Getting Online, Outside, and Artsy in Indy

Author: Sarah Beauchamp       

One of event organizers’ biggest challenges? Providing reliable Wi-Fi for attendees, according to respondents in Convene’s most-recent Meetings Market Survey. When traveling for work, it’s critical to be able to plug in and get information — no matter where you are. That includes the airports, part of the entire event experience.

Indianapolis wants to make sure attendees are connected from the moment they arrive. With the Indianapolis International Airport (IND) offering the fastest Wi-Fi in the country — internet speeds average 40 megabits per second (mbps) — they’ll be zooming through their email, online tasks, and uploading to social media, all for free. Compare that to the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), which offers 5 mbps at no cost, and 20 mbps for a fee.

And arriving in Indy is easier than ever, with 15 new nonstop destinations and 37 additional flights added since 2014, including one between Indy and Paris on Delta announced last week. “Connectivity from the West Coast has grown significantly this year,” said Lisa Wallace, Visit Indy’s senior communications manager, noting that multiple connections have been added between IND and San Francisco, LAX, San Diego, and Seattle.

Getting Outside

Visitors easily connect to downtown via a 15-minute commute, where they’ll find one of the most walkable convention districts in the country. “The Indianapolis Cultural Trail connects downtown hotels and the convention center directly with six cultural districts,” Wallace said, “each with its own flavor of shopping, dining, nightlife, and attractions.” Skywalks between a dozen hotels and the convention center keep the city walkable year-round.

The Trail offers group yoga and bike tours, as well as turnkey community-service clean-ups. There’s also Public Art Bike Tours, which combine Indy’s specialties: outdoor group activities and its vibrant cultural scene. Tours start and end at some of Indy’s 26 local craft breweries, including Sun King, Metazoa, and TwoDEEP.

All of the city’s major hotels are conveniently connected via the Trail to White River State Park and its 250 acres of greenspace. The park is ideal for 5k walks and organized runs, and nearby offsite event venues — including an outdoor concert space, world-class museums, and the scenic Central Canal — create memorable settings for groups. “Companies have immediately jumped on board with having their meeting on the yacht,” Jeff Hutson, director of Old World Gondoliers, said about holding meetings on the canal. “The visuals are beautiful, it’s still private, and it gives everybody this close proximity around a table, where they have the ability to have their meeting but also be in this beautiful environment and see the downtown district. It’s a unique way to hold business.”

A Focus on the Arts

Indy also boasts more connected hotels — 12 in total, and hotel rooms, approximately 4,700 — than any other U.S. city. In total, there are 7,100 rooms downtown and 32,000 throughout the city. And a number of those properties are ideal for art lovers.

“The Indianapolis Museum of Art’s curator of contemporary art commissioned 26 pieces for The Alexander Hotel, many site-specific throughout the property, from the parking garage to the conference rooms,” Wallace said. “Installations greet guests in the lobby as well as their guest room.” Le Meridien offers vintage racing-inspired décor paired with wallpaper and art inspired by the city.

Beyond hotels, the Indy arts scene is thriving and this upcoming year will celebrate several milestones. “The Cabaret is celebrating its 10th year of bringing Broadway stars to Indy,” Wallace said. The venue is opening a “glamorous” new performance space, she said, and adjacent to the new space will be a newly activated art-filled alley that could serve as a unique venue space.

Indy’s 200-seat Phoenix Theatre is also getting an update, after three decades of hosting performances. As part of a new Performing Arts Collective, Phoenix Theatre will triple in size. Nearby, the Indiana Repertory Theatre will celebrate playwright-in-residence James Still’s 20th season.

Indy may be known as a thriving sports city, Wallace said, “but sports and art intersect in unique ways here.” For instance, the Indy 500 just celebrated its 100th birthday and 33 artists, representing the number of cars in the race, were commissioned to create Indy 500–related art installations throughout the city.

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