From intimate meeting spaces to large convention-style facilities, there are a wealth of new and renovated hotels gracing the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean. Thanks to a growing meeting and events industry, these key facility spaces are being constructed, expanded and renovated to engage and delight meeting and event attendees.
Here’s one thing associated meeting planners can agree on: Hosting a meeting event in a new or renovated venue can make an event truly shine. Just ask Joel Popkin, executive director with the Municipal Clerks Association of New Jersey. Popkin recently orchestrated the annual conference for the Municipal Clerks Association of New Jersey at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, a newly renovated hotel that combines contemporary design elements with a wealth of fresh amenities.
“We were at the Hard Rock for three days and held our educational meetings, meals and social functions at the hotel for about 280 people who were in attendance,” Popkin says.
“We chose the Hard Rock because we were familiar with the facility when it was the Taj Mahal. It was a good fit for us because of the space in the convention area.”
Indeed, set on 17-acres alongside the legendary Atlantic City boardwalk, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City welcomes guests with its iconic 60-foot guitar. The venue recently experienced a $500 million, entertainment-focused reimagination of the old Taj Mahal and has become an ideal meetings and events destination, featuring a wealth of gaming activities, as well as more than 20 restaurants and lounges. In addition to a variety of entertainment options, the newly renovated hotel boasts stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.
“Throughout the contracting, planning and executing process, the sales team was completely involved making sure everything went smoothly.”
Celebrating over 150,000 sf of meeting and event space, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City also features 2,000 rooms. For large gatherings, Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena can host a 300+ booth trade show and a general session of 7,000 people.
Another new East Coast gem is the Conrad Washington, DC. This new hotel offers 32,000 sf of elevated meeting space, which means 100 percent of its meeting space is above street level. From large gatherings hosted in either Conrad Washington DC’s grand or conservatory ballroom, to elevated pristine board of directors meetings in one of the hotel’s five private meeting rooms to the 19,000-sf pre-function gallery that wraps around the entire hotel, this meeting space is unlike any other in DC.
As Washington DC’s only luxury hotel, the meeting spaces that grace Conrad Washington DC are purposely bathed in natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows. The hotel’s three lushly landscaped outdoor terraces, a rooftop bar and dedicated event terrace featuring panoramic views of the U.S. Capitol. In addition, Conrad Washington DC offers two uniquely designed ballrooms and several executive conference rooms with expansive windows, connecting bathrooms, pantry and direct outdoor terraces.
Companies looking for ‘green’ options with the meeting and events arena have reason to celebrate. Dozens of options are available for companies looking to make their next meeting or event, a ‘green’ one, including the newly renovated and redesigned Wyndham Newport Hotel in Newport, Rhode Island. This hotel boasts green design, with a fully solar-paneled roof, electricity power harvested from a property-owned solar field located nearby and eco-friendly LED, automatic lights throughout the property. While associations focused on environmentally conscious meetings and events will celebrate this eco-friendly hotel, the venue’s close proximity to dining, shopping and attractions of downtown Newport is ideal. As far as meeting rooms, Wyndham Newport Hotel features 28,000 sf of meeting and event space.
Winter isn’t the only time to visit the mountainous terrain of Colorado. After a long hibernation, the Rocky Mountain valley transforms into an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise with numerous places for mountain biking, hiking, fly fishing, kayaking, climbing, camping and horseback riding.
Ildikó Rozembersky, director of events and marketing with Competitive Carriers Association (CCA), recently organized CCA’s 2019 Mobile Carriers Show (MCS) at the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center in Aurora, Colorado. A 1,000-attendee wireless telecommunication show with high-level executives to managers from leading telecommunication companies, MCS hosts education sessions, keynotes and an exhibit hall. In addition, CCA held its first ever 5K charity run around the property. The “fun run” concluded with a reception on the terrace with local craft beer and an incredible spread showcasing some of Colorado’s best cuisine.
