Sometimes the best place for a meeting is a conference center. Here's what a few have been up to:

  • The Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center, Southbridge, Mass., which opened in January, recalls a simpler time but offers the luxuries of the 21st century. A clock tower graces the center of the 315,000-square-foot facility, and the first floor opens onto courtyards and lawns. It features 24-hour meeting rooms, audiovisual support, three meals daily and continuous beverage stations, a 216-seat dining room, 201 guest rooms, five guest suites, nine meeting rooms, and nine breakout rooms. The facility also has an amphitheater that can accommodate up to 250 people and a ballroom for up to 300.
  • Opened in late September, the 295-room Doral Eaglewood Conference Resort & Spa, Itasca, Ill., is an IACC-certified conference resort with an 18-hole golf course and a 10,000-square-foot health spa. Located 35 minutes from downtown Chicago and 21 minutes west of O'Hare International Airport, the conference center/resort offers technologically advanced facilities, upscale accommodations, and first-class recreation. Each of the 34 conference rooms is equipped with fatigue-resistant seating, glare-free lighting, graphic presentation capabilities, and tackable wall surfaces.

  • Happy birthday to the Summit Executive Centre, Chicago, which marked its fifth year September 13. The facility, which was originally opened by KPMG in 1986, was purchased in 1997 by Louise Silberman, CMM, and John Potterton, CMP. Silberman and Potterton have completely remodeled the Summit, replacing wallcoverings, carpets, and furniture; remodeling the kitchen; enhancing the business center; and updating the built-in AV equipment in meeting rooms.


Great Wolf Lodge, Kansas City, Kan., projects a summer 2003 opening. The $51.5 million project includes a four-story, 300,000-square-foot lodge with 281 guest rooms, a 38,000-square-foot indoor water park, two restaurants, shops, a fitness center, a 2,300-square-foot spa, and 3,000 square feet of meeting space.

Slated for a 2005 opening, the $64 million Bayfront Convention Center, Erie, Pa., will occupy 3.6 acres on Erie's waterfront. Expected to bring in more than $15 million in new revenue to the region, the 113,500-square-foot convention center will have an enclosed walkway to the new Marriott hotel and restaurant complex. Flexible ballroom, banquet, and meeting room space will accommodate groups of 100 to 1,000 people. The center will include a 29,000-square-foot exhibit hall, a 13,000-square-foot ballroom and banquet facility, 12 meeting rooms, and more than 19,000 square feet of pre-function space. A parking area will go beneath the center and will be supplemented by additional adjacent spaces.

The Pier House Resort and Caribbean Spa, Key West, Fla., recently completed a $4.5 million renovation, including all accommodations, meeting space, food and beverage outlets, and landscaping and exterior facade. The legendary Key West resort has been transformed into a sophisticated, world-class destination. Set on the waterfront along the Gulf of Mexico in the heart of historic Old Town Key West, the resort has 142 guest accommodations, 4,700 square feet of flexible meeting space, three restaurants and lounges, and a full-service spa. Beach barbecues, private island parties, sunset cruises, or traditional banquets are available for groups. The resort can accommodate groups up to 175 people.

The 250-room, full-service Renaissance Fort Lauderdale — Plantation Hotel in Florida opened in September. The nine-story property has approximately 10,000 square feet of meeting space, including nine meeting rooms and a ballroom that can accommodate 450 people banquet-style. The ballroom's pre-function space overlooks the lake. All guest rooms feature dual-line phones and data ports with high-speed Internet access. The hotel has an outdoor pool with Jacuzzi, a health club, and a business center. The hotel is adjacent to the 36-hole Jacaranda Championship Golf Club and Contour Day Spa.

The Bellagio, Las Vegas, has announced a $375 million expansion to begin in mid-2003. It is scheduled for a December 2004 completion. The addition will include a 925-room spa tower, an expansion of the Bellagio spa and salon, 60,000 square feet of new meeting space, 5,000 square feet of additional retail space, and a new restaurant. The new spa tower will complement the resort's existing 3,005 rooms and suites.