When selecting a meeting or event venue, many association planners are looking for the perfect space that will meet the needs of the association, as well as the attendees. While some planners are drawn to the long-standing gems that are well-known for hosting exceptional events and accommodating planners and attendees alike, others are more interested in new or renovated facilities that may offer unexplored and innovative amenities.
For Sarah Stevener, director of meetings & conventions at Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association in St. Louis, MO, being in a new or renovated property really enhances the attendees’ experience.
Recently the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association held one of the association’s two annual meetings at the new Hotel Effie in Miramar Beach, FL, with 250 people in attendance. The association meeting consisted of sessions, receptions and networking events during the three-day convention schedule.
“Because of our typical room rate range, we sometimes utilize properties with meeting space that works well for our program, but could use a refresh,” Stevener said. “Hotel Effie has a very upscale feel while still being within our budget. Our members really enjoyed the hotel and we were happy to know that all of our attendees were in well-appointed accommodations. Several of our members mentioned that they’d love for the meeting to return to Hotel Effie in a few years.”
Stevener said that it is imperative for new and renovated facilities to offer attendees great on-site dining outlets, in addition to a “grab and go” shop for those attendees who might have limited time to grab breakfast or lunch.
Hotel Effie is found inside the gates of the world-famous Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and is adjacent to the bustling Village at Baytowne Wharf. Being a new resort, Hotel Effie is bright, airy and features state-of-the-art technology at every turn. It also has 20,000 sf of dedicated meeting space in addition to the 30,000 sf space right next door at the Baytowne Conference Center.
The newly constructed Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito, CA is located on 16 acres. It offers more than 33,000 sf of indoor and outdoor event space.
Recently Lauren Randolph, founder of L&M Events in Altadena, CA, worked with an undisclosed association to plan a meeting there last spring.
“We held a strategy session and team-building event at Rosewood Miramar Beach,” she said. “The event was initially planned for a larger gathering of approximately 100 guests. However, due to the pandemic, it was pushed back and scaled down to adhere to safety guidelines and to ensure the well-being of all participants. Despite the challenges, the resort’s amenities and spacious outdoor areas allowed us to host a successful event. The combination of a luxurious venue, intimate setting and top-notch services contributed to a memorable and productive experience for everyone involved.”
The Rosewood Miramar Beach met the goals for the association, namely to provide a venue that offered a premier location and reputation for excellent service.
“Most of the attendees were local to Southern California, but Santa Barbara was far enough away so that attendees were able to focus and enjoy being in a new place,” Randolph said. “There’s a level of quality and excitement that comes with hosting an event in a new or renovated venue. There is also a sense of excitement, pride and new energy in the staff who work at a newly opened or renovated hotel. And we felt this sense of pride from the moment we walked in the door.”
They also found a way to give back while there.
“During our program, we were also able to spearhead community service initiatives to support the local Santa Barbara and Los Angeles areas, contributing to meaningful causes that helped create a positive impact during our event,” Randolph said. “Furthermore, the decision was influenced by the team leader’s personal experience of enjoying a serene getaway at the resort and they wanted everyone to experience the same sense of natural beauty and tranquility upon arriving at the new property.”
Rosewood Miramar Beach boasts numerous outdoor spaces, perfect for outdoor meetings, team-building activities or picturesque cocktail receptions. The newly constructed building offers ample natural light in the meeting spaces, allowing attendees to enjoy a bright and inviting atmosphere.
Additionally, the new culinary experience at Rosewood Miramar Beach meets the interests of planners who are seeking hyper-local seasonal menus showcasing the flavors of the area.
Omni Hotels and Resorts opened their Omni PGA Frisco Resort on 660 acres in Frisco, TX. The resort features luxury accommodations, a world-class destination for golf and includes 127,000 sf of indoor and outdoor meeting space. That space includes 19 meeting rooms, two ballrooms and nine outdoor event venues.
The Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans is the only AAA Five-Diamond hotel in Louisiana, and is located in the city’s historic World Trade Center steps away from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center which is currently undergoing a $557 million renovation. The luxury hotel offers a diverse collection of venues and features 29,000 sf of event space.
One of the most anticipated openings is that of Fontainebleau Las Vegas, set to open at the end of the year. The property boasts 550,000 sf of meeting space, including the Waterbleau Terrace, an open air venue with 12,000 sf of optional outdoor space, and a theater than can accommodate up to 3,800 attendees.
