Foxwoods Poised to Double Meetings Business

Foxwoods is on schedule to launch a major salvo against casino rival Mohegan Sun and hospitality competitors from New York to Boston on May 17, when it debuts MGM Grand at Foxwoods—a $700-million casino, hotel, and entertainment complex—next to the original Foxwoods Casino Resort. Conducting a sneak-preview tour of the MGM Grand venue in late February attended by MeetingNews, Foxwoods senior VP and GM Gillian Murphy and resort sales VP Joan Esneault said the resort would make a bold statement on the Northeast's meetings market.

Foxwoods is looking to snatch regional associations and corporate groups of up to 5,000 attendees out of the hands of destinations up and down the Northeast Corridor, the executives said, but especially from New York and Boston. Small national groups are on the radar screen, too. Meetings currently represent 15 percent of Foxwoods' total revenue, but Murphy expects MGM Grand at Foxwoods to raise that figure to between 30 and 35 percent. It's no coincidence, then, that MGM Grand at Foxwoods' 115,000 sf of meeting space will essentially be twice as much as the 55,000 sf at Foxwoods Casino Resort. The new complex is projected to assume the lion's share of Foxwoods'meetings business.

Connected to Foxwoods Casino Resort by a 250-yard skybridge, MGM Grand at Foxwoods is already winning back, in prebookings, some groups that had been lost due to lack of space, said Murphy, as she led press members through the new complex's 50,000-, 25,000-, and 15,000-sf ballrooms. The 50,000-sf pillarless grand ballroom is slated to become the largest in the Northeast, which will draw new groups and larger ones.

"The junior ballroom, with lots of breakouts, will especially suit pharmaceutical and financial groups," Murphy added.

Other meeting spaces will be a 20-person executive boardroom with a private bathroom, as well as 5,400- and 8,500-sf outdoor reception areas. A 4,000-seat theater will be available for large groups. The new hotel will feature 825 guest rooms, and a destination management company will be on site full-time. MGM Grand at Foxwoods will also have celebrity-chef restaurants, brand-name retail, a 21,000-sf spa, and a 20,000-sf Asian-themed nightclub with a 40-person private lounge for groups.

Originally published March 24, 2008