare served alongside stunning ocean or bay views, or familystyle restaurants and buffets. The young and young-at-heart will enjoy boardwalk fare. A variety of themed Doo-Wop diners can be found throughout the island, too.

Chester County’s Kennett Square is a fascinating area steeped in history, horticulture and agriculture, as well. It is home to Longwood Gardens, an esteemed display garden. Known as the Mushroom Capital, over 60 percent of the nation’s crop hails from the region surrounding Kennett Square.

In fact, The Wildwoods is home to the largest collection of mid-20th century architecture in the country, known as Doo-Wop architecture. Visitors are encouraged to stop in at the Doo-Wop Preservation League’s Doo-Wop Experience Museum to learn more. And the Doo Wop Back-To-The-‘50s Neon Night guided tour shows off the best of the Wildwoods Doo Wop-style landmarks.

“Chester County’s Brandywine Valley provides both leisure and business visitors with the countryside setting they want and the convenience they need,” notes Courtney Babcock, director of sales for the Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau.

Another unexpected offering? The historic, picturesque Hereford Inlet Lighthouse and English Gardens is a cherished local landmark, while the George F. Boyer Museum houses the largest collection of Wildwoods archival history, memorabilia, artwork and artifacts. Or honor fallen heroes at

Located halfway between New York City and Washington, DC, the county’s variety of unique venues can help to elevate meetings and events. Sites such as the American Helicopter Museum, Chester County History Center, Phoenixville Foundry, Loch Aerie Mansion, Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, and Springton Manor Farm, along with wineries, breweries and bed-and-breakfasts, have much to offer. Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­41


THE BEST OF Experience

the most convenient and accessible destination in the Baltimore, Annapolis, and Washington, D.C. area. Whether you’re in the area for business or pleasure, or simply looking to get away with the family, the BWI Region has everything you need. Discover hotels, entertainment, dining options, group space, and so much more. Find all of this just minutes from Amtrak stations and the BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, a Southwest Airlines hub. When it is time for business events to move back from video calls to in-person get togethers, the BWI region of Anne Arundel County is ready. Area businesses have come up with creative solutions to ensure every travelers’ safety. With your mind at ease it’ll be easy to enjoy top attractions like the Guinness Open Gate Brewery, Live! Casino & Hotel and Maryland’s largest premium outlet center, Arundel Mills Mall.


Both Worlds But the fun doesn’t stop there. Just a short 15-minute drive away is the Sailing Capital of America and home to the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD. In this quaint, historic, waterfront town you will find modern amenities with all of the charm of a centuries old city. Discover a variety of unique venues, that deliver anything from on-the-water experiences to an artsy blank canvas, perfect for your imagination. Commonly referred to as a Museum Without Walls, this destination will leave your attendees in awe from the day into the night. While you’re here, be sure to taste the Chesapeake cuisine the area is known for. From trendy oyster bars to waterfront crabhouses, everyone will feel like a local. Explore all the two regions have to offer at www.visitbwi.org and www.visitannapolis.org.


Scenic view at Bluemont Vineyard in Bluemont, VA; photo courtesy: Bluemont Vineyard/Visit Loudoun

Chester County also boasts vibrant main street communities that are havens of fine dining, shopping and culture. Coming soon to Kennett Square is The Star & Lantern, a speakeasy-style cocktail bar whose mission is to encourage curiosity about the role of the Underground Railroad and local abolitionism. It features an artful combination of southern and local foods and a custom cocktail menu that honors the work of Tom Bullock, a formerly enslaved man who, in 1917, published one of the first cocktail books in America. And its beautiful underground space with curated art offers guests the unique opportunity to experience both extraordinary fare and inspiring history. Its grand opening is set for June 17th, as a part of Chester Country’s multi-day Juneteenth Festival: Journeying Toward Freedom. What’s more, the rich history of the abolitionist movement can be traced at the Kennett Heritage Center and Kennett Underground Railroad Center. West Chester, the county seat, is a bustling community of brew pubs, cafes, and boutiques, along with the Chester County History Center, the Knauer Performing Arts Center, and the Hotel Warner downtown. Phoenixville is a historic town filled with breweries and restaurants, as well as the Colonial Theatre with ­44 May­z June­2021

its three distinct venues and multiple event spaces in two adjoining historic buildings. It is the home of the annual Blobfest, a quirky festival paying homage to the 1950s cult classic film – The Blob. In all, the County’s Brandywine Valley is home to over 20 craft brewing companies, from the largescale Victory Brewing to fraternity brothers’ labor of love, Locust Lane Brewery. Many offer spaces for small gatherings and special events. Fun, friendly breweries, taprooms and restaurants offer tastings, tours, pints, local fare, and entertainment. BVBrewScene.com is a valuable resource for finding brewers, events, accommodations and wineries, such as Chaddsford Winery, the state’s oldest and largest wine producing facility. "Whether a corporate, association, or training event, breaking up a traditional meeting setup to take advantage of an area's unique attractions is great way to team build and to reconnect a group,” asserts Babcock. The Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau staff can help in choosing the right venue and activities. As an added incentive for 2021, any new meeting or event that books in a Chester County lodging property with 25 or more room nights will be eligible for a $500 signing bonus plus $5 per night on rooms picked up.


Loudoun County, VA Loudoun County is best known as DC’s Wine Country®, featuring more than 40 wineries with awardwinning selections, but Loudoun also offers an exquisite culinary experience with farm-to-table dining, tasting rooms, breweries, distilleries, country inns and estates, plus full-service hotels and resorts. Rich with heritage and modern attractions, too, from historic districts to eastern urban areas, Loudoun is just 25-miles from the nation’s capital. And with 70 percent of the world’s Internet traffic running through the county, it’s easy to stay connected here. Attractions include the Loco Ale Trail with 35-plus breweries, boutique shops in historic districts, and vineyards offering countryside views. “Loudoun is the perfect fusion of cutting-edge development mixed with historic and rural charm,” observes Ann Hayes, Visit Loudoun’s director of sales, groups and meetings. “Visitors will be surprised to find an array of diverse locations, attractions and activities that are sure to delight. Whether you enjoy modern entertainment districts, vibrant historic villages, or hikes paired with vineyard views, Loudoun offers something for everyone.” Loudoun offers both turnkey team building and customizable experiences. Active options include aerial courses and ziplines, TopGolf and iFly, equestrian, axe throwing, paintball, golf scrambles, white water rafting and indoor Go-Karts. Alternatively, groups can engage in cooking classes, wine and beer tastings, wellness breaks, chocolate sculpture making and voluntourism. “Visit Loudoun offers numerous complimentary concierge services for meetings and group events, including itinerary and team building assistance, housing services, vendor and venue referrals and recommendations, parking and shuttle planning assistance and Loudoun resource sheets with local information,” Hayes continues. “And our Welcome to Loudoun Deals program provides attendees with exclusive discounts at local dining, shopping and attractions.”

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Ocean City Maryland 1. In 1912, the Trimper family bought a massive, 50-foot carousel from the renowned Herschell-Spillman Company in Upstate New York and brought it to Ocean City, making the ride almost 110 years old and one of the oldest operating carousels in the country. 2. Ocean City once was known as “The Lady’s Resort to the Ocean” (i.e., the original girl’s trip). It was named this by Stephen Taber and Hepburn S. Benson, who bought the 280-acre tract of land in 1868. Six years later “Ocean City” was born when the land was renamed by stockholders of the Atlantic Hotel Company. 3. In 1900, Dr. Francis J. Townsend, Sr. began his medical practice and opened Ocean City’s first pharmacy. To help soothe beachgoers’ sunburn and windburn, it’s reported that Townsend invented the original formula for a skincare product, Prescription No. 22, which later came to be known as Noxzema®. 4. Ocean City is a cicada-free East Coast oasis! Entomologists who study the bug have concluded that cicadas aren’t partial to the town’s sandy soil. 5. Back in 1939, 171 white marlin were caught in the Atlantic, about 20 miles southeast of the Inlet. That day marks the record for the largest single day catch in history. Known since as the “White Marlin Capital of the World,” Ocean City has hosted the annual White Marlin Open for over 40 years. 6. Years before the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum opened on the boardwalk, the building was used as a ballroom that hosted Lifeguard Balls, Big Band events from the WWII era, and stood as one of the hippest OCMD nightlife spots in the 1960s. After converting into a wax museum, followed by a laser tag arena, the building became home to Ripley’s in the mid-1990s. Believe it... or not. 7. During the first OCMD census in 1880, the town’s population was listed at just 49 residents. That’s less people than the number of wild ponies living on Assateague Island! Since then, not only has the number of locals skyrocketed, but the number of annual vacation visitors now reaches around 8 million!

Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­45


View of the Ben Franklin bridge from the outdoor patio of Jack's Bar + Grill at Rivers Casino, Philadelphia, PA

Guest Experien Restaurants &

­46 May­z June­2021


nces: & Caterers Restaurants, caterers, resort F&B operations, as well as food service vendors and providers throughout the region are featuring special programs and exclusive offerings. Here is a sampling of what is available or being planned for individuals and groups. Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­47


Molly O’Sheas Pub and Eatery at Mohegan Sun Pocono

Mohegan Sun Pocono Restaurants Wilkes-Barre, PA “Mohegan Sun Pocono prides itself on offering incredible dining experiences, and some of our most popular venues hitting that mark, among many, are certainly Rustic Kitchen Bistro and Bar and Ruth’s Chris Steak House,” notes Sarah Farrell, director of sales and catering for the property. “These two restaurants have long attracted both loyal guests and new visitors, and we do expect them to hit the ground running as the pandemic continues to improve. We are actually already seeing higher visitation, especially on weekends, in part due to recent Pennsylvania restrictions being eased.” Rustic Kitchen has regularly been named to Wine Spectator’s “Award of Excellence” for its expansive wine cellar and serves authentic Italian Mediterranean influenced dishes. Molly O’Sheas Pub and Eatery is a newer venue that serves delicious comfort food and sports bar favorites. “We expect Molly O’Sheas to return strong as well, as they are in a prime location near the main entrance of our property, across from Unibet Sports Book at Mohegan Sun Pocono,” Farrell explains. ­48 May­z June­2021

"Our culinary and sales teams are meeting with planners to customize menus that enhance social distancing while meeting and networking safely,” she adds. “Live action stations and chef attended buffets always have been options, but they now are enhanced like never before. Small bites, special packaging and individual portions are presented in a unique way that combines class with convenience.”