Donna Casimier, meeting planner with the American Dental Education Association in Washington D.C., hosted their Allied Dental Program Directors’ Conference at The Westin Indianapolis recently. Although the hotel was built in 1988, The Westin just completed a multiyear, multimillion-dollar renovation.
This was the annual Allied Dental Program Directors Conference with 600 allied dental program directors. Anyone who directs an allied dental education program, such as those in dental hygiene, dental assisting and/or dental laboratory technology, is invited to attend.
When evaluating the various venue options for the association’s conference, Casimier said that they selected the newly renovated Westin Indianapolis for the central travel location for most of the conference attendees.
“The meeting space and layout of the property was a perfect venue for our program needs,” Casimier said. “Most feedback from our attendees is that the hotel was clean, bright and modern. The overall layout of the meeting space was easy to navigate from the general session room to the breakouts. There was also lots of access to the downtown area and restaurant options. Customer service is also a key factor, and the Westin Indianapolis provided superior service to this meeting manager, as well as our attendees.”
Located in the heart of Indianapolis, IN, the Westin Indianapolis recently completed the extensive, property-wide renovations with the goal of completely transforming the venue’s meeting venues and public gathering space, including adding an additional event space and a full lobby redesign. In addition, all guest rooms and new dining spaces were introduced. Their meeting space is more than 48,000 sf. Those attending events at the Westin Indianapolis also have access to the adjacent Indiana Convention Center via a skywalk. The new event space, called Capital Overlook, boasts panoramic views of the Indiana State Capital.
“Most attendees make a huge sacrifice to be away from their jobs and families to attend the Allied meeting,” Casimier said. “We hear time and time again that the venue selection is an important factor when deciding to attend. They want comfort, convenience and modern, bright spaces that provide them the opportunity to relax and connect with colleagues.”
The National Association for Proton Therapy (NAPT) in Washington D.C. recently held its annual National Proton Conference this spring at the new Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City, in Utah, which opened last fall.
According to, Sarah Galen, meeting planner and director of education for NAPT, this is an association meeting that brings together leaders in the field of particle therapy with an agenda focused on emerging clinical research, operational efficiencies and insurance authorizations.
They discovered that the property was opening up late last year, so they found themselves with a great situation – a brand-new property with ample meeting space that had their dates available. It was perfect, Galen said, for what appeared to be a dynamic team of meeting services professionals.
Galen noted that for small meetings (or larger) like NAPT’s this Hyatt property was ideal.
“We felt as if we were the only conference at the property, while, in fact, there were several other meetings occurring throughout the property just located on separate floors,” she said. “Their space is more than just traditional meeting spaces. It’s well designed to accommodate space needs of a group to one floor. Our conference attendees loved the proximity of meeting room locations.”
Having no prior planning experience at a property that is less than one-year old, Galen said booking that property “sight unseen” can be nerve-wracking for a planner.
“However, I now find the benefits to be endless with such a positive experience with this Hyatt property,” she said. “You have a space that’s modern with cutting edge technology led with a meetings first design. From a servicing standpoint, I believe you have the best-of-the-best working as a team to provide a seamless process. As a team, they worked so beautifully behind the scenes communicating to one another to ensure there was a successful conference for our association. I feel that’s something unique you receive when hosting your event at a property newly appointed. They want to achieve the highest level of service no matter where you are in the planning process.”
The new Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City boasts an impressive array of amenities tailored for meetings and events, namely 60,000 sf of meeting space, including an expansive outdoor rooftop event terrace. Spanning 7,400 sf, it offers breathtaking views of the mountains, making it the perfect backdrop for association events.
Following a multi-million-dollar renovation that began a few years ago, Park Central San Francisco officially became the Hyatt Regency San Francisco in the downtown area last year. The redesign included a complete transformation of meeting and event places, guest rooms and the ground floor lobby area. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers held an event there this spring with more than 700 attendees.
“The Hyatt Regency San Francisco has a great location in San Francisco, beautiful meeting space, sleeping rooms and excellent guest service,” Michelle Ocampo, senior conference planner with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), said. “Modern and fresh meeting spaces and sleeping rooms enhance the attendee experience and help make a great event.” | AC&F |