by Michael J. Shapiro | November 01, 2012
The Pennsylvania Convention Center eliminated its 8 percent labor-management fee in July. Other customer-service enhancements at the facility include mandatory hospitality training of workers, a customer-service booth on the show floor, and increased transparency of labor rates and hours. Labor rates now are posted online at Other changes, based on suggestions from customers, include a new dedicated break area for workers and a ban on workers using mobile devices or cell phones on the show floor.

The 268-room Hotel Monaco Philadelphia opened early last month across from the Liberty Bell and Independence Park. An adaptive reuse of the historical Lafayette Building combines historic architecture with modern design. The property has 13,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 3,300-square-foot ballroom. The on-site Red Owl Tavern offers streetside dining, and the Stratus Lounge is the city's largest rooftop bar.

Construction began in April on the 246-room Hilton Home2 Suites Philadelphia Center City, slated to open in the summer of 2013. The site is adjacent to the convention center and will provide more than 2,000 square feet of its own meeting space, as well as 9,750 square feet for ground-floor retail and restaurant space.

Construction could begin next year on a W Hotel on Chestnut Street. The development would happen on a site previously slated to become a Waldorf Astoria, a project that was shelved in 2009 due to the recession.  Starwood Hotels & Resorts has no details to report yet, but the company is "committed to actively working with Chestlen Development" to make it happen. Plans originally were announced six years ago for a W property in the city at 12th and Arch streets, next to the Pennsylvania Convention Center; construction began last spring on the Hilton Home2 Suites on that site.

The 180-room Sheraton Valley Forge Hotel opened in September, just outside of Philadelphia in King of Prussia, Pa. The property offers 25,000 square feet of meeting space, including 13 conference rooms and two executive boardrooms. A fitness center, an indoor pool and a restaurant also are on-site.

Meeting Hotels
Larger properties in the Center City neighborhood, in the vicinity of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, include the 1,408-room Philadelphia Marriott Downtown; 757-room Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel; 581-room Loews Philadelphia Hotel; 498-room Courtyard Philadelphia Downtown; 445-room Crowne Plaza Philadelphia; 432-room DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Philadelphia Center City; 364-room Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia; 313-room Westin Philadelphia; 306-room Hotel Sofitel Philadelphia; 301-room Radisson Plaza--Warwick Hotel Philadelphia; and 300-room Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia.

Convention Center
Pennsylvania Convention Center; exhibit space, 679,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 79; (215) 418-4700 or (800) 428-9000

Occupancy tax, 8.2%; sales tax, 7%; total tax on hotel rooms, 15.2%

Group Venue
Philly's Freedom EliteThe Freedom Elite, a new private charter yacht, cruises the Delaware River year-round, offering picturesque views of Philadelphia's skyline. The 92-foot upscale vessel docks at Penn's Landing and can accommodate groups of 40 to 110 guests. Harbor cruise company Entertainment Cruises, which operates the yacht, can work with planners to customize the event and menu. (866) 394-8439

Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, (215) 636-3300