Just a few months ago, the Mid-Atlantic states were booming with new projects for the meetings market, but this area has begun to feel the effects of an economic slowdown and construction credit crunch that has postponed hotel and facility projects all over the country. The news for meeting planners is that now is a good time to book the nation's capital and its neighbors because some of that building has slowed.
Before you dial the phone, here are some of the recent additions that have been drawing crowds: In the District of Columbia, the long-awaited Newseum, a 250,000 square-foot interactive museum that takes visitors behind the scenes to experience how and why news is made, opened this April on Pennsylvania Avenue. In addition to accommodating after-hours events, the Newseum makes space available to groups with a two-level conference center.
Upriver in Prince George's County, Maryland, the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center opened last April. The resort includes 2,000 guest rooms, 470,000 square feet of convention space, and seven restaurants at National Harbor, a new 300-acre waterfront community.
New York State officials began soliciting bids in September for a construction manager to oversee a scaled-back, $1 billion effort to renovate New York City's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, adding 60,000 square feet of exhibit space and a truck garage. The renovation is scheduled to start next June and finish in November 2012, without interrupting any events at the center.
The opening of the new $301 million Hilton Convention Center Hotel across from Oriole Park finally gives Baltimore its headquarters hotel. With 757 rooms, it increases by a third the number of hotel rooms immediately adjacent to the Baltimore Convention Center.
In Atlantic City, the Tropicana is coming back after a tough year under Kentucky-based Columbia Sussex Corp., which lost its casino license in December 2007 after less than a year as owner. Now under supervision by former New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Gary Stein, the 2,129-room resort and casino are fully operational.
Once the $700 million expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia is complete in 2011, it will provide a million square feet of exhibit space and 87 meeting rooms.
In Norfolk, Va., the city's long-anticipated $150 million conference hotel will be flagged the Westin Norfolk and is expected to be completed by spring 2011, around the same time as the city's light-rail project. The Westin will have 301 guest rooms and a 50,000-square-foot conference center connected to the hotel.
The 223-room Embassy Suites Hotel Baltimore North in Hunt Valley reopened in January, three months after the 29-foot-by-60-foot glass skylight tumbled into the atrium. The hotel has 4,320 square feet of meeting space.
In March, Harrah's Resort Atlantic City opened a new tower that includes 191 guest rooms, and 172,000 square feet of dining, entertainment, and retail space.
In June in Atlantic City, the Water Club opened as a hotel within the Borgata that houses 800 rooms, 18,000 square feet of meeting space, a variety of retail shops, multiple swimming pools, and a spa.
MGM Mirage plans to build a $4.5 million to $5 million resort complex, the MGM Grand-Atlantic City, next to the Borgata. The 3,000-room hotel and casino, scheduled to open in 2012, will also house a convention center, restaurants, a 1,500-seat theater, and retail areas.
A 722-room hotel tower opened this fall at Atlantic City's Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort. The resort offers 155,000 square feet of meeting space.
Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts plans to open its first NYC property in 15 years, one block north of Ground Zero. The hotel will have 175 guest rooms, restaurants, a spa, and meeting rooms, and will take up 22 stories of an 80-story tower. It is slated for completion in 2011.
The International Association of Conference Centers-certified Glen Cove Mansion Hotel & Conference Center on Long Island offers 27 meeting rooms. There are 196 guest rooms, a restaurant, and spa facilities.
Doral Arrowwood Conference Resort in Rye Brook — an IACC-certified property — has added a 40-seat executive boardroom and an executive dining room that seats 70.
The Mount Airy Casino Resort, in the Pocono Mountains, opened November 2007 with 188 guest rooms and 6,250 square feet of meeting space.
The new $170 million Lancaster County Convention Center should be finished by March 2009. It will have 220,000 square feet of meeting space with an attached 300-room Marriott hotel.
Dolce Valley Forge emerges this fall from a transformation of the Inn at Valley Forge, following a $17 million restoration. The 327-room hotel and IACC-certified conference center includes 26,000 square feet of meeting space.
Bedford Springs Resort reopened this past summer with 216 guest rooms and about 20,000 square feet of IACC-certified meeting facilities.
Le Meridien Philadelphia, a 202-room hotel, will offer 5,300 square feet of meeting space, and a grand ballroom when it opens in late 2009.
The Liaison Capitol Hill, an Affinia Hotel, formerly a Holiday Inn, opened in April following a $12 million renovation of its 343 guest rooms and 10,000 square feet of meeting space.
The $550 million, 1,150-room Marriott Marquis Hotel is slated to open in 2012 across the street from the convention center.
In early September, the St. Regis, Washington, D.C., opened following a complete renovation. Formerly offering 193 guest rooms, the property now has 175 rooms, making room for 11 large and tastefully decorated suites.
In January, Kimpton's 241-room Hotel Monaco Alexandria in the heart of Old Town opened with 5,045 square feet of meeting space.
Westin Alexandria opened November 2007 with 319 guest rooms and suites and 20,000 square feet of function space.
The 267-room Wyndham Virginia Beach Oceanfront has completed a multimillion-dollar conversion of the former Ramada Plaza Resort.
The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center completed renovations in April to transform 180 of 331 guest rooms. The IACC-certified, 63,000-square-foot conference center was also renovated.
Dulles International and Reagan National airports have installed wireless Internet service in all public areas, including parking garages. www.mwaa.com/airportservices
Tired of trying to gather attendees at crowded airports? Only two airlines fly into Atlantic City International — Delta and Spirit. They run 14 flights into and out of the city every day. It may limit your airlift choices, but it will concentrate attendee arrivals and departures for the right size group.
NYC & Company (theand tourism organization for New York City) has partnered with participating hotels to reduce Sunday room rates by 20 percent to 30 percent when guests either stay over Sunday or arrive early for weekday meetings.
Ask the CVB
Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Convention & Visitors Bureau
(410) 280-0445, ext. 12
Baltimore Area Convention & Visitors Association
Prince George's County CVB
Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority
NYC & Company
Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau
Valley Forge CVB
(800) 441-3549, ext 7990
Lehigh Valley CVB
Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association
Arlington Convention and Visitors Service
Virginia Beach CVB
Washington Convention and Tourism Corp.
Behind an elaborate art deco facade, the Perelman Building (across from the main Philadelphia Museum of Art) underwent extensive renovation and opened last September as the new home of the costume and textiles, prints, drawings, photographs, and modern and contemporary design galleries. Venues for events include a marble entry hall, a skylit galleria that can accommodate a reception for 300, and an outdoor sculpture garden. The main museum has multiple event rooms that can hold a meeting of 30 or a reception for 1,000 people. (215) 684-7310, www.philamuseum.org/perelman/
The Desmond Tutu Center opened in December on the campus of the General Theological Seminary in New York's Chelsea neighborhood. The conference center offers more than 8,000 square feet of meeting space in seven event rooms, including the spectacular Refectory Grand Ball Room. (646) 717-9753; www.ahl-tutucenter.com/
In Valley Forge, just outside Philadelphia, a $100 million American Revolution Center at Valley Forge National Park will be the first museum to tell the whole story of liberating the upstart U.S. colonies from England's domination. Though the project has not yet broken ground, a conference center is planned as soon as possible after the opening. (610) 975-4939; www.americanrevolutioncenter.org
At Virginia's Living Museum in Newport News, a new amphitheater overlooks Deer Park Lake and can be rented for group events. (757) 534-7402