Mount Airy Casino Resort Mt. Pocono, PA “For years Lucky 8 Noodle + Sushi Bar has been a staple at Mount Airy Casino Resort. Despite these challenging times, we have found that it is more popular than ever for both dine-in and takeout, even with reduced seating. To meet the demand, we will expand Lucky 8 this summer to create ten more tables, adding 32 more seats total,” states Keith Cawthern, executive director of food and beverage for Mount Airy Casino Resort. To interact with guests while following physical distancing guidelines, the resort has transformed its buffet space into The Market, a grab-and-go eatery that serves similar offerings more safely. All food at The Market is prepared daily


and served in ready-to-eat containers for guests to enjoy within designated physically distanced areas or on the go. “Now that all of Mount Airy’s restaurants have been certified in COVID protocols by the PA Department of Health, we’re allowed to operate at 75 percent capacity,” explains Cawthern. “With more restrictions lifted, we finally are able to utilize our new 20,000-square foot banquet space, which was added in 2019. We weren’t able to utilize that space or our meeting rooms last year, but we have booked a record number of weddings in 2021, and 2022 is a strong showing so far. The amount of inbound requests we have received with interest in both spaces has been really exciting!”

“Making people feel special is at the core of what we do. As COVID-19 has brought many changes for all of us, our teams have worked hard to consistently provide a safe, convenient and delicious carryout experience for our guests, at a great value.” Carryout service at Maggiano’s always has been popular, but even more so during the past year. Alger Valdez, Managing Partner and General Manager for Maggiano’s Little Italy, King of Prussia, PA

To create unique experiences for guests, Mount Airy Casino Resort has begun offering a wine dinner option at their event center. In addition, the property opened Last Call, a grab-and-go beverage store in March 2021, which offers bottles of wine and beer as well as Mount Airy glassware and other treats. Plans are to continue to grow the store over the next few months and further expand its offerings. In-room amenity packages also have been put together for guests to enjoy upon arrival for either a surprise event (birthday, anniversary, etc.) or a comfortable stay.

Camelback Resort Tannersville, PA The indoor swimming pool and eatery are popular offerings at Camelback Resort all year round, but they currently are open exclusively to hotel guests to ensure the proper following of safety protocols. Now that both swimming pools are open, hotel guests can swim through the underwater passageway to either the indoor or outdoor pool. Hotel guests can Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­49


Mouth-watering salad at DoubleTree by Hilton, Reading, PA

rent one of the eight daybeds and cabanas to relax while indulging in the resort's food and beverage packages. New enhanced dining at Camelback is making it the go-to place for area and vacationer visits, packed with fun and exciting eating and drinking. Berrelli's Italian Chophouse, with enhanced patios for outdoor dining, presents chops and steaks, favorite pastas, small plates and seafood that promises casual family style enjoyment. Graffiti Pizza features custom wall coverings by former NFL running back Baron Batch based on street styles of the 1970s and ‘80s. The new Sugar Shack pleases with sweet delights and is in the Lodge on the lower level next to the Arcade.

Wind Creek Bethlehem Bethlehem, PA Wind Creek Bethlehem's dining scene serves up a wide variety of culinary creations including quick bites, classic dishes, handcrafted cocktails and two signature restaurants by celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse. In addition, the property’s food and beverage team is continuously working to evolve on-site offerings, ensuring that guests have access to the latest culinary trends and classics. Burgers and More By Emeril, a guest favorite, recently expanded into a larger location just off of the casino floor, al­50 May­z June­2021

lowing convenient access to hotel guests and groups. The enhanced menu now offers some of Chef Emeril Lagasse's signature dishes, including shrimp and grits, fish and chips, and BBQ salmon. Emeril's Chop House has debuted a new menu boasting steakhouse classics like Japanese A-5 Wagyu, prime beef tartare, Oysters Rockefeller, Clams Casino and more.

DoubleTree by Hilton Reading, PA “DoubleTree by Hilton Reading's highly empowered service staff have made it the number one DoubleTree in the brand in guest experience,” asserts Dan Hoch, food and beverage manager for the DoubleTree by Hilton, Reading. Since opening its doors in December of 2015, guests have enjoyed the hotel’s unique style of highly-engaged hospitality and novel cuisine, whether in ballrooms, event space or in the boutique restaurant, Cheer's American Bistro. “DoubleTree will remain on-trend with its ever-changing menu suited to the season, customer requests and best sustainability practices,” notes Hoch. During the past year, DoubleTree by Hilton Reading did not retreat, instead, broadening product and service offerings by acquiring an off-premise catering company, Catering by DoubleTree, a kosher catering company, Kosher by DoubleTree, a cafeteria food service company, Fresh Made by Dou-


bleTree, and an event design company, Wishes by DoubleTree. Across all food and beverage platforms they will be rolling out a zero-waste sustainable, local ingredient, plant forward menu model. “You'll still be able to find your favorite steak and seafood comfort offerings, just more flavorfully presented with a focus on your health and the health of the environment,” Hoch notes. In addition, DoubleTree by Hilton Reading has converted panoramic suites into private dining rooms for up to ten people. Guests experience an exquisite, seasonal four-course meal with an open bar and room attendant while enjoying a sunset and city views in private, safe and comfortable surroundings. Also, in alignment with its sustainability model, the hotel will be planting a roof top garden for all of its fresh herbs. Look for menu and cocktail items, too, that feature honey produced from two on property beehives. Finally, the DoubleTree will be opening an expanded outdoor garden for cocktail and dining experiences in the heart of Reading’s downtown corridor.

In Our Place Or Yours, Make It An Unforgettable Event

Cescaphe Event Group Philadelphia, PA “Cescaphe… will never change our ‘Mission Statement’ and our ‘Core Values’ along with our great team of longtime, dedicated people. We certainly will alter the usual ‘Hot Topic’ items, like buffets and stations, and we always have practiced amazing sanitation measures. I will listen to the marketplace and use our industry knowledge, professionalism, and dedication to deliver excellence in guiding us through the next year or so,” asserts Joseph J. Volpe, founder and CEO of Cescaphe Event Group.

No matter what you’re celebrating, from a once-in-a-lifetime wedding to a family reunion, our team will transform any occasion into an unforgettable event.

BANCA by Di Bruno Bros. Preferred & Exclusive Caterer In Over 30 Venues.

BO O K I N G N OW C AT E R I N G @ D I B R U N O . C O M | 2 1 5 - 6 6 5 - 1 6 5 9 D I B R U N O C AT E R I N G . C O M

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Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­51


Seafood offerings at Rum Point Crab House, Harrah's Resort in Atlantic City, NJ

“In the wedding industry, couples aren’t necessarily looking for the ‘best deal.’ They demand the best and the latest and greatest services, food and experiences,” Volpe explains. “I believe outdoors will be popular for the next six-months. With that said, we are offering a new seasonal outdoor venue at Franklin Square Park called Franklin’s View. My wife and team have done an amazing job putting the entirely new [venue] together, from hardwood flooring and chandeliers to chairs, chair pads, stages, bars, bar backs, and food stations. Wow! They really did an incredible job.”

Fearless Restaurants Locations in Southeastern PA and NJ “We see a ton of groups going in a less formal direction with ‘fun’ being the trend,” observes Jake Wade, private events concierge for Fearless Restaurants. “Stations are overwhelmingly popular. Our chefs are always up for a challenge for those who prefer off-package offerings. Creating unique, oneof-a-kind events are huge now as numbers of attendees have restrictions due to COVID, and people are looking to create warm, inviting events with a ‘wow’ factor.” Currently, Wade notes, post-rehearsal dinner welcome parties are very popular. “This also is laid back and fun with an open bar and Philly-centric foods like cheesesteaks, soft pretzels and Philly roast pork sandwiches.” For the upcoming 2021 holiday season, Fearless Restaurants is planning specials for all those who book at their restaurants, as well. ­52 May­z June­2021


The Landing Kitchen at Ironworks Bala Cynwyd, PA

c

BE Hospitality, the newly established hospitality group from celebrated restaurateurs Fia Berisha (formerly Elements, Mistral) and Nicholas Elmi (Laurel, In the Valley), recently announced the launch of its first concept, The Landing Kitchen, in partnership with the Penn Group. Located at Ironworks in Bala Cynwyd, The Landing Kitchen is an all-day cafe, kitchen and garden bar. “This project is over a year in the making and we are elated to see it finally come to fruition. There’s never an easy time to open a new restaurant and 2021 is no exception, but we’re grateful to be surrounded by dedicated partners and an unrelenting team that saw this to the finish line,” explains chef and restaurateur, Nicholas Elmi. The Landing Kitchen boasts indoor and outdoor seating, separated by loading dock garage doors, with a spacious patio and fire pits that face river views yearround. “We wanted to create a very versatile space that would transition from day to night seamlessly from a guest's perspective, but also for events,” Fia Berisha explains. Later this spring, The Landing Kitchen will roll out a playful evening menu as well as interactive games for both adults and children, live music and big-screen movies on its spacious and picturesque patio. Of course, all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the team, guests, and the greater community will be taken. The Landing Kitchen’s sister restaurant, Lark, a coastal Mediterranean restaurant, will be opening on the seventh floor of the reimagined Ironworks this spring, complete with a terrace offering an expansive view of Manayunk and the river.

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Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­53


Harrah's Resort Casino Atlantic City, NJ

Rivers Casino Philadelphia Philadelphia, PA

Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City will debut four new dining, nightlife and entertainment concepts this spring for guests to enjoy. This May, the resort will enhance The Lobby Bar, located in the center of the property, doubling its original size. The bar will offer a relaxed, casual environment for guests with an extensive menu featuring a variety of spirits and creative handcrafted cocktails, along with local craft beer, bottled beer and wine.

