With its historical and cultural attractions and natural beauty, New England remains a top meetings destination. A hub of the biotechnology industry and home to some of the country's renowned medical facilities, Massachusetts, in particular, attracts healthcare meetings from around the country. But medical and pharmaceutical groups will soon have to navigate new state regulations. The Massachusetts Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Manufacturer Code of Conduct, which goes into effect July 1, includes, among other things, new rules on informational presentations accompanied by a meal that are sponsored by medical device or drug companies. These events now must be held in a medical office, hospital, or a device training facility, not off-site in a restaurant. The good news is that nothing in the regulations prohibits companies from using hotels, convention centers, or other special-event venues for continuing medical education or other third-party. (See news item, page 9, for more.) Visit the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau's Web site for a frequently-asked-questions document about the new rules.
Meanwhile, there's enough going on in the area to capture any meeting attendee's interest. The region's sports teams are experiencing an unprecedented level of success. Football's New England Patriots have won three Super Bowls since 2001. The Red Sox ended an 86-year run of futility when they won the World Series in 2004 (and earned it again in 2007), and the Boston Celtics won its first NBA championship in 22 years in 2008. Each of the team's venues, including famous Fenway Park, have plenty of space, and special venues, for groups.
The 380-room Holiday Inn Stamford Downtown has completed a $20 million renovation of its guest rooms and 20,000 square feet of meeting space. It has a new health club and indoor pool.
Last year, the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville opened the 64,000-square-foot Casino of the Wind. The casino is part of a larger expansion project, including a 919-room hotel, which has been delayed in the current recession.
The new 150-room Fairmont Battery Wharf, on the waterfront, is located next to the North End, one of the city's premier dining destinations. It has 6,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and offers water-taxi service to Logan Airport.
The 234-room W Boston is scheduled to open in the Theater District in September. The hotel will include 5,000 square feet of meeting space.
The 120-room Ames Hotel, in the historic 1889 Ames Building in downtown Boston, is scheduled to open this fall. The 93,500-square-foot building will undergo a $40 million renovation and will feature two stories of restaurants.
The Millennium Bostonian Hotel, adjacent to Faneuil Hall Marketplace, recently completed a $24 million renovation, adding the North 26 Restaurant and Bar, updating all 201 guest rooms, and adding a 3,000-square-foot ballroom.
The new Mandarin Oriental on Boylston Street in the Back Bay has 136 guest rooms and a dozen suites, 10,000 square feet of function space, and a 16,000-square-foot spa and fitness center.
The Hynes Convention Center in Boston's Back Bay has begun construction on 20,000 square feet of new restaurant space, part of an $18 million renovation plan for the Hynes. Plans call for completion by the end of this year.
The Royal Sonesta Hotel Boston has completed a $2 million renovation of its conference and banquet facilities.
The Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods has just completed a massive $50 million renovation. The project included the opening of a new 25,000-square-foot spa with 13 treatment rooms as well as the ”Spa Suite,” a cluster of four treatment rooms with a private lounge. The resort has added a new wing with 30,000 square feet of meeting space. The 18-hole Mount Washington Course was also restored to its original Donald Ross design and reopened last August.
The historic Ocean House in Watch Hill was torn down in 2005 but is being replaced by a $135 million resort hotel. The boutique property, scheduled to open in 2010, will have 48 guest rooms and 24 year-round residential suites. Twelve of the suites will be secluded oceanfront cottage residences.
For great views of Boston, climb the 294 steps to the top of the recently renovated Bunker Hill Monument. Admission to the monument and the adjoining museum is free.
Several companies offer water taxi service between Logan Airport and downtown Boston from the Logan Boat Dock for about $10 per person, with group discounts available.
The Tanglewood Music Festival in Lenox, Mass., is an annual summer tradition for many New England visitors. Music lovers willing to get up on a Saturday morning can sit anywhere in the Tanglewood Shed — no reserved seating — for the price of an inexpensive lawn ticket and watch and listen to the orchestra's Saturday morning rehearsal.
Ask the CVB
Greater Hartford Convention & Visitors Bureau
Greater Portland Casco Bay CVB
Maine Office of Tourism
Greater Boston CVB
Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce
Manchester Area CVB
Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce
Newport County CVB
Providence Warwick CVB
Vermont Convention Bureau
(802) 860-8606, ext. 204
A new House of Blues has opened next to Boston's Fenway Park. The $14 million, three-story, 53,000-square-foot music venue replaces the Avalon and Axis nightclubs. The state-of-the-art facility will accommodate 2,500 people and has a variety spaces for special events. www.houseofblues.com
The Ocean Edge Resort in Brewster, Mass., now features the largest meeting venue on Cape Cod. Part of a $19.5 million renovation program, the Mansion Ballroom is a 4,500-square-foot meeting and event space accommodating up to 300 people. The resort has also added the Lynx Pavilion, a 2,500-square-foot transparent room and canopy that can be used for smaller meeting and events. (800) 343-6074, www.oceanedge.com