• Lenora Kruk-Mullanaphy

Mountain Meetings

Planners striving to take their meetings to new heights will want to check out the mountain destinations and properties located throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the U.S. From the Poconos and the Catskills to the Adirondacks and the Blue Ridge, attendees will enjoy the beauty of the mountains as a backdrop to meetings, while planners will appreciate the wide range of venues, four seasons of outdoor activities and plenty for groups to do both indoors and outside.

Meeting in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains is an age-old tradition for some and a breath of fresh air for others, according to vice president of sales for the Pocono Mountains Convention and Visitors Bureau, Inc., David M. Jackson, CMP.

“We entertain more than 24-million visitors year-round,” said Jackson. “Because the Poconos is a four-season destination, many find more to do than time to do it in. Some groups love the outdoor adventure, and others prefer the great indoors with waterparks the size of Yankee Stadium, as well as shopping, nightly entertainment, gaming and cultural museums.”

The Pocono Mountains offers state-of-the-art, new or recently renovated resort properties, and many are more attractive and budget-friendly than ever with offerings like free Wi-Fi and complimentary parking.

Team building exercises are a must for groups meeting in the region, too, where outdoor adventure is king. With hiking, biking, horseback riding, golf and ropes courses, groups have plenty of options. Attendees will feel they’re on the fast track to success with a trip to the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing’s (NASCAR) famous Pocono Raceway, where they can take a spin on the famous two-and-a-half-mile stretch in a NASCAR-style stock car.

‘The clean, fresh mountain air separates the Poconos from other meeting destinations,” explained Jackson. “The gorgeous vistas enable one to get a bird’s-eye view of the world without having to get on a plane. And we’re within driving distance to approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population.”

Less than two hours from New York City, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Scranton and Allentown is Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in the Pocono Mountains. While it’s a convenient trip for attendees to reach this resort in Pocono Manor, PA, they will feel as though they are a world away upon their arrival.

The resort offers plenty of meeting space, guest rooms and leisure activities all under one roof, and that’s not going to change as Kalahari’s Pocono Mountains convention space soon will double in size. After the expansion, guests will continue to have easy access to features like the world-class Spa Kalahari and Salon and the fitness studios, as well as its numerous entertainment options and dining experiences.

Its expanding event and meeting space is slated for completion in late 2019. When finished, the 205,000-square foot convention and meeting space will feature a total of 33 meeting rooms, three ballrooms, pre-function spaces, additional load-in and load-out capabilities, and extensive registration and client office spaces.

Known for going beyond expectations, delivering first-class service and providing top-notch amenities, Kalahari Resorts and Conventions boasts a dedicated and experienced team that is ready and able to assist with all aspects of planning.

Attendees can enjoy the thrills of America’s Largest Indoor Waterpark, the cost of which is included with an overnight stay. Offering 220,000-square feet of fun to splash around in, options include navigating sharp turns and high-speed plunges of the Anaconda, challenging friends on Cheetah Race, testing bodyboarding and surfing skills on Flowrider’s five-foot wave simulator, winding down the Lazy River - and that’s just the beginning of the fun!

The Indoor Party Cabana can be booked for up to a dozen guests who want to indulge in food and beverage delivery, view a flat-screen television, relax on chaise lounges and enjoy other amenities. The Indoor Waterpark Cabana includes the same amenities, but for up to eight guests.

Camelback Lodge, which is located in the Pocono Mountains, as well, in Tannersville, features all the ingredients needed for scenic, successful and memorable events. Its conference center is located on the resort’s fourth floor and features secluded meeting space with rooms that showcase the surrounding mountain landscape. With 10,000-square feet of flexible meeting space, the resort features a Grand Ballroom that can be divided into four meeting rooms; a pre-function area for registration or cocktail parties; four breakout rooms; and a private boardroom. An on-site audio-visual team stands ready to assist, as well.

“Groups can accomplish their meeting goals while still being able to enjoy the scenery and fun that the resort offers,” said Camelback Resort’s corporate sales manager, Tiana Gering. “Aside from having epic views and a large list of fun activities from which to choose, our property is flexible in working with the needs and desires of the group. We can create custom menus, theme events, and create team building experiences that incorporate our indoor and outdoor activities.”

Located in the middle of Pennsylvania, State College is situated in Centre County near Nittany Mountain - or Mount Nittany, as it is often called. Penn State University sits at the base of the mountain and boasts award-winning hotels, meeting and conference centers, plus one of the largest adventure-based team building courses on the East Coast.

The Nittany Lion Inn has been the premier hotel in State College since it opened in 1931. It combines comfort and quality with Penn State tradition, and, as a AAA Four Diamond hotel, offers numerous amenities and services.

Penn Stater Conference Center is the area's largest, most flexible and technologically sophisticated conference center hotel, boasting 58,000-square feet of meeting and function space.

State College offers an exciting nightlife, theater, historic shopping districts, museums, attractions and concerts. Outdoor activities include nearby cycling and running trails, golf courses, plus fishing and kayaking.

Abundant beauty surrounds visitors in upstate New York’s Southern Adirondacks region, where the Lake George Area is situated. Nature is alive in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, where the largest park in the nation encompasses more than six-million acres.

