Arrivals DeparturesBy Josef Aukee

Airport meetings keep the focus on attendees

What was once an afterthought for hoteliers became a legend when Hyatt Hotels & Resorts founder Jay Pritzker quietly purchased the Hyatt House motel near the Los Angeles International Airport in 1957. The company then expanded by adding properties in San Francisco, Seattle and the San Fernando Valley and dubbed them “the world’s first fly-in motels.” The company continues to have a significant footprint with properties near major airports across North America. In subsequent decades, several major chains recognized the growing need for airport properties, not only for layover or early-flight clients but also for business meetings. They listened to planners’ requests, and now offer top-notch meeting facilities that rival their downtown and resort cousins. A number of practical advantages also support booking meetings, conferences and trade shows at or near airports, including ones at big-city gateways and regional hubs. However, that doesn’t mean that the options that make sense in Detroit will necessarily work in Honolulu.

Meet in the Airport

Several airports have integrated meeting rooms directly within the terminals. For a fly-in/fly-out same-day meeting, that may be the right ticket. Several airports offer moderate conference centers onsite and have business center and catering services, among other amenities. Here are a few examples to consider:

-Honolulu International offers four meeting rooms that can accommodate groups of up to 350 in the Interisland Conference Center on the seventh floor. There are also four rooms available at the Garden Conference Center in the Main Overseas Terminal (hawaii.gov/hnl/airport-information).

-Portland International Airport Conference Center in Oregon, located on the mezzanine level of the main terminal, has seven rooms for group events of five to 65 attendees, audiovisual and catering services (portofportland.com).

-Port of Seattle provides the Conference Center at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which has nine rooms for groups of up to 200. The largest space is 2,850 sq. ft. (portseattle.org).

-Norfolk International Airport Conference Center in Virginia has three rooms ranging from 110–1,848 sq. ft. for groups of six to 200 depending on event type (norfolkairport.com).

Major Airport Options

When selecting an airport hotel for meetings, consider the following attributes:

-Number of nonstop flights available for prospective attendees
-Public transportation options
-Food and beverage service
-Potential off-site activity opportunities
-Ease of access for drive-in attendees

Use the following major gateway guide to help you find the right hotel and meeting facilities for groups looking to take advantage of the services of airport properties. Most properties listed are adjacent to or within a few miles of the airport, and have full-service facilities and amenities along with dedicated meeting and event space and related business or A/V services. Many smaller and regional airports from Sacramento, Calif., to Buffalo, N.Y., also offer comparable facilities and were too numerous to include here.


   Sheraton Chicago O'Hare Airport Hotel

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)

The Atlanta Airport Hotel Coalition helps planners by combining the resources of the hotels’ sales and marketing staffs with the resources of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. Leverage their expertise and experience to help plan a successful event.

-Atlanta Airport Marriott: 638 rooms/28,303 sq. ft.
-Atlanta Airport Marriott Gateway: 403 rooms/21,648 sq. ft.
-Crowne Plaza Hotel Atlanta - Airport: 378 rooms/18,000 sq. ft.
-Hilton Atlanta Airport: 504 rooms/35,000 sq. ft.
-Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel: 387 rooms/35,000 sq. ft.
-Sheraton Gateway Hotel – Atlanta Airport: 395 rooms/28,000 sq. ft.
-The Westin Atlanta Airport: 500 rooms/23,000 sq. ft.

Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)

As one of the busiest airports in the world, O’Hare is in a constant state of renewal. In 2011, it managed its way through a blizzard with much success, and went green in terms of energy usage in part by adding one of the first aeroponic gardens at an airport, which grows produce used at restaurants in the terminals.

