by Andrea Doyle | November 01, 2012
Boston's Water Street draws many visitors

Founded in 1630, Boston is home to a mix of people whose heritage is drawn from every corner of the globe. They have helped shape a city rich in history, culture, and tradition — a city that treasures the past, present, and future. 

Just as diverse as its residents and history is the city itself. This is an advantage to meeting professionals, as many of the city’s museums, universities, theaters, and stadiums are available for private events.

One of the city’s most distinctive special event venues is Fenway Park, America’s oldest ballpark, that is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. 

“Fenway is perfect for meetings that are looking for something unique,” says Carrie Campbell, director of sales and service for Fenway Enterprises, who also serves as Fenway Park’s event planner. “Most meetings incorporate Fenway into the fabric of their agenda in some way. It’s right in the heart of the city and offers such a sense of place. There is the city and skyline behind you as you sit in America’s oldest and most beloved ballpark. People are moved by being here.”

Not only are there event facilities for gatherings from five to 10,000 attendees in Fenway Park, but there are also private tours. Highlights of the park include the fabled “Green Monster” left-field wall, 37-feet, two-inches high; Pesky’s Pole; the press box; and the original entrance from 1912 complete with 100-year-old ticket booths.

“Fenway Park is definitely not a cookie-cutter type of place. We tell our clients to give us a wish list of what they would like to do and we make it happen,” says Campbell.

Another unique venue for special events is the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, which reopened in June after a fire forced the original museum to close. There are event spaces available to groups like Abigail’s Tea Room, reminiscent of the 18th-century public houses that dotted the streets of Revolutionary Boston. 

It’s also possible to rent the entire museum complex and incorporate a full reenactment of the Boston Tea Party. The experience includes costumed role players, high-tech exhibits, replica ships, and a film that recreates the events leading up to the start of the American Revolution, from Paul Revere’s ride to the battle at Lexington Green.

All the Elements in Place 
It is no surprise that Boston, a historically important city that is refreshingly vibrant, is extremely popular for meetings and conventions. 

“Boston is so easily accessible. It is very convenient to get to. There is an international airport as well as Amtrak that comes into the center of the city,” says Campbell. “Boston has a state-of-the-art convention center, first-class restaurants, art, culture, sports, and history. Plus, it’s a walking city that is so easy to get around.”

A revitalized waterfront has added to the city’s already dynamic downtown neighborhoods. These developments are due in part to the city’s Big Dig project, which is now complete. Additionally, Logan International Airport’s recent upgrades are making it easier than ever to get in and out of the city.

Chicago-based Char Y. Shada, CMP, association strategic account manager for Experient, helped plan a medical meeting in Boston at the end of April that had 9,000 attendees. Experient, a Maritz Travel Company and third-party meeting and event management group, works with plenty of big groups, but this one took some creative thinking. 

“We invaded the city,” she says with a chuckle. The group used 16 hotels and Shada was impressed by the cooperative spirit she found among all the properties. “The hotels all really get along. There is a great sense of community and pride here. I’ve been to other destinations where the hotel salespeople don’t even know each other.” 

With a group of 9,000 attendees, cooperation is key to success. Shada’s meeting literally took over the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center, which has 176,480 square feet of flexible exhibit space with five exhibit halls, 38 high-tech meeting rooms with 91,000 square feet of space, a 24,544-square-foot grand ballroom, and a multi-purpose auditorium. An advantage was the convention center’s top-notch technology, free Wi-Fi, and building-wide cellphone coverage, says Shada. 

“Boston is such a great city with so much history,” she adds. “Plus, there are so many walkable areas within the destination. There is shopping, group dining, and tons to see in the city. There truly is something for everyone.”

This medical group continues to increase in size and Shada fears they have outgrown Boston, though these concerns may soon be dispelled. The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority has purchased 5.6 acres near the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC) for $33 million; the land is earmarked for two mid-priced properties and parking. Construction on the 500- and 400-room hotels could start by the end of 2013, with opening dates in 2015. 

Currently, the facility has only 1,700 guest rooms within walking distance, so the addition of the hotels would boost the city’s competitiveness. In August, the Massachusetts Legislature authorized the construction of up to seven hotels near the BCEC, the first phase of a $2-billion expansion plan proposed by the MCCA.

In other hotel news, following a $16-million upgrade, DoubleTree by Hilton opened its fourth hotel in Greater Boston, the 364-room DoubleTree by Hilton Boston North Shore hotel, conference center and water park. 

A five-year property-wide renovation of the 1,100-room Boston Marriott Copley Place has been completed. All guest rooms and 47 suites have been redone, and the Concierge Lounge expanded. The 70,000 square feet of meeting space, including the 23,431-square-foot Grand Ballroom, has undergone upgrades to décor and infrastructure. 

The 356-room Revere Hotel debuted in April with approximately 35,000 square feet of meeting space, including the 225-seat Theatre 1 and the 6,700-square-foot Space 57. 

A four-year, $30-million renovation of the 412-room Boston Marriott Long Wharf was completed in January.

Boston is a dynamic city: Museums are constantly expanding, restaurants are opening, and hotels are renovating.