“We signed the contract before Gaylord even broke ground,” Rozembersky says. “I certainly was nervous, however, Gaylord Rockies has an incredible sales team that cares for its clients and makes sure that all of their needs are met. They take the time to build strong relationships that allow clients to place their full trust in their hands. Throughout the contracting, planning and executing process, the sales team was completely involved making sure everything went smoothly.”
The new Gaylord Rockies resort has more than 486,000 sf of flexible meeting, convention, outdoor, exhibit and pre-function space. The spaces include a 175,000-sf exhibit hall, four ballrooms from 8,000 to 59,736 sf, up to 78 technologically advanced breakout and conference rooms, a 20,000-sf Aurora Patio and five outdoor event spaces. Conference and meeting attendees can also choose from eight different dining outlets for a delicious meal or get a Colorado-themed spa treatment at Gaylord Rockies’ European-style Relâche Salon & Spa.
“We have never received so much positive feedback about a venue from our attendees,” Rozembersky says. “The property is absolutely gorgeous and the meeting rooms are along large windows with views of the Denver skyline and mountains. New properties have the advantage of constructing well-planned meeting spaces and Gaylord Rockies is a perfect representation of that. Our attendees raved about the beauty of the hotel and the ease of the layout. They loved that the property offered numerous places to network and mingle. And for a property that isn’t actually in the mountains, Gaylord Rockies gives a mountain-lodge feel. The drawback now is that attendees will hold the Gaylord Rockies as the standard and may find future venues lacking.”
Newly opened in the heart of Uptown Houston, The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston has found its home in the epicenter of glamour. This five-star property features a 16,000-sf grand ballroom, which is the premier gathering spot for meetings and events of all sizes. An elegant 35,000-sf conference facility is the ideal location for conferences, exhibits or large-scale events. Situated an exquisite 10-acre setting, The Post Oak Hotel shares the property with a two-level Rolls Royce dealership inside the 38-story tower. Just steps away from The Galleria shopping mecca and a short drive to downtown Houston, The Post Oak Hotel is a haven of sorts in the middle of a stunning urban setting.
Attention to detail and a level of luxury rarely seen elsewhere is at the backbone of The Post Oak Hotel, with its 250 ultra-modern guest rooms — each over 500 sf. The hotel’s VIP suites offer a wealth of amenities and dramatic views of the surrounding area. The hotel also includes a 5,000-sf Presidential Suite with a wraparound terrace, a private elevator, fitness room and catering kitchen; a 1,500-sf Post Oak Suite; and 22 superbly appointed residential apartment units with full kitchens, washer and dryer, large walk-in closets and deluxe accommodations that can be rented on a short or long-term basis. Four restaurants and bars on the first floor provide a wide array of dining choices, from fresh-baked pastries to haute cuisine.
With stunning landscapes, radiant sunsets, iridescent waters and sun-warmed beaches, warmer locales such as Mexico and the Caribbean are becoming more than just a few moments in paradise. In fact, they’ve turned into key destinations as association meeting and event planners discover that the islands can double as the perfect setting for meetings and events.
Considered a luxury urban retreat and boutique hideaway, the redesigned Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami features an extensive redesign of its guest rooms, lobby, pool area and culinary offerings. The new design celebrates the artistic bohemian flair of Miami’s original neighborhood and Biscayne Bay artist enclave, making it a work of art itself. Modern, yet authentic, the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami offers 115 redesigned guest rooms and suites, which bridge the gap between city living and a seaside escape. Guests enjoy luxe fabrics and textures that are reminiscent of a beach escape, including jute, teak and canvas aplenty. Soaking tubs, marble bathrooms, private balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows offer maximum light and views.
Refreshed and redefined public spaces enhance guest experiences and the convenient location — 20 minutes from Miami International Airport and 10 minutes from the city’s financial and international business district — is ideal for business travelers. In addition to over 13,000 sf of meeting space, Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami also boasts a wealth of outdoor function spaces to celebrate the resort’s beautiful surroundings.
