. New York State's Rich Offerings | Successful Meetings

New York State's Rich Offerings

One thing the wider state has on New York City: beautiful landscapes

Rochester night skyline

It's easy to be overlooked when the greatest city in the world is within your borders, but the rest of New York State offers plenty of top-notch options for visiting groups. One thing the wider state has on New York City: nature. Rolling hills of yellow wildflowers, pristine lakes, and mountains in the distance is the scenery that awaits. Groups can parasail above scenic Lake George, ride horseback along a Long Island shoreline, or whitewater raft in the Adirondacks. Wine and craft beverage trails abound as New York produces some of the best wines, beer, spirits, and cider in the U.S.

One-of-a-kind experiences are to be had at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum in Jamestown, and the Corning Museum of Glass where Thomas Edison had his first handblown lightbulbs.


Saratoga Springs
Saratoga Springs is a sophisticated destination that wows visitors with its embrace of the past, present, and future. Those with an interest in history are delighted to learn that Saratoga Springs is a key site of the American Revolution. Its springs -- some freshwater, other carbonated -- have been attracting tourists for more than a century who believe the waters possess healing powers. Saratoga looks toward the futre as well, as this city is the heart of New York State's Tech Valley and home to GLOBALFOUNDRIES, a semiconductor manufacturer that recently opened a $4.6 billion, two-million-square-foot campus.

Saratoga Casino and Raceway has changed its name to Saratoga Casino Hotel and will be opening its $40 million, 117-room hotel in July, just steps away from the casino floor and harness track.

Amenities include Morton's The Steakhouse and the lobby bar, Perks Café, an indoor pool, outdoor terrace, fitness center, and a sub-dividable 3,000-square-foot ballroom for private events. One unusual feature is that guests will be able to watch and wager on live harness racing from every room in the hotel.

"The addition of the hotel and its amenities, including Morton's The Steakhouse, creates an entertainment experience unmatched in the region," says Rita Cox, senior vice president of marketing at Saratoga Casino Hotel. "Our new brand is a product of this transformation, highlighting that we are a complete entertainment destination within Saratoga Springs. First-time and repeat guests alike will find new reasons to visit -- and to keep coming back for all that we have to offer."

The 6,500-square-foot Morton's will seat 160 guests, and offers a private dining space for parties of up to 32. The lobby bar will seat an additional 60 guests.

This year, Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) celebrates its 50-year anniversary. SPAC hosts the New York City Ballet and The Philadelphia Orchestra in an acoustically enhanced amphitheater in the heart of Spa State Park. It presents chamber music, jazz, rock, and pop concerts, as well as opera,   the Saratoga Wine & Food Festival, and oversees the National Museum of Dance.


Rochester
This metropolitan region on the southern shores of Lake Ontario, part of New York's Finger Lakes region, is the third-largest city in New York State and is accessible by air and Amtrak, it is within a day's drive of most of the Northeast and eastern Canada. There are more than 7,500 hotel rooms in the community -- 1,200 of which are within one mile of the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

The convention center has 100,000 square feet of flexible meeting and exhibit space connected to 1,100 rooms in a trio of hotels, with an enclosed skywalk system and riverside promenade conveniently connecting them all. The convention center includes 25 meeting rooms and seating for 5,000.

The Hyatt Regency Rochester, connected to the convention center, was recently purchased by local developers and will soon undergo a $15 million renovation, which will completely transform it.

Opened in spring of 2015 is the Hilton Garden Inn Rochester Downtown, a short walk from the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

In late 2015, The Strathallan Rochester -- a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, debuted a new rooftop event space, the City View Ballroom.

ARTISANworks, a gallery of paintings, photography, three-dimensional and kinetic art, is introducing a new and unique event space, The French Quarter, designed in the theme of Mardi Gras in the heart of Bourbon Street, bringing a bit of southern flair to Rochester, NY.  


Schenectady
The DoubleTree by Hilton Schenectady has opened in the center of downtown Schenectady, just blocks away from Union College and 10 miles from Albany International Airport. The 120-room hotel with 3,700 square feet of meeting space has completed a multimillion-dollar makeover that includes the addition of a new commercial building featuring a restaurant, lounge, meeting space, pool, and exercise facility.

"Schenectady is a colorful city that has been revitalized over recent years with a number of new theaters, offices, and cultural events," says Mounssif Slaoui, general manager of DoubleTree by Hilton Schenectady.


Albany 
Amazing meetings have been happening in Albany for 400 years, and there are four centuries' worth of arts, architecture, and culture to enjoy between sessions.

From the Albany Institute of History & Art, founded in 1791, to an expanding nanotech industry, Albany is situated at the crossroads of the Northeast, a convenient destination for those who are looking for more than just meeting space.

Albany will soon have an 82,000-square-foot facility, when the $66.5 million Albany Capital Center opens its doors in March of next year. This multipurpose space will accommodate groups from 10 to 5,000 people and include 22,500 square feet of ballroom and exhibit space, 9,200 square feet of meeting space, and 13,500 square feet of pre-function space. Also on track for early 2017, the 17,000-seat Times Union Center is undergoing a $15.7 million renovation to enclose its front atrium and create 2,800 square feet of additional meeting space. Combined with the Empire State Plaza, these three facilities will make up the Capital Complex, the largest meeting space in Upstate New York, with 159,000 square feet.