-Hilton Rosemont/Chicago O’Hare: 300 rooms/22,000 sq. ft.
-Hyatt Regency O’Hare: 1,096 rooms/110,000 sq. ft.
-InterContinental Chicago O’Hare: 556 rooms/53,000 sq. ft.
-Renaissance Chicago O’Hare Suites Hotel: 362 rooms/14,810 sq. ft.
-Sheraton Chicago O’Hare Airport Hotel: 296 rooms/11,100 sq. ft.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)

A long-time premier meeting destination in itself, DFW provides easy transportation options including Skylink, Terminal Link and a number of nonstop flights from hundreds of domestic and international destinations. The Grand Hyatt DFW and Hyatt Regency DFW are adjacent to the airport and connected by Skylink and Terminal Link. The public areas of the Sheraton DFW Airport Hotel were renovated in 2011.

-Dallas Fort Worth Airport Marriott: 491 rooms/22,300 sq. ft.
-Grand Hyatt DFW: 298 rooms/34,000 sq. ft.
-Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center: 393 rooms/63,000 sq. ft.
-Hyatt Regency DFW: 811 rooms/92,000 sq. ft.
-Sheraton DFW Airport Hotel: 300 rooms/25,000 sq. ft.

Denver International Airport (DEN)

A redevelopment project is underway in the South Terminal, with some portions expected to be completed in 2013 and others, including the rail line, as late as 2016. It includes the construction of a planned 500-room Westin hotel and conference center, an RTD FasTracks commuter rail station and improvements to the existing concourse baggage and train systems. In addition, the program includes an open-air plaza with new concessions.

-Crowne Plaza Denver International Airport Convention Center: 255 rooms/70,000 sq. ft.
-Denver Airport Marriott at Gateway Park: 238 rooms/7,000 sq. ft.
-Embassy Suites Hotel Denver International Airport: 174 rooms/5,200 sq. ft.
-Holiday Inn Denver Airport: 161 rooms/4,000 sq. ft.
-Hyatt house Denver Airport (formerly  Summerfield Suites): 123 rooms/1,034 sq. ft.

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW)

DTW’s new terminal has quickly become a favorite for frequent fliers. The Westin Detroit Metropolitan Airport, the only deluxe hotel within the airport complex, is widely revered as one of the best new facilities in the country. Guests can access a private security entrance into the Edward H. McNamara/World Gateway Terminal as well as hop on a complimentary 24-hour shuttle service to the North Terminal. It has 26,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and 404 rooms.

-Embassy Suites Detroit Metro Airport: 151 rooms/6,600 sq. ft.
-Four Points by Sheraton Detroit Metro Airport: 175 rooms/2,234 sq. ft.
-Sheraton Detroit Metropolitan Airport: 359 rooms/18,000 sq. ft.

George W. Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)

Houston is a hub that has become popular for both domestic groups and those with international attendees. It lies almost 23 miles from downtown Houston. The Houston Airport Marriott at George Bush Intercontinental is the only meeting property onsite.

-DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Houston Intercontinental Airport: 313 rooms/18,500 sq. ft.
-Holiday Inn Houston Intercontinental Airport: 414 rooms/8,750 sq. ft.
-Houston Airport Marriott at George Bush Intercontinental: 565 rooms/30,000 sq. ft.
-SpringHill Suites Houston Intercontinental Airport: 156 rooms/1,175 sq. ft.


   The Westin Los Angeles Airport

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

L.A.’s largest airport is a destination in itself, and attendees can easily enjoy nearby beach communities. A traffic-friendly transfer to beautiful Marina del Rey is only about five miles away. Meet along the marina at the fine Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey or prime Marina del Rey Marriott, both close to an attractive beach and boardwalk or steps to dockside restaurants. The Custom Hotel is a hip new boutique that opened last year and works well for small groups.

