the guests into another era,” said Teri Jarvie, CMP, CAE, vice president of member programs for Association Forum of Chicagoland, who once organized a 600-person international meeting of oral surgeons at the embassy. And while there were logistical issues, including security, “it was worth the extra work to see the delight on the faces of the guests as they entered these rooms.”
CIPRIANI 42 STREET, NEW YORK CITY
Described as “quintessential New York,” Cipriani 42nd Street in Midtown Manhattan was the perfect backdrop for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s final dinner at its 2012 Annual Session. The black-tie-appropriate restaurant is decorated with Italian Renaissance–inspired marble columns and chandeliers, requiring very little décor for events held there, including corporate functions, fundraisers, and parties. “Guests marveled at the room upon entering,” said Tonya Almond, AAPD’s director of meeting services. “[And they] enjoyed themselves so much we actually had to extend the party, because nobody wanted to leave Cipriani’s.”
CAPILANO SUSPENSION BRIDGE, VANCOUVER
One of Vancouver’s most popular tourist attractions, the Capilano Suspension Bridge was built in 1889. Millions of people have crossed it since then. Situated in a West Coast rainforest and spanning 450 feet across the Capilano River, the bridge is “an amazing venue to complement a Vancouver experience,” said Tahira Endean, CMP, director of creative and production for Cantrav Services. The bridge area can accommodate groups from 30 to 700 in a variety of settings - including a private garden where visitors dine under trees as the river rushes below, and CLIFFWALK, where guests can take a cliff-side trek on high, narrow suspended walkways through the canyon.
Best Food and Beverage
THE BROADMOOR, COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.
Mixing modern-day delicacies with the culinary traditions of the American West, The Broadmoor offers unique cuisine that spans the gamut. “I’ve held meetings at The Broadmoor over the years,” said Steve Kinsley, president of Kinsley Meetings, “and they have everything from the very casual to the very elegant, and they do it all very well.” In addition to premier event-based F&B, attendees can enjoy pub fare and live music at The Tavern, locally sourced produce at Charles Court, or fine dining at Penrose Room, the only Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond restaurant in Colorado. The Tavern also offers “Dine at Dusk,” a delicious pre-fixe menu served with breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains.
VANCOUVER CONVENTION CENTRE
Going against the grain in mouthwatering ways is the norm for the Vancouver Convention Centre, where Executive Chef Blair Rasmussen offers a unique combination of Asian influences and innovative food pairings, all made with the freshest of local ingredients, from seafood to produce - creating, as Rasmussen describes it, food for the “mind, body, and soul.” “We were there two years ago for our Annual Convention and the food that we had was just so good, it wasn’t your norm meal from a convention center,” said Jacqueline Barnes, associate director of the American Association for Justice. “The staff was very accommodating and helped us with our menu selections.”
HILTON PORTLAND & EXECUTIVE TOWER’S LIVING SALAD BAR
There is only one natural response to the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower’s “Living Salad Bar”: Wow. That’s exactly what Jack Molisani, executive director of the LavaCon Conference, said when he first had a taste. “To find this kind of food in a hotel that caters to meetings attendees is incredible,” Molisani said. “Rather than setting out big plastic bowls of industrial pre-cut lettuce like many hotels, the Portland Hilton creates this amazing spread of locally sourced organic lettuces and vegetables. Attendees then point to the types of lettuces they want, and the hotel chef then lovingly shears, preps, and garnishes the salad, including your choice of protein - my favorite would have to be the seared Pacific salmon. Yum!”
SAN DIEGO CONVENTION CENTER
Jeff Leidy, the executive chef at the San Diego Convention Center (SDCC), believes in altering the way people think about convention center food. He does this by showcasing fresh local ingredients presented with a classic flair, including organic produce and humanely raised, hormone-free livestock. Tides, the SDCC’s 138-seat on-site restaurant, features a top-shelf bar and offers the ideal atmosphere - themed to emulate the sparkling blue waterfront location - for pre- and post-conference relaxation. “Chef Jeff does an amazing job,” said Richard Toscano, senior director of special events for George P. Johnson. “He’s able to produce really delicious, artistic pieces in high quantities, and that’s hard to find.”
HILTON PRESIDENT KANSAS CITY
One bite at the Hilton President Kansas City and you might develop a deep, long-lasting loyalty to its cuisine - much like Christi Thompson, executive assistant at HMC/CAH Consolidated Inc., did. “They offer an annual customer-appreciation luncheon that we always go to,” Thompson said, “and they never fail to have a great lineup of food, particularly desserts.” The property’s on-site restaurant - the historic Drum Room - offers delicious appetizers and live music, and has hosted a long list of legendary clientele such as Frank Sinatra and Patsy Cline. “We hold all of our retreats and big company meetings [at the Hilton President],” Thompson said, “and in four years we haven’t had one complaint.”
TIA’S PLAY HAPPENS
What could be more fun than attending the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) Annual Toy Fair, held every winter at the Javits Center in New York City? How about playing a game while attending the Toy Fair? Since last year’s show, TIA has turned the Big Apple into a giant game board, incorporating the city’s restaurants and landmarks into a smartphone- and tablet-enabled game called “Play Happens.” Attendees earn points (and win prizes) for checking into designated spots and Toy Fair–related events, and for social-media engagement, said Marian Bossard, TIA’s vice president for meetings and events. The grand prize is a doozy - a hotel room overlooking Times Square on New Year’s Eve - but every player wins prizes.
NAR’S CONFERENCE LIVE
When the depressed housing market put a crimp in some National Association of Realtors (NAR) members’ plans to attend the REALTORS Conference & Expo, organizers opened a virtual window. Since 2010, NAR has recruited about two dozen attendees with large online followings to serve as a collective digital “voice of the conference,” said Allison Fitch-Markham, marketing director for NAR’s conventions division. NAR sets up individual pages on the conference website and gives invited attendees free rein to blog about sessions and post photos. Although it’s not rare for any conference’s attendees to blog about the meeting, the level of support that NAR gives to its cadre of “Featured Attendees” is uncommon. NAR assigns two full-time staff members whose job it is during the meeting to help bloggers upload content, so the social-media mavens are as free as possible to enjoy the event.
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