Rivers Casino Philadelphia is serving up quick and easy eats, tasty bites, signature cocktails, delicious desserts, and more this summer at Hugo’s Frog Bar & Chop House, Jack’s Bar + Grill, and Mian, the casino's authentic Asian cuisine restaurant.

Opening in late May, and inspired by the success of outdoor, bayside dining at the resort last summer, The Baywalk at Harrah’s Resort will present live music, selections from the new Rum Point Crab House’s raw bar, and drinks along the water with scenic views and refreshing bay breezes. The dining menu will feature a wide array of selections that will be complemented by entertainment, games and interactive activities outside in the open air.

­54 May­z June­2021

In addition, Rivers celebrates the return of its outdoor dining offerings together with safe indoor seating, where guests can enjoy American fare from Jack’s Bar + Grill along with views of the Delaware River and the Ben Franklin Bridge on the patio (starting May 7th). Along the scenic riverwalk behind the casino, guests can savor Jack’s mouth-watering appetizers such as bang bang shrimp, Philly eggrolls and jackpot fries followed by delicious entrees and decadent desserts. Plus, guests can choose from a full beer and signature cocktail menu at this summer hot spot.

Overlooking The Baywalk at Harrah’s Resort, Rum Point Crab House will introduce a fresh and delicious crab and seafood concept to the property this summer with a wide selection of fresh seafood, appetizers, shared plates and a raw bar. Taking surf and turf to the next level, the restaurant also will offer premier steak selections and land-based dishes including Rum Point’s signature Ribeye Steak; the Rum Point Burger; and house-smoked Baby Back Ribs.

As always, safety is a top priority at Rivers Casino Philadelphia, which meets or exceeds all health and safety requirements from the CDC, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the City of Philadelphia.

This summer, Harrah’s also will introduce a new dining and nightlife experience at its famed pool, one of Atlantic City’s most unique destinations. The new brand of nightlife hospitality will evolve The Pool’s sophisticated, tropical oasis environment and seamlessly merge delicious, Instagram-worthy food and drink presentations with an out-of-the-box nightlife experience that's enhanced by performance artists, interactive musical entertainers such as percussionists and violinists, aerialists, musicians, and more - all anchored by a DJ who will set the tone for an evening out.

Upcoming guest specials include a decadent Father’s Day dinner available from June 16-20. Hugo’s also is debuting a new spring and summer menu featuring savory dishes. Rivers Casino also wants to thank all active-duty service members, veterans and first responders for their service by offering a free entrée at Jack’s Bar + Grill and/or Mian with the purchase of another entrée. Guests must present valid military, Department of Defense, police officer, firefighter or hospital ID.

Reservations through OpenTable are suggested for Jack's, as well as for Hugo's Frog Bar & Chop House, and Mian. Walk-ins are welcome, pending capacity limits.


Rocky Gap Casino Resort Flintstone, MD

Back patio at Rocky Gap Casino Resort in Flintstone, MD

Rocky Gap Casino Resort has announced two new upscale concepts, Lakeside Grille and Lakeside Lounge, coming this spring. Lakeside Grille boasts spectacular views overlooking the lake and Rocky Gap State Park, replacing the resort's former upscale steakhouse. Its menu will feature USDA Prime selections including local and regional steaks, chops and seafood. Part of Golden Entertainment, Inc., Rocky Gap Casino adheres to the company’s “Golden Commitment” to the health and safety of its guests and team members. “Whether you’re finishing up a round of golf or getting away for date night, Lakeside Grille will be the place to be when visiting Rocky Gap,” said Skylar Dice, vice president and general manager of Rocky Gap Casino Resort. “We have upped our game in size and cuisine, but one thing that will stay the same is the fantastic lake views we can never get enough of.” Lakeside Grille will be adjacent to the new Lakeside Lounge, as well, the resort’s rebranded upscale bar, serving as a social setting with indoor and outdoor seating while offering patrons the full menu of Lakeside Grille. Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­55


How a Startup was Reshaped in Response to the Pandemic Dineable is a virtual catering and events company, coordinating delivery of meal kits, happy hour kits, boxed lunches, and culinary experiences for events being held virtually or in hybrid formats (where some guests are in-person and others are remote). These events range from company happy hours and corporate dinners to social events, like birthday parties and weddings. The company has had rapid success during the pandemic by pivoting to this new business model. This, however, was not how Dineable started. At its inception, Dineable was an app to help caterers and event planners manage guest dietary restrictions at their events. The concept had early traction in beta testing. In 2020, the business went back into the R&D phase for improvements based on customer feedback. However, when the pandemic happened, the original business model was shut down as it was focused on live events. It was about this time that a fortuitous brainstorming conversation with a client allowed the new virtual catering concept to take shape. One pilot event led to four more. Dineable’s new concept started growing rapidly by word-of-mouth and has since yielded 100 percent quarter over quarter growth and continues to grow. Dineable owner and CEO, Mark Surkin, notes that the biggest challenge comes from not knowing where guests will be located until after an event is booked and budgets are committed. “Event professionals know the registration problem well,” he explains, “people responding at the last minute, people moving, changing plans, and so on... Now, add shipping and delivery logistics to that timeline. It can be a bit stressful.” The selling process for virtual event catering is not much different from selling on-site or drop-off catering, he observes. “Of course, we need to detail how we operate regarding deliveries, including swag, client and sponsor logos, and so on, but the sales hook is pretty much the same: Engage your guests, help your hosts show their hospitality, and exceed expectations.” ­56 May­z June­2021


The business runs, in part, due to the support of their partners. When the pandemic hit, many food and hospitality businesses had to close and furlough staff. Dineable offered their partners a new way to keep their businesses open through catering for virtual events. Dineable’s partners provide the food and the Dineable team does the rest, booking sales, gathering orders, managing shipping and delivery logistics, and handling customer and guest support. So far, Surkin asserts, 100 percent of surveyed customers say that Dineable’s catering experience made their overall virtual event experience better. And, he adds, a lot of them have been repeat customers. One corporate client praised Dineable’s service, saying that it helped them have “the best chairman’s dinner we’ve ever had” in 22 years of holding the same annual event. “It's pretty amazing to have the virtual dinner experience exceed over 20 prior years of in-person events,” says Surkin. Moving beyond the pandemic, Dineable’s team agrees with the common sentiment in the events industry that virtual and hybrid events will continue to grow and evolve. Dineable further believes that food businesses don’t have to be constrained by geography. “I’ve always believed that sharing a meal is probably the best way to connect with someone,” Surkin continues. “It doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe, the moment two people taste the same thing and smile at each other, a bond is formed on a basic human level. That’s what Dineable does.” So, what does the future hold?

www.dineable.com

Surkin says, while he doesn’t know precisely where their customers will take them in the next few years, they are ready to innovate and serve with great hospitality, no matter where guests are or how much distance is between them. Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­57


Conversations to Inspire Forward Motion

Let’s Take This Outside! If you’re like me, the extra hour of daylight, warmer temperatures and opportunities to be outside are what makes my soul sing. Katrina and The Waves “Walking on Sunshine” is on perpetual loop in my head. Taking your gatherings outside is easy to do now. And making the playlist could be really fun… Bing Crosby’s Don’t Fence Me In… John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High... Chicago’s Saturday in the Park. Whether you daydream about the beach, mountains or anything in between, there’s an outdoor meeting plan for you. While convening our usual “chat sesh,” Kristofer Fair, COO and director of operations for Bluestone Country Club and Lou Marrocco, director of meetings and events for Visit Delco, PA and I were talking about all the wonderful things about bringing our events outside. Of course, an outdoor affair allows us to have more guests and certainly adds Mother Nature’s touch to the décor. ­58 May­z June­2021

But, all of this aside, why should we want to take a corporate event outside? First, there are many health benefits to being in fresh air and sunshine. Fresh air energizes us and boosts our mood. What happens to us when we spend time outside? According to Harvard Physician Eva M Selhug, co-author of “Your Brain on Nature,” there are connections between being outdoors and wellbeing. When we are outside, that turns off our stress response while lowering heart rate, cortisol levels and blood pressure. It also provides and improves immune response. In addition, exposure to nature increases feelings of positivity, creativity and focus. Nature is an ideal remedy for the mental fatigue of work. A company out of Canada, Steel Space Concepts, is customizing modified shipping containers for outdoor events, product activations and other uses. LL Bean, who specializes in outdoor clothing, had Steel Space Concepts create

an outdoor work and meeting space for them as part of a pop-up experience. Yes, I am OBSESSED! Recycling shipping containers has been a popular trend lately, being put to good use in many ways. I’ve seen a shipping container dining hall at Sparkman Wharf in Tampa, FL, as well as in use at hotels, cafes and theaters. My personal favorite, however, is their use in outdoor meeting and office space. So, what are some factors that should be part of the planning process as we look at moving our meetings outdoors? Time of day? Duration of event? Weather? Yes, yes……and yes. All of these and more. Hosting a full-day outdoor meeting is probably not a great idea, but a morning session or even a shorter afternoon strategy session works. The weather absolutely plays a role, but if you have a location with a covered area or can arrange for a tent, that can help to keep the attendees shaded and dry if the forecast is not ideal.


Food and beverage? How about a chef, preparing made-to-order items off the grill for breakfast or lunch? I’m all about exercising some creative options, and a picnic lunch sounds amazing! Food trucks are everywhere and could be a fun way to get everyone fed. Or, if it’s an afternoon session, what about a visit from the local ice cream truck?

IS ANYONE ELSE’S MOUTH WATERING RIGHT NOW? If setting up all the logistics for an outdoor meeting is more than you can think about right now, why not check out a local hotel or restaurant who’s already got outdoor space - like a rooftop bar - for your meeting? Many venues have really been pulling out all

the stops to make their outdoor areas “group-friendly.” You can pair up a late morning meeting with an outdoor lunch and then offer a scavenger hunt for the afternoon break before heading back to the office Summer is the time to relax a bit and have fun. And after the isolation of the past year, I’m sure your guests will appreciate being able to spend some time out from behind their screens. It’s been a while since we’ve had to put together a swag bag, but I’m dreaming about how fun it would be to create one for an outdoor event.

