Connecticut: Compact But Diverse

Destinations


Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford

Connecticut perfectly encapsulates New England’s environmental diversity. “Our state is compact, yet there are many different types of meeting venues and hotels in picturesque locations,” says H. Scott Phelps, president of Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau.

“The size makes it easy for groups to meet and day-trip to numerous off-site attractions, from sunning on the sandy beaches of Long Island Sound to theater and museums in the state’s exciting cities, to entertainment at two of the world’s largest casinos, to cruising on the Connecticut River, to hiking the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains.”

The state’s premier meeting facility is Connecticut Convention Center in downtown Hartford, the largest convention venue between Boston and New York City. Proximity to major Northeast cities accounts for part of Hartford’s allure as a meeting site. More than 23.5 million people live within a 2.5-hour drive, and Bradley International Airport (BDL) is just 12 minutes away.

The 12-year-old convention center features standout architecture, 140,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space, a 40,000-square-foot ballroom and 25,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space. A recent $2.5 million refresh brought new carpeting, furniture and a new lobby box office to the space.

Hartford Marriott Downtown, which adjoins the convention center, offers 409 guest rooms and 13,500 sq. ft. of meeting space. In late April, Hartford celebrated a long-awaited hotel reopening. Historic boutique property Goodwin Hotel, closed since 2008, once again hosts guests in its Queen Anne-style terra-cotta building constructed in the 1880s. The storied property contains 124 guest rooms and more than 5,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

The Connecticut River flows through Hartford, situated near the geographic center of the Constitution State. Groups can explore the waterway’s route through the Connecticut River Valley during incentive trips, team-building excursions and corporate events aboard Mystique, the 113-foot ship operated by Lady Katharine Cruises.

Impressive aquariums occupy opposite ends of southern Connecticut. On the west side sits Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, housed in a refurbished 1860s factory building at the mouth of the Norwalk River. Featuring more than 1,200 marine animals in 34 exhibits, the site contains an IMAX theater with a six-story movie screen. Event spaces accommodate 250 to 1,000.

Set in a charming southeastern Connecticut shore town, Mystic Aquarium is home to the country’s largest outdoor beluga whale exhibit. The aquarium’s diverse residents include sharks, jellyfish, alligators, amphibians and more. Penguin meet-and-greets and private sea lion shows can be arranged for corporate events. The venue can hold up to 350 for dinner and up to 700 for an outdoor reception.

Another nearby venue offers marine immersion of a different type. Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea is a living history museum with a village, ships and 17 acres of exhibits depicting life in 19th-century coastal New England. Groups of up to 200 can gather in River Room at Latitude 41 restaurant or Boat Shed at Lighthouse Point, while the North Lawn accommodates up to 500.


Foxwoods Casino Resort, Mashantucket, Connecticut

Connecticut’s southeastern corner is also home to two Native American-owned properties containing a wealth of meeting space. In November 2016, Mohegan Sun unveiled Earth Tower, a brand-new hotel containing 400 deluxe rooms. The property, which currently boasts 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, also began construction on an $80 million exposition and convention center scheduled to open in summer 2018.

The 150,000 sq. ft. of event space at Foxwoods Casino Resort includes four ballrooms and two theaters. Guy Fieri’s Foxwoods Kitchen & Bar joined the resort’s dining portfolio last November, and Cat Cora’s Wine Bar will soon add Iron Chef credibility to the Foxwoods culinary scene.

MAJOR MEETING VENUES
 
Connecticut Convention Center
Riverfront facility; largest meeting facility in the state; 140,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space; 40,000-square-foot ballroom; 25,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space.
 
Hartford Marriott Downtown
AAA Four Diamond hotel; connects to convention center; 409 guest rooms and suites; 13,500 sq. ft. of meeting space; 13 meeting rooms.
 
Hilton Hartford
Skywalk to XL Center multipurpose arena and convention facility; 12 miles from Bradley International Airport; 393 guest rooms; 15,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; modern fitness center; indoor pool.
 
Foxwoods Resort Casino
Located in Mashantucket; largest resort casino in North America; four hotels, with 2,230 guest rooms; 150,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
 
Mohegan Sun
Uncasville property; two luxury hotel towers; 1,563 guest rooms; more than 275,000 sq. ft. of meeting and function space; 10,000-seat arena.
 
Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa
Located in Groton; hub for exploring Mystic shore area; 285 guest rooms and suites; 20,297 sq. ft. of flexible event space; 10,320-square-foot grand ballroom.

Further Reading:

Small But Mighty: New England