Lower Manhattan, New York City (photo by Kate Glicksberg)
Campaigns You Can Count On
New York will never be a “been there, done that” destination. Relentless reinvention keeps it evolving at a rate that prevents visitors from ever seeing the same state twice. The visitors bureaus have their work cut out for them when it comes to keeping tourists up to speed with the changes.
New York is one of the most recognized destinations in the world, thanks in large part to New York City, which has seen record-breaking tourism numbers for six consecutive years, welcoming a staggering 58.3 million visitors in 2015. Yet as iconic as the Big Apple is, the other major cities in the Northeast state are hardly taking a back seat. Each offers myriad unique attractions and venues that have groups all over the world flocking to New York time and again.
Home to 1,300 museums and galleries, 64 performing arts centers, 230 theaters and 22 national parks, New York state really does have something for everyone, which is probably why it attracts some of the country’s most successful chefs, entrepreneurs, artists and innovators.
One of the biggest factors that separates New York from other U.S. destinations is its international draw. John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York City is the busiest international air passenger gateway into the United States, housing over 90 airlines and offering direct flights to destinations in all six inhabited continents. Since its infancy, New York has been a cultural melting pot, and its diversity is as evident as ever. So how does a CVB package all of its city’s offerings into a snappy-yet-all-encompassing campaign slogan?
By keeping it simple.
Convene Conference Center, New York City
“Make it New York City”
Meeting planners who want to host their meeting or event in a cultural epicenter have plenty of big-city options—so why make it New York City? For starters, the fast-paced, nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic of New Yorkers is beyond inspiring—it’s contagious—and sets a great example for hitting the boardroom to get your meeting goals accomplished.
Second, the five boroughs that make up the city offer traditional and uncommon event spaces, hotels at every price point, top-tier cuisine from around the world and endless entertainment options—and it’s all a walk, subway or taxi ride away.
In September, NYC & Company, the city’s destination marketing organization, kicked off its 2016 European MICE Road Show, visiting leading business centers in Leeds, London, Copenhagen and Munich to showcase New York City’s event venues, meeting spaces and incentive opportunities. The MICE industry had an economic impact of more than $5 billion on the city’s five boroughs in 2015.
Among the properties showcased during the roadshow was the new Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown, one of the tallest residential towers in New York City. Located a block from the World Trade Center, the 189-room luxury property offers 6,815 sq. ft. of meeting space, including a 2,990-square-foot ballroom, all on a single floor for ultimate privacy. Wolfgang Puck’s Cut restaurant and bar, which opened in October in the hotel, marks the famed chef’s first-ever New York restaurant.
Also showcased on the tour was 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, a nature-inspired, 194-room hotel offering a 6,025-square-foot ballroom with access to Brooklyn Bridge Park; a 10th-floor hospitality suite with 2,800 sq. ft. of event space and two bars; a rooftop bar; a screening room for 50; and 2,000 sq. ft. of adaptable meeting space.
The Roosevelt Hotel, New York City
It seems no matter how particular a group’s vision, there’s a venue in New York City to suit it. Take, for example, an international insurance company’s meeting and incentive trip that was looking for something central and classic-yet-modern that offered breakout space. The president of meeting management company American Guest USA, John Williams, introduced the group to the historic (built in 1882) and recently redesigned 909-room Lotte New York Palace Hotel.
“The location—being on Madison Avenue, adjacent to Fifth Avenue and St. Patrick’s Cathedral—for their room views was the icing on the cake,” Williams says. “For the meeting space, [the hotel] has various options to use for our client’s needs. We decided in order to make the best use of the spaces, we would use them for both their meetings and gathering spots.”
Also historic, yet newly restored, Weylin B. Seymour’s in Brooklyn is a former bank that offers space for every type of event, grand and small. It’s frescoed dome, intricate mosaics, wooden carvings and circa 1875-period decor make it the perfect backdrop for galas, production launches, receptions, dinners and more. And 1875 Bar is the ultimate speakeasy setting for an unexpected cocktail party or show.
In another instance, Williams was tasked with finding the perfect spot for a large international group that was hosting its meeting in America for the first time in four years. With group members’ hearts set on the metro area and a hotel with a variety of breakout spaces, they found themselves at the 1,780-room Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel.
“We took their general session room over two evenings and turned it into a New York City stage,” Williams says. “On one evening, we had a Rockettes-like introduction to kick off the meeting. This wowed the audience. On the subsequent evening, we had an abbreviated Jersey Boys production that had everyone singing and dancing in their seats. To top it off, we brought the original performers from Bring in the Noise, who did a fantastic illustration of their tap dancing and hoofer talents to close the show.”
