Wet & Wild

Hotels & Destinations

The state's rivers and streams extend for literally thousands of miles, offering opportunities for groups seeking to stage one-of-a-kind events. Try a reception ^ in a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed boathouse on the Niagara River or schedule CgG a conference overlooking Long Island Sound. And while you're at it, bring the whole family along: The myriad activities offered in these waterfront destinations (fly-fishing, kayaking, canoeing, river cruises) make it hard to run out of things to do.


Vibrant Buffalo has been undergoing something of a cultural renaissance over the past few years, thanks to a $50 million restoration of the Darwin Martin House (one of nine Frank Lloyd Wright-designed properties in western New York), as well as a burgeoning farm-to-table dining scene, with more than 400 independently owned restaurants throughout the city. At the heart of Buffalo's evolution is Canalside, a $295 million waterfront development along the Erie Canal that's reshaping Buffalo's historic harbor.In 2014, Canalside will debut a system of replica canals modeled after the Erie Canal, and the project will include shops, restaurants and a new 96-room Courtyard by Marriott.

Maid of the Mist, Niagara Falls, courtesy of
Buffalo Niagara CVB

The 396-room Hyatt Regency Buffalo features two restaurants, a spa and an indoor rooftop pool offering views across the city and Lake Erie. In addition to its 23,479 sq. ft. Of meeting space (including a 10,125-square-foot grand ballroom), the hotel has a climate-controlled walkway connecting to the Buffalo Convention Center, a 110,000-square-foot facility with 21 breakout rooms across two floors.

Though he designed it in 1905, Frank Lloyd Wright's Fontana Boathouse wasn't built until 2007 and remains one of the city's most striking meeting venues, with its diamond-paned windows and views of the Niagara River. The upstairs Club Room can accommodate cocktail parties for groups of up to 150 in its east- and west-facing balconies. The prestigious 101-year-old Westside Rowing Club offers full-day team-building rowing programs for groups on Black Rock Channel.

Twenty minutes north of Buffalo, the Niagara Falls Conference Center sits just two blocks from the natural wonder and offers 116,000 sq. ft. Of space.Groups can spend the morning in one of the center's 15 meeting and event spaces (which include the 65-person tiered-seat Governor's Amphitheater) and use the afternoon to explore Niagara Falls State Park, currently in the midst of a $25 million restoration project. Groups can view the famous falls aboard the 600-passenger Maid of the Mist, or on foot via Cave of the Winds, which drops you 175 feet until you're level with the gorge. Meeting planners can also book private events at Top of the Falls, a full-service restaurant overlooking Horseshoe Falls.

For team-bonding activities, the husband-andwife- owned Spirit of Buffalo is a 73-foot schooner (the only one of its size in Buffalo Harbor) available for wine-themed evening cruises, as well as private charters. The vessel holds up to 40 people and is a scenic way to spend a couple hours out on Lake Erie to take in the Buffalo skyline. The Queen City Ferry offers narrated tours, with guides pointing out historic sites along the Buffalo waterfront.


Pier 45 at the Port, Rochester

Six hours north of Manhattan, the sprawling metropolis of Rochester (the third largest city in New York) is bisected by the Genesee River, an impressive 157-mile waterway that starts in northern Pennsylvania and flows into Lake Ontario. Paddle tours, guided hikes and outdoor restaurants are all popular riverside activities. The recently opened Genesee Brew House, which sits directly on the river, has become a main attraction. Expanding on the preexisting brewery campus, the 9,200-square-foot former packaging center offers a restaurant, deck area, gift shop and, of course, tasting room for sampling the brewery's three exclusive beers.

Ten miles south, in the Rochester suburb of Pittsford, The Del Monte Lodge Renaissance Rochester Hotel & Spa overlooks historic Erie Canal. Its 99 guest rooms and suites are spacious and come with complimentary Wi-Fi. The spa, with chandelier-lit relaxation lounges and a full menu of treatments, is a destination in itself. The Monterey Ballroom is the largest of the hotel's four event spaces, which total 2,025 sq. ft.; additionally, there is a patio for small outdoor functions.

Situated on 39-acre Ontario Beach Park, the popular waterfront restaurant Pier 45 at the Port serves dishes such as truffle fries, New York strip steak and oysters on the half shell, accompanied by housemade pickled vegetables. Groups can make use of the restaurant's 3,400 sq. ft. Of adaptable indoor and outdoor space, split between The Waterside, a 190-capacity dining room with a veranda, and the more intimate Charter Room, suitable for up to 40 guests. Both offer exquisite views of the harbor.

