Oh, What a Bermuda-ful Day
That's how Bermudians greet visitors on the semitropical island famed for its pink sand beaches and pastel-colored buildings. Off the coast of North Carolina, only a one-and-a-half-hour flight from New York and Boston, Bermuda is much closer than the Caribbean. With no rainy season and only the rare hurricane, Bermuda offers a convenient and charming destination for small meetings and incentives.
Conference venues range from luxury resorts to cottage colonies. Many of the facilities are undergoing improvements. The two Princess properties accommodate the largest groups.
The 600-room Southampton Princess is currently adding a concierge floor, which will open this June, and a spa, slated for a June 2001 opening. A range of indoor and outdoor function space holds groups up to 1,500. A stand-out function space is the multimedia, three-level Mid-Ocean Amphitheater, which accommodates up to 700. The resort features a private beach club, dolphin encounter programs, and onsite golf. Conveniently located near Hamilton, the island's business center, the 413-room Hamilton Princess accommodates groups up to 500.
Other Bermuda hotels include the 293-room Elbow Beach Hotel--A Rafael Resort, with function space for up to 200; the recently renovated 198-room Grotto Bay Beach Hotel, also for groups of up to 200; and the 407-room Sonesta Beach Resort Bermuda. Right on the beach, this newly renovated resort accommodates 400 for meetings, and now offers a full-service European spa. For more intimate groups, consider Cambridge Beaches, an 82-room luxury cottage colony hosting groups of 150; the 46-room Horizons & Cottages, with meeting space for 30; and the 50-room Ariel Sands Beach Club, with its Beachside Conference Center accommodating 100. For more info, visit www.bermudatourism.com. --Tamar Hosansky
NEW AND IMPROVED Announcing its third Opryland development outside of Nashville, Gaylord Entertainment Company unveiled plans for a self-contained, 2,000-room destination hotel and convention center in Prince George's County, Maryland. The Opryland Hotel Potomac will be the first phase of National Harbor, a 534-acre site being developed by Virginia-based The Peterson Companies. The project will feature 400,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space. The first phase of the development is expected to open, complete with a signature Opryland atrium, in 2004. There are also plans for a 24,000-square-foot spa and fitness center and 18,000 square feet of retail space.
*Gaylord Entertainment also has two other Opryland hotels in development, one in Orlando (scheduled to open in 2002) and one in Grapevine, Texas (scheduled to open in 2003). Dave Jones, president of the Gaylord's Hospitality and Attractions Group, said there are plans to open a total of five to seven Opryland properties over the next decade.
*The Grand America opens in November in Salt Lake City with 775 rooms (including 420 suites). The luxury hotel has been chosen as Olympics headquarters by several major corporate sponsors of the 2002 Games. The 24-story hotel will offer a 24,664-square-foot grand ballroom and a 13,104-square-foot junior ballroom, plus 21 additional meeting rooms. Combined with its sister property, the Little America Hotel & Towers, the two offer 96,000 square feet of meeting space and 1,627 guest rooms.
*Dolce International has assumed management of The Hastings Hotel, A Dolce Learning Center, in Hartford, Conn., formerly the Hastings International Conference Center. The 271-room property offers 55,000 square feet of meeting space, including three amphi- theaters and four dedicated computer training rooms. The hotel completed a $6 million renovation in 1998, which focused on public areas and dining outlets, and added a business center and media center.
*Wyndham International has taken over the former Westin Canal Place in New Orleans and renamed it the Wyndham New Orleans at Canal Place. The 438-room hotel, located at the foot of Canal Street in the French Quarter, recently completed a $23 million renovation that included all guest rooms. The property offers 35,000 square feet of meeting space, a complete fitness center, and 12 business guest offices.
*The Sheraton Gateway Atlanta Airport has completed a renovation of all guest rooms and corridors. Located half a mile from Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport, the 395-room hotel is attached to the Georgia International Convention Center, which offers 112,000 square feet of exhibit space and more than 30,000 square feet of meeting space.