What's New

Meeting planners love the new Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, but most have been adamant that it must have an attached hotel. And so it will. The Westin Boston Waterfront, a 790-room luxury hotel, is scheduled to open June 21.

Other hotels, restaurants, shops, and cultural attractions are rising near the BCEC. Notably, the new Institute of Contemporary Art opens this September, followed by the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel in fall 2007.

In western Massachusetts, the Mass-Mutual Center opened in late 2005 to replace the old Springfield Civic Center. It provides glittering new meeting space, as well as a renovated arena seating nearly 7,000 people.

In the 1990s, Providence, R.I., evolved into a cleaner, smarter meetings destination, and the metamorphosis continues. More hotels, both small luxury boutiques and larger corporate edifices, are coming online. Rhode Island's decision to allow gaming in video and slots parlors is slowing the flow of dollars over the line to the two big casinos in Connecticut.

However, those gaming properties continue to be a major draw. Foxwoods Resort Casino is at work on a $700 million project that will include more meeting and convention space as well as a partnership with MGM Mirage that will add a new MGM Grand casino resort to the Mashantucket, Conn., destination by 2008.

At Mohegan Sun, the Destination Services department now offers services to noncompeting New England meetings and destinations through a new DMC called New England Hospitality.

Meanwhile, the new Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford is sparking a renaissance in that city, led by the new $77 million Hartford Marriott Downtown next to the convention center. Not to be eclipsed, the Hartford Hilton got a $33 million rejuvenation next to the Hartford Civic Center. The Civic Center area is being revitalized by the Hartford 21 residential and retail development.

Facilities Update

Connecticut

  • MGM Mirage Inc. is opening a hotel/casino beside FOXWOODS RESORT CASINO, in partnership with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns the Connecticut property. The agreement is part of a $700 million project. The new hotel/casino, called the MGM Grand, is scheduled to open in 2008.

  • The DOUBLETREE HOTEL NORWALK has a major renovation under way to upgrade its 266 guest rooms and 6,400 square feet of event space.

  • The former Hilton Southbury opened in January as the CROWNE PLAZA SOUTHBURY, with 197 rooms and nearly 13,000 square feet of meeting space.

  • The 392-room HILTON HARTFORD reopened in March 2005 after a $33 million upgrade. The property has 15,000 square feet of meeting space.

  • The 374-room HYATT REGENCY GREENWICH is renovating its Riverside Ballroom. The space will host 150 people for meetings. High-speed Internet and cable-ready hookups will be added.

  • DOLCE HERITAGE CONFERENCE RESORT in Southbury has renovated all 163 guest rooms and installed new lighting.



Maine

  • SEBASCO HARBOR RESORT is constructing two new buildings of nine suites each that will open this summer. The Harbor Village Suites project represents a $2.5 million investment and will bring the number of guest rooms to 132.



Massachusetts

  • HOTEL 140 recently opened in Boston's Back Bay as part of a $30 million overhaul of the historic YWCA building. The hotel has 40 guest rooms and about 2,000 square feet of function space.

  • HYATT REGENCY BOSTON has been recognized by the EPA and the Green Hotels Association for a recent $10.5 million renovation that implemented energy-, water-, and resource-saving initiatives.

  • FOUR SEASONS HOTEL BOSTON unveiled 13 new suites in the latest phase of its multimillion-dollar renovation. Next are the remaining 259 guest rooms, due to be completed this spring.

  • The $204 million WESTIN BOSTON WATERFRONT HOTEL will open June 21 attached to the new Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. The hotel will have 793 guest rooms and 32,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 15,000-square-foot ballroom.

  • The 471-room RENAISSANCE BOSTON WATERFRONT HOTEL will open in fall 2007 under Marriott International management with more than 20,700 square feet of meeting space.

  • The 424-room INTERCONTINENTAL BOSTON is planning a fall opening.

  • Expect the new hotel in the old CHARLES STREET JAIL to unlock its doors in spring 2007. This 1851 granite jail is being turned into a $100 million, 308-room hotel.

  • A 164-room COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT SOUTH BAY opened in 2005, minutes from the new convention center.

  • On Cape Cod, ClubCorp, which manages Pinehurst Resort and The Homestead, is now managing the 335-room OCEAN EDGE RESORT and will spend $20 million on an upgrade.

  • With work finished on its waterfront meetings center, the 208-room CHATHAM BARS INN on Cape Cod is working on a spa complex to open this summer.



New Hampshire

  • Great American Life Insurance Co. recently purchased MOUNTAIN VIEW GRAND RESORT & SPA in Whitefield. Built in 1865, the 145-room resort has a dedicated conference center.



Rhode Island

  • HOTEL PROVIDENCE opened in 2005 with 80 guest rooms, 3 meeting rooms, and the Tilden Thurber Ballroom.

