MeetingNews Conference Center Round-up

IACC Looks to Close Up the Generation Gap
Conference center association extends role of Generation Y in board activities

St. Louis—The International Association of Conference Centers announced in January that it has expanded the role of Generation Y in its organizational initiatives. The organization has appointed 24-year-old Melissa Bell, conference manager for Dolce International's BMO Financial Group Institute for Learning, in Toronto, as board associate.

It is the second such position created by IACC for the specific purpose of "identifying and advising the board of directors on emerging trends from the perspective of Millennials and Generations X and Y," said Neil Pompan, president of the North American chapter of IACC.

In her new role, Bell joins 26-year-old Emily Heckaman, conference planner for the University Place Conference Center and Hotel, in Indianapolis, to provide ideas about how IACC and its members can participate in trends that are important to younger generations and provide information and services to meet their unique site research styles and booking habits.

"I definitely became known as the one who's not shy," said Bell about her first board meeting. "I've learned a lot about the differences between generations, and there's something different to how [Generation Y] needs to be marketed to and retained. I want to think outside the box and show what my generation is all about."

IACC is clearly on the same page.

"It is imperative that we maintain a cutting-edge perspective on technological and social trends that affect our industry and not only embrace those trends, but get ahead of the curve," said Pompan. "Adding a second board associate will help IACC make a significant impact on our industry," he said.

Added Bell: "I feel really supported by IACC. "There's a lot of onus on IACC for creating this position, but by recognizing what the younger generation offers, we can move the organization forward. I'm excited to be a part of that."

Dolce Wants to Bask in Glow Of NJ Property's Upgrade
Montvale, NJ—Dolce International has begun the first phase of an $8-million renovation on Dolce Basking Ridge Conference Center, in Basking Ridge, NJ, less than an hour's drive from New York City. Phase I of the project will redo the property's 171 guest rooms with new furniture, luxury bedding and soft goods, and 32-inch flat televisions.

Phases two and three of the project will address public areas, meeting space, food and beverage outlets, the fitness center, and courtyard. Plans are under way to redesign the lobby to include a new coffee and wine bar, while the property's restaurant and lounge will be redesigned to feature an open kitchen. The 20,000-sf, IACC-certified conference center, which includes 25 meeting rooms and a 4,700-sf ballroom, will receive cosmetic enhancements, and outdoor event spaces will be redesigned.

"The property's new look and improved facilities will allow us to deliver a complete experience to our guests with brand-new guest rooms, public space, and new amenities for groups," said Geoff Lawson, general manager. Phase one of the renovation is expected to be completed by May.

Walden Inn & Conf. Center Gets a Thorough Renovation
Walden, NY—The Walden Inn and Conference Center has completed the first phase of a major renovation that will ultimately include guestrooms, conference rooms, the fitness center, and all public spaces. Guestrooms have been refreshed with new furnishings, bedding, televisions and DVD players, refrigerators, and layered lighting.

Conference rooms have received new carpeting and wall vinyl to increase utility. All conference room tables and chairs are new and in compliance with ergonomic standards; they now have low-glare surfaces, as well. The first phase of the renovation also included the installation of high-speed wireless Internet access throughout the building. The property is scheduled to undergo further upgrades in the near future.

Midwest Hotel & Conf. Center Gets a New Look and Name
Montvale, NJ—Two new restaurants and a bar will open this spring at the former Ashman Court Hotel in Midland, MI, as part of an ongoing, $25-million renovation that has led the property to be renamed the H Hotel, a Dolce Hotel and Conference Destination.

Now featuring a 40-seat casual dining spot, as well as a fine-dining restaurant—which can host up to 70 patrons—the H Hotel has more than 14,000 sf of meeting space, which also was redone. Next up in the refurbishment is a spruce-up of the property's lobby and 131 guest rooms. That upgrade will start this summer and be completed by year end. The property has a fitness center and a lap pool

Originally published March 24, 2008