I HOPE SQUIRT GUNS AREN’T OUT OF STOCK!

We invite you to join us as part of an ongoing conversation and sharing of ideas with regard to all aspects of face-to-face meetings and events. Now, more than ever, we need to pool our collective energy to create the momentum necessary to move forward. Through such a dialogue, we can find ways to manage the many challenges we all are facing right now while working together to find new and creative solutions. By staying nimble and collaborating with industry partners, we will not merely survive - we’ll thrive!

Click here to email us with your thoughts and ideas! sharon@mosaicmeetingsandevents.com Sharon DeFelices, CMP is the owner of Mosaic Meetings and Events, LLC in New Hope, PA, a comprehensive meeting management company with a division specializing in food and beverage management, as well as accommodating dietary preferences and restrictions for events.

Shipping container dining hall at Sparkman Wharf in Tampa, FL; photo courtesy: Strategic Property Partners

Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­59


PANDEMIC IMPACT

PEPP

TALK The pandemic and resulting city, state and federal regulations and mandates have greatly impacted the entire hospitality industry, including hotels, conference centers, restaurants, caterers, music venues, performance and cultural spaces and attractions, as well as a host of others. Industry associations and destination marketing organizations have served as advocates for many sectors within hospitality, but a glaring void in one area has led a group of local leaders within the events industry to band together and ensure that their collective voices are being heard.

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The pandemic has been devastating for everyone who works in hospitality, but perhaps none more so than those who work in special events professions. “Our business in 2020 was down over 90 percent, and, so far, 2021 has not shown the anticipated improvement,” says Phyllis Jablonowski, CSEP, HMCC, CWP, CEO, Eventricity, LLC. “With such drastic reduction in revenue comes a required reduction in work force. These are not just statistics… these are valued people that made our company successful. It is the first time in over 25 years that I have had to lay off staff, and that has been very difficult.” Jablonowski notes that she is grateful for the PPP (Payroll Protection Program) grants that have been made available, but stresses that these funds are merely a bandage on the fiscal wound caused by the pandemic, citing that taxes, insurances, mortgages and utilities all are expenditures not covered by these grants. And, she further points out, other grant programs are specific to hotels, venues, caterers and restaurants. “The over 40 other professions in the special events industry have not been recognized, and we are hurting in the same way.” Special event businesses, their staffs, colleagues and clients have been left without a clear plan or direction for more than a year now, she says, with no apparent path forward. Unlike other segments of hospitality, such as hotels and restaurants, special event companies require a longer planning time to resume operations, meaning that their first events likely wouldn’t take place until 8-12 weeks – or longer – once the “green light” is given for them to return to work. Despite being the second largest employment sector in the state, Jablonowski says that the event industry’s concerns were not being heard because, unlike some larger industries that have a few players who each employ thousands, businesses in the events industry consist of thousands of companies with smaller staffs. “It amazes me that officials still, a year later, don't know or understand our plight… a core group started a campaign to allow weddings in PA LetPAMarryUs.com – through which the governor has received thousands of emails and tweets from all constituent groups.”


Domenick Savino THE DREXELBROOK

Joseph Volpe CESCAPHE EVENT GROUP

Phyllis Jablonowski EVENTRICITY

According to Domenick Savino, CPCE, managing partner, The Drexelbrook, “First and foremost, the vast majority of our industry has never had to face a complete ‘shutdown,’ let alone a shutdown that has lasted for over one year and counting. Second, the impact on owners, managers, families and employees has been devastating. Lost jobs, wages and health benefits left many of our industry workers with an uncertain future. Supply chain also has shifted with certain commodities no longer available or so high priced that we cannot use them anymore.”

co-workers who were working remotely further added to the complexity of the situation.

for the safe reopening of private event venues, educators to our elected officials, and voices for our industry. We meet weekly with 40 other venue owners and managers to discuss our issues. This has been the single bright spot of the pandemic, the opportunity to become friends and work together as part of a common cause.”

The year 2020 was the most challenging by far for special events in the 30plus year career of Joseph J. Volpe, founder and CEO of Cescaphe Event Group. Throughout the past year, it has been a challenge to stay informed as to the ever-changing City of Philadelphia and State of Pennsylvania COVID19 rules and restrictions and also keep over 500 couples updated about how those rules would impact their wedding day. Continually trying to understand and anticipate the frequent changes to rules and restrictions, keeping employees safe, maintaining an office presence while also simultaneously staying connected to and communicating with

“Then there were the obvious financial challenges that come with the loss of revenue for over a year,” explains Volpe. “The list of challenges goes on and on, but the most important thing is all of our people stayed healthy and did the most amazing job in keeping our booked clients informed and, for the most part, happy – with a 90 percent success rate during the pandemic, of which we are very proud. I feel blessed and honored to be surrounded by the most amazing people that work here at Cescaphe.”

STEPPING UP In April of 2020, Tim Sudall, president of the local chapter of the National Association of Catering Executives (NACE), reached out to Domenick Savino, Joseph Volpe, Phyllis Jablonowski, and Jeffrey Miller of JAM Catering to brainstorm regarding how event professionals could navigate these tumultuous times. “Together, we created the Private Event Professionals of Pennsylvania, or PEPP,” says Savino. “We are advocates

Since the formation of PEPP, its members have been able to share resources, make referrals to one another, to be a voice, but also to listen to one another’s experiences, and to stand united in advocating for the reopening of their businesses. “We needed to be recognized as the thought leaders for our industry,” asserts Jablonowski. “We started by hosting roundtables to get all disciplines involved, and that strengthened our relationships and collaborative efforts. We have engaged many associations, including NACE, ILEA, GPHA and PRLA, which brought us closer and more in sync. We established lines of communication and regular calls to ensure that we all are correctly informed and current with the issues of the day. People have pulled together to help each other and to be sounding boards for each other, which will continue long after this pandemic.” Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­61


“We were not on the radar; we now have a consistent and strong message,” she adds.

HOPE FOR THE FUTURE

A SILVER LINING

Looking ahead, Domenick Savino says that he still sees a bright future. “From my personal experience, and in talking with many of our clients, they express such positive energy to return to in-person events. We have already hosted some small corporate and association meetings, and we have many scheduled for Q3 and Q4 of 2021. As more people get vaccinated and the positivity rate drops we will see mitigation eased and a return to pre-COVID volume.”

“This was one of the areas that produced a ‘silver lining’ throughout the pandemic,” explains Volpe. “When COVID hit last March and the industry was shutdown, it actually forced everyone to come together and help one another as we all gathered information and started learning. The list included not only restaurants and caterers but also photographers, videographers, band leaders, DJs, event planners, florists, hoteliers, sales directors, dress makers… the list goes on and on.” Many within the events industry already had established relationships from prior years of having worked together, but the pandemic forced everyone to truly unite and to communicate on a regular basis. “That, hopefully, will continue long after COVID is gone,” says Volpe. “Philadelphia has the most incredible industry professionals… some of the best in the world.” “Our industry professionals were driven together and able to work closely and communicate to make last minute weddings or ceremonies happen at a moment’s notice while conditions and restrictions were changing by the day,” he adds. “All of this was done to service couples during a very difficult time period. Every single professional was sharing work and not thinking of themselves or about losing a ‘job;’ instead, putting the needs of these couples first.” “I am incredibly proud to be part of a group that does not hide in a corner, but rather stands for themselves and each other,” exclaims Jablonowski. “Several of us realized early on that we needed a more unified voice if we wanted to be heard. Being active in the special events community for almost 30 years has allowed me to develop great relationships. The coming together for this effort has added to my circle of colleagues. The new relationships and bonds that have been formed are awesome. The power of collaboration cannot be underestimated.” The collective unity that has been achieved has made the special events industry in Pennsylvania stronger, she adds.

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“It’s now May of 2021, which would typically be one of the busiest months of the year,” says Joseph Volpe. “Cescaphe, in a normal year, would host 16-18 weddings each weekend during the month of May. This upcoming month, our outdoor venues are most popular, such as Franklin Square, Girard College Founder Halls - around the pavilion and its amazing outdoor tent - at Water Works, and in the courtyard at Vie. I expect indoor weddings to start to come back in May slowly as we increase vaccinations and start to build from there. Hopefully by the end of summer we will be back to 100 percent.” Just about every event professional has created COVID -19 protocols and procedures specific to their craft. At Cescaphe, Volpe says they have implemented what they call “Invite to Midnight,” an extensive list of procedures that start with the invitation and end at the conclusion of the wedding’s festivities (which typically happens at midnight). Phyllis Jablonowski also remains hopeful, saying, “I have great hope because people need and want human connections and to celebrate milestones. I am part of an awesome industry that loves people, provides great service, and wants to make sure that everyone can celebrate safely.” She adds that professionally planned, produced and managed events are the safest way to gather. “We are not the ones setting policy or guidance, but we are willing to contribute to the discussion at any time. We are not asking to be open to 100 percent tomorrow; rather, we are requesting a plan that we can share with clients so that they can have some confidence that they will be able to gather at some later date.” “We look forward, once again, to providing our staff, colleagues, clients and guests with a safe and fun way to celebrate, make memories and enjoy each other,” Jablonowski adds. “That's the goal and we are ready to deliver.”


Information for the Location Reports has been provided by the Convention and Visitors Bureaus listed (denoted by website) along with additional sources. For the most up-to-date information available with regard to local COVID-19 policies and protocols, please visit the websites listed for each destination.

LocationReport

NORTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA

Woodloch Resort, Hawley, PA, in the Pocono Mountains

POCONO MOUNTAINS, PA poconomountains.com WHAT’S NEW Millions of dollars recently invested in local facilities have made the Poconos just as amazing for conventions and corporate retreats as for vacations. Kalahari Resorts and Conventions doubled its meeting space in early 2020, and Mount Airy Casino Resort has expanded the meeting space at its storied property, as well. Feature-rich Camelback Resort offers meeting facilities along with exciting on-site adventures such as skiing and snow tubing in the winter, an outdoor adventure park and outdoor waterpark in the warmer months, and a huge indoor waterpark open year-round.