Less than a block from Grand Central Station, the historic Art Deco, 1,025-room The Roosevelt Hotel is a Manhattan staple, with grand architecture restored to its original glamour. Gala receptions, banquets and meetings can be held in two ballrooms or any of the other 21 meeting spaces offered.
On the opposite end of the classic New York spectrum, Convene Conference Center on Park Avenue is Midtown Manhattan’s newest dedicated meeting venue, offering 20,000 sq. ft. of super-modern space in eight versatile meeting rooms. All-inclusive packages are available that include space, technology, F&B, and production and planning support.
The biggest bit of meeting news to happen in New York is the $1 billion expansion of Jacob K. Javits Center. With construction to begin by end of year, the facility will add more than 1.2 million sq. ft. of additional event space in the coming years, including the largest ballroom in the Northeast, 60,000 sq. ft. Adjacent to Javits center, the Hudson Yards development will be the largest private real estate development in U.S. history when completed in 2025. Hudson Yards will offer planners additional event space, a new Equinox hotel, cultural activities, restaurants and retail.
Whatever your meeting needs may be—quaint and historic, or modern and epic—make it New York City.
Royal Regency Hotel, Yonkers
“Meet Me in Westchester”
Just north of the concrete jungle, Westchester County offers many of the same attractions that bring tourists to the city: a lively music and nightlife scene, incredible cuisine, fashion and sports—plus some things not as easily found under city lights, such as golf and nature excursions.
Westchester County Tourism’s slogan, “Meet Me in Westchester,” positions the county as a tourism destination for both leisure visitors and business travelers. The campaign grew from the results of a comprehensive study by the New York State Department of Economic Development in partnership with Smith Travel that examined how residents, visitors and businesses perceive Westchester County as a tourism destination.
Good news for groups looking to have fun in between meetings: You can find the best of both there.
Meet, then Connect
Edith Macy Conference Center’s 405 wooded acres is an ideal location for meeting guests to reconnect in a natural setting. There, wilderness skills are tested in a comprehensive program that challenges teams with tasks such as blind walk-arounds and constructing waterproof shelters. The 52-room facility, with seven IACC-certified meeting rooms, toes the line between peaceful refuge and productive workspace.
Doral Arrowwood Resort partners with True North to help attendees discover new leadership skills through the Escape the Office team-building program. Based on the popular virtual escape-room video games, the Office Escape version at Doral Arrowwood makes the game real by challenging meeting guests as a team to discover how to escape from an actual room. A high-tech amphitheater, 6,500-square-foot ballroom and meeting rooms can accommodate various meeting set-ups, plus the 1,100-square-foot executive boardroom offers a separate reception area, private bar and dining room for 70.
Taking after its attention-seeking neighbor to the south, Westchester is in the midst of an exciting renewal. The March completion of a multimillion-dollar renovation of Royal Regency Hotel in Yonkers is just one sign of great things underway.
“The complete transformation of the Royal Regency Hotel is a perfect example of the Yonkers revitalization movement,” says Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano. “Yonkers is back, and countless businesses, such as the Royal Regency Hotel, are making major investments that are helping the city to flourish.”
A truly inspired meeting space, IBM Learning Center in Armonk, is set on 26 beautiful acres and was designed as a premium meeting space, offering 21,600 sq. ft. of space and cutting-edge technology. The 182-room hotel and learning center offers team-building and fitness options such as chef cook-offs, yoga classes and billiards games.
Hilton Garden Inn Rochester Downtown
“Rochester is accessible, affordable and equipped to handle the needs of any program,” says Deidre Wetelainen, vice president of convention sales and services for Visit Rochester. “We’re not too big for a small meeting, but we’re also not too small for a large meeting.”
In other words, the sky’s the limit for every kind of visitor. Its location, just a short distance from Finger Lakes wine region, provides endless opportunities to develop unique pre- and post-conference activities and excursions for meeting attendees.
“Meeting planners and convention attendees continue to be drawn to Rochester’s amenities and attractions that rival large markets, but with the affordable pricing, accessibility and supportive, cooperative hospitality industry that is the hallmark of a smaller community,” Wetelainen says.
And the attractions are mounting. There is an estimated $857.1 million being invested in downtown Rochester this year.
Rochester Hyatt Regency is undergoing a $15 million renovation that will completely overhaul the hotel, upgrading public spaces, event spaces and guest rooms. Once completed, the renovated property will be very attractive for meeting planners and attendees. The 338-room hotel is one of two downtown Rochester hotels with enclosed walkways leading directly to Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center—a huge bonus for visitors during winter months.