Seventy miles east of Rochester, the familyowned Mid-Lakes Navigation has been hosting cruises along the Erie Canal since 1968. Tours range from as short as 50 minutes, perfect for viewing the Syracuse skyline, to two days cruising through the canal's locks, looking out for bald eagles and bypassing the 7,000-acre Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge on the company's 42-passenger vessel, Emita II.


Mirror Lake Inn, Lake Placcid

The 6-million-acre Adirondack Park is the largest state park in the contiguous United States, encompassing 3,000 lakes and ponds, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams and the highest peak in New York— 5,343-foot Mount Marcy. The area contains plenty of scenic waterways and remote mountain villages, and since the late 1800s, Lake Placid has remained a popular summer destination for heat-tormented city dwellers looking to be restored by the crisp, clean mountain air.

Lake Placcid Conference Center

The 131-room Mirror Lake Inn is next to Mirror Lake, aptly named for its eerily smooth surface and encircled by a 2.7-mile walkway. Groups can make use of a 6,600-square-foot spa (offering treatments such as an Adirondack maple sugar body scrub), a tennis court, complimentary rowboats, canoes and kayaks, a heated indoor pool and a 60-foot indoor lap pool with a waterfall. Of the three onsite restaurants, the two most popular are The View (recognized as Lake Placid's only AAA Four Diamond restaurant) and The Cottage, which offers a lakefront deck and pub-style food. The resort has more than 6,000 sq. ft. Of meeting space, featuring stone fireplaces, cedar log trim and cathedral ceilings.

In the heart of town is the Lake Placid Conference Center, constructed in 2011 as an annex to the town's Olympic Center. (Lake Placid hosted the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics.) It provides up to 90,000 sq. ft. Of meeting and exhibition space across three floors, including a 9,000-square-foot ballroom.The 12 rooms and banquet halls offer a full range of A/V equipment, plus access to the adjoining Olympic Center's athletic facilities. The real selling point is jaw-dropping views of the Adirondack Mountains.

Adirondack Outfitters offers rentals (canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards) as well as guided tours through dense woodlands and along meandering rivers. The four-hour Middle Saranac Lake paddling course runs down the easily navigable Saranac River. It winds up in Lower Saranac, one of three connected lakes near the village of Saranac Lake, a favored vacation spot of Albert Einstein.Saranac Lake is 10 miles west of Lake Placid.


Island's extensive white sandy beaches are conveniently located near Manhattan. Two international airports, John F. Kennedy International (JFK) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA), are a 20-minute cab ride away. Long Island covers 118 miles, extending all the way from Brooklyn to the tip of Montauk.Savvy meeting planners will hone in on one area that can serve all of their group's needs.

In Montauk, where Long Islanders themselves go for a vacation, you'll find high-end resorts interspersed with beachside motels. For medium-size groups, an ideal choice is Gurney's Inn, a fullservice resort with ocean-facing rooms, a European- style spa with its own saltwater pool and nearly 10,000 sq. ft. Of meeting space.

Montauk Yacht Club, Long Island

The 107-room Montauk Yacht Club, open only during the summer season, offers four distinct nautical- themed dining spaces, ranging from the whitewicker- furniture-adorned Gulf Coast Kitchen to Turtle Lounge, a replica of the Carl Fischer-built Montauk Lighthouse. The recently renovated 2,138-squarefoot Farmhouse Ballroom has soaring ceilings and white rafter beams. The property has seven other event rooms totaling more than 14,000 sq. ft., as well as 32 acres of outdoor space.

If you plan on splitting your time between dips in the Atlantic Ocean and midtown Manhattan boardrooms, a good bet might be Long Beach, which neighbors Far Rockaway in Queens and reduces the Long Island-Manhattan commute to just 45 minutes (compared to Montauk's two-hour haul). A scenic two-mile boardwalk runs right past the Miami Art Deco-inspired Allegria Hotel, which has its own private beach on Long Island's south shore and offers 143 beige-and-sea-blue-accented rooms. The thirdfloor state-of-the-art conference rooms complement a 3,182-square-foot grand ballroom with floor-toceiling windows looking out over the ocean. The hotel's unique glow-in-the-dark Jack's on the Rocks rooftop bar is also available for private events.

Seafaring groups should consider a private tour of the Fire Island coastline on the South Bay Paddlewheel Cruise. Cavorting on board a 65-foot Mississippi riverboat, guests have access to two viewing decks, a dance floor and a dining room that accommodates up to 125. Along the way, they'll spot the black-and-white striped Fire Island Lighthouse, which was erected in 1858 and is easily the most impressive of Long Island's 24 historic lighthouses.


