Salt Lake City Grows As a Meetings Destination

Salt Lake City's reputation as a meetings destination is on the rise

Wasatch Mountains Skyline

Where to MEET, Shop, and Stay
Grand America Hotel 
The only AAA Five-Diamond hotel in Salt Lake City, the 775-room Grand America Hotel has Italian marble bathrooms, free Wi-Fi, and 75,000 square feet of meeting space, a 35,000-square-foot Center Courtyard garden, three ballrooms, 20 meeting rooms, and a 20,000-square-foot, 18-treatment-room Grand Spa.

Moab Adventure Center 
Located in the heart of the red rocks territory between Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, the Moab Adventure Center offers a wide variety of activities that take advantage of some of the most beautiful views in the country, including hummer tours and hot air balloon rides, hiking and canyoneering, paddleboarding and zip-lining, horseback riding and mountain biking.

St. Regis Deer Valley 
Located at the base of the Wasatch Mountains, the 181-room St. Regis Deer Valley has 7,500 square feet of indoor and 7,000 square feet of outdoor event space, as well as a 14,000-square-foot Remède Spa and J&G Grill by Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

The Wasatch Mountains provide Salt Lake City with a stunning backdrop

Salt Lake City had a banner year, cracking Cvent's list of top 50 U.S. cities for meetings and events, which is based on booking activity such as RFPs received and room-nights booked.

"To be ranked, for the first time, among the top cities for meetings and events in the U.S. is exciting," says Scott Beck, president and CEO of Visit Salt Lake, the city's convention and visitors bureau. "This ranking reflects our entire community's commitment to the meetings industry and will hopefully encourage even more groups to consider Salt Lake as a destination for their corporate meetings and events."

With Salt Lake City already home to one of the most convention-friendly public transport systems in the country, Utah's new and efficient TRAX light-rail system became even more convenient in 2012 with the opening of the Green Line airport connection. It costs just $2.50 and goes directly to the Salt Palace Convention Center and convention district hotels.

"We're very fortunate that we have a robust public transportation system -- including buses, but really starring our light-rail line, TRAX," says Mark White, vice president of sales for Visit Salt Lake. "Within the convention district there is no fee [for public transit] -- folks can hop on and hop off. So, we save the attendees a little bit there. But I think the bigger impact is folks being able to navigate around on the light rail system."

Aside from the Salt Palace convention center and many of the convention district's hotels, the TRAX line also stops at a number of venues that are popular for evening events, White adds. That includes the City Creek Center outdoor entertainment district and Gallivan Center plaza, where many large conventions hold opening and closing receptions, he says, as well as venues further afield like the University of Utah; Red Butte Garden and Arboretum; the Utah Museum of Fine Art; and the Natural History Museum of Utah.

"Here, a group might be looking at a $50,000 shuttle bill, which is not unheard of for a larger convention of say 6,000 people (depending upon the city they're in)," White says. "If we can cut that in half or more, that is money in the pockets of the host organization."

Among the newest venues in town is the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, which opened on March 25 in Draper, UT, about 20 minutes from Salt Lake City. The 136,000-square-foot aquarium has dedicated banquet facilities for up to 800 for a reception-style set up, and can handle 2,500 in total.

Another piece of good news for planners is that the city and state governments are moving forward on a plan to bring a privately built, 1,000-room convention center hotel with substantial additional meeting facilities to the Salt Palace Convention Center.

Salt Palace Convention Center (679,000 sf)

Salt Lake City: 12.6 percent
Park City: 10.45 percent

Pinnacle Awards Go To:

 Park City Convention & Visitors Bureau
 Visit Salt Lake
 The St. Regis Deer Valley

Park City 
Park City is internationally known as a great skiing destination that hosted many events during the 2002 Winter Olympics, but its reputation in the spring and summer season is growing, too. This is thanks in part to the great outdoor sports such as mountain biking and hiking found in the area, but there's more to it than that.  

For one thing, Park City is also getting a reputation for its dining scene, which has grown to more than 100 restaurants, many focused on small plates, farm-to-table, and locally sourced cuisine, as well as a number of food tours and culinary festivals. The award-winning High West Distillery & Saloon is not only expanding its group dining facilities on Main Street, but is also partnering with nearby Blue Sky Lodge, a 60-room ranch with four meeting and event rooms, to build a new production facility with event capabilities.

The Utah Olympic Park offers sports and event venues year-round, while the local rivers provide water sports, and hot-air ballooning remains a popular way to see the area's incredible natural beauty. Even the fall foliage is getting a reputation outside the Salt Lake area.

The golf options are growing as well, with the Canyons Resort building a new par-70 golf course that will feature 1,000-foot elevation changes and spectacular views of the surrounding Wasatch and Utina mountains. It is scheduled for completion next spring.