-Custom Hotel: 250 rooms/9,000 sq. ft.
-Embassy Suites Los Angeles International Airport South: 349 rooms/5,000 sq. ft.
-Hilton Los Angeles Airport: 1,234 rooms/55,000 sq. ft.
-Los Angeles Airport Marriott: 1,004 rooms/55,000 sq. ft.
-Marina del Rey Marriott: 370 rooms/18,000 sq. ft.
-Renaissance Los Angeles Airport Hotel: 499 rooms/18,400 sq. ft.
-Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey: 304 rooms/35,000 sq. ft.
-Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel: 802 rooms/55,000 sq. ft.
-The Westin Los Angeles Airport: 740 rooms/45,000 sq. ft.

Miami International Airport (MIA)

The final phase of a capital improvement project is due for completion in 2012, and includes the new North Terminal in addition to the people mover system that opened in 2011. The Miami International Airport Hotel onsite has 252 rooms, two boardrooms and space for groups of up to 200.

-Crowne Plaza Miami International Airport: 304 rooms/5,300 sq. ft.
-Hilton Miami Airport: 500 rooms/30,000 sq. ft.
-Hyatt house Miami Airport: 156 rooms/1,500 sq. ft.
-Miami Airport Marriott: 365 rooms/12,500 sq. ft.
-Miami International Airport Hotel: 252 rooms/ sq. ft.
-Sheraton Miami Airport & Executive Meeting Center: 405 rooms/17,000 sq. ft.

Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP)

The MSP Airport Conference Center in Terminal 1 has eight onsite meeting rooms ranging from 229–1,950 sq. ft. with amenities and services including catering, meet and greet staff, conference call telephones, data ports, projection screens and tack boards. (For more on Minnesota, see pg. 142.)

-Hilton Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport Mall of America: 300 rooms/22,000 sq. ft.
-Hyatt Place Minneapolis Airport South: 126 rooms/1,100 sq. ft.
-Minneapolis Airport Marriott: 472 rooms/19,000 sq. ft.

New York City – John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)

Most groups traveling to New York City go with the intention of enjoying all the business connections and cultural attractions available in Manhattan. Yet JFK is a magnet for travelers and attractive flights and train connections can make it a sensible option.

-DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel JFK Airport: 385 rooms/8,239 sq. ft.
-Sheraton JFK Airport Hotel: 150 rooms/2,300 sq. ft.

Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)

With Manhattan prices at a premium, but a need to meet near the Big Apple required, try the affordable options near EWR. Four choices rise to the top of the heap and attendees can access multiple modes of transportation for free time or off-site activities.

-Hilton Newark Airport: 378 rooms/11,000 sq. ft.
-Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott: 591 rooms/13,008 sq. ft.
-Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel: 397 rooms/17,000 sq. ft.
-Sheraton Newark Airport Hotel: 503 rooms/20,000 sq. ft.

Orlando International Airport (MCO)

Orlando’s attractions have made it a gateway for all major North American (and overseas) destinations. The airport celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2011 while traffic hit the 35 million passenger mark. The area’s sprawling attractions means groups are required to secure private transportation to most sites, so the airport hotel option makes sense. The Hyatt Regency is a Four-Star standout along with the formidable Marriott, and both are more resort destinations than a typical airport stopover.

-Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport: 445 rooms/42,000 sq. ft.
-Orlando Airport Marriott: 485 rooms/29,700 sq. ft.
-Renaissance Orlando Airport Hotel: 297 rooms/20,000 sq. ft.
-Sheraton Suites Orlando Airport: 150 suites/3,000 sq. ft.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)

While the region is known for its splendid meeting hotels and resorts, the properties near the airport are viable options and have access to the new light rail system.

-Crowne Plaza Phoenix Airport: 295 rooms/10,000 sq. ft.
-DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Phoenix: 242 rooms/10,000+ sq. ft.
-Hilton Phoenix Airport: 257 rooms/12,000 sq. ft.

San Diego International Airport (SAN)

The airport received its first award of the year with LEED Gold certification in January. It is blessed with a nearly downtown location, making staying near the airport an easy proposition. Yet a few winning meeting properties are a stone’s throw from the terminals and right on the San Diego Bay to boot.

-Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island: 211 rooms/8,000 sq. ft.
-Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina: 1,053 rooms/120,000 sq. ft.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

SFO, also LEED Gold, recently upgraded its Terminal 2 (reopened in 2011 and home to American Airlines and Virgin America) and makes locals want to go there just for the food. For planners, nearby meeting properties are popular for attracting both San Francisco and San Jose passengers as well as easing the traffic woes for drive-in attendees.

-Crowne Plaza San Francisco International Airport: 309 rooms/14,000 sq. ft.
-Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport: 789 rooms/52,000 sq. ft.
-San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront: 685 rooms/27,991 sq. ft.
-The Westin San Francisco Airport: 397 rooms/20,000 sq. ft.

Canada

Aeroports de Montréal (ADM)

Beautiful Montreal mustn’t be missed, but five notable properties near the airport are well-equipped to serve a variety of group events and conferences.

-Crowne Plaza Montreal Airport: 222 rooms/30,000 sq. ft.
-Montreal Airport Marriott Hotel: 279 rooms/14,395 sq. ft.
-Novotel Montreal Aeroport Hotel: 120 rooms/5,000 sq. ft.
-Ruby Foo’s Hotel: 198 rooms/4,280 sq. ft.
-Sheraton Montreal Airport Hotel: 465 rooms/19,000 sq. ft.

Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)

As Canada’s busiest airport, all major international carriers serve YYZ, together covering flights to some 180 destinations. For planners who want to book a group at or near the airport, there is an embarrassment of riches to choose from within a few miles of the terminals.

-Delta Meadowvale Resort & Conference Centre: 374 rooms/40,000 sq. ft.
-Delta Toronto Airport West: 297 rooms/14,000+ sq. ft.
-Hilton Toronto Airport Hotel & Suites: 419 rooms/23,000 sq. ft.
-Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Toronto International Airport: 474 rooms/18,000 sq. ft.
-Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel and Conference Centre: 249 rooms/26,000 sq. ft.
-Toronto Airport Marriott Hotel: 424 rooms/18,736 sq. ft.
-The Westin Bristol Place Toronto Airport: 288 rooms/18,000 sq. ft.

Vancouver International Airport (YYZ)

Canada’s second busiest airport is in a natural setting like few others and arguably has one of the best hotels (see our British Columbia story on pg. 100).

-Fairmont Vancouver Airport: 392 rooms/8,800 sq. ft.


Q&A with John Reed, general manager, The Westin Detroit Metropolitan Airport

Q: What are some of the advantages for planners booking meetings at airport properties?

A: The Westin Detroit Metropolitan Airport’s location is convenient for meetings and conferences as attendees never have to leave the airport. Travelers who fly on Delta Airlines can walk directly into the hotel from the terminal, and for those flying into the other terminal, it’s a quick complimentary shuttle ride to the hotel valet entrance. We have 28 flexible meeting rooms to meet, feed and entertain groups. We have a 24-hour fitness center, indoor pool and in-room dining. Additionally, the airport was ranked within the top three in the world, and The Westin Detroit Metropolitan Airport is ranked in the top three in the country by Sky Trax travelers.

Q: Are there any cost savings other than hotel transfers?

A: There is a significant savings as attendees do not incur the costs or hassles of renting cars, hailing taxis or waiting in traffic.

Q: Are there key value dates or days of the week to consider?

A: Our busiest days are Tuesday through Thursday. Special offers are typically featured Friday through Monday and are based on room availability.

Q: What do you wish planners knew about your property that they often don’t?
 
A: Overall there is a cost savings even if prices appear higher, and our convenient location cannot be beat. Meeting planners have to ask “what is my group’s time worth?” It cannot get much easier than what we have to offer.

Q: Are there any unique activities for attendees near the airport that planners may not have considered?

A: [We] are one of three airport hotels that offers passes for registered guests to utilize 90 shops and services in the terminal mall.