Conrad New York

The Big Apple has never been short on spectacular waterfront destinations, and though lower Manhattan took a beating during Hurricane Sandy, it didn't take long for the area's 19 hotels to bounce back.Today, they're all benefiting from a new "Neighborhood x Neighborhood" campaign that promotes local businesses and encourages exploration outside the traditional tourist hot spots.

At the southern tip of the island, The Ritz-Carlton New York Battery Park is fully up and running, with 298 rooms and 12,000 sq. ft. Of meeting space (the 14th-floor Rise room offers views all the way across to Ellis Island). Ditto for Conrad New York, a former Embassy Suites-turned-upscale hotel that opened last summer directly on the Hudson River, with 463 suites and a popular rooftop bar that can be rented out for private events. It boasts the largest meeting facilities of any hotel in lower Manhattan, with 30,000 sq. ft. Located in midtown Manhattan, The Roosevelt Hotel features 1,015 guest rooms and 30,000 sq. ft. Of meeting space. This historic property, which dates back to 1924, has a trendy rooftop bar that can be rented out for private events. Another convenient feature for meeting planners is The Roosevelt's concierge service, which can arrange offsites with Circle Line Cruise and World Yacht Entertainment & Dinner Niagara Falls Tours.

Manhattan's biggest and best-equipped convention facility, the Jacob K. Javits Center, added a new wing (the column-free Jacob Center North) in 2010 and is finishing up structural renovation work, including the installation of the Northeast's largest green roof. The center's 675,000 sq. ft. Of exhibition space features the glass-enclosed River Pavilion, which, along with the Galleria, totals 85,000 sq. ft.And overlooks the neighboring Hudson River.

La Marina, New York City

La Marina is a brand-new 75,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor complex next to the Hudson River, with a trendy beach-themed restaurant, bar, lounge and patio that has attracted notables such as Jay- Z and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Convene, one of the largest offsite meeting providers in New York City, recently debuted a 14,000-square-foot venue near South Street Seaport, with views of the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge. South Street Seaport features the largest concentration of restored early 19th-century commercial buildings in the city. Brooklyn's quaint River Cafe offers spectacular views of lower Manhattan; reparation work on the 100-capacity Terrace Room is set to be completed this summer.

For groups looking to stage events directly on the water, Hudson River-based cruise operator World Yacht at Pier 81 boasts four distinct vessels, each equipped with dining and entertainment facilities.Whether you opt for a four-course dinner cruise or want to plan a meeting in a yacht's business center, the passing views of the Manhattan skyline, Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge are guaranteed to thrill even the most seasoned New York City visitor.

Main image: Rochester skyline, courtesy of VisitRochester

Hotel Chart

Click here for detailed information on the hotels in this story.


Cruise Along the Hudson

Docked in lower Manhattan, the 150-passenger Clipper City tall ship and the 48-passenger Shearwater classic schooner (pictured) are available for private charters on the Hudson River through Manhattan By Sail. Equipped with a full standing bar, Clipper City has been known to host a wide range of entertainment, from burlesque performances to a “Lobster & Beer-Lovers Sail,” featuring Luke’s Lobster and Dogfish Head beer.

The central Hudson Valley city of Poughkeepsie offers chartered cruises on a 60-foot double-decker cruise boat, Mystere, through the family-owned Empire Cruise Lines. Chartered private events on the ship range from a two-hour sightseeing tour to a lavish dinner cruise, with white-gloved waiters serving three-course meals prepared by the Poughkeepsie Ice House.

Though the 114-passenger Spirit of Hudson leaves from ports in Hudson, Poughkeepsie and Rhinecliff, parent company Hudson Cruises is based out of Hudson, a 2½ hour drive north of Manhattan. Groups can have meetings on the paddlewheel boat and spend the afternoon on a guided tour of the Hudson River, where a narrator will point out historic sites such as the Hudson Athens Lighthouse and Catskill Creek.

Meeting Spotlight

  • Who: American Institute of Architects (AIA); 60 people
  • What: AIA Symposium
  • When: April 23, 2013
  • Where: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fontana Boathouse
  • Why: “As an architect, I felt it was a pretty big deal to offer our members a chance to visit a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building. We used the ground floor (where all the sculls and oars are kept) for registration and a buffet lunch and had the actual presentation in the upstairs Club Room. Especially in the spring and summer months, the Boathouse offers a great outdoor experience; the second level has terraces overlooking the river, and on the ground floor you can walk right down onto the dock to the water’s edge.” –Tim Rider, AIA Buffalo Western New York board secretary