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Each of these properties features free parking, all the connectivity needed to meet either in person or remotely, as well as top-notch hospitality with staff who go above and beyond to make the guest experience safe and enjoyable. At Camelback Resort, all 453 of its guest suites were recently modernized with rustic furnishings, new fabrics, rich woods and polished marble, as well as nature and landscape art created by regional artists. Camelback Lodge accommodations feature 16 layouts – many perfect for multi-generational vacations with full kitchens, fireplaces, balconies and spacious lofts. A new resort app - available on IOS and Android - easily allows guests of Camelback to book their stay, plan itineraries, arrange for equipment rental, procure lift tickets, make dining reservations, reserve poolside cabanas, explore the property and secure real-time information. New this summer at Camelback are guided Ultimate Terrain Vehicle (UTV) Tours, Summer Tubing and the challenging new Adventure Zone inside Camelbeach Outdoor Waterpark, plus a new Euro Bungee experience.

Camelback Lodge and Indoor Waterpark

Visitors can discover waterfalls and panoramic views nearby at state and national parks or recharge with delicious meals at a wide variety of area restaurants. The Pocono Beverage Trail features breweries, wineries and distilleries throughout the region, too. In addition, attractions such as Pocono Axe Works and Soarin’ Eagle Railtours (new in 2021) offer plenty of opportunities for team building exercises.

EXPECT MORE THAN MOUNTAINS IN THE POCONOS.

Make your vision a reality in the Poconos, where you’ll find the space you need to collaborate with your team and build a successful future. Up to date amenities and all of the latest tech make hosting your next meeting or conference in the Poconos a breeze. Email meetings@poconos.org to learn more.

#MeetThePoconos

Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­65


LOOKING AHEAD The Poconos’ approach to public health and safety has been a natural extension of the region’s long-time focus on ensuring the safety of guests as well as team members and the community. The Pocono Promise is a voluntary pledge that hundreds of businesses, big and small, have adopted to abide by strict CDC and PA Department of Health guidelines with respect to sanitation, training and mitigation of COVID-19. Meetings are returning, and events are going back on the calendar. This should be a major boost to the local psyche and the local economy, which is heavily reliant on tourism and convention business. "The Pocono Mountains has been making every effort as a destination to place public health

safety and peace of mind above all else for meetings of all shapes and sizes," noted Chris Barrett, president and CEO for the Pocono Mountains Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Our properties take that responsibility very seriously and are positioned well to offer plenty of space and access to technology to ensure successful meetings. We’ve made a promise and a Pocono Promise is one kept to help us all return to some normalcy." As events and meetings return, Pocono hospitality providers will use the lessons learned over the past year to ensure the experience is second-tonone for planners and convention attendees. This can and will be done with the spirit of cooperation throughout the region that has helped everyone through a difficult 2020. Additional emphasis will be placed on providing tailored experiences for planners, their clients and guests, so that each event or meeting delivers the right experience in the right environment.

LACKAWANNA COUNTY, PA

LOOKING AHEAD

visitnepa.org WHAT’S NEW In 2020, the Lackawanna County Visitors Bureau launched the Lackawanna County Pizza Trail. Visitors can taste their way through Lackawanna County's best pizza shops. It is delicious fun for the whole family. Montage Mountain, home of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, Montage Mountain Resorts, and Live Nation's The Pavilion at Montage Mountain added a new hotel, the Fairfield Inn and Suites Scranton Montage Mountain.

“I believe that Lackawanna County will emerge, PostCOVID, stronger than it has ever been,” said Curt Camoni, executive director of the Lackawanna County CVB. “Throughout these difficult times, our people have shown an enormous capacity to adapt creatively, reinvent themselves, and support our area's small businesses. Businesses found new ways to meet their customers' needs while adding amenities that were safe for their patrons under the difficult circumstances. This strength, flexibility, sense of community, along with new best practices, new and popular additions to long-established businesses, and a new sense of appreciation for what we have will be a solid foundation to build on as we put COVID in the rear-view mirror.”

View of Scranton, PA after dark; photo by Access Aerial; courtesy: Lackawanna County Visitors Bureau

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THE PERFEC T MEETING PL ACE

Mount Airy Casino Resort offers a AAA Four-Diamond experience in the pristine scenery of the Pocono Mountains. With 30,000 square feet of meeting space, over 1,000 acres of resort amenities, and the most exciting dining and entertainment in Northeast Pennsylvania, we’ve got everything you need to make your next meeting extraordinAIRY. For more information, visit mountairycasino.com/meetings-weddings or call 570-243-5173.

YOUR GETAWAY C ASINO | HOTEL | DINING | ENTERTAINMENT | SPA | GOLF

MOUNTAIRYC A SINO.COM ∙ 1- 877- MTAIRY-1

Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER.


The Woodlands Inn, Ascend Hotel Collection in Wilkes-Barre, PA; photo courtesy: Visit Luzerne County

LUZERNE COUNTY, PA visitluzernecounty.com Home to resorts, hotels, extended stays, and B&Bs, the area has over 3,600 hotel rooms, and an additional 3,500 hotel rooms regionally. Luzerne County plays host to large conventions, associations, religious and sporting events, meetings, and all types of social events. Foodies will enjoy locally owned restaurants, breweries, and wineries throughout the county. Attractions include first-rate entertainment and dining at Mohegan Sun Pocono Casino; exciting harness racing; AHL hockey action at the Mohegan Sun Arena, along with numerous concerts and events; plus the art-deco FM Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, as well as several other intimate theaters. Catch a RailRiders baseball game, the New York Yankees AAA affiliate, in their new state-of-the-art stadium with activities for all ages along with great local fare. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the county’s wide-open spaces, which includes 22 waterfalls at Ricketts Glen State Park, hiking and biking trails, kayaking, and whitewater rafting. ­68 May­z June­2021

WHAT’S NEW The Mary and Frederick Stegmaier Mansions, beautiful examples of Victorian architecture, were renovated as a unique meeting and wedding venue and a bed and breakfast. A Residence Inn and Home2 Suites are being completed this year and an additional two hotels are planned for downtown Wilkes-Barre. Visit Luzerne County is proud to announce that the Visitors Bureau and main Visitors Center will be moving to a new center in late 2021. The Wilke-Barre Station was built by the Central Railroad of New Jersey in 1868 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. The revitalization of the station has been years in the making and will serve as the gateway to downtown Wilkes-Barre, where visitors and tours can stop for information.


LEHIGH VALLEY, PA discoverlehighvalley.com Meeting spaces and event venues are conveniently located near to historic attractions and team building opportunities in the Lehigh Valley. The third-largest metro region in the state, Lehigh Valley is where visitor spending is growing faster than the rest of Pennsylvania. It is the backbone of industrial history, preColonial buildings, and the largest brownfield conversion in the U.S. It is a region that is home to several of America's favorite brands (i.e. Martin Guitar, Crayola, Mack Trucks), as well.

WHAT'S NEW By 2022, Wind Creek® Bethlehem will have three incredible ballrooms, exquisitely outfitted guest rooms, a high-end lobby bar, custom art installations, spacious swimming pool areas, a luxurious new spa, and an impressive 35,000square feet of additional meeting/events space that will add dynamic new experiences.

Once complete, Wind Creek Bethlehem’s integrated resort will boast 60,000-square feet of combined meeting space and over 500 hotel rooms. Under one roof, guests also can enjoy various dining options, from upscale restaurants by world renowned chef Emeril Lagasse to classic favorites. The Wind Creek campus also offers well-known brands in their outlet shops, nightlife at the Vision Bar, concerts and famous acts in the Event Center, and the Wind Creek Casino. Renaissance Allentown in downtown Allentown exemplifies rich history with a modern feel. The hotel’s design includes elements of the iconic and historic Dime Bank building incorporated into it as its lobby. Attached to the PPL Center, attendees have ease of access and also are just steps away from an outdoor function area at the ArtsWalk PocketPark. The Americus Hotel by Wyndham in downtown Allentown is a newly renovated building from a glorious era where high ceilings and arched windows were the focal point of architectural design. It has been brought back to life and approved by the historical society and is scheduled to open later in 2021.

COMING

2022

Excitement is building for our beautiful new hotel featuring 550 rooms and 60,000 square feet of meeting space. To book your next meeting, call Dan Mies at 484.777.7928 or email at Daniel.Mies@windcreek.com

Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­69


LEHIGH VALLEY, PA continued Hyatt Place/Hyatt House is scheduled to open in October of 2021. Its Aster Event Center can host up to 250 attendees. Delta by Marriott Allentown Lehigh Valley offers one of the largest conference spaces in Lehigh Valley as well as overnight accommodations for large groups. The venue’s main hotel ballroom, called Venue 100, can seat up to 800 in banquet rounds and has four individual parlors. In September 2020, Tru by Hilton & Home2 opened as an ultra-efficient, side-by-side hotel experience by Hilton in Easton.

Rendering of the ongoing expansion at Wind Creek Bethlehem; photo courtesy: Discover Lehigh Valley

LOOKING AHEAD "We hope the return of meetings is a strong one for Lehigh Valley,” said Alicia Quinn, CTA, VP of marketing and strategic alliances for Discover Lehigh Valley. “The hotel developments speak for themselves. We are a mid-size destination for meetings and events with close proximity to large cities. Studies indicate that recovery in destinations like ours will look strong. Lehigh Valley has many unique meeting spaces, authentic experiences, and outdoor attractions that get attendees out of the conference room.”

READING, PA visitpaamericana.com Pennsylvania’s Americana Region offers travelers a convenient and beautiful place to visit. Its stunning backdrop of wooded mountains and rolling valleys provides a beautiful and inviting place to explore. Business and leisure travelers appreciate Reading and Berks County’s restaurants, unique attractions, outdoor recreation, and small-town feel.

