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New York Meetings Outside the City

There are many diverse attractions for groups outside the Big Apple

Rochester night skyline stock

When you are home to a city as dynamic as Manhattan, your other attractions can be overlooked. This is a mistake outsiders commit, but New York State is a multifaceted destination with charming villages, wineries, breweries, and history ensure no shortage of draws for visiting groups.

The state's natural beauty is hard to beat. Many are surprised to learn that the Adirondacks is an area larger than Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon combined. It's an outdoor playground of hiking, biking, skiing, and sailing.

This is also a state that is serious about meetings and conventions. The Albany Capital Center (ACC) celebrated its one-year anniversary in March, surpassing projected convention bookings and hotel room nights with 139 events and 4,285 hotel room nights booked for the year. An estimated 7,800 future hotel room nights have been booked for the more than 100 meetings, conventions, trade shows, and events for this year, up by more than 80 percent from the ACC's first year of operation. In addition, many other event contracts are still in the works.

"While we expected to come out of the gate strong, 2017 proved to be even more successful," says Doug McClaine, general manager of Albany Capital Center. "The numbers speak for themselves, but what is also very encouraging is the positive response the building is getting from our clients. With the ACC's high-tech features and endless adaptability, we are able to provide one-of-a-kind events for our guests and truly accommodate them in every form."

Connected to the Times Union Center, Empire State Plaza, and Renaissance Albany Hotel via enclosed walkways, the ACC has 22,500 square feet of ballroom/exhibit space, six meeting rooms with 9,200 square feet of space, 13,500 square feet of pre-function space, and state-of-the-art technology. Set in downtown Albany, the ACC is within walking distance of the New York State Capitol, business and warehouse districts, performing arts venues, museums, shops, restaurants, and nightlife.

The ACC is part of the Capital Complex, which also includes the Empire State Plaza Convention Center with more than 50,000 square feet of space, and The Egg -- the Empire State Plaza's Center for Performing Arts.

Less than an hour north of Albany lies Saratoga, a destination known for its culture, horses, and mineral springs. A walkable and vibrant historic downtown is bustling with unique dining spots, and eclectic shops and galleries.

One of the city's famed features is the historic Saratoga Race Course, opened in 1863 and the third-oldest race course in the U.S., considered the oldest major sports venue in the country and host of the annual Travers Stakes. This is a destination with deep history but plenty of new things happening, too -- last October, The Adelphi Hotel, in the heart of downtown, opened after a multimillion-dollar restoration. Established in 1877, the property boasts 11-foot-high ceilings, a grand staircase, legendary bar, and 1,200-square-foot glass-walled conservatory, which houses The Adelphi's new restaurant, The Blue Hen. Chef David Burke is culinary director of both the hotel and its adjacent Salt & Char.

There are 32 guest rooms and suites, and a grand ballroom that can accommodate up to 200 and opens to the serene landscaped Adelphi Gardens.

The Gideon Putnam, the historic hotel in Saratoga Spa State Park, reopened May 1, after a renovation that encompassed its 124 guest rooms, corridors, lobby, and restaurant.

Delaware North, which operates the hotel for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, decided to close the hotel for three months for renovations that had been planned for the next three years after a water main break flooded the basement.

"We value this partnership with Delaware North to manage this beautiful hotel, which is set apart from other destinations due to the spectacular setting in Saratoga Spa State Park," says Alane Ball-Chinian, director, Saratoga-Capital Region for the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The Gideon Putnam has more than 12,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space and its historic Roosevelt Baths & Spa with 42 original treatment rooms and a selection of transforming mineral baths, massages, and over 60 treatments.  

Unique attractions and amenities, affordable pricing, and a supportive hospitality industry make Rochester a viable meetings destination. In this, the third-largest city in New York State, there is more than $850 million being invested in the downtown area with projects that are planned, under construction, or already complete. This includes former department stores transformed into hotels and an $18.5 million renovation of the 343-room Hyatt Regency Rochester.

The Hyatt is connected to the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center and includes an outdoor terrace lounge area and bar, the city's first Morton's The Steakhouse, and more than 20,000 square feet of meeting space.

Rochester's Main Street, which runs through the convention district, is getting a facelift that will bring new retail and hotel rooms to the area. Home to the Genesee Brewery, the oldest brewery in New York State celebrating its 140th anniversary this year, the Greater Rochester area is in the midst of a craft beverage boom and boasts more than two dozen breweries.

There was a time the Catskills was booming -- just revisit the movie Dirty Dancing. In the early 1950s, there were more than 500 hotels in the area, but, slowly, many of those Borscht Belt resorts closed and the area grew much quieter. These days, things are looking up.

Resorts World Catskills, a $1.2 billion casino, hotel, and entertainment complex opened in February on the site of the old Concord Resort Hotel in Monticello and is predicted to revitalize the entire region.

Resorts World features a 100,000-square-foot casino with 150 live table games, 2,150 slot machines, a poker room, private gaming salons, a 332-room hotel, 10 bars and restaurants, a spa, two fitness centers, and up to eight event rooms, including a 2,500-seat theater. There are also plans for an 18-hole golf course and the Kartrite Hotel & Indoor Waterpark. The destination resort in which Resorts World Catskills is based will also include an entertainment village with additional fun and accommodations.

Westchester County
Another area of New York State that has all the excitement, attractions, hotels, and meeting space in place to accommodate groups is Westchester County. This destination offers the best of both worlds: Surrounded by the beauty of the Hudson River and Long Island Sound, with rolling hills, horse farms, golf courses, and historic towns, it also boasts easy access to New York City.

Westchester County comprises the city of White Plains, the villages of Rye and Tarrytown, and 40 other villages and towns, with more than 35 facilities here for meetings and events and more than 300,000 square feet of meeting space.

From Kykuit, the Rockefeller family's palatial, six-story Beaux Arts mansion, to Playland Amusement Park, historic attractions proliferate in the area. Take Port Chester's Capitol Theatre, known as "the original rock palace," built for vaudeville and cinema in 1926. It became a go-to tour stop in the 1970s for all the greats and was a favorite venue for Jerry Garcia. From the grittiness of rock to the splendor of tycoons at estates like Lyndhurst, which overlooks the Hudson River in Tarrytown, venues for special events ensure they will be truly one of a kind.

For teambuilding, a new attraction is Spins Hudson, a waterfront sports and entertainment complex that includes a four-level aerial ropes course, a laser tag arena, arcade, and bocce and shuffleboard courts.

The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester is a popular meeting spot for law firms, as it is within walking distance of the federal courthouse located in White Plains. Tarrytown House Estate and Conference Center books many meetings related to the tech industry and Doral Arrowwood is another meetings property that shouldn't be missed.

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This article appears in the June 2018 issue of Successful Meetings.