The convention center offers 100,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting and exhibit space, including 25 meeting rooms and banquet facilities that can accommodate 3,500. The second hotel connected via covered walkway is Hilton Garden Inn Rochester Downtown, which opened in 2015 with 106 guest rooms and 3,500 sq. ft. of meeting space, including three boardrooms and a ballroom.
Other new developments coming to the area include many Midtown buildings being repurposed as mixed-use commercial and retail space. The city’s former below-grade Inner Loop expressway has been filled in to create a more walkable environment with lots of room for development.
“Convention attendees meeting in Rochester are getting a front-row view of the downtown development and revitalization that is moving our city forward,” Wetelainen says. “There is an energy and excitement in the air in Rochester right now, and all visitors to our community quickly get a sense of the positive changes and growth that are in store for Rochester.”
For an authentic Rochester offsite, consider watching one of the seven professional sports teams in the area. A ticket to a Rochester Red Wings game starts at less than $10!
“Rochester offers meeting planners limitless options for their groups to enjoy world-class attractions during their downtime,” Wetelainen notes. “Our city offers an abundance of arts and cultural attractions, such as the George Eastman Museum and Strong Museum of Play— home of the National Toy Hall of Fame—and outdoor activities including the Erie Canal and Lake Ontario, and top-notch food and drink, and we’re just a short drive from the world-renowned Finger Lakes wine region. There is no limit to what you can do when you meet in Rochester.”
Olympic Ski Jumps, Lake Placid, New York
“Invent Your Own Perfect Day” in Lake Placid
Whatever you hope to get out of your meeting, the resources to do it are in Lake Placid. Are a round of golf, an inspired meeting, a massage and a wholesome meal on the agenda? Perfect.
Four public courses offer wooded mountain courses with lush fairways. Whiteface Club & Resort Golf Course is one of the country’s oldest courses, plus it provides cottages, townhomes and luxury properties in the heart of the Adirondacks. The 250-room Crowne Plaza Lake Placid offers 45 holes of championship golf at Lake Placid Club, in addition to 30,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
The Conference Center at Lake Placid is just one of the beautiful meeting options, offering more than 90,000 sq. ft. of meeting space with 12 breakout rooms and a 9,000-square-foot ballroom.
The recently renovated Hotel North Woods offers a vibrant environment with gorgeous views and myriad recreational activities right outside its doorstep. Six meeting spaces total 7,776 sq. ft. and the 92 guest rooms are modern and energetic. Delta Blue is a Southern-themed restaurant offering Memphis-style barbecue, Cajun cuisine and live music every week.
For guests of downtown Lake Placid, the 2.7-mile leisure walk around Mirror Lake is a must, or start your day with a heart-pumping kayak trip before indulging at one of the many restaurants. The Adirondacks are brimming with outdoor adventures, yet dining, shopping and entertainment are still within reach.
End your day with a reception everyone will remember atop the Olympic Ski Jumps and take in the spectacular panoramic views.
Albany: “An Amazing Discovery”
One visit to Albany and you’ll agree: The best way to describe it is “amazing.” More than 70 hotels and a variety of convention, special event, sports, and creative venues means lots of options in both feel and budget—who knew?
For larger events, Empire State Plaza Convention Center is perfect, not to mention iconic, for groups. Prefunction exhibit space, seven meeting rooms, a convention hall, a main stage and even an enclosed observation deck—located on the 42nd floor of the tallest building in upstate New York—are available for events.
The Times Union Center, one of the Northeast’s premier sports and special events arenas, has seating capacity for 6,000 to 7,000, and Albany Capital Center will provide state-of-the-art meeting and convention space when it opens in March. All three venues will be connected via enclosed walkways to make up Capital Complex, the largest meeting space in Upstate New York, with 159,000 sq. ft.
“The Albany Capital Center is going to be a showstopper!” says Shannon Licygiewicz, CEM, director of sales for Albany Capital Center. “With SMG’s leadership and the craftsmanship of Gilbane construction, this facility will invoke that wow factor from the moment you walk up to its front steps on Eagle Street. Planners have been excited about several features of the facility.”
The center will be a glass structure with 22,500 sq. ft. of ballroom/exhibit space, six meeting rooms and 13,500 sq. ft. of prefunction space. The property will connect via enclosed walkway to Renaissance Albany Hotel, which opened in 2015 and offers an additional 8,505 sq. ft. of meeting space and 203 guest rooms.
“There has also been an overwhelming response to the Albany Capital Center’s exclusive food and beverage provider, Mazzone Hospitality,” Licygiewicz says. “Typically, convention center food isn’t celebrated, but [they] will absolutely change that perception with their high quality food [and] exceptional service.”
Take your meetings off dry land with Lake George Steamboat Company, the oldest continuously operating ship in the country. Four dining rooms are available, with capacity for 400 for dinner and 1,000 for receptions.
