The following accompanies "Meeting Cities Whose Names Won't Cause a Stir," by Hunter R. Slaton (M&C, July 2009).
Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau
(800) 635-5240; boise.org
Boise is the 208,000-person capital of Idaho and the Pacific Northwest's third-largest city. Its population passed Spokane, Washington's in 2001, and now trails only Seattle and Portland, Ore. Boise is a great outdoorsy choice for meeting planners whose attendees might like a hike after the day's events are ended -- the city's well-loved Greenbelt path runs 25 miles along the shores of the Boise River.
Downtown, Boise's primary convention center is the Boise Centre, which is within walking distance of 800 hotel rooms. Meeting properties within walking distance of the convention center include the posh 252-room Grove Hotel, Boise's only four-diamond property; the 186-room Hampton Inn & Suites, and the recently renovated, 100-room Owyhee Plaza Hotel, which will turn a century old in 2010.
Also nearby are a pair of refreshingly hip, well-designed boutique hotels: the 112-room Hotel 43 and the 41-room Hotel Modern, both of which will wow attendees. The Idaho Statesman newspaper, for one, favorably compared the former to Sin City itself when it proclaimed Hotel 43 to be possessed of a "Bellagio-style cool."
The Boise Centre (800-635-5240, boisecentre.org) is a smallish convention center, with 24,000-square-feet of column-free exhibit space and a 24,000-square-foot ballroom. It has 20 meeting rooms which can accommodate groups as small as 20 or as large as 2,900 in theater-style seating. Appropriately enough for the eco-conscious Gem State, the Boise Centre is bullish on green initiatives: It pushes recycling, is heated by a geothermal system and uses cups, utensils and food containers made from corn and other recyclable and compostable materials.
Boise Airport receives direct flights from 18 cities, including Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Francisco and Seattle.