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.
In Prince George's County, Maryland, the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center opened last April with 2,000 guest rooms, 470,000 square feet of convention space, and seven restaurants.
Virginia Beach is currently developing a master plan for the resort area which includes a convention center headquarters hotel, a new entertainment complex and a new corridor connecting the convention center and entertainment complex.
A scaled-back, $1 billion effort to renovate New York City's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center will add 60,000 square feet of exhibit space. The renovation is scheduled to finish in November 2012.
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.
- 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 Oncenter Complex in Syracuse earlier this year completed the first major renovation of its ballroom since opening 15 years ago. The renovation updated the walls, ceiling, carpeting, lighting, and furniture. The complex consists of three venues: The 99,000-square-foot Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center at Oncenter, the War Memorial Arena at Oncenter, and the John H. Mulroy Civic Center Theaters at Oncenter. Plans are in the works for The Westin Syracuse Hotel to open adjacent to the convention center in 2009.
- 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 emerged 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 Hampton Roads, the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Hampton opened in April 2008 with 124 suites and 2,660 square feet of meeting and banquet space. Complimentary wired and wireless Internet access is available from every room. The hotel is located at The Power Plant of Hampton Roads, anchored by Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, which offers restaurants and nightlife.
- Also in Hampton Roads, the Crowne Plaza Hampton-Marina Side reopened recently after undergoing a $4 million renovation and rebranding from a Radisson. The only waterfront hotel in Hampton, it has 172 guest accommodations and 6,000 square feet of meeting space.
- 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 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 (the marketing and 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
Baltimore Area Convention & Visitors Association
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
(757) 315-1610, (866) 484-HRCC
Virginia Beach CVB
(757) 385-4700, (800) 211-7165
Washington Convention and Tourism Corp.
Charleston WV CVB
(304) 344-5075, (800) 733-5469
- 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/
- West Virginia's State Capital of Charleston is rich in culture, including the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences that provides a realm of activities for attendees to explore. You can book almost 2,000 people into the Maier Foundation Performance Hall or choose the smaller sculpture garden, cafe, or dozens of other galleries, labs, and classrooms. Contact the Group Sales Department at (304) 561-3536 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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