It's estimated that between two to five percent of the population suffers from acrophobia, or a fear of heights. If you're a member of this group, you may want to stop reading here. But if heights don't faze you, then you know that there are few things as exhilarating as a spectacular view from a high elevation. Meeting planners who want to leave attendees not merely satisfied -- but breathless -- should consider a meeting venue that has as much height as it does hype. Here are five such venues across the country, each of which promises to lift your meetings to literal new heights.
1. Willis Tower (Chicago)
Since 2009, the former Sears Tower has been known as Willis Tower
. Whatever you want to call it, the building remains the second-tallest in the United States, standing at 1,450 feet, or 108 stories, tall.
Willis Tower's observation deck, known as the Skydeck (pictured above), is located on the 103rd floor and hosts approximately 1.3 million tourists every year, many of who visit to stand on "The Ledge," an attraction consisting of retractable glass balconies that can be extended approximately 4 feet from the building's facade to offer a death-defying view through glass floors of the street below.
A couple stories below the main attraction, on the 99th floor, is a second Skydeck that's reserved for private meetings and events. The space boasts 360-degree panoramic views of Chicago and, on a clear day, up to four states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. It can accommodate between 50 and 300 seated guests, or up to 400 unseated guests. Plus, groups have the option of receiving VIP access to The Ledge four stories above them.
2. One World Trade Center (New York)
When it debuted in 2014 on the site of the former World Trade Center, One World Trade Center
unseated Chicago's Willis Tower as the tallest building in the United States. Officially the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere and the sixth tallest building in the world, it stands 1,776 feet, or 104 stories, tall.
The tower's three-story observation deck, One World Observatory, occupies floors 100, 101, and 102 of the building. While the 100th floor is dedicated to the actual observatory and the 101st floor to a food court, the 102nd floor, also known as the Horizon Level, is reserved for private meetings and events. Totaling over 9,000 square feet, the venue sports expansive floor-to-ceiling views in all directions -- you can see the Hudson River, the Atlantic Ocean, the Statue of Liberty, and Manhattan, all from one spectacular space -- and can accommodate up to 300 guests.
3. Hilton Anatole (Dallas)
While the South is more known for its hospitality than its skyscrapers, it still has its share of sky-high venues. One popular venue is the Hilton Anatole
in Dallas, which stands 27 stories tall in the Market Center district north of downtown Dallas.
Along with 1,606 guest rooms, the hotel has a 27th-floor restaurant, SER Steak + Spirits, offering floor-to-ceiling views of the city. In addition to the main dining room, the steakhouse has four private dining areas -- the Crosley, Continental, Comet, and Wescott Rooms -- that can be reserved individually for small gatherings or together for large receptions, not to mention the Bear & Driver Boardroom, which it describes as "a classic dining suite…for your most significant affairs."
Sharing the 27th floor with SER are five of the hotel's 79 meeting rooms, where attendees can enjoy the same bird's eye view that's offered in the restaurant.
4. Sky View Observatory (Seattle)
Although the Space Needle gets all the attention, Seattle's tallest building is actually the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle. The tallest building in Washington and the second tallest on the West Coast -- behind only U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles -- it is 943 feet tall and has 76 stories.
The building's Sky View Observatory
is the tallest public viewing area west of the Mississippi River, offering a 360-degree panoramic view that includes Mt. Rainier, Bellevue, the Cascade Mountains, Mt. Baker, Elliott Bay, the Olympic Mountains, the Space Needle, and the city of Seattle. Groups can rent the entire space for private seated events of up to 75, or for standing reception-style events of up to 100.
5. Loews Philadelphia Hotel (Philadelphia)
The 581-room Loews Philadelphia Hotel
in Center City Philadelphia is located in the former Philadelphia Savings Fund Society (PSFS) Building, which when it opened in 1932 was the first skyscraper in the United States. Home to the hotel since 2000, the 794-foot building has 33 floors and is visible from 20 miles away.
Among the property's 47,000 square feet of function space are three meeting areas on the hotel's top floor, which in its heyday was considered to be so prestigious that only the top PSFS executives were allowed on it. According to the urban legend, even elevator operators were not allowed there; instead, they would get out of the car on the 32nd floor and send passengers up alone, calling out as they exited, "You're on your way, gentlemen!" Today, the floor is home to the 18-person Roberts Board Room, the 2,000-square-foot Howe room, and the 1,414-square-foot Lescaze room, the latter two of which are adjoined by a 1,100-square-foot terrace overlooking the city.