• Lenora Kruk-Mullanaphy

Waterfront Locations and Venues

Perks and Benefits of Meetings and Events by the Water

Daydreaming about the waves cresting by a white, sandy beach or the rippling of water at a quiet lake or riverfront resort? There’s no need to imagine scenic locations when the region offers plenty of picturesque destinations and venues that provide state-of-the-art meeting facilities and technology, as well as luxurious amenities to entice attendees to that next meeting or event. On the banks of the Choptank River in historic Cambridge, MD, the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina encompasses 342-acres of waterfront lawns, swimming pool decks and pavilions that combine to make events that are unforgettable. Touted as the most distinctive retreat along Maryland’s Eastern Shore, its services and amenities will refresh attendees of meetings, team building exercises and retreats. “Meeting at a waterfront resort is revitalizing and energizing,” said Cari Ruppert, director of sales and marketing for the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay. “Meetings by the water not only offer a wonderful escape from the office, but also an opportunity to reinvigorate your team and maximize productivity.” The Hyatt Regency offers more than 37,000-square feet of flexible space, including an 11,250-square foot ballroom as well as outdoor terraces for taking full advantage of the scenic surroundings. Its 400 guest rooms are furnished with seafaring décor, including pet-friendly rooms and suites. Attendees will feel like royalty in spa-like marble bathrooms. An indulgence for after meetings is Sago Spa and Salon, or perhaps a refreshing dip in the temperature-controlled indoor or outdoor swimming pools. The 18-hole, championship River Marsh Golf Club accommodates all player levels. The property’s variety of restaurants will lure every appetite with delicious seafood specialties and water views - from Blue Point Provision Company and its regional specialties to a uniquely designed display kitchen at the Water’s Edge Grill to the self-service Bay Country Market to lunch, snack and refreshing cocktails at Dock’s Poolside. The open-air Breakwater Pavilion serves up a beautiful setting and fresh breezes off the water; Michener’s Library - named after author James A. Michener’s novel Chesapeake - is a spectacular lobby lounge with a two-story glass wall bordered by stone fireplaces; and the Eagles Nest Bar and Grille features lunch by the greens of The Golf Club at River Marsh. “We invite planners to consider breakouts waterfront on Manor Lawn,” said Ruppert. “If you are coming to the iconic Eastern Shore, you should incorporate the destination into your entire meeting, not just free time.” She said the venue plans a wide range of team building opportunities, including its signature Cardboard Boat Regatta, where communication and teamwork are key to ensuring attendees won’t “sink the ship.” Moreover, there’s no need to go anywhere else when meetings are held at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay, because the property offers a full-service activity beach with motorized and non-motorized water sports. Whether it’s a stroll on the banks of the Choptank or a dip in one of the pools for a little relaxation, the options are practically endless. “If you’re looking for an exclusive experience for attendees, wow them with a 30- to 45-minute sunset cruise that docks for dinner at the oldest crab-picking factory in the world, J.M. Claytons,” said Ruppert. “This is truly a one-of-a-kind event that can only be experienced at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina. Planners can host an opening reception poolside, complete with fresh oysters and crab cakes paired with our exclusive craft beer, Off the Rook, from local brewer RaR. They can close out the evening with an amazing fireworks display over the Choptank River.” Resorts Casino Hotel, a Mohegan Sun property, is set on the world famous boardwalk in Atlantic City, NJ. Here, planners have a range of settings and choices for hosting events. The Horizon and Ocean ballrooms offer boardwalk and ocean views that fit naturally into an Atlantic City Boardwalk theme. Tropical fun and beach themes are already built in with Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville entertainment complex, which includes the LandShark Bar and Grill and Margaritaville Café. Both venues are able to accommodate up to 500 attendees for private events. Attendees will find a warm greeting with leis and a fun atmosphere to network while sipping tropical beverages and dining on island food. When the