WHAT’S NEW The DoubleTree by Hilton is an award-winning, full-service hotel located across from the Santander Arena in downtown Reading. A Residence Inn by Marriott Reading is under construction and scheduled to open in May 2021. Hampton Inn and Suites Kutztown also recently opened to serve nearby Kutztown University.

LOOKING AHEAD “We feel very optimistic about the future of travel to Pennsylvania’s Americana Region,” noted Lisa Haggerty, marketing manager for the Reading and Berks County Visitors Bureau. “Berks County is blessed with resources that business and leisure visitors will appreciate as the country opens. We offer outstanding outdoor activities, attractions surrounded by wide open spaces, meeting venues that are perfect for smaller gatherings, and a drivable destination that allows travelers to avoid large crowds and long waits.”

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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 WOODLOCHMEETINGS.COM | 800.453.8263


LocationReport

CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA

The Horseshoe Curve in Altoona, PA; photo courtesy: Explore Altoona

ALTOONA, PA www.explorealtoona.com Altoona, located in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains, offers “a variety of cost effective meeting and event venues, from the state-of-the-art Blair County Convention Center and the multi-purpose Jaffa Shrine Center to the unique White Oak Hall located at Fort Roberdeau, the western-most Revolutionary War site in America,” noted Mark Ickes, executive director of Explore Altoona. With a unique history as a railroad hub surrounded by the mountains, Altoona was established in 1849 by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company as headquarters for building and repairing locomotives. Today, Altoona’s industrial heritage, history, culture, and its outstanding natural resources have helped position it as a thriving 21st century business community and an emerging leisure and business travel destination with a proud legacy.

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UNIQUE VENUES The Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum, the country’s only interactive railroaders museum, commemorates and celebrates the significant contributions of the city’s railroaders and their families to American culture and industrial heritage. The museum offers six event spaces, including a theater and museum railroad yard. A National Historic Landmark, the world-famous Horseshoe Curve opened in 1854 as one of the most significant engineering marvels at the eastern base of the Allegheny Mountains as a more efficient method of moving trains in America’s westward expansion. The curve is 2,375-feet long, with a curvature of 9-degrees, a central angle of 220-degrees, 122-feet of total elevation.

park (Laguna Splash at DelGrosso’s amusement park) to expanded steam locomotive excursions on the Everett Railroad and the stellar outdoor experience of the September 11th National Memorial Trail, this is an exciting time for groups to explore a small destination with big adventures in Greater Blair County,” says Ickes. The Altoona Grand Hotel, a full-service property, features six meeting rooms and a courtyard. Other meeting hotels in the area include Marriott’s dualbranded Fairfield Inn and Suites and TownePlace Suites, along with The Courtyard by Marriott, which adjoins the Blair County Convention Center.

HAPPY VALLEY, PA happyvalley.com

An Altoona landmark for more than 125 years, Lakemont Park serves as a gathering place with a selection of traditional amusements, mini golf courses, paddle boats, picnic pavilions, and facilities for team building. The Casino at Lakemont Park, with its own unique parklike ambiance, offers flexible function spaces, as well.

Happy Valley is home to Penn State University, award-winning hotels, meeting and conference centers, and one of the largest adventure-based team building courses on the East Coast. “Meet in the middle” as Central Pennsylvania is a convenient drive from the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions and University Park Airport offers daily flights in and out of Happy Valley.

The sleekly designed and beautifully appointed Blair County Convention Center boasts 15,000-square feet of flexible ballroom space, 24,000-square feet of exhibit hall space, 11 versatile meeting rooms, and breathtaking common areas – all providing plenty of space for appropriate distancing.

After the meeting, downtown State College offers a vibrant nightlife, theaters, shopping, museums, attractions and concerts and historic walking tours are available in the charming small town of Bellefonte.

WHAT’S NEW Within the last two years, hotels in Altoona have added new or newly renovated 550 hotel rooms in the market. “From the $12.5-million expansion of the country’s only Italian-themed water ­74 May­z June­2021

"Happy Valley combines some essential ingredients seldom found in other locations. It’s the perfect setting for executive retreats, incentive meetings, small strategic meetings, board meetings and mid-sized conferences. Planners will find their event will be the focus of attention at any host property. Combine that on-site recognition with

the natural energy of being in a college town and outstanding outcomes will result,” said Dave Gerdes, vice president of sales and marketing for the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau. “The central location and easy access encourage well attended events,” he continued. “Off-site offerings aplenty include historical sites, university venues and great outdoor facilities. Team building options are a big component of the area’s offerings with most providing memorable outdoor access. And, last but not least, Happy Valley is so affordable compared to other locations…. No nickel and diming here. Parking is free. Wi-Fi is free. We major in meetings in Happy Valley!” Explore Happy Valley in any season. New hiking, biking, geocaching and walking/driving tours are available. More than 750,000-acres of public lands surround Happy Valley, making it an excellent base camp for outdoor activities. Happy Valley also is home to a thriving craft beverage scene and amazing field-to-fork dining establishments, plus affordable rates, less traffic, beautiful foliage, fall festivals and charming communities with one-of-a-kind boutique shops. Adventure seekers have much to explore in Happy Valley, too, from its unique museums and history to agcentric experiences like farmers markets, farm stands, driving tours, and Amish culture. Head to Penn's Valley and Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park for a boat ride cave tour through America’s only all-water cavern and farm-nature wildlife park. Those inspired by history can check out Bellefonte in the Nittany Valley, which has architecture to admire, walking tours and enough antique


stores to keep the biggest antiquarian busy for hours. The Central PA Tasting Trail includes a mix of craft beer, distilleries, wineries and cideries. And Happy Valley is, of course, home to Penn State University and Nittany Lion pride. Downtown State College bustles with university town energy and a robust mix of arts, culture and entertainment.

LANCASTER, PA discoverlancaster.com Lancaster is easily accessible via Amtrak and four regional and local airports and offers a perfect blend of urban style and rural splendor. The area boasts more than 9,000 overnight rooms and approximately

500,000 total square feet of modern meeting space in its meeting and conference facilities, with a wide range of venues to meet needs large and small. Lancaster County is an optimal meeting and group destination. PLACES TO MEET The Lancaster County Convention Center and adjoining Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square in Lancaster City seamlessly incorporate the 110-yearold Beaux Arts façade of the landmark former Watt & Shand department store and offer a combined 90,000square feet of meeting space. Eden Resort and Suites and the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton – Lancaster (both just outside Lancaster City) pro-

vides guests with a full range of amenities. The stylish Lancaster Arts Hotel in Lancaster City is perfect for board retreats, while the Cork Factory Hotel in Lancaster City features a catering kitchen and covered outdoor veranda (comprised of buildings that once housed the historic Armstrong Cork and Kerr Glass companies). The Spooky Nook Sports complex in Manheim boasts more than 100,000square feet of meeting and exhibit space along with the on-site Warehouse Hotel. The Inn at Leola Village is a AAA Four Diamond-rated property in the town of Leola.

Pennsylvania

We’ve always been known for our wide open countryside and our vibrant downtown. It’s what makes Lancaster County the perfect destination to hold your next meeting. When the time is right for your group to get back together, we’re here to help you plan for success safely in one of our large indoor or outdoor venues.

meet • plan • discover • explore • relax discoverlancaster.com/meetings

Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­75


WHAT’S NEW The Wyndham Lancaster Resort and Convention Center has completed a multi-year makeover of its entire property. The restored Lititz Shirt Factory just opened at the start of 2021 and contains event space for up to 150 featuring a state-of-the-art sound system, lighting and a bar area. Fulton Theatre has plans to reopen and significantly expand later this year. Anchored by its recently opened Café 1832, there will be fresh dining and entertainment options on Friday and Saturday evenings at the Strasburg Railroad complex. Located on the fully renovated second level of an 18th-century bank barn, the new John J. Snyder, Jr. Gallery of Early Lancaster County Decorative Arts at Historic Rock Ford in Lancaster City has recently opened. Lancaster’s food and beverage scene has continued to grow with the latest additions of Double C Restaurant and Our Town Brewery in Lancaster City, as well as Tied House in Lititz, and the coming-soon opening of Artifice Ales & Mead in Manheim. Take a trip down memory lane with the debut of Barry's Car Barn in Intercourse and its amazing collection of American muscle cars from the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s (along with a few other unique automobiles). Delicious fare will take center stage with the scheduled openings of a revamped Columbia Market House and its many stands this summer, and a redesigned Southern Market Center and its food hall in Lancaster City this autumn. LOOKING AHEAD “With our wide-open countryside and outdoor recreation, combined with a smaller, walkable city and towns, Lancaster County strikes a comfortable balance of activity and spaciousness that appeals to many travelers,” noted Joel Cliff, director of communications for Discover Lancaster. “This always has been true of the unique experience we offer, but people are putting an extra premium on that aspect right now and will likely continue to do so going forward,” he continued. “Consequently, we’ve sponsored a number of recent area events and, with sports tourism already starting to come back, we’re undertaking several initiatives to encourage the steady return of other group and business travel as conditions improve. During this process, we’ll continue to model safe practices, and ask our guests to do the same, as we work through the mass vaccination period.” ­76 May­z June­2021

GETTYSBURG, PA destinationgettysburg.com The perfect blend of history and agriculture keeps Gettysburg at the top of many travelers’ lists from immersive Civil War history experiences to rich agritourism and culinary experiences. Within a walkable one-mile radius from the center of downtown Gettysburg, visitors will find a wide range of attractions and locally owned stores selling everything from handmade artisan crafts to quirky décor and games. History museums and other experiences showcase different angles to tell the story of the battle of Gettysburg. Some show how civilian life was affected by the battle, others focus on specific days of battle and topics like Civil War medicine. Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center is comprised of a 12-gallery museum, the Cyclorama painting experience, and an orientation film to introduce visitors to the Battle of Gettysburg and complement this orientation with a battlefield tour. Bus tours tend to encompass the entire 6,000-acres of battlefield in one tour, while Segways and horseback tours focus on specific sections of the battlefield. Lessons of leadership, taken directly from the Battle of Gettysburg, are the centerpiece for a number of leadership development programs. These programs use Gettysburg National Military Park as an outdoor classroom to teach what it takes to be leader and other applicable lessons. Visitors can venture out into the Adams County countryside to experience some authentic agritourism experiences. In the heart of Pennsylvania’s Fruit Belt, Adams County has always been a vibrant farming community. Many farm markets and orchards offer pick-your-own experiences throughout the growing season.


