Reno is much more than a Vegas wannabe, and it's getting smarter about promoting its outdoorsy add-ons. Just a 20-minute drive out of the neon-decorated downtown, the road snakes into the Sierras, and in less than an hour, you can be on the shores of Lake Tahoe, ringed by a playground of peaks, including such sublime ski resorts as Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.
Back in town, the most significant recent development is a bill moving through state legislature to fund a $105 million expansion of the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. If passed, the state will levy 12 percent on guest rooms rates in Reno and Washoe County, 11 percent in Sparks, beginning in July. The proposed project would nearly double the convention center, adding a 140,000-square-foot exhibit hall, 30,000 square feet of meeting room space, and a ballroom.
In line to benefit from the expansion is the 600-room Atlantis Casino Resort under construction across the street. The property will open a new tower this spring, bringing the total guest rooms to 1,000 and adding 20,000 square feet of meeting space. Other major meeting developments around town include:
* City Center Pavilion, a 40,000-square-foot exhibit facility, opened downtown in February. The space was designed for special events and trade shows, and can host up to 216 10-by-10 booths.
* Reno's largest property, the 2,001-room Reno Hilton, has taken a 45,000-square-foot shopping mall and turned it into the Nevada Conference and Exhibition Center, which opened in February with 11 breakout rooms, space for 180 booths, and T1-speed Internet connections.
* South of the downtown area, the 1,070-room Peppermill Hotel Casino is adding approximately 58,000 square feet of meeting space and two restaurants, and expanding its casino.