The Gideon Putnam, Saratoga Springs
Just north of Albany in Saratoga Springs, The Gideon Putnam is a destination of its own, and rightly so, has its own slogan: Feel Transformed. That’s exactly what this resort aims to do with its Roosevelt Spa, golf courses, newly renovated ballroom and 124 guest rooms and suites. Meeting spaces include a tented pavilion, conference center and eight rooms, totaling 12,000 sq. ft.
Major Meeting Venues
Albany Capital Center
Slated to open in March; glass structure with 22,500 sq. ft. of state-of-the-art meeting space, including a ballroom, six meeting rooms and prefunction space.
Empire State Plaza Convention Center
Convention hall seats 2,400 classroom-style; five meeting rooms are 1,600 sq. ft. each and accommodate 150; additional meeting rooms hold 400 and 125 each; prefunction space holds 1,000.
Renaissance Albany Hotel
Opened in 2015; 203 guest rooms; will connect to Albany Capital Center via enclosed walkway; 8,505 sq. ft. of meeting space.
The Gideon Putnam
Located in Saratoga Springs; 124 guest rooms and suites; newly renovated ballroom; eight meeting rooms; 12,000 sq. ft. of total meeting space; Roosevelt Spa.
Conference Center at Lake Placid
Walking distance to shops and restaurants on Main Street; 90,000 sq. ft. of meeting space with 12 breakout rooms and a 9,000-square-foot ballroom.
Crowne Plaza Lake Placid
Located near Olympic Center and convention center; 250 guest rooms; 30,000 sq. ft. of meeting space among 26 meeting rooms; 45 holes of championship golf.
Hotel North Woods
Recently renovated; 92 modern guest rooms; two dining options include Delta Blue barbecue restaurant, offering live music.
New York City
Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown
Newly opened; 189 guest rooms and suites; 6,815 sq. ft. of meeting space includes 2,990-square-foot ballroom; Cut by Wolfgang Puck restaurant and bar.
Jacob K. Javits Center
Renovations will add 1.2 million sq. ft. of event space for total of 3.3 million sq. ft. including a 60,000-square-foot ballroom.
Lotte New York Palace Hotel
Centrally located in midtown; 909 newly redesigned guest rooms and suites; 30,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; five dining options.
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
194 guest rooms; 6,025-square-foot ballroom with access to Brooklyn Bridge Park; 10th-floor hospitality suite with 2,800 sq. ft. of event space and two bars; rooftop bar; 2,000 sq. ft. of adaptable meeting space.
Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel
Steps from the theater district; 1,780 guest rooms; 60,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; 4,000-square-foot fitness center.
The Roosevelt Hotel
Historic Art-deco hotel; 1,025 guest rooms; 23 meeting rooms include two ballrooms; seasonal Mad46 rooftop lounge; restaurant, bar and lounge.
Weylin B. Seymour’s
Newly restored bank in Brooklyn; circa 1875 decor; accommodates up to 1,000; 1875 Bar offers flexible floor plan with sound booth.
Hilton Garden Inn Rochester Downtown
Modern hotel in historic building; connected to convention center via covered walkway; free shuttle to Greater Rochester International Airport; meeting space for up to 175.
Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center
Walking distance to four hotels; 100,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting and exhibit space; 25 meeting rooms; banquet facilities for 3,500.
Rochester Hyatt Regency
Undergoing $15 million renovation; 338 guest rooms; 20,000 sq. ft. of meeting space includes two ballrooms; connected to convention center via enclosed walkway.
Doral Arrowood Resort
Located in Rye Brook; Escape the Office team-building program; 68,000 sq. ft. of meeting space includes 6,500-square-foot ballroom, amphitheater and boardroom.
Edith Macy Conference Center
Set on 405 wooded acres in Briarcliff Manor; 52 guest rooms; 14,000 sq. ft. of meeting space among seven IACC-certified meeting rooms.
Empire City Casino
Part of Yonkers Raceway complex; variety of meeting spaces include lounge with two vintage bowling lanes and 4,500-square-foot banquet room.
Hampton Inn & Suites Yonkers-Westchester
Complimentary shuttle to Tuckahoe train station; 150 guest rooms; meeting space for up to 40; near key attractions such as Bronx Zoo and New York Botanical Gardens; fitness room; pool.
IBM Learning Center
Located on 26 acres in Armonk; 21,600 sq. ft. of IACC-certified, cutting-edge meeting space; 31 meeting rooms; 182 guest rooms.
Royal Regency Hotel
Located in Yonkers; boutique property completed multimillion-dollar renovation in March; 88 guest rooms and five luxury suites; 11,384 sq. ft. of event space.