Proving Boston Strong is more than a catchphrase, not even record-breaking blizzards could stop the city’s meetings business in 2015. The city dug itself out from the snow and kept going. In fact, companies do well to visit Boston. “Our attendee numbers go up when we plan an event here,” says Cara Pratt, director of sales for Destination Partners Inc., a DMC Network Company. (Read her Boston Case study). “We’ve had so many record-breaking groups because people want to experience the history and culture of the city.”
Whether your group wants to catch a Sox game or hit Beantown’s slick restaurant scene, head north knowing that from hot new hotels to familiar standbys, all your bases are covered.
The number of international meetings in Boston continues to grow. In 2013, Boston and nearby Cambridge hosted a record number of 56 international meetings, up from 44 in 2012, making it the No. 1 U.S. destination on the list.
Source: International Congress and Convention Association
In the basement of the old city police precinct (now the 225-room Loews Boston Hotel) in the Back Bay, the new Precinct Kitchen + Bar is available for buyouts and corporate dinners. It’s famous for its clambake, with Wellfleet Cape Cod clams, PEI mussels, shrimp and lobster.
If you’re near Beacon Hill, swing by Scampo. Local chef Lydia Shire set up shop at 298-room, four-diamond The Liberty, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Boston (a former prison with loads of ambience) to show off her creative menu. The restaurant’s private dining space accommodates 45 for a seated dinner and 60 for a reception.
State of the Art
The Fogg Museum at Harvard University, located in Cambridge, finally reopened in November 2014 to be rechristened as Harvard Art Museums. Originally opened in 1927, it closed its doors in 2008 and underwent a major renovation and expansion over the past seven years. The renovated structure brings together the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger and Arthur M. Sackler Museums and their collections under one roof for the first time. Exceptional spaces throughout the property, including the terrace and garden, are being reimagined for events for the first time in almost a decade.
The Colonnade Hotel, a four-diamond, 285-room property in the heart of the Back Bay, has a new artsy aesthetic that is more hip apartment than hotel room, thanks to a recent $25 million makeover. Among its accolades are two small ballrooms (measuring 4,400 and 2,400 square feet, respectively) and Boston’s only rooftop pool deck, which hosts live music, private parties and happy hours when Mother Nature isn’t in a mood. The on-site Brasserie Jo, a classic Parisian bistro, can accommodate private dinners for up to 100 in its Salon Prive. And, like a proud baseball-crazed Bostonian, world-renowned French chef Jean Joho brings his A game to this beloved eatery.
Room to Grow
There are many historic properties around town, but a slew of new ones are moving in on the city’s waterfront. Near Fenway Park, the cool Verb Hotel (see our gallery), an unconventional 94-room property, opened in summer 2014. The hip property feels more Austin, Texas, than Boston, incorporating rare music and pop culture memorabilia from Beantown’s heritage. A 330-room Aloft hotel and a 180-room Element hotel will open opposite the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center this year as part of a $158 million development project. In Fort Point, an up-and-coming neighborhood near the Seaport District, the $70 million, 136-room Envoy Hotel opens this summer near the famous restaurant The Barking Crab. It will have a rooftop terrace and link to the Boston Harborwalk via a pedestrian plaza. Finally, this fall, The Godfrey Hotel, a 242-room luxury boutique property with a full-service restaurant and a spa center, will debut downtown.
Upping Your Game
For an incentive trip aimed at the sports nut, it really doesn’t get any better than a trip to Fenway Park (the historic ballpark has six venues for corporate events and meetings)—except to bunk at Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square, the official hotel of the Boston Red Sox. Work with the hotel to score amenities like front-row tickets to a Red Sox game (facing the visitors’ on-deck circle, no less) and VIP access to batting practice.
In addition to its famous Baseball Suite, the 149-room property recently unveiled several other new themed suites. One is fashioned after legendary rock club The Rathskeller, which once stood where the Commonwealth is now. Soon, even more spaces will be available—a renovation currently underway is adding a large ballroom, five meeting rooms and an outdoor terrace facing Fenway Park. It’s expected to be completed by summer.
Attendees wanting a fashion fix can head eight minutes north of Boston to Assembly Row, the result of a $1.2 billion expansion to Assembly Square in Somerville in 2014. The mall has 10 football fields of shopping along a 6-acre riverfront park. In town, fashionable Newbury Street is lined with beautiful Boston brownstones and plays host to every big-name designer and retailer imaginable (Cynthia Rowley, Diane von Furstenberg and Kate Spade, for starters).