Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

August 2012

Best of Show

By the Editors of Convene
Beach Convention Center all come fully equipped with the latest technological amenities. These include a 360-foot video wall, perfect for presentations for large groups, state-of-the-art audiovisual capabilities, and convenient, reliable wired and wireless high-speed Inter-net throughout the property. And with a warm and hospitable staff, there is always someone nearby willing to lend technical assistance.
Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, MD
The newest member of Gaylord’s “best in class” line of hotels (which includes Gaylord Opryland, one of our picks for Best Hotel Spaces, on p. 49), the Gaylord National keeps meeting planners seamlessly connected throughout its 470,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. The entire property is wired with state-of-the-art high-speed Internet connectivity, while an in-house team of technical professionals is available both pre-function to help planners prepare and during meetings for any last-minute tech needs, providing the ultimate amenity: peace of mind.
Amsterdam RAI
The Amsterdam RAI convention center regularly hosts inspiring events in its 94,500 square meters of exhibit space, 11 halls, 64 conference and meeting rooms, and multifunctional ballroom and auditorium. All of this comes with the added benefit of state-of-the-art technology services, including a unique, new digital signage medium called RAI Live!, which provides attendees with dynamic information via 700 screens in all of RAI’s rooms and halls. Targeted messages can be broadcast at any time on any screen, helping personalize each attendee’s experience. For support, a staff of experienced specialists is on hand to assist.

Paradise Point Resort & Spa, San Diego
Few properties know how to incorporate their surrounding natural beauty quite like Paradise Point. “The location and the view are ideal, because they feature Mission Bay, a distinct feature of San Diego,” said Jenny Boyd, CMP, with Rady Children’s Hospital. Within Paradise Point’s lush, 44-acre oasis is more than 30,000 square feet of outdoor meeting and banquet space, in addition to 35,057 square feet of flexible indoor space. “The facilities are wonderful,” Boyd said. “Conference space and rooms have a great resort feel for professionals. I've had education conferences there, and it’s always fabulous.”

Best Hotel Spaces

InterContinental San Francisco
This 32-floor, 550-room, cool-blue tower rises above the lively South of Market neighborhood in San Francisco, and provides 43,000 square feet of meeting and function space. Located right across from Moscone West Convention Center, the InterContinental San Francisco has a vast culinary scene, including American-style breakfast and lunch at the Michelin-starred Luce Restaurant and exotic cocktails at Bar 888. The property is also the third-largest LEED Gold–certified building in the United States, making for the best of eco-friendly events.
The Peabody Orlando
With such a wide variety of suites and exclusive lofts, it’s hard to pick a favorite space in The Peabody Orlando, a luxury hotel in the heart of Orlando’s celebrated meetings epicenter — and directly connected to the Orange County Convention Center. “The expanded and newly renovated Peabody Orlando has transformed that property into one of the most user-friendly, quality venues in the U.S.,” said John Wasilewski, president of JRW Associates. “The meeting space is now significantly greater, with a variety of options to meet a variety of needs. It is clean, high-tech, and exciting. The restaurant and gathering-place options are plentiful and conducive to business meetings. While it’s considered a higher-end venue, the value is appropriate.”
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, Nashville, TN
Two words: Teal Coats. What helps make the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville so unique are its renowned conference coordinators, nicknamed “Teal Coats” for their easily identifiable teal jackets. They keep operations running smoothly throughout the property’s 600,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. “The service is by far the best we've ever experienced,” said Becky Seiler, learning & development and events administrator for BrightStar Care. “Any request we had was met instantaneously. The Teal Coats were always right there with the radio to reach out to who-ever we needed; they’d act as liaison for the concierge, and help change room setups.”
Omni Dallas Convention Center Hotel
As the newest meetings destination in Dallas, the 1,001-room Omni Dallas doesn't disappoint. The property offers more than 110,000 square feet of usable function space, with a sky bridge that connects directly to the Dallas Convention Center — and more than 2.1 million square feet of additional meeting facilities. The Omni Dallas’ on-site restaurants offer everything from farm-to-table meals at Texas Spice to elegant dinners at Bob’s Steak & Chop House. In every way, the Omni Dallas expands planners’ possibilities. “ The new Omni Dallas has great meeting space,” said Kristy Breaux, associate director of TCEA, “with lots of flexibility and convenience.”

Best Places for Small Meetings

San Francisco
Rated one of “America’s Favorite Cities” by Travel + Leisure in 2011, San Francisco is also an ideal place for meetings — and not just big citywide events. The city’s stunning location, culture, and shopping are just some of the things that delight attendees, and its distinct, intimate neighborhoods help you tailor an authentic backdrop for groups of any size. “There is a high demand from many of my customers to place groups in San Francisco,” said Dawn Aronson, global account executive for Conference-Direct. “It has the best of all worlds: things to do and see, great restaurants and famous eating establishments, fresh local seafood, transportation means for those who don’t want to drive, and great meeting hotels that have functional meeting space to accommodate large or small groups.”
Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers, New York City
While the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers works for larger meetings — the Metropolitan Ballroom alone can host up to 2,500 guests — it’s the little things that make the property ideal for small meetings. The Executive Conference Center level features 13 rooms for meetings of up to 100 attendees, and the hotel’s location is ideal for out-of-town visitors. “The Sheraton New York has worked hard to include all conference center amenities, both for the planner and for the attendees,” said Connie Bergeron, CMP, president of Site Selection Solutions Inc. “Plus great restaurants, fun attractions, and even beautiful churches are all within a three- to four-block radius, and it feels very safe to walk up to Central Park when on a break.”
@The Space, Ottawa
@The Space is Ottawa’s only venue designed for and dedicated exclusively to small events. Capacity is limited to 70 people, with flexible food-and-beverage options and no purchase requirements, which makes the facility ideal for networking and team-building events, holiday parties, or small board retreats. “@The Space is very informal, but its setting is perfect,” said Chantal Montpetit, CMP, director of meetings and conference for the Canadian Construction Association. “The lounge furniture, complete with an iPod docking station for music, is welcome and relaxing. We had a lovely dinner there

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