New England

Hoofing it in Hartford
A new 270-foot bridge, named for late Mayor Mike Peters, links the Connecticut Convention Center to the Connecticut Science Center.

Boston
The city has booked a record number of events this year, signing the highest number of future happenings at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center and the Hynes Convention Center  since 2007. In June, a state panel recommended a $2 billion expansion of the BCEC, allowing the project to clear the first of several hurdles. The expansion, which would nearly double the size of the facility, needs the backing of the city and the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, as well as the approval of the state legislature. The project would include the construction of an adjacent hotel with a possible 1,200 rooms.
 
Boston's 294-room Charles Hotel has debuted its new Corbu Spa and Salon. The 4,000-square-foot spa offers seven treatment rooms; some products used are made by spa director Pamela Baldwin Adami, mixing in locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. The property offers more than 18,000 square feet of meeting space.

The 803 guest rooms at the Westin Copley Place have been redone at a cost of $18 million. The property, which has 54,000 square feet of meeting space in 29 rooms, is connected to the Hynes Convention Center by skybridge.

As part of a $20 million refurbishment project, a new fitness center will open in late fall at the 383-room Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. Renovations to the guest rooms will begin in mid-November, to be completed by spring 2012, in time for the hotel's 100th anniversary. Some enhancements to the 23,000 square feet of meeting space will take place, with details to come.

The new Northern Avenue Liberty Wharf, within walking distance of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, features the 20,000-square-foot Legal Harborside restaurant, Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House, Jerry Remy's Sports Bar and Grill, and Temazcal Tequila Cantina, serving a gourmet Mexican menu.

Renovations of the public areas of the 391-room Boston Marriott Long Wharf were completed this summer. The lobby, lounge and fitness center were redone, and the Oceana restaurant was turned into the 3,600-square-foot Harborview Ballroom hosting up to 120. A new restaurant also was added, called Waterline.

At the 400-room Royal Sonesta Hotel Boston, $6 million has been spent to renovate the 200 guest rooms in the East Wing. The work involved new décor and adding several energy-saving systems.

A new $135 million wing for the Isabella Stew­art Gardner Museum, designed by Renzo Piano, opens in January 2012. In the meantime, the facility is unavailable for group events. Also in January, the refurbished Tapestry Room will reopen, and the facility once again will welcome group business.

The 235-room W Boston has been sold to the Pebblebrook Hotel Trust for a reported $89.5 million. The two-year-old hotel in the city's theater district offers approximately 5,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Capital Grille of Boston, formerly found in Newbury Street, reopened in the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center in August. The fine-dining restaurant seats 315 and offers a patio and five private dining rooms.

Meeting Hotels
There are more than 22,000 guest rooms in Boston and Cambridge combined, and 36,715 rooms in Greater Boston. To explore the variety of hotel options, visit mcvenues.com.

Convention Centers
Boston Convention & Exhibition Center; exhibit space, 516,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 84; (617) 954-2000

John B. Hynes Vet­erans Memorial Con­vention Center; exhibit space, approximately 174,980 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 35; (617) 954-2000

Seaport World Trade Center; exhibit space, approx­imately 118,800 square feet; meeting rooms, 40; (617) 385-5000 or (800) 440-3318

Airport Transit
Lo­gan Inter­national Airport, about three miles from downtown Boston and one mile from the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. Transfer cost by taxi, $20 to $35; by Silver Line rapid transit bus, $2

Taxes
Room tax, 14.45%; sales tax, 6.25%, total tax on hotel rooms, 14.45%

Group Venue
Dish from the Harvest restaurantFans of TV's Iron Chef will delight in dining at Harvest on Harvard Square in Cambridge, as chef Mary Dumont has competed on the popular show twice. Aside from her takes on the "fresh and local" trends, the establishment also features cozy indoor and outdoor fireplaces along with three private dining rooms holding 14 to 65 people. Groups of up to 120 can take over the whole restaurant. (617) 868-2255

Contact
Greater Bos­ton Convention & Visitors Bureau, (617) 867-8256

 

> Surf and turf: Follow a harbor cruise with dinner on land.

 

FOR MORE NEW ENGLAND:> Newport, R.I. 
> Providence, R.I.

Connecticut's Casino Getaways
The two casino resorts in Connecticut continue to expand. Four hotels are on-site at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, offering a total of 2,200 guest rooms and 150,000 square feet of meeting space. The 825-room Grand Pequot Tower and the 312-room Great Cedar Hotel sit above the casino; the 825-room MGM Grand at Foxwoods features a 50,000-square-foot ballroom, while the 280-room Two Trees Inn offers a more rustic stay.


Groups of up to 800 have the new 35,000-square-foot High Rollers bowling lounge to play in. It offers 20 lanes, eight pool tables and a lounge with fireplace; three private rooms hold 20 to 100 people. The Comix comedy club welcomes events for up to 350.



Display at Foxwoods Princess Dianas tiara

On exhibit at the property until Jan. 15 is Diana, a Celebration, featuring the late Princess Diana's gorgeous wedding dress complete with 25-foot train. Also on display are the diamond tiara she wore that fateful day, 28 other dresses and more memorabilia.