Mid-Atlantic Society of Association Executives convened here in December, attendees wore leis, danced and dined as part of their conference. “A new attraction that just opened on Steel Pier - across the boardwalk from Resorts - is one of the three largest Ferris wheels in the country,” said William H. Jackson, director, sales and marketing for Resorts. “Now, meeting and event planters at Resorts Casino Hotel have this new, creative venue for groups that’s on an expansive deck surrounding the wheel.” Jackson said attendees can enjoy cocktails on a 1,000-foot pier and take in the view of the Atlantic Ocean as part of their 15-minute trip in gondolas (there are 40 enclosed and temperature controlled gondolas that each can hold 6 passengers comfortably) on the giant observation wheel. He said sponsors of corporate events are able to offer logoed items and piped-in messages during the ride, which is a unique and memorable opportunity for them to get their name in front of a “captive” audience. “The beaches along the nation’s Eastern shoreline are always a draw, and combined with waterfront dining, spectacular views, team building games and other activities along the famous boardwalk, Resorts Casino Hotel has something for everyone,” said Jackson. “Groups gathered for serious meetings still find plenty of time to kick back, relax and enjoy their retreat in Atlantic City.” Spanning 11 acres on the Atlantic City boardwalk with prime oceanfront views and easy access to the beach, Resorts is comprised of two hotel towers offering a total of 942 guest rooms. Margaritaville, two theaters, six restaurants, an indoor/outdoor swimming pool, a health club, spa and salon, retail shops and 83,000-square feet of casino excitement (including five eateries within the casino’s Quick Bites Food Court) combine to make the property a destination all on its own. More than $100 million was invested to renovate the 480 guest rooms in the Ocean Tower. The décor is a tropical, fun theme with sand-inspired carpets, coral patterns and dark woods. Resorts also recently debuted the n technologically advanced, all-digital Resorts Conference Center, which added 12,000-square feet of meeting space and 12 conference rooms to the property. The Atlantic Ballroom, the showpiece of the new conference center, is the 6,500-square foot function room with a multi-user pre-function area and four sets of operable walls. The center provides wireless connectivity of multiple devices for up to 1,000 attendees simultaneously. Each of the 12 breakout rooms come with built-in, 90-inch LED display monitors and everything needed for meetings. Resorts’ meeting rooms total two dozen, with 17 on one floor and 14 boasting natural light and ocean views; four ballrooms; and two theaters encompassing 64,000 total square feet of function space. Resorts’ All-Inclusive Meeting Packages are available from Sunday through Thursday and include spacious, upgraded guest rooms, morning and afternoon coffee breaks, Wi-Fi in meeting and guest rooms, audio-visual, parking, all taxes, gratuities, resort fees, meeting room rental, plus three meals per day. With the package, groups have a choice of award-winning restaurants and venues for their meal functions. Capriccio has been honored for its outstanding wine program in Wine Spectator’s Restaurant Awards, an accolade that recognizes it as a top destination for wine enthusiasts. The restaurant has also earned Casino Player Magazine readers’ “Best” rating for Italian cuisine. Casino Player Magazine readers also named Gallagher’s Steakhouse “Best Steakhouse” with its adjacent Burger Bar as “Best Burger Joint;” Margaritaville Coffee Shop as “Best” for coffee; and LandShark Bar and Grill for “Best Outdoor Dining” and “Best Pool/ Beach Bar.” Meet AC (sales and marketing arm for the Atlantic City Convention Center), touts access to the ocean, beach and boardwalk among the many hotel, resort and restaurant options for planners looking to host meetings and events in a beachfront location. Atlantic City offers more than 17,000 first-class hotel rooms, and the Atlantic City Convention Center provides nearly 500,000 contiguous square feet of exhibit space, 45 meeting rooms, ample pre-function space and all the amenities of a world-class and state-of-the-art venue. Just as attractive is AC’s proximity to major cities - only 60 miles from Philadelphia, 125 miles from New York City and 175 miles from Washington, DC - as all are a convenient drive away. One major event that took advantage of the beach overlooking the ocean was Meeting Professionals International’s 2016 World Education Congress Atlantic City, which