Linda Hrycaz, director of operations for the Keystone Symposia in Silverthorne, Colo., helps set up about 40 scientific symposia a year, most of them in conference centers set in the Rocky Mountains. For her, “the biggest piece is the ambience of a resort setting.”

Why? Even scientists like to play. Despite the technical nature of the events Keystone arranges (the subject is molecular and cellular biology; attendees range from researchers to clinicians), “a lot of people like to combine business and pleasure,” Hrycaz says. The symposia generally run for four to six nights and include a plenary lecture, poster sessions, and workshops. Groups range in size from 80 to 800, and many like to take advantage of opportunities to ski and other outdoor pursuits.

“We wouldn't consider [a conference center] in a city for our needs, because part of the package is that ‘getting out in the woods’ kind of ambience,” Hrycaz says. But convenience is crucial, too: Sites must be within about two hours of an airport.

For symposia that are larger and higher-echelon, Hrycaz often chooses Keystone Conference Center, part of Keystone Resort in Keystone, Colo., with which the company was once affiliated. Groups like the resort's lodging and dining options — and, of course, the super skiing.