Regional Conference Centers
Purposely designed with meetings in mind, conference centers are a great choice for planners in search of a focused, dedicated environment.
Excellent conference facilities can be found throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, with many offering the benefits of accessibility, ample parking, overnight accommodations, an environment conducive to learning, package pricing, expert staff, a wide range of on-site services and amenities, the latest in audio-visual and technology equipment and services, high quality food and beverage, ample function space and more.
One conference venue that is generating a lot of buzz in the Greater Philadelphia area is the new Franklin Conference Center at Drexelbrook Special Event Center and Hotel in Drexel Hill, PA.
“There is so much excitement at Drexelbrook since we opened our new Franklin Conference Center,” explains Domenick Savino, CPCE, Drexelbrook’s CEO. “We converted what was a large open social event room to three breakout rooms and a large boardroom seating up to 28 guests. All rooms have full audio-visual capability with high-speed Internet access, LED projectors, sound and full wall screens. In addition, we added the ‘Franklin Café,’ which is available for all-day self-service that includes coffee, beverages, breakfast pastries, snacks and energy foods.”
The cafe is included as part of the “Spend the Day” meeting experience available at Drexelbrook. To encourage socializing, the Studio and Independence lounges also were added, complete with soft seating, monitors, high-tops and LED lighting. “It’s a great way to collaborate after general sessions,” notes Savino.
“Our meeting space is very flexible,” he continues. “We host meetings from 8 to 1,200 guests in a variety of ways. Of course, it begins with our complimentary parking for over 600 vehicles and proximity to public transportation. So far, we have hosted industrial, municipal and trade shows of all sizes. Our Grand Ballroom can hold up to a hundred 10-foot by 10-foot exhibit booths, and our participants love the fact our ballroom backs our loading dock, so it is very easy access.”
Also newly opened is the property’s Holiday Inn and Suites Philadelphia West at Drexelbrook. The new hotel “has exceeded our expectations,” exclaims Savino. “The hotel is doing exactly what we planned for: expand our corporate market, host wedding guests, and provide a quiet setting for leisure travelers.”
Close to the Philadelphia International Airport, the Pennsylvania Convention Center and a variety of attractions, the new hotel boasts many amenities, including: Street Light Bar and Grill serving regional American cuisine; an outdoor patio overlooking a stream; an indoor salt water swimming pool; fitness center; meeting room; and a business center. A walking path is available along the stream and serves as a great way to unwind after a long day of meetings, or guests can enjoy a craft cocktail at Street Light instead.
When it comes to food and beverage menus being served up at conferences and meetings, Savino observes that they have changed significantly over the last five years. “The push for health, protein based, gluten-free, vegan and awareness of the ‘Big 8’ allergens have created a need for the industry to offer menu items that can accommodate most all these concerns. We are an accredited Gluten-Free Kitchen and we are sought out by clients who require gluten-free food and beverages. Popular choices today include: build your own Acai and Pitaya bowls; grilled proteins simply seasoned; energy drinks and interesting flavored teas; as well as classic coffee offerings.”
Special requests are common place as part of corporate events, not just at meal time. Savino says that everything from early shipment of materials, room set-ups, lighting and power needs to food allergies are addressed prior to an event.
For any day of “surprises,” Drexelbrook offers planners what it calls “Instant Help,” which is a two-way radio to communicate quickly with the property’s on-site conference service team. “At Drexelbrook, we are very detailed on ‘event flow’ from the time a guest arrives at our welcome center to registration and throughout the day of the event itself,” Savino explains.
Those in search of a conference center in a serene setting will find that and so much more at the lakeside Chauncey Conference Center and Laurie House that’s surrounded by 370-acres of peaceful woodlands but is only minutes from historic Princeton, NJ. Midway between New York City and Philadelphia, it is a short drive to Princeton University’s campus, as well as cultural attractions and shopping.
The property’s Laurie House Bed and Breakfast is the only B&B in the area that offers meeting space, making it ideal for board retreats, private house exclusive meetings and social events. Overlooking a peaceful lake, this former hunt club traces its history back to 1769. Today, updated with Ethan Allen furniture and accessories, Laurie House offers complete privacy and the charm of an exclusive country home. It boasts seven luxurious guest rooms (including two suites with cozy sitting areas), plus a living room, library and drawing room that serve as inviting spots for relaxation.
The House’s well-equipped and light-filled meeting room accommodates 12 guests in a U-shape or 20 guests with round tables. Attached to the Laurie House is a large patio that can be utilized for outdoor dining, team building and social gatherings.
As a matter of fact, every meeting room at Chauncey Hotel and Conference Center features natural light. “Plus, you are never more than a few steps from our beautiful lake and walking and biking trails. We even have bikes to borrow,” offers Cindy McQuaid, CMP, director of sales and marketing for the Chauncey Conference Center and Laurie House.
