by Andrea Doyle | June 02, 2016

West Point 
The Hudson River and Valley, recently ranked by National Geographic as one of the top 20 places in the world to visit, is one of New York State's great natural treasures. And for groups looking to enjoy these surroundings, it's hard to beat the Historic Thayer Hotel at West Point, which celebrated its 90th anniversary at the end of May. Perched on a bluff with commanding views of the Hudson River and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, this is the only full-service hotel that sits on the Hudson River between New York City and Albany.

MacArthur's Riverview Restaurant, the original restaurant in the hotel, is led by a Culinary Institute of America graduate and is famous for its Sunday Champagne brunch. Zulu Time Rooftop Bar and Lounge offers a lively place to enjoy the views.

The government owned The Thayer from 1926 until 1999, when the operation of the hotel was taken over by a partnership of West Point graduates, as it was in need of a capital infusion. "Today, the hotel exudes all the charm of an earlier era combined with the features that are expected in the 21st century," says Rick Minicozzi, a 1986 West Point graduate, and managing general partner of both The Thayer Hotel and Thayer Leader Development Group (TLDG) at West Point.

When the new ownership group started the revitalization of the 151-room hotel, part of the business plan included increasing weekday occupancy. Thayer Leader Development Group was born -- part of a plan developed to drive corporations to West Point for off-site corporate business meetings. TLDG provides executive-level education based on the U.S. Army leadership philosophy of "Be, Know, Do" and the U.S. Military Academy values of "Duty, Honor, Country."

Some 26,000 executives from 550 corporations from more than 30 countries have been trained by TLDG over the past six years.   

"This is the only full-service hotel on any military base in all of the world," says Minicozzi. "We recognize that we have a very large mission and obligation to the public to ensure that when guests come here to The Thayer Hotel, they have a West Point-like experience." He adds that with so many organizations now coming to have meetings at The Thayer, TLDG provides an additional attraction for visitors, offering organizations the opportunity to experience the leadership principles taught at West Point.

The Hudson Valley is a foodie haven. Many graduates of The Culinary Institute of America set up shop in the Hyde Park area, thanks in part to its wealth of local farms, bakeries, fish markets, wineries, and breweries.

Located in the heart of the Hudson Valley's scenic Ulster County and a 20-minute drive from downtown Woodstock, the Emerson Resort & Spa has undergone a $6 million renovation of its guest rooms and public areas, and will debut its newly renovated spa and spa menu this summer.

Inspired by the resort's location in the Catskills, as well as its namesake -- poet Ralph Waldo Emerson -- the 20-acre property also recently introduced a new signature restaurant, Woodnotes Grille.

"We're thrilled with the renovation and wanted to change the overall theme of the property to more closely reflect the name of Emerson, and to prominently feature the beautiful mountains and river at our backdoor," says owner Emily H. Fisher.

The goal of the renovation was to be more reflective of the legendary poet, whose famous essay "Nature" helped to establish the Catskill Forest Preserve surrounding the Emerson grounds. The resort now brings the outside in and provides guests with open spaces and large windows, which showcase expansive views of Mount Tremper and the 65-mile-long Esopus Creek.

Syracuse, with its farm-to-table dining, award-winning craft breweries, hands-on history and museums, Rosamond Gifford Zoo, and more than 40 golf courses, makes for an excellent Central New York meetings destination.

Syracuse has a new performing arts space: The Lakeview Amphitheater on Onondaga Lake, designed by the Westlake Reed Leskosky firm, which also designed Bethel Woods Performing Arts Center. The amphitheater offers both covered and lawn seating, affording lovely views of the water and downtown Syracuse, and an event space with a deck overlooking the lake for private events.

Onondaga County's Oncenter with the Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Complex offers more than 200,000 square feet of space and more than 600 sleeping rooms within a five-minute drive.

From the revitalized downtown urban experience, to relaxing in the picturesque Finger Lakes, to Destiny USA -- the sixth-largest shopping, dining, and entertainment venue in the country -- Syracuse has all the elements in place to host substantial meetings and events.

The Marriott Syracuse Downtown, a historic hotel originally opened in 1924, will be celebrating its grand re-opening this July. Closed in 2004, the property has since been renovated in order to integrate the landmark's historical components with modern amenities, providing a unique, upscale experience for business or leisure travelers as well as the local community. The hotel, already awarded membership by IACC, is the official headquarters hotel for Oncenter, with 261 guest rooms and 43,000 square feet of conference space.