was held at the Waterfront Conference Center at Harrah’s Atlantic City. The opening reception to kick off the event took place at Bally’s Beach Bar. In addition, Meetings Quest 2017 held its opening reception at the LandShark Bar and Grill at Resorts Casino Hotel, situated on the beach. “Waterfront destinations are the perfect backdrop for any type of event,” said Jim Wood, chief executive officer for Meet AC. “Atlantic City offers visitors much more than a seaside destination with round-the-clock fun and excitement after the... meetings are through. It has gone through numerous transitions, and the destination is in the midst of a new era, drawing from its rich history to meet the demands of the future.” Attendees who to stroll the boardwalk in search of excitement will find plenty, such as Steel Pier, which juts out over the ocean and the beach bars for networking and relaxing. A dip in the ocean is exhilarating, and a prescription for unwinding after business is basking in the sun on the beach. When it comes to dining, numerous options can be customized to fit a variety of taste buds, whether it’s brand-name eateries, celebrity chef restaurants or everything in between. After, attendees can try their luck at slot machines and table games at seven casinos, choose from a variety of shows, or opt to dance the night away. Shopping enthusiasts know a good deal when they find one, and the tax-free Tanger Outlets The Walk provides plenty of them with 100 retail stores and the added bonus of a location just steps from the convention center. Attendees will flock to events held at Bethany Beach Ocean Suites - A Residence Inn by Marriott, which is touted as the “jewel of Bethany Beach.” With direct beachfront access, ocean views and luxurious accommodations, this Southern Delaware property is a place to relax, recharge and indulge the senses. Steeped in ambience, Bethany Beach Ocean Suites also offers everything needed for a successful conclave, including meeting and event spaces for small and large groups equipped with the latest technology for flawless meetings. Guests will find numerous activities, such as sunrise yoga with a certified trainer and Beach Olympics. Other alternatives include a water polo game or a beach scavenger hunt. A sweet ending to the day can be enjoyed at the fire pit with treats like toasted marshmallows and s’mores. “Our location lends itself to paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing outings and water-based tours,” said Lorna Petchey, sales and marketing director for Bethany Beach Ocean Suites. “Team building activities on the beach are a huge hit with our corporate groups.” The venue is an oceanfront beach destination without the hassle of needing to take a flight, and attendees will find that the quaint, coastal town offers a friendly environment. “The main draw to Bethany Beach Ocean Suites is the oceanfront location, which is steps from the sand and ocean,” said Petchey. “We offer an array of alluring amenities, such as Oceanova Spa, a full-service spa where guests can enjoy a day of pampering from head to toe. Our rooftop indoor/outdoor saltwater swimming pool is open year-round and offers the opportunity to unwind.” At the Atlantic Sands Hotel and Conference Center in Rehoboth Beach, DE, hosting a meeting, event or special occasion by the ocean feels magical. Heather Pleasants, director of sales and marketing for the Atlantic Sands, said that one of the benefits of hosting an event by the water is that it takes everything to a higher level. The healing power of being close to the ocean or the opportunity to take walks along the boardwalk and beach hold more impact for groups. The property offers an outdoor saltwater swimming pool and three restaurants (Atlantic Boardwalk Grille and The Sand Crab - an outdoor café - which are both waterfront, as well as MOJO’s coffee shop in the hotel lobby). Attendees will find the activities at the beach are great for bonding, team building, exercise and fun. Parasailing, surfing, kayaking, sailing, wind surfing, deep sea and surf fishing, swimming, bird watching, sightseeing and dolphin watching all can be part of the agenda. Or groups can opt for volleyball, beach yoga, eco-tours, bike riding, scavenger hunts or strolling and shopping on the boardwalk. Built in 1954, the Atlantic Sands Hotel and Conference Center will celebrate its 65th year in 2019. This “the icon by the sea” will launch a newly renovated hotel and introduce an “Icon Suites”-themed décor in its vacation suites to feature The Rat Pack, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis suites. Other exciting “Vintage ‘50s” surprises are in store for guests. Big Chill Beach Club in Bethany Beach defines the perks of hosting events at the water’s edge, including breathtaking views, natural landscape, an open-air feel and the perfect backdrop for every event. With a 360-degree view of the Atlantic Ocean and Indian River Bay, there are plenty of opportunities to catch a refreshing sea breeze and bury toes into the sand. As Delaware Beach’s newest venue, the Big Chill Beach Club is situated along the ocean, and its Event Tent holds 160 people for a sit-down dinner or more than 200 guests for a cocktail-style party. La Vida Catering, which is a six-time winner of “Best Caterer” in Delaware Today, serves up a variety options. At the oceanfront Umbrella Deck, where seating for 200 provides ample room for everyone in the group, attendees can sip on favorite drinks and whet the appetite with beach fare from breakfast through dinner. From a fire pit and hangout game area to an oyster bar and beach amenities for water enthusiasts, it won’t take long for attendees to unwind after a day of meetings. For an event that attendees will talk about long after it’s over, the Hyatt Place Dewey Beach, also in Southern Delaware, offers a wide range of team building activities on the beach like bonfires and yoga, and in the water, too, such as paddle boarding, kayaking and jet skiing. “By including distinctive, team-oriented activities in your meeting agenda, you ensure an unforgettable experience for attendees,” said Falan Mifflin, director of sales for Hyatt Place Dewey Beach. Mifflin said people are drawn to waterfront venues because they offer an opportunity to turn a meeting stay into a mini-vacation, and even bring their families along. Being able to stay at the beach while working - and also including some “family time” - contributes to a healthy work/family balance for attendees. The property provides laid back lodging by the water with 130 guest rooms. Ten condos - mostly two-bedroom - afford swimming pool views from private balconies. Meeting space at the Hyatt Place is ideal for group events and conferences of all sizes, and its personalized service makes doing business here a pleasure. As the only oceanfront AAA Four Diamond hotel in the state of Delaware, Boardwalk Plaza Hotel in Rehoboth Beach offers a banquet and conference facility as well as an on-site restaurant situated on the boardwalk with oceanfront views. Groups will enjoy Victoria’s fine dining in the three-tiered dining room, where every angle features views of the water. During the warmer seasons, outdoor dining is available, and for a break during meetings, attendees can take a step back in time to enjoy Victorian afternoon tea. Victoria’s is conveniently open from 7:00 am until 10:00 pm every day, and the adjacent Plaza Pub offers a cozy lounge atmosphere. Another option is the hotel’s full-menu room service. “The appeal of hosting your conference facility in a terrific beach location is that it’s a great draw for attendees,” said Jennifer Zerby, director of marketing for Boardwalk Plaza. “Being within a beautiful resort destination town means lots of things to do outside of meeting time, whether it’s a relaxing beach day, a stroll down the boardwalk to fantastic shops and restaurants and stopping at the Tanger Outlets. Attendees can participate in nearby water sport activities, boating and fishing.” At the hotel, sun and sand beach activities are just steps from the door. From their balconies, guests often have views of dolphins playing in the water, and the resort can help to arrange dolphin and whale watching tours by boat in the nearby city of Lewes. Attendees can participate in a variety of team building activities on the beach, including team yoga and volleyball. For a relaxing end to the day, a heated indoor/outdoor spa pool awaits. “People seem drawn to waterfront venues and destinations where there’s a true sense of peace at the beach,” said Zerby. “Many people find it relaxing and healing,” she added. “Others find it renewing and energizing. While we’re fortunate to enjoy the ocean’s edge every day of the year, it’s a special treat for most people.” Beachfront settings provide planners with the opportunity to present to their attendees an enticing atmosphere that offers a sense of calm and serenity for those who wish to relax and unwind, yet still features plenty to see and do for those who want to get out there and have fun. With the warm weather finally here, it’s a great time to get groups outside to enjoy all that waterfront destinations such as these have to offer.

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