This IACC-certified property offers both complete and day meeting packages (CMP and DMP), 18-hour ergonomic chairs, a distraction-free environment, built-in audio-visual, and adjustable lighting. “The packages allow you to focus on your meeting agenda; our dedicated conference planning manager takes care of the rest,” explains McQuaid.
Among the groups who choose Chauncey’s conference facilities are those engaged in training for corporate, association and non-profit groups, board of trustee and director meetings, retreats, educational seminars, fundraising events and more. And while the average group size ranges from 40 to 60 participants, Chauncey can host meetings for as few as 2 all the way up to 200 people.
The property has several new offerings to enhance their guests’ experience. These include complimentary Electric Car Charging Stations, and 2.5-miles of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (which is 22 miles in total) that are located on the property’s 370 acres. This paved trail is handicapped accessible and can be utilized for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter, as well as skateboarding, biking, jogging, and walking in warmer months.
Chauncey also has entered into several new partnerships with local vendors as a way to include locally grown foods into their menus and also to provide new and creative team building options. “We work with Terhune Orchards, Cherry Grove Farm, Sourland Mountain Distillery and Xplosive Entertainment to offer creative and engaging team building options including: cheese making classes, wagon rides, pick your own produce of the season, apple tasting, wine tasting paired with cheese or chocolate, winery tours, farm tours, spirits paired with cheese, and distillery tours,” says McQuaid.
In addition, groups now can take home some local flavors (and favors) from Princeton in the property’s gift shop. “Some guests that stay at Chauncey for meetings do not have the opportunity to explore historic Princeton,” notes McQuaid. “We have added a variety of items for guests to purchase, including: Princeton University swag, jams, jellies, honey and shea butter balm from local farms.”
Handling special requests is just part of what they do every day for clients at Chauncey, whether planners are looking for specialized team building options, menus that include healthy foods and are mindful of dietary restrictions, changing a meeting room, its setup, requesting an office, breakout rooms, or needing a last-minute change in number for CMPs and DMPs. “We always do our best to accommodate such requests, and our service-oriented and professional staff works well as a team to exceed expectations.”
Offering a scenic, “get away from it all” setting, Normandy Farm Hotel and Conference Center in Blue Bell, PA has a history that dates back 288 years with origins as a gentleman’s estate. Today, several of the property’s historic structures remain intact, like the barn, historic gatehouses and silos.
And while the historic charm has been left untouched through the years, the farm has evolved into one of the most cutting-edge conference and event venues in the region. It boasts state-of-the-art technology, excellent food and beverage options, team building opportunities, as well as ample meeting and function space.
In fact, Normandy Farm is the ninth largest conference center in the Greater Philadelphia Area and offers true one-stop shopping when it comes to productive meetings, seminars, panel discussions and team building events.
According to Laura Marra, corporate planner for Normandy Farm Hotel and Conference Center, a big advantage for the IACC-certified property is being full-service and having all accommodations on-site. “We have 141 hotel rooms, a full-service restaurant, banquet rooms, a conference center and even a golf course at our sister property. This allows us to accommodate groups and events of all natures in one location. It allows planners to eliminate any transportation factors pertaining to their event. Having all of these features on-site is definitely one of our bestselling factors.”
Normandy Farm is well-suited to handle a wide range of meetings in a variety of sizes, but has been making quite a name for itself in the realm of larger group conferences.
“We are able to host a large general session in either of our ballrooms or larger conference rooms,” explains Marra. “Then, the medium and smaller conference rooms are used as breakout spaces. This allows for multiple meetings and subject matters to occur at the same time, which can save companies both time and money when planning out their agendas.”
“Not only do we have two large on-site ballrooms, sizing approximately 6,100-square feet and 3,000-square feet,” she continues, “we also have eight medium/large meeting spaces and three ad hoc office spaces. This variety and capacity allow us to host both small- and large-scale conferences and corporate events. It also allows for a much larger market of planners to view Normandy Farm as a viable location for their off-site meetings.”
With over 23,000-square feet of IACC-certified meeting space in all, Normandy Farm features not only spacious meeting rooms and numerous breakouts, but offers a fully-equipped business center, comfortable lounges, service areas and top-notch audio-visual equipment and services, as well.
While pharmaceutical meetings have long been a mainstay of Normandy Farm’s meetings business, in part because of its proximity to several pharmaceutical companies, the property has recently broken into newer markets with a larger variety of new customers that range from construction to technology to real estate.
“Having such a variety of spaces allows us the opportunity to break into new business sectors and create new business opportunities,” asserts Marra.
She adds that she works closely with each client to ensure every detail leads to a successful outcome. “Our corporate event planning phase begins approximately 30 days out from the date of each event with myself, the dedicated corporate event planner. I communicate with the client’s planner for each event and detail and discuss all topics pertaining to their function. From setup-style of their meeting to lunch times and locations, all the way to any details pertaining to on-site dinners or team building activities that the company is planning. This gives the planner one specific point of contact throughout the planning process and takes some pressure away when it comes to handling the finer details.”