Nearby, at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, the completely remodeled Seasons Buffet reopened in June with nearly 800 seats. The 26,000 square-foot restaurant also has private and semiprivate dining areas and live cooking stations. A new John Tunney eatery called Ballo Italian Restaurant and Social Club, modeled after a Gothic 12th-century abbey in Tuscany, was scheduled to open this summer but has been pushed back to later this month. A much larger project, a $740 million expansion to the casino resort that was announced before the recession, remains on hold.

Mohegan Sun currently features 1,200 hotel rooms and the 22,000-square-foot Elemis Spa. Approximately 100,000 square feet of meeting space includes the 38,000-square-foot Uncas Ballroom, more than 30 breakout rooms and a 17,500-square-foot sun terrace for outdoor events.




Newport, R.I.
At the historic Hotel Viking, a $3 million renovation has been completed, including a revamp of 136 rooms in the Newport Wing. The 209-room property offers more than 14,000 square feet of meeting facilities, the SpaTerre with six treatment rooms, and the One Bellevue fine-dining and seafood restaurant.

Opened last year, the 28-suite Forty 1° North is a boutique hotel featuring more than 16,500 square feet of waterfront event space in The Grill. The property was built to LEED specifications, with eco-friendly practices and features available throughout.

The 20-room Chanler at Cliff Walk has opened the John Easton's Room, accommodating up to 30 for small meetings. The room overlooks the seaside town's famous Cliff Walk. The luxury property also offers a boardroom seating 10.

Meeting Hotels
 Properties include the 319-room New­port Marriott, 264-room Hyatt Regency Newport Hotel & Spa, 209-room Hotel Viking, 199-room Best Western The Mainstay Inn, 148-room Courtyard Newport Middletown and 133-room Newport Harbor Hotel & Marina.

Airport Transit
T.F. Green Airport, approximately 25 miles north of Newport. Transfer cost by taxi, $75-90; by shuttle, $25 each way

Taxes
Room tax, 6%; sales tax, 7%; total tax on hotel rooms, 13%

Group Venues
The Regatta Place is Newport's newest setting for elegant events, featuring world-class cuisine and views of the yachts in the marina. This secluded waterfront retreat accommodates up to 190 guests, with an outdoor terrace for additional seating. (401) 841-8868

The Barking Crab whips up lobster and crab feasts in the heart of Newport. The indoor dining area seats 110, while the outdoor covered patio seats 120. (617) 426-2722

The Newport Dinner Train captivates guests with views of Narragansett Bay. Recognized by the Food Network for dining excellence, the venue's restored, vintage passenger cars serve up to 192 guests. (800) 398-7427

SportsThe International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum
Newport is home of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum, which features more than 20,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, videos and memorabilia. Recently inducted into the hall was Andre Agassi, thanks to his eight grand-slam tournament titles and Olympic gold metal. The hall of fame offers both indoor and outdoor event space for 20 to 120 guests. (401) 849-3990

The Newport Yachting Center hosts several boat shows and events in the heart of downtown. This venue can hold any size event of from 20 to 20,000 guests. The Sunset Terrace offers views of Narragansett Bay and the Newport Bridge for 325 guests, while the Harborview Veranda boasts of a waterfront patio and tent for 500. (401) 846-2610

CVB Services
Newport & Bristol County Convention & Visitors Bureau, (800) 976-5122

Providence, R.I.
The 163-room NYLO Providence/Warwick reopened in August, finally recovering from the spring 2010 floods that filled the first floor. The property offers 1,450 square feet of meeting space and The Loft restaurant.

Meeting Hotels
 Properties in the Providence/Warwick area include the 564-room Westin Pro­vi­dence, 351-room Providence Marriott Downtown, 291-room Providence Bilt­more, 274-room Hilton Providence, 274-room Renaissance Providence Hotel and 266-room Crowne Plaza Hotel Providence-Warwick.

Convention Center
Rhode Island Convention Center; exhibit space, approximately 100,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 23; (401) 458-6000

Airport Transit
T.F. Green Airport, about 8.5 miles from downtown Providence. Transfer cost by taxi, $30

Taxes
Room tax, 6%; sales tax, 7%; total tax on hotel rooms, 13%

Group Venues
Chef Jeffrey Burgess, who spent three years cooking in Italy, applies his knowledge well at Zooma on Federal Hill, Providence's own Little Italy neighborhood. Fresh and local are the catchwords here, for everything from the produce to the seafood. (401) 383-2002

Sticking with a cooking theme, the Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson & Wales University houses 500,000 culinary artifacts, some more than 5,000 years old. The facility holds 160 for a dinner and 350 for a reception; inside the museum is a charming diner display that can host dinners of up to 40 and receptions for 60 people. (401) 598-2805

CVB Services
Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau, (401) 456-0200 or (800) 233-1636

 


> Find the grass: Pick up the app for Rhode Island's state parks here.

 

FOR MORE NEW ENGLAND:> Boston
> Newport, R.I.