From Croatia to Shanghai, there's a roster of destinations emerging on the meetings, incentives, and conventions scene and pumping millions of dollars into tourism developments and infrastructure improvements designed to make them star players. Increasing business endeavors make such sites obvious locales for corporate meetings, while their relative newcomer status ensures their motivational appeal for incentives and desirability for conventions. After all, who wouldn't want to be the first on his block to visit Dubai?
As Dubai expands its frontiers with enormous man-made islands, Croatia reinvents itself in the wake of its war for independence in the 1990s, Macau keeps its place as the gaming mecca of Asia, Shanghai continues to welcome new businesses, and Singapore enhances impressive attractions with its first casino, one thing they all have in common is an ongoing development frenzy.
That makes them hot destinations for travelers and meeting-goers alike, and good options for planners who need a variety of venues to suit multiple needs.
The Regent Dubrovnik
Originally scheduled to open this year, the Regent Dubrovnik is now slated to open in 2011. Overlooking the Adriatic Sea, the 120-room hotel will feature expansive meeting facilities and an elite spa and wellness facility. It will be the second Regent in Croatia; the first is The Regent Esplanada in Croatia's capital city Zagreb.
Kempinski Hotel Adriatic Istria
At the northern tip of the country, the contemporary luxury resort is slated to open this summer with 186 guest rooms and suites. Seven meeting rooms hold up to 250 attendees. Other amenities include three pools, three restaurants, and a luxury spa in addition to a private beach with views of Slovenia, Italy, and the Austrian Alps. The resort will include the first 18-hole championship golf course in Croatia.
Valamar Lacroma Resort
When it debuts this spring, the contemporary Valamar Lacroma Resort will be the largest conference hotel in Dubrovnik, with 385 guest rooms, the serene Ragusa Spa, and a dedicated conference center that can accommodate up to 1,000 attendees. In addition to the exhibit hall (divisible into four sections), there are another seven meeting rooms.
Atlantis, The Palm
The $1.5 billion landmark pink hotel opened in September 2008 as the flagship property of Palm Jumeirah, one of Dubai's man-made resort islands. The beachfront hotel features 1,373 guest rooms and 166 suites, plus a conference center with nearly 54,000 square feet of space. Resort highlights include a themed amusement park, extensive fresh and saltwater pools and lagoons, and a 27-room spa.
The 550-room hotel opens in 2010 in the heart of the city's business district, near the Dubai World Trade Center, International Convention Center, and Dubai International Financial Center. The hotel will feature 30 meeting rooms and two ballrooms, the largest holding 1,100 attendees.
St. Regis Dubai
Starwood Hotels and Resorts has announced construction of a St. Regis hotel slated to open in 2012 as part of the mixed-use Starhill Towers & Gallery in the city's Business Bay development. Plans call for 220 guest rooms and 4,500 square feet of meeting space.
Macau Tower Convention & Entertainment Centre
Function space in Macau's landmark tower and adjacent convention center includes The Grand Hall, which holds 1,000 guests for a banquet; the 500-seat Theatre, a sophisticated auditorium with simultaneous interpretation facilities enabling parallel translation in four languages plus a hydraulically operated orchestra pit and state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment; and the Exhibition Hall, which accommodates 100 standard display booths.
City of Dreams
On Cotai Strip, a reclaimed area in Macau, the $2.1 billion City of Dreams casino opens in June. The venue will feature a dome-shaped theater, a Hard Rockthemed casino, nightclubs, and Harley-Davidson motorcycles in the jackpot.
Venetian Macau Resort Hotel
The 3,000-suite hotel is connected to the Cotai Strip Convention & Exhibition Center, which offers 800,000 square feet of exhibit space, 260,000 square feet of meeting space (in 108 rooms), the 15,000-seat Cotai Strip Cotai Arena, and the 1,800-seat Zaia Theatre.
The 600-room property is five minutes from the Macau Ferry Terminal and a 15-minute drive from Macau International Airport. Amenities at the resort include the 205,000-square-foot casino, an expansive health club and spa, the Wynn Shopping Esplanade, and 24,000 square feet of meeting space, including a grand ballroom.
MGM Grand Macau
The resort hotel offers 600 rooms and suites along with 16,000 square feet of meeting space. The Grand Ballroom accommodates 680 attendees. MGM Grand Macau's distinguishing feature is The Grand Praca, a glass-ceilinged event space modeled after a Portuguese town square. The numerous dining outlets available to groups range from The Pool Bar to the Veuve Clicquot Lounge.
Inspired by traditional Chinese motifs, the ultra-contemporary Conrad Shanghai opens in 2010 in the heart of the vibrant Xintiandi district of the city. The property will feature 363 guest rooms, one ballroom that can accommodate up to 600 guests, nine meeting rooms that can accommodate from eight to 170 attendees, a chic urban spa, and multiple dining options.
The Peace Hotel
Fairmont has announced plans to renovate and reopen the Peace Hotel, a Shanghai landmark for over a century in the famed Bund tourist district. The hotel will undergo a $65 million refurbishment to return it to its former glory before opening in 2010.
Set to open late this year, the hotel pays homage to its location in the historic Art Deco Bund district. Its 235 guest rooms will be among the largest in the city, and meeting facilities will include a grand ballroom for up to 1,000 guests along with five meeting rooms and special event venues. A dedicated elevator will be able to accommodate motor vehicles and large equipment for product launches and theme parties.
Renaissance Shanghai Zhongshan Park Hotel
At 60 stories tall in the Cloud Nine commercial complex, the newly opened Renaissance Shanghai Zhongshan Park Hotel is visible from almost every part of the city. Built with meetings in mind, the 624-room hotel features a dedicated conference floor with 21,000 square feet of meeting space in nine meeting rooms and one ballroom, which can accommodate up to 1,000 guests.
Set on 30 acres of lush greenery on Singapore's tranquil Sentosa Island, the upscale Capella Singapore opened its doors in March, blending traditional Asian design with contemporary Western influences. Two restored colonial buildings form the centerpiece, which is surrounded by the hotel's 111 rooms — 61 deluxe guest rooms, 11 suites, and 38 garden villas with private outdoor showers and bathtubs. Meeting facilities include two boardrooms, a ballroom with banquet seating for 450 guests, and three meeting rooms.
Marina Bay Sands
Singapore's first-ever casino will open at the Marina Bay Sands when the hotel debuts in late 2009. Three soaring towers house 2,600 guest rooms and convention facilities for up to 45,000 delegates, including an exhibit hall for 2,000 booths, a convention center with 250 meeting rooms, and a grand ballroom that can seat 6,600 guests for a banquet or 11,000 attendees theater-style. Other amenities include trendy restaurants and bars, an ArtScience Museum, theaters, and shopping, all in one integrated resort.
Park Hotel Clarke Quay
Slated to open in mid-2009 in the entertainment and dining hub of Clarke Quay, the hip boutique hotel will have 336 guest rooms and suites, modern meeting rooms, a restaurant, and a spa.