Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

August 2013

Best Off-Site Venues

By the Editors of Convene

NGALA PRIVATE GAME RESERVE, SOUTH AFRICA

More than 37,100 acres of untouched wildlife await at the Ngala Private Game Reserve in South Africa, the first to be incorporated into the renowned Kruger National Park. Guests can venture out in search for the Big Five animals (rhinoceros, elephant, buffalo, leopard, and lion) via game drives or walking safaris, and “rough it” in style at the property’s two luxury game lodges: Ngala Safari Lodge, offering 20 thatched cottages under a canopy of tamboti trees, and Ngala Tented Camp. 

After a long day of safaris in the hot sun, lavish, private accommodations provide respite for attendees. They can lounge among the breathtaking scenery on the veranda overlooking the waterhole at the Safari Lounge, or experience lavish dinners al fresco under the African sky. 

SOMA STREAT FOOD PARK, SAN FRANCISCO

Chinese, Guatemalan, Cantonese — there’s no end to the variety of food SoMa StrEat Food Park serves up daily. Working with more than 80 vendors in the Bay Area, the outdoor food-truck park offers 13 new, different food trucks every day. The park is located in the SoMa (South of Market) neighborhood of San Francisco, the “sunniest neighborhood” in the city according to the food park’s owner, Carlos Muela, and in “the hub of tech companies in San Francisco,” he said.

Not only is the location ideal, the park itself offers a variety of one-of-a-kind event spaces, including a permanent beer garden; a covered, heated barn; and a converted bus with a large deck and outdoor seating. And there's also free Wi-Fi, a full PA system, projection screens, TVs, and music playing around the clock.

CHAPULTEPEC CASTLE, MEXICO CITY

Formerly an imperial palace and presidential residence, the Chapultepec Castle sits atop Chapultepec Hill, more than 7,600 feet above sea level, affording visitors awe-inducing views of Mexico City. The sophisticated and opulent property, in Chapultapec Park, is also home to the country’s National History Museum. “Chapultepec Castle is one of the most beautiful landmarks in Mexico City,” said Alma Lopez, CHME, corporate director of sales at Marquis Reforma Hotel & Spa.

The castle lies in close proximity to a zoo, several more museums and the Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City’s main thoroughfare, lined with luxury hotels and shopping centers.

Chapultepec Castle spreads out over more than 100,000 square feet, with gorgeous historic meeting rooms inside. Lopez said: “When you invite anyone to a dinner in this place, they know it has to be something of relevance.”

THE GREENBRIER, WEST VIRGINIA

 A National Historic Landmark, The Greenbrier has been hosting distinguished guests from around the world since 1778 — from President Woodrow Wilson to Rose Kennedy. With 710 guest rooms, this award-winning property is nestled in White Sulphur Springs, W.V., surrounded by the picturesque Allegheny Mountains. The resort provides more than 100,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, including 40 breakout rooms with audiovisual presentation aids, and a 16,500-square-foot exhibit hall.

For team-building activities, groups can partake in a trust-building climb of the Alpine Tower or suit up for whitewater rafting. Indoor fun includes bowling, laser tag, and the new, 103,000-square-foot Casino Club, with plentiful food and entertainment options. Southern hospitality and home cooking abound at The Greenbrier. At any one of the resort’s 14 distinctive restaurants, guests can indulge in fresh-from-the-farm cuisine, including 23 varieties of vegetables harvested from the all-natural Greenbrier Farm nearby. After a busy day of meetings, attendees can take a sulphur-spring soak at the Five-Star mineral spa.

SHEDD AQUARIUM, CHICAGO

From the South Pole to the Amazon rainforest, no part of the planet is off limits at the Shedd Aquarium. Conveniently located in the heart of downtown Chicago, the aquarium houses more than 32,500 animals, including beluga whales and zebra sharks. “This museum is near and dear to Chicagoans and visitors alike,” said Danielle Oviatt, senior sales manager at Hyatt Regency Chicago. “Its location is ideal to any of the downtown hotels, making it convenient for attendees. My clients are always so pleased by the service and their specific attention to detail.” Not only are the services and underwater views amazing, “the food rivals any great Chicago restaurant,” Oviatt said. Terraces with lovely lakefront views, and exhibits like the 90,000-gallon Caribbean Reef habitat give guests plenty to feast their eyes on.

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