  • NEWPORT GRAND, a slots and video casino 55 miles northeast of Newport, plans to build a 90-room hotel.

  • The 374-room PROVIDENCE WESTIN is adding a second tower, which will give the convention center's host hotel another 200 rooms by year's end.

  • Providence's 1920s Masonic Temple will become the 274-room RENAISSANCE PROVIDENCE by late summer. The hotel will have a 10,000-square-foot ballroom and meeting space.

  • DOLCE VILLA, an ultramodern, 14-suite property on Federal Hill in Providence, has opened.



Vermont

  • DOUBLETREE HOTEL BURLINGTON has completed a $5 million renovation that includes 130 guest rooms and 33 suites, a 6,000-square-foot conference center, and a restaurant.

  • TOPNOTCH RESORT AND SPA in Stowe last summer renovated more than 14,500 square feet of meeting space, expanded its spa, and freshened accommodations.



Ask the CVB

Connecticut

GREATER HARTFORD CVB
(800) 446-7811, (860) 728-6789
www.enjoyhartford.com
Total Hotel Tax: 12%

THE NORTHWEST CT CVB
(860) 567-4506
www.litchfieldhills.com
Total Hotel Tax: Varies by town

Maine

CVB OF GREATER PORTLAND
(207) 772-4994
www.visitportland.com
Total Hotel Tax: 12%

Massachusetts

GREATER BOSTON CVB
(888) SEE BOSTON
www.bostonusa.com
Total Hotel Tax: 12.4%

GREATER SPRINGFIELD CVB
(800) 723-1548, (413) 787-1548
www.valleyvisitor.com
Total Hotel Tax: 12.45%

New Hampshire

MANCHESTER AREA CVB
(603) 666-6600
www.manchestercvb.com
Total Hotel Tax: 8%

Rhode Island

NEWPORT COUNTY CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU
(800) 326-6030, (401) 849-8048
www.gonewport.com
Total Hotel Tax: 13%

PROVIDENCE/WARWICK CVB
(401) 274-1636, ext. 237
www.goprovidence.com
Total Hotel Tax: 12%

Vermont

VERMONT CONVENTION BUREAU
(877) 686-5253, (802) 863-3489
www.VermontMeetings.org
Total Hotel Tax: 9%

Phantom Planner

  • New England — based members of the Society of Incentive & Travel Executives have organized a New England chapter, and its first meeting was planned for early June in Gloucester, Mass. Goals of the new group include finding ways members can work together and “establishing New England as a top-of-mind incentive travel destination.” For more information, contact Scott Bickford, Air Charter Services, chapter-information chair, at sbickford@airplanning.com.

  • Some of the best museums in Boston can be visited for free or at reduced rates. The Museum of Fine Arts has a policy of pay-what-you-wish on Wednesdays after 4 p.m.; The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is free if your first name is Isabella (and how likely is that?); the Fogg Museum is free on Saturdays until noon. Find other museum freebies at www.TheInsider.com/Boston/Save/FreeMus.htm.

  • The T, Boston's subway and bus system, is statistically the safest way to travel in the city — just keep your wits about you. Keep to the main, best-lighted parts of the platforms and keep your hands on your belongings.



Special Venues

  • Two of NEWPORT's storied oceanfront mansions, CASTLE HILL INN & RESORT (888/466-1355; www.CastleHillInn.com) and OCEAN CLIFF (401/841-8868; www.newportexperience.com) welcome groups to elegant meeting and event spaces. Castle Hill's Chalet Inn and Chalet Terrace have been redesigned with groups of up to 250 in mind. Ocean Cliff's renovated grand ballroom accommodates from 70 to 225 guests for dinner and dancing.

  • HARTFORD, CONN.'s, WADSWORTH ATHENEUM MUSEUM OF ART opened in 1844 as a turreted castle, with an admission price of 12 and a half cents. Five adjacent buildings house collections of Old Masters and European porcelains. In Morgan Great Hall, the balcony can accommodate a small musical ensemble to entertain up to 120 dinner guests. French cave paintings add intrigue in the Museum Theater, suitable for receptions in the 250-person range. An Italian fountain lends elegance to the 3,500-square-foot Avery Court. (860) 278-2670, ext. 3038; www.wadsworthatheneum.org

  • BOSTON's new all-glass INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART opens in September near the city's new convention center. Its lobby will be just right for a reception of up to 400 people. The 325-seat theater could accommodate lectures, performances, or a fancy product launch. www.icaboston.com

  • In NEW HAMPSHIRE, board the M/S MOUNT WASHINGTON at Weirs Beach and cruise Lake Winnepesaukee. Groups can plan to have breakfast and lunch aboard; or cocktails at sunset, a banquet, and entertainment. Groups can reserve a room for up to 200 people or the entire ship. (603) 366-5531, (888) 843-6686); www.cruisenh.com