By Jennifer N. Dienst, Contributing Editor
Uncommon conventions in the Creative Capital
Providence, R.I., has all of the key ingredients to create a successful meeting — plenty of square footage, convenient hotels, and ample amenities. But it's the city's stellar restaurants, walkable downtown, and vibrant nightlife that help create a truly memorable meeting experience that will stand out in attendees’ minds for years to come.
Nicknamed the Creative Capital, Providence is renowned for its world-class dining and eclectic arts and culture scene. Travel + Leisure readers recently voted Providence one of “America's Favorite Cities,” ranking the city No. 1 in the United States for some of its food, beverage, and restaurant offerings. As home to the world's largest culinary educator, Johnson & Wales University, Providence reaps the rewards of having many of the school's graduates demonstrate their culinary talents in local restaurants. Providence also has one of the nation's leading art schools, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). The RISD Museum of Art, a must-see stop for visitors, houses more than 80,000 works of art, ranging from French Impressionist paintings to contemporary multimedia installations.
The centerpiece of Providence is the Rhode Island Convention & Entertainment Complex, which is made up of the Rhode Island Convention Center (RICC), the Dunkin’ Donuts Center (Dunk), and the Veterans Memorial Auditorium (The Vets). Within steps of hotels and popular attractions, the RICC offers an exhibit hall with 100,000 square feet of contiguous space, a 20,000-squarefoot ballroom, 23 meeting rooms, and the spectacular views of the Rotunda Room. Two adjacent garages offer 2,400 total parking spaces, and within one mile of the center are 2,200 hotel rooms. Convenience and connectivity are key features of the complex. The facility offers comprehensive audiovisual services and large windows allowing for plenty of natural light, and is directly connected via skywalk to the 564-room Westin Providence, Dunkin’ Donuts Center — the area's premier events arena — and Providence Place, a downtown mall offering more than 170 shopping, dining, and entertainment options.
In addition to hosting the Providence Bruins and the Providence College Friars, the 13,000-seat Dunk hosts all kinds of sporting events, concerts, trade shows, and other types of special events. In addition to a restaurant and a 12,000-square-foot lobby, the Dunk features 31,000 square feet of arena space, 90-foot ceilings, a 25,000-square-foot concourse, two party suites, and five renovated meeting/hospitality rooms.
Also part of Providence's convention complex, The Vets is a 1,900-seat theater and historic performing-arts venue offering flawless acoustics, a breathtaking proscenium stage, and a recently renovated backstage. The Vets is available for corporate events, speaking engagements, and more.
Located between New York City and Boston, Providence is within easy reach whether attendees arrive by plane, train, or car, because approximately 25 percent of the country's population lives within 500 miles of the city. For those flying into Rhode Island, Warwick's T.F. Green Airport provides easy access to downtown, just 10 minutes away. The Amtrak train station, with rail service throughout the Northeast Corridor, is also within walking distance of the RICC.
For more information: Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau — Kristin McGrath, CDME, Vice President of Sales and Services; (401) 456-0200; firstname.lastname@example.org; goprovidence.com
• Whether it's a trade show, boardroom meeting, or gala, the award-winning Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau is eager to work with planners to make their event an uncommon success. The full-service destination marketing organization offers assistance with everything from site inspections to housing and attendance building.
• Providence is a culinary gem, due in part to the city being home to Johnson & Wales University. The city recently was ranked No. 1 for some of its food, beverage, and restaurant offerings by readers of Travel + Leisure in the magazine's “America's Favorite Cities” poll.
• Meeting planners and their attendees will find plenty of leisure and entertainment options in Providence. Historical attractions are in abundance, such as the John Brown House and historic Benefit Street, and cultural finds are top-notch, from Rhode Island School of Design's Museum of Art to the Trinity Repertory Company and Providence Performing Arts Center.
• Warwick's T.F. Green Airport is only 10 minutes from downtown Providence, and the airport's ease of access to Interstate 95 makes it a favorite of business and leisure travelers. The airport's InterLink hub provides passengers with plenty of convenient transportation options, including a rental-car facility, public transportation terminals, and rail service to Providence, Boston, and beyond.
Convention Center Specs
Total event space
• 167,000 square feet
Total exhibit-hall space
• 100,000 square feet
Total meeting space
• 37,000 square feet
• 20,000 square feet
• 30,000 square feet
Maximum number of breakout rooms
Number of hotel rooms attached or adjacent to the convention center
Number of hotel rooms within one mile of the convention center
Number of hotel rooms in the Greater Providence area