On June 9, Lucky Strike Social will open its 18th location in Albany, changing its concept to include more meeting space for groups. This latest location includes an auditorium just beyond the bowling lanes, restaurants, and gaming rooms, which features a full-size stage, and state-of-the-art sound equipment. It will be a "smart room," with many different furniture options and a full food and bar menu.   



Questions or comments? Email [email protected]



This article appears in the June 2016 issue of Successful Meetings.

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
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.

WHERE TO…
MEET - Oncenter Complex
This three-city-block facility in the heart of Syracuse includes the Convention Center, War Memorial Arena, and Civic Center Theaters. The Oncenter is an SMG-managed facility with about 200,000 square feet of total flexible meeting, convention, banquet, and event space to accommodate groups and functions of all sizes.

SEE - George Eastman Museum
Founded in 1947, the world's oldest photography museum in Rochester has a collection of over 400,000 photographs from 14,000 photographers dating from the beginnings of the medium, including the largest collection of daguerreotypes outside of France. It also features 16,000 items of camera technology, 26,000 motion picture titles, and 3.5 million publicity stills and posters.

EAT - Anyela's Vineyards
Let your group loose to tour Anyela's Vineyards. Just minutes away from the lakefront village of Skaneateles, the setting is stunning and the main tasting room features local artwork, a patio with breathtaking views, and exceptional wine.


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
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.

ESSENTIAL Tool Box
CONVENTION CENTERS & FACILITIES
Syracuse's Oncenter (200,000 sf); Saratoga Springs City Center (32,000 sf); Westchester County Center (55,320 sf); Albany Capital Center is slated to open in 2017 (82,000 sf)


READERS RECOMMEND

PINNACLE AWARDS GO TO:

 Saratoga Convention & Tourism Bureau
The Sagamore Resort
 The Otesaga Resort


Rochester
This metropolitan region on the southern shores of Lake Ontario, part of New York's Finger Lakes region, is the third-largest city in New York State and is accessible by air and Amtrak, it is within a day's drive of most of the Northeast and eastern Canada. There are more than 7,500 hotel rooms in the community -- 1,200 of which are within one mile of the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

The convention center has 100,000 square feet of flexible meeting and exhibit space connected to 1,100 rooms in a trio of hotels, with an enclosed skywalk system and riverside promenade conveniently connecting them all. The convention center includes 25 meeting rooms and seating for 5,000.

The Hyatt Regency Rochester, connected to the convention center, was recently purchased by local developers and will soon undergo a $15 million renovation, which will completely transform it.

Opened in spring of 2015 is the Hilton Garden Inn Rochester Downtown, a short walk from the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

In late 2015, The Strathallan Rochester -- a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, debuted a new rooftop event space, the City View Ballroom.

ARTISANworks, a gallery of paintings, photography, three-dimensional and kinetic art, is introducing a new and unique event space, The French Quarter, designed in the theme of Mardi Gras in the heart of Bourbon Street, bringing a bit of southern flair to Rochester, NY.  


Schenectady
The DoubleTree by Hilton Schenectady has opened in the center of downtown Schenectady, just blocks away from Union College and 10 miles from Albany International Airport. The 120-room hotel with 3,700 square feet of meeting space has completed a multimillion-dollar makeover that includes the addition of a new commercial building featuring a restaurant, lounge, meeting space, pool, and exercise facility.

"Schenectady is a colorful city that has been revitalized over recent years with a number of new theaters, offices, and cultural events," says Mounssif Slaoui, general manager of DoubleTree by Hilton Schenectady.


Albany 
Amazing meetings have been happening in Albany for 400 years, and there are four centuries' worth of arts, architecture, and culture to enjoy between sessions.

From the Albany Institute of History & Art, founded in 1791, to an expanding nanotech industry, Albany is situated at the crossroads of the Northeast, a convenient destination for those who are looking for more than just meeting space.

Albany will soon have an 82,000-square-foot facility, when the $66.5 million Albany Capital Center opens its doors in March of next year. This multipurpose space will accommodate groups from 10 to 5,000 people and include 22,500 square feet of ballroom and exhibit space, 9,200 square feet of meeting space, and 13,500 square feet of pre-function space. Also on track for early 2017, the 17,000-seat Times Union Center is undergoing a $15.7 million renovation to enclose its front atrium and create 2,800 square feet of additional meeting space. Combined with the Empire State Plaza, these three facilities will make up the Capital Complex, the largest meeting space in Upstate New York, with 159,000 square feet.

On June 9, Lucky Strike Social will open its 18th location in Albany, changing its concept to include more meeting space for groups. This latest location includes an auditorium just beyond the bowling lanes, restaurants, and gaming rooms, which features a full-size stage, and state-of-the-art sound equipment. It will be a "smart room," with many different furniture options and a full food and bar menu.   



Questions or comments? Email [email protected]



This article appears in the June 2016 issue of Successful Meetings.