The recently completed renovations and meeting space expansion for Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld has added 46,250 sf of new meeting space to the hotel, including a new 16,000-sf ballroom, seven 1,200-sf meeting rooms, spacious pre-function areas and more than 15,000 sf of interior renovations. In addition, Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld can transform its 20,000 sf of outdoor event space into a lush, tropical oasis for attendees. This family friendly resort offers the ability for meeting and event attendees to work some and play some thanks to its ideal location close to SeaWorld, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and Discovery Cove.
Who wouldn’t want to experience a tropical getaway as part of an association’s meeting or event? The new Hard Rock Hotel Los Cabos offers 56,000 sf of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space. As an all-inclusive resort, this new Hard Rock Hotel means meeting planners are provided with a dedicated event staff while attendees can enjoy unlimited dining options and free-flowing cocktails.
Hard Rock Hotel Los Cabos also is home to the largest convention center in Cabo San Lucas, offering a variety of venue options for meetings, conventions, themed parties, concerts and other events. The resort’s meeting spaces include two ballrooms, one boardroom and a foyer as indoor spaces, as well as multiple outdoor terraces and gardens for outdoor functions. When downtime is available, guests can enjoy offsite excursions and tours as well as a wealth of on-property activities including Rock Spa Rhythm & Motion treatments, beauty salon services, Rock Shots Photography, private beachfront dinners, a chance to swim with the dolphins, snorkeling and more. The combination of options is unlimited, allowing guests to mix and match amenities.
Hard Rock Hotel Los Cabos’ offerings also feature Hard Rock’s branded “Rock Star Suite,” the signature Rock Spa, Body Rock fitness center, music memorabilia and access to three nearby golf courses designed by Davis Love III and Tiger Woods as part of the Diamante Cabo San Lucas Complex. Meeting and event attendees can also enjoy five swim-up bars, six pools, water slides, eight a-la-carte dining options and three lounges — Sun Bar, Moon Lounge and Club Heaven.
And for those attendees who may bring the entire family along, the resort has entertainment options for guests of all ages, complete with designated family and adults-only areas, a bowling alley, and Hard Rock’s kids program.
Puerto Rico is also a favorite location for meeting and events and the newly transformed Caribe Hilton is considered one of Puerto Rico’s gems. The $100 million makeover of San Juan’s legendary Caribe Hilton, has resulted in a complete overhaul of the hotel. The “top-to-bottom” project includes guest room and suite renovations, “reimagined” food and beverage concepts, a new fitness center, a spa and a modernization of the property’s 65,000 sf of meeting and event space.
Caribe Hilton opened in 1949 and introduced travelers to Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. Caribe Hilton is the second historic San Juan hotel to complete a large-scale transformation project, as El San Juan Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton also recently completed its renovation after also experiencing damage during Hurricane Maria.
Located in Puerto Rico’s Isla Verde Beach, El San Juan, which opened in 1958, has undergone a $65 million renovation. The new design embraces the original art and craftsmanship found throughout the property, while also maintaining El San Juan Hotel’s original look and feel in the redesign. Elements such as its iconic chandelier, hand-carved Mahogany ceiling and vaulted arches have been kept intact. The Chandelier Bar retains the crystal Czechoslovakian chandelier centerpiece that is also the third largest oval chandelier of its kind in the world. The chandelier weighs 4,000 pounds, has 185 light bulbs and 7,000 pieces of glass.
For meetings and events, the newly redesigned Brava nightclub will feature two floors with a luxurious chandeliered library and cutting-edge sound and projection systems. In addition, El San Juan Hotel features nearly 40,000 sf of space, including the newly redesigned 11,000-sf Grand Ballroom.
New technology also graces El San Juan Hotel’s grand tower guest rooms, poolside and oceanfront villas and suites. These advancements include sensor-activated air conditioning, HDTV and complimentary Wi-Fi connectivity. | AC&F |