Best of Smart Meetings’ 2018 Destination Stories

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Looking for a memorable place for your group to stay, meet and enjoy in 2019? To save you from having to sift through the overwhelming amount of material out there, Smart Meetings spent the last year pinpointing places that are particularly suitable to attendees and their ever-changing needs. Here are 12 of our top destination stories from 2018.

Island of Hawaii and Maui (January): Why make the journey all the way to Hawaii, since pristine beaches, abundant sunshine, fresh seafood and tropical backdrops can be found in so many other places? We think it’s because Hawaii offers such a rich, unique culture—one that is lived, venerated and passed down from generation to generation. In this story, we describe how groups can immerse themselves in this culture on Maui and the Island of Hawaii.

Dallas & Fort Worth (January): This 13-county region, dubbed The Metroplex by locals, mixes big-city vibe and Old West charm. It’s also a very hot meetings destination, with plenty of hotel construction and renovation dotting the landscape. We provide some tips for where to stay, meet, eat, drink and play during a three-day stay in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Las Vegas (March): This meetings mega-city in the desert is in the midst of an enormous expansion phase that will add 2.2 million sq. ft. of meeting space in the next three years, including an additional 600,000 sq. ft. at Las Vegas Convention Center. In addition to expanding the city’s current 11 million sq. ft. of meeting space, the new spaces will be decidedly modern, with an emphasis on connectivity, health and flexibility.

New England (March): Sure, this popular region of the United States features rich history almost everywhere you turn. But it’s also very forward-thinking, as seen in its repurposing of old factory buildings to accommodate artists, artisans, museums and meeting space. For example, State Theatre in Portland, Maine, a former movie house built in 1929, underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation and now can accommodate private catered events as well as an outdoor summer concert series.

New York State (April): New York City typically grabs the attention in the Empire State, but there are plenty of other outstanding areas for meetings and events. We provide a season-by-season rundown for groups to experience the state: winter in New York City, spring in Niagara Falls, summer on Long Island and fall in the Adirondacks.

Eastern Canada (May): Montreal, Quebec City and Toronto all feature an abundance of rich history, tantalizing culinary options, exciting attractions, world-class hotels and outstanding meeting spaces. A focus hyper-local experiences in each city makes picking an agenda from all those options a little easier. Attendees expect these only in Canada experiences, so we describe some of the best options in the three cities.

Santa Fe and Albuquerque (June): These two New Mexico cities, separated by only 64 miles, offer unique, varied experiences to groups and boast a vibrant cultural scene that mixes Native American, Hispanic, Latino, Anglo and other customs. One of the best ways for groups to experience and understand these cities is by attending one or more of their signature events. We describe some of the top annual events in both places throughout the year.

Mid-Atlantic (June): Virginia features some of the most famous, historically significant homes and other structures in the United States. Groups can not only tour many of these places, but also meet at some of them. We take readers to Fauquier County, Loudon County, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Virginia’s Blue Ridge and Williamsburg to describe some of the top spots.

Idaho, Montana and Wyoming (July): Big Sky Country is a geographical wonderland, featuring large mountains, roaring rivers, rolling plains and quiet meadows. It also features hotels, resorts and conference centers that typically offer a more relaxed pace than those found in large urban areas. That doesn’t mean that the area doesn’t have its share of upscale, cutting-edge properties, though: Here’s a look at some of the best for groups in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Northern California (August) It’s one of the leading meetings and tourism regions of the world, with plenty of exciting attractions and stellar hotels—and the options are always expanding and changing! We provide readers with a glimpse at San Francisco Bay Area cities and beyond, focusing on three topics for each place: one must-see thing, how to get around and what’s new.

St. Louis (September) Nicknamed “The Last Eastern City” and “Gateway to the West,” St. Louis is often thought of as the dividing point between East and West, though the general consensus is that it has more of an Eastern feel. It also has its share of attractions, including Gateway Arch, Busch Stadium, National Blues Museum and Anheuser Busch Brewery. We show planners how a three-day trip to the city can include these attractions and more.

New Orleans (November) Everyone knows that The Big Easy is world-famous for its wonderfully eclectic, unbelievably rich music city. Music flows throughout the city, so where is a planner to begin when arranging a group night out? The French Quarter is the most famous neighborhood, but several other places—particularly Frenchmen Street in the Faubourg Marigny/Bywater area—also offer a very exciting, nightly music scene. We move through the city neighborhood by neighborhood, offering hot tips for groups.

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