When it comes to providing food and beverage, The Farmer's Daughter is the culinary cornerstone of this historic property.
Marra notes that the members of Normandy Farm’s culinary team come from varied backgrounds and cultures. This diverse experience allows for new and exciting offerings to be made available each day, which is very useful when a group conference lasts for an extended period of time as a wide variety of menu selections can be offered for each meal.
“While most food and beverage offerings that are included in our daily meeting packages are chef’s selection, our culinary team is very diligent in ensuring several options to encompass all dietary restrictions. All of our food products are locally sourced and made in-house, which allows us the opportunity to make sure that all dietary restrictions are safely covered,” explains Marra.
Daily and complete meeting packages at Normandy Farm include a dedicated meeting coordinator, on-site IT specialist, and all a variety of tools necessary for hosting a successful conference in a convenient package.
The complete meeting package includes dinner and overnight accommodations. Half-day meeting packages are available, as well.
Excitement is all around at the New Jersey shore, and especially in Atlantic City, where Mohegan Sun’s Resorts Casino Hotel continues to offer amazing new experiences and amenities that attract planners and attendees of a wide range of meetings, events, conferences and more.
Marking another major milestone for Atlantic City’s first casino hotel, Resorts recently opened the DraftKings Sportsbook in partnership with Draft-Kings, the global sports technology and entertainment company and online sports betting platform.
This new retail space and unique venue for groups features multiple sports and wagering options, such as live, in-game betting with five windows and 18 kiosks, and offers multiple opportunities for sports fans to place their bets. Additionally, the space features ultra-high-definition video walls, a VIP area, comfortable stadium-style seats with chargers, and a full bar that includes food and beverage service along with bar top electronic slots.
While this latest addition offers an exciting new option for groups, the property also is home to a wide range of meeting and event spaces, including conference facilities. According to William H. Jackson, director of sales and marketing for Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, the property is especially well suited for groups ranging from 10 up to 600 people utilizing from 10 up to 300 guestrooms on peak night.
“For example,” he explains, “a group requiring 250 rooms on peak night would have exclusive use of our 64,000-square feet of meeting space and the undivided attention of our entire catering and conference staff. So, for groups with heaving meeting space needs, such as pharmaceutical companies, new product introductions or annual national, state and regional associations, Resorts is an ideal option.”
Meeting planners also should consider taking advantage of the All-Inclusive Meeting Package (AMP) available exclusively at Mohegan Sun’s Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, advises Jackson. “For the price of a room only in Philadelphia, Washington, DC or New York City, Resorts’ AMP provides an upgraded guest room, three meals a day - including dinner at Resorts’ gourmet restaurants or a private function room, morning and afternoon coffee breaks, meeting space, audio-visual, Wi-Fi in guest rooms and meeting rooms, all gratuities, taxes and resort fees, parking and a Resorts professional conference planner to anticipate all your meeting needs. Not only is the AMP easy on budgets, it’s refreshingly simple to plan and execute.”
Themed events have become very popular in recent years, and Jackson notes that Resorts delivers most in this area without the need for the use of a third-party planner. “With the variety of space options, themed events can be planned in one of 24 meeting and function rooms with more than 64,000-square feet of usable space, most featuring natural light and ocean views. Whether the party calls for taking attendees back to a Roaring ‘20s Speakeasy or a private Texas Hold ‘em Casino party, Resorts’ talented food and beverage team has the recipes and décor to transport everyone through a dining experience they will remember and talk about for years to come.”
Some of the more creative themed events that Resorts has hosted include: a Masquerade Ball, Hollywood Red Carpet, Mexican Fiesta, Country Fair, Disco Fever, and an Evening in Paris, to name a few.
On-site dining options at Resorts include award-winning restaurants and several that have been named “best of” in numerous categories by both publications and patrons alike. Choices include: EastWind Chinese Restaurant and Noodle Bar, which is now open seven days a week for lunch and dinner; the new Mukashi Sushi Restaurant; Capriccio Italian Restaurant; as well as Gallagher’s Steakhouse and its adjacent Burger Bar. Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Entertainment Complex offers two fully-themed restaurants: LandShark Bar & Grill, Atlantic City’s only outdoor dining and beach bar open year-round, and Margaritaville Café on the boardwalk. Each can accommodate up to 500 people for private events.
“The hotel’s long-standing relationships with the region’s most talented singers, dancers and musicians make last-minute bookings a breeze and the results are standing ovations not only for the entertainer on stage, but for the meeting planners, too,” adds Jackson.
These conference facilities represent a sampling of the diverse options available throughout the region, including urban, rural, mountain and beachfront locations.
Each presents its own unique set of offerings and opportunities for planners to create exceptional experiences for their attendees while also providing everything needed for their conference in a dedicated and private environment that is conducive to productivity and learning.