YORK, PA yorkpa.org

Among the orchards are vineyards and hop fields that help produce the area’s impressive craft beverage scene - from beers to wines, spirits to hard ciders and even mead, visitors can explore the Adams County Pour Tour, the official craft beverage trail. WHAT’S NEW Jack’s Hard Cider opened a new Cider House and restaurant, Mela Kitchen. Taking its name from the Italian word for apple, Mela Kitchen takes a clean eating and rustic approach to its menu of brick oven pizzas, Italian-inspired small plates and family style offerings. The unique cidery and restaurant was converted from an old movie theater and is ideal for meetings and networking events. LOOKING AHEAD As the industry recovers, Destination Gettysburg believes that leadership retreats, board meetings and the smaller meetings will come back first. Hotels and venues in the area have created safe operational and cleaning policies that will be implemented for groups to provide a comfortable environment.

York offers value and convenience, with easy access by road, rail and air. In addition, the county provides a variety of lodging options, close to many popular destinations such as Gettysburg, Lancaster and Hershey. In addition, there is a network of parks and trails nearby as well as a rich history for visitors. WHAT’S NEW The Four Points by Sheraton York underwent a multi-milliondollar renovation and reopened this past December. Renovations were made to its lobby, Trio Restaurant and Lounge, event spaces and guest rooms. The indoor swimming pool received new finishes and furniture, as well. LOOKING AHEAD “This pandemic obviously had a profound effect on the Pennsylvania tourism industry. York County was no exception,” observed Melissa Beaverson, director of destination marketing for Explore York, York County’s official tourist promotion agency. “The events, group tour, and meetings and conventions segments were hit hard, with leisure visits also down significantly. Tourism was a billion-dollar industry in York County, and we fully expect to recover to that point again.” “While we rebuild together,” she continued, “we will continue to feature and promote all the wonderful things we have to see and do… We also are very excited to start welcoming back some of our larger events. Sporting events and conventions have started to book in-person events for the end of 2021, 2022 and into 2023.”

Thirsty Farmer Brew Works, part of the Adams County, PA Pour Tour; photo courtesy: Destination Gettysburg

DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel Reading; photo courtesy: Reading & Berks County Visitors Bureau Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­77


HERSHEY-HARRISBURG, PA visithersheyharrisburg.org Travel trends over the past year skewed to day trips or driving distance overnights. The Hershey Harrisburg Region enjoys a location that’s central and drivable for a large portion of the Northeast. Family options like Hersheypark® and Chocolate World are open and available to visitors, and outdoor offerings are attractive for all guests looking to explore without large crowds. WHAT’S NEW Hersheypark® debuted Hershey’s Chocolatetown®, featuring a reimagined park entrance and expansion in summer 2020. This spring, the park debuted a huge park-themed restaurant and several additional options for sweet treats like Milton’ssm Ice Cream Parlor. Several local breweries opened or expanded with an eye on outdoor seating for entertaining.

LOOKING AHEAD Visit Hershey and Harrisburg has a designated section on its website and a Safer Together Pledge to address all guidelines and restrictions. “Tourism-related businesses in our region have done an incredible job in adjusting their operations to stay open or reopen in extraordinary times,” noted Audrey Bialas, director of sales for Visit Hershey and Harrisburg. “Attractions, restaurants, hotels, and retail outlets are prepared and excited to see tourism return and we are hearing from guests who are just as eager to travel again. Hershey and Harrisburg have always had a warm and welcoming feel, and guests will appreciate that now more than ever.” Visit Hershey and Harrisburg continues to work closely with clients hosting meetings that are smaller, shorter, and closer to home. The popularity of small groups continues to grow, especially with the emergence of hybrid meeting technology. More venues have become hybrid ready and are partnering with local AV providers to create seamless service packages. As planning continues to be conducted remotely, Visit Hershey and Harrisburg also can help connect planners with local suppliers who can assist them by conducting virtual site visits.

Pride of the Susquehanna Riverboat in Harrisburg, PA; photo courtesy: Visit Hershey & Harrisburg

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CUMBERLAND VALLEY, PA visitcumberlandvalley.com The Cumberland Valley offers a multitude of experiences, including a downtown filled with unique restaurants, breweries, architecture and history, charming countryside escapes with farmers markets and U-Picks, as well as spacious state parks and scenic outdoors. WHAT’S NEW In the last year, a Fairfield Inn opened in Mechanicsburg, a Comfort Suites in Camp Hill, and two Holiday Inn Express locations in Carlisle and Mechanicsburg. More new hotels are planning to open later in 2021, as well.

LOOKING AHEAD “Pennsylvania’s new capacity limits will open indoor opportunities, as well as support our restaurant industry,” noted Aaron Jumper, social media and travel media manager for the Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau. “Travelers will need to find their own comfortability, but - and this may be optimistic - I think a return to normalcy could happen by Q3, and when meetings feel safe for the attendees and the hosts, we cannot wait to have them back.”

Cornerstone Coffeehouse in Camp Hill, PA; photo courtesy: Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau

Please join us!

You and your mee琀ng planning team are invited to a unique outdoor trade show where you will be able to visit IN-PERSON with des琀na琀ons, hotels, venues, event service companies, and more! There will be exci琀ng ra e prizes and tasty food, beverages, and treats! CDC guidlines for outdoor events will be in place.

Thursday, June 3, 2021 2:00pm-5:00pm

The Drexelbrook Catering & Event Center 4700 Drexelbrook Drive, Drexel Hill, PA 19026 610-259-7000

This event is complimentary for all planners. Please register by May 30th. In the event inclement weather is forecasted, this event will be postponed un琀l Thursday, June 10th.

PLANNERS REGISTER HERE! Visit Delco is hos琀ng an a昀er-event at Drexelbrook from 5:00pm-7:00pm. All registered planners and exhibitors are welcome. If you are a supplier that is not exhibi琀ng at the tailgate trade show, you can register to a琀end this a昀er-event for $50.00. Please arrive no earlier than the start 琀me of 5:00pm. Please click here to register as a supplier who is not exhibi琀ng. Dress code - Smart casual • Click here to see a current list of exhibitors.

Questions? Please contact Erica Keagy at gppcma@comcast.net, 610-220-1232 or Jim Cohn at jim@eventsmagazine.com, 215-947-8600.

Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­79


LocationReport

WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA

Erie’s Bayfront featuring the Bayfront Landing which consists of the Bayfront Convention Center that is connected to the Courtyard Marriott Erie Bayfront and the Sheraton Erie Bayfront; photo courtesy: Visit Erie

ERIE, PA visiterie.com/meetingplanner Erie is the only Great Lakes Port City featuring 4,500 hotel rooms, conference venues and an airport that’s only 10 minutes away. Local attractions include Presque Isle State Park, the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, vibrant downtown and Bayfront districts, as well as museums, wineries, breweries, the Brig Niagara, Splash Lagoon, Waldameer, and the Presque Isle Downs and Casino. WHAT’S NEW The new Hampton Inn and Suites Erie Bayfront has opened along Erie’s Bayfront, which features the Bayfront Landing that consists of the Bayfront Convention Center and its adjoining Courtyard Marriott Erie Bayfront hotel as well as the Sheraton Erie Bayfront hotel. The Bayfront Convention Center has over 500 sleeping rooms either connected to or in proximity of it.

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Erie International Airport recently added non-stop flights to Washington-Dulles Airport to complement their other nonstop connections to Charlotte, Chicago and Detroit.

PITTSBURGH, PA visitpittsburgh.com Downtown Pittsburgh, one of the city’s 90 unique neighborhoods, is one of the most walkable cities in which to hold a meeting. Downtown resides on a grid system that parallels the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River. The walkable streets, tucked in between the two rivers, allow visitors to easily navigate much of the city’s offerings. Additionally, in just few minutes, visitors can walk from one of the 25 downtown hotels to the Platinum LEED-certified David L. Lawrence Convention Center, PPG Paints Arena, PNC Park, Heinz Field, the Strip District and more. Attractions include the Andy Warhol Museum, the National Aviary and the Duquesne and Monongahela Inclines, along with a thriving cultural district, an abundance of outdoor space and so much more. WHAT’S NEW The Industrialist Hotel, Pittsburgh, Autograph Collection opened in April 2021. Located downtown and within steps of the convention center, the hotel pays homage to the city’s industrial history, housed in the historic Arrott building and blends old and new, with interiors inspired by Pittsburgh’s famous history as a steel capital.

The David Lawrence Convention Center held a virtual grand opening in December 2020 for its Rooftop Boulevard, a $3million renovated outdoor feature located on the building’s fourth level. The space can host up to 300 people depending on the event setup and houses plants native to Western Pennsylvania. Finally, on March 17, 2021, Pittsburgh International Airport received approval from the airlines who service the airport to restart the Terminal Modernization Program, a billion-dollar effort to build a new terminal that consolidates ticketing, security checkpoints and baggage claim. LOOKING AHEAD Industry research continues to show that travelers are most comfortable traveling to destinations within a 3-hour drive from their homes. It is expected that fly markets will regain interest as vaccine rollout strengthens and traveler sentiment continues to rise. Late in 2020, VisitPittsburgh rolled out its “When You’re Ready” marketing campaign aimed at keeping Pittsburgh top of mind for visitors as they begin to plan their next trip. Pittsburgh is a safe, exciting destination brimming with activities. In response to this easing of restrictions, VisitPittsburgh notes that it is beginning to see increased interest in Pittsburgh for business events and meetings, especially sports events, with a focus on 2022.