Adirondack Park is the largest publicly protected area in the United States (greater in size than Yellowstone, the Everglades, Glacier and Grand Canyon National Park combined). Nearly half the park belongs to the people of the state and is a protected “forever wild” forest preserve. The rest is private land that includes settlements, farms, timberlands, businesses, homes and camps.

“Groups can enjoy spectacular lake, river and mountain scenery as nature inspires their meetings,” said special events and convention sales director for the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce and CVB, Kristen Hanifin. “The Lake George Area offers a variety of activities for all adventure levels, from hiking and zip lining to water recreation and winter sports.”

Attendees may want to extend their business trips and make it a long weekend or return for a vacation because there’s so much to do. Hiking or driving to a summit, such as Prospect Mountain in Lake George, provides the reward of a 100-mile view. Stopping for farm-to-table cuisine and sipping craft beverages can be a great way to unwind while whetting the appetite.

The Lake George Area features a combined 200,000-square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor meeting space. No matter what setting groups are seeking, they’ll find it - from an outdoor picnic space to a lavish indoor room with a breathtaking view.

Several unique and historic outdoor spaces are available, as the area is rich in French and Indian War and Revolutionary War era history.

There are a variety of properties and venues available year round in the area, such as: a rooftop terrace overlooking Lake George at the Courtyard Marriott, which lies in the heart of walkable Lake George Village; the historic space at the Fort William Henry Resort; the privacy and exclusiveness of the elegant Sagamore Resort; the hip, art deco-inspired and newly renovated Queensbury Hotel in Glens Falls; a new space at the Silver Bay YMCA in Hague at the northern end of 32-mile-long Lake George (dubbed the Queen of American Lakes); and Great Escape Lodge, which offers conference space along with an indoor waterpark.

Planners will find the area is within an hour’s drive of Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport (the closest international airport is in Albany). Located in Queensbury, Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport is open every day (except during the Adirondack Balloon Festival held annually in September).

Minnowbrook Conference Center in Blue Mountain Lake, NY, is set in the Adirondack Mountains and provides a dazzling background coupled with modern accommodations. The reconfigurable main conference room features seating for up to 60 attendees, state-of-the-art technology and a view of the lake.

Its Boathouse Meeting Room is located on the upper level of the property’s boathouse and accommodates as many as 30 attendees. When it’s time for team building exercises, breaks in the schedule or an extended business trip, Minnowbrook’s all-inclusive activities are abundant, from kayaking to swimming to billiards. The surrounding area offers attractions, too, such as golf courses, hiking trails, museums, whitewater rafting and scenic tours.

High Peaks Resort is located in Lake Placid, one of the most recognized areas in the Adirondack Park. Exploring the outdoors with breathtaking mountain views, visiting historic Olympic Village, hiking the trails, kayaking, skiing, as well as shopping and sampling the restaurants on Main Street provides plenty of opportunities for attendees.

High Peaks Resort features 10,000-square feet of meeting and conference space and a professional team that specializes in custom conference services, helping planners create events that match their needs. “The prime location in downtown Lake Placid makes it easy for attendees to arrive and navigate the area with no need for transportation,” said executive director of the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council, Ron Ofner. “They can walk to restaurants, entertainment, outdoor recreational activities and learn about the village’s Olympic Games history.”

The resort’s planning team can even offer assistance in creating experiences for groups outside the property, whether it is unique team building challenges or ski getaways. Groups meeting in the summer season will find dozens of activities, including an invigorating swim in Mirror Lake, hiking to the state’s highest peaks, an exhilarating boat tour on Lake Placid and visiting local breweries. Winter recreation is abundant, such as skiing and snowboarding at Olympic venues, ice skating, bobsledding, and tobogganing.

The Conference Center at Lake Placid features function rooms for both large and small groups with three conference room floors. The venue has a variety of additional options to customize events, too. The three exhibit halls, including the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena (named after the “Miracle on Ice” coach), provide AV equipment, staging and meeting accessories.

Built as a sustainable and green structure, the Conference Center at Lake Placid is an eco-conscious space.

The recently opened Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark in New York’s Catskill Mountains has the most modern, state-of-the-art indoor waterpark, 324 suites, along with a fantastic brand-new luxury lodge experience.

Available to host a wide range of meetings and events, Kartrite boasts numerous amenities, dining options and varied function spaces, as well as opportunities for team building on-site.

Another resort in the Catskill Mountains, Villa Roma Resort offers a list of year-round activities. Hiking, skiing, and short bus trips to Bethel Woods to stand at the site of the iconic 1969 Woodstock Festival are just some of the options that can be tied into business events. Customized meeting packages allow for tailored events based on each group’s specific needs. An array of conference rooms and breakout spaces are able to accommodate from 10 to 1,000 attendees.

Mountain resorts such as these offer so much to do and so many ways for groups to engage with the great outdoors throughout every season.

Offering environments that are nearby, yet feel peaceful, serene and sometimes even secluded, the mountains present a fantastic opportunity for retreats and escapes that excite and reenergize.

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