Reno is much more than a Vegas wannabe. Just a 20-minute drive out of the neon-decorated downtown, the road snakes into the Sierras, and in less than an hour, you can be on the shores of Lake Tahoe, ringed by a playground of peaks and sublime ski resorts. It offers a quiet counterpoint to Reno's burgeoning bustle.

Downtown Reno is booming. A proposed convention center project would nearly double the facility, adding 200,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space, including a 30,000-square-foot ballroom. The 600-room Atlantis Casino Resort across the street will open a new tower this spring, bringing the total guest rooms to 1,000 and adding 20,000 square feet of meeting space.

Other meeting developments around town include City Center Pavilion, a 40,000-square-foot exhibit facility; the new Nevada Conference and Exhibition Center at the 2,001-room Reno Hilton, bringing the hotel's meeting space to 187,000 square feet; and an expansion at the 1,070-room Peppermill Hotel Casino South of the downtown that will add roughly 58,000 square feet of meeting space by next fall.