The Comfort Inn and Suites opened in the North Shore in December 2020 less than one mile from PNC Park.

Aerial view of Pittsburgh in the fall; photo courtesy: Visit Pittsburgh; credit: Dustin McGrew, Chandler Crowell Photography Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­81


jomby

CONNECTING PEOPLE THROUGH FOOD

At the start of the pandemic, James Shockley had just come home to the Philadelphia area from Chicago for a visit with his father, Greg, and to help him prepare for a Traeger grill segment on QVC back in April of 2020.

A professional chef for over 30 years, Greg has represented numerous foodrelated products on QVC for 17 years, including brands like Le Creuset, Traeger Grills and others. He also owns Sage Catering, a premier catering company in Philadelphia. By that time, the pandemic already had caused much of the hospitality industry to shut down – along with most of the rest of the world – including both of their businesses. The two of them had been thinking about creating some type of cooking account on Instagram already, in which Greg would star. The forced closure of their businesses led them to continue that discussion, and they decided to begin searching for domain names that would fit their idea for this newly formed venture. Much to their surprise, howtocook.com was available, which, in terms of SEO, is a like hitting the jackpot of instructional culinary web addresses! The next thing they decided to do was reach out to one of James' business associates, Tarek Abousalem, who has an extensive background in technology development. The early excitement of their initial domain name soon waned, how-

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ever, as the trio came to realize that howtocook.com would be difficult to trademark and could potentially pose some other issues down the road. Still, the three of them knew they had a great idea and continued brainstorming, eventually coming up with the basic concept for what it was they sought to create - a first-of-its-kind food technology app that allows users to easily create recipe videos and share them with friends. After some more brainstorming, they arrived at a new name – JOMBY (and the domain jomby.com) – which is an acronym that stands for Just One More Bite, Yum! “Our target audience is anyone who enjoys cooking,” explains James Shockley. “We want to target people who are seeking everyday recipes, as well as content creators who are looking to easily create food-related content.” JOMBY also offers numerous ways to help others to bring their brand to its large online presence, between both its web and social media audiences - from jomby.com to their Instagram accounts to their JOMBY Kitchen YouTube show. Greg, James and Tarek have poured their collective knowledge and expertise into JOMBY, further developing this novel concept as a wonderful new way to connect people from all over the world and unite them through the power of food.


EvEntM ­ AkErs DELAWARE

previously served as vice president of convention sales for Visit Pittsburgh.

Dewey Beach - Ashlee Martinelli has been named Director of Sales for the Hyatt Place Dewey Beach & Lighthouse Cove Event Center. Wilmington - Anthony Stagliano, Jr. is the new Director of Sales for the HOTEL DUPONT. Anthony joins the hotel from the Ritz Carlton Philadelphia where he most recently served as director of group, catering and transient sales. Wilmington - Justin Hall has been named General Manager for the Hyatt Place Wilmington Riverfront.

PENSYLVANIA Bethlehem - Patrick Ryan has been promoted to Assistant General Manager at Wind Creek Hospitality. Garnet Valley - Christopher Kissel has been named National Account Manager, Event Staging for IMS Technology Services. Gettysburg - Destination Gettysburg has announced Karl Pietrzak as its new President and CEO. Karl comes to Gettysburg with over 25 years of experience in the tourism and hospitality industry, having

Martinelli

stagliano

King of Prussia - Ron Bailey has been named Vice President & General Manager for Valley Forge Casino Resort. Ron brings a wealth of knowledge in the gaming industry, having been an executive with Boyd Gaming for nearly 10 years. He will lead overall strategy and oversee day-to-day operations of the property, drawing from his extensive experience within the hospitality field, including hotel operations, food and beverage, convention business and casino operations. Lancaster - Megan Byers has been named Director of Sales and Marketing for the Lancaster Arts Hotel. Philadelphia - Darcy Hill has been named Senior Sales Representative for Di Bruno Bros. Catering & Events. Philadelphia - Rush Street Gaming announced that Justin Moore, former general manager of Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady, has been named General Manager of Rivers Casino Philadelphia. Philadelphia - Party Rental Ltd.’s Philadelphia Design Studio, in the historic BeauxArts style Wells Fargo building, is now open. Sandra Donahue has been pro-

Pietrzak

moted to Regional Sales Manager supporting the Mid-Atlantic Region and also will handle all appointments and client meetings. Philadelphia - MarketPlace PHL, the management company for PHL Food & Shops at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), has announced the hiring of Ashley Vesay as Leasing Manager. Ashley will be responsible for the ongoing stabilization efforts of more than 170 current eateries and retailers. Philadelphia - Daniel Briones has been named Regional Sales Director at Constellation Culinary Group. Daniel has worked with an array of high-end venues including Disney’s four premium resorts, Swissôtel Boston, Four Seasons Philadelphia, and the private Fitler Club. His expertise integrates all aspects of catering and group sales, marketing and operations. Philadelphia - Kevin Gilroy II has been named Private Events Manager for Yards Brewing Co. Stroudsburg - Ann Pilcher has been named Senior Director of Global Accounts for Lamont Associates, a comprehensive site selection and meeting resource firm.

Bailey

Moore

Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­83


Around Th CARVING A NAME ONE ICE SCULPTURE AT A TIME Philadelphia, PA - Ice Sculpture Philly started as a one-person ice-carving business in a garage over 30 years ago. Owner Peter Slavin has never looked back, creating new and innovative ways to grow and explore new methods to turn blocks of ice into fun and entertainment. "No sculpture will ever be exactly the same. We make sure of it by adding details like a flower or bird, changing font style, adding color, and by adding other unique small details," said Slavin. "It's important to separate ourselves from the competition. This year, Peter's focus is to let people know that when you order from Ice Sculpture Philly for an event, you're hiring a personality, and you're getting a thought out, entertainment, and food-based experience. This year, Peter introduced a 1954 Chevy truck with wood paneling and LED lights into his bag of tricks. The truck can pull up to your event, and the Ice Sculpture Philly team can unload ice and create a magnificent martini, oyster, or other beverage-related masterpieces in front of your guests in just minutes.

icesculpturephilly.com

DOWNTOWN WILDWOOD - MUSIC AT BYRNE PLAZA Wildwoods, NJ - Formerly known as “The Block That Rocks,” 3400 Pacific Avenue is now the site of an outdoor plaza that hosts events year-round and has an especially full summer schedule. The Block is still rocking with free weekly concerts on Thursday nights throughout the summer in The Wildwoods. Bring a chair and wear dancing shoes for a fun night of music under the stars! The complete Byrne Plaza schedule of events, as well as listings of local hotels, restaurants, bars and shops, can be found online at www.DOOWW.com and on Facebook at Wildwood by the Sea!

wildwoodsnj.com ­84 May­z June­2021


he Region LUCKY SNAKE TO OPEN AT SHOWBOAT Atlantic City, NJ - Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein, CEO of Tower Investments, Inc., is doubling down on non-casino family entertainment by launching New Jersey’s largest arcade, which includes multiple entertainment concepts under one roof at the Showboat Convention Hotel in Atlantic City with the opening date planned for May 15th. The entertainment concept, branded as Lucky Snake at Showboat, will include a massive arcade along with a sports bar, boxing ring, indoor venues for live entertainment, a speakeasy, and improved convention and meeting spaces.

showboathotelac.com

ATLANTIC CITY IS CELEBRATING SAFE, MEANINGFUL MEETINGS Atlantic City, NJ - This year’s Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) theme was Meet Safe, recognizing the industry’s top priority of operating meetings and events with health and safety top-of-mind. Atlantic City continues to welcome bleisure (business + leisure) travelers safely by taking a clean, safe and healthy approach to move the destination forward, while also focusing on diversifying itself and leading the way in regenerative tourism. January brought a new content and advertising strategy to Meet AC - regenerative tourism, which combines sustainability practices and corporate social responsibility programs, and elevates their exposure to the meeting planner market. “The decision to travel right now isn’t easy, so knowing that your meeting will be making a difference is important. Not only will you be having valuable face-to-face interactions in Atlantic City, but you’ll also have the opportunity to support the local environment and add an element of mindfulness to your meetings, all while doing so safely and responsibly,” said Meet AC’s Marketing Director, Karina Anthony. In conjunction with meeting safely and sustainability at the top of mind, the Atlantic City Convention Center has achieved LEED Gold and GBAC STAR-certifications, which puts the destination at the forefront of not only meeting safely, but leading the way with sustainable and energy efficient efforts. “Atlantic City is open for business and there is no better time to book your meeting or convention in the heart of the Northeast. The redevelopment and investment continues as visitors have a variety of experiences waiting,” added Meet AC's President and CEO, Larry Sieg.

meetac.com

Mid-Atlantic­EvEnts­Magazine ­85


Around The Region MOHEGAN SUN NAMED “HOSPITALITY HERO” Uncasville, CT - The Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau (CTCSB) has named Mohegan Sun in their first group of honorees for their new Hospitality Heroes recognition list. The new Hospitality Heroes recognition program highlights hospitality industry members for their innovative business initiatives and community support over the past year, despite potential financial and health challenges caused as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re really excited to be named as one of CTCSB’s Hospitality Heroes,” said John Washko, VP of Exhibitions and Sales for Mohegan Sun. “Mohegan Sun as a whole, and certainly our meetings and conventions team, has put in a great deal of time, effort and dedication over the last year to make sure we’re able to chart a productive, positive and safe path forward for our guests, clients and partners. This honor is a strong reflection of that hard work, and we thank the CTCSB for this recognition and their great work for the state of Connecticut.” According to the CTCSB, Mohegan Sun has been recognized as an early leader by demonstrating to the meetings and hospitality industries worldwide how to continue working safely and creatively during COVID via hybrid meetings and events. The Meetings & Conventions team at Mohegan Sun created a COVID-19 resource center designed to assist planners in safely creating meetings, conventions and events. This resource center includes adjusted capacity charts, details on hosting hybrid events, and other information regarding health and safety protocols that Mohegan Sun has implemented to safely host events.

mohegansun.com/updates

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Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine May/June 2021 Issue  

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