Vegas, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Miami, and Houston are destination cities that get most of the large event action in the United States. San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas, and Atlanta are the second-tier cities that also accommodate large events.
But as more and more companies see the value of face-to-face interaction with customers and employees, the number of smaller incentive and training events grows apace with blockbuster events, and the attendee demographic shifts toward Gen Y’s and Millennials.
Planners are constantly challenged to find better boutique destination cities that fit both the size and the demographic of these proliferating smaller events. Premier Meeting Services scours the nation evaluating smaller cities that are a better fit for the many smaller meeting and training events that we manage. Here is the current list of our top five boutique markets in the United States. This list is constantly evolving and we will update it here in this blog every ninety days.
Top Five Boutique Destination Cities
1. Savannah, Georgia
The old-school charm of horse drawn carriages and cobblestone streets that mark this walkable city would be enough to recommend it alone. Savannah, the nation’s largest historic district, is decorated with floral landscaping, gracious front porches, white columned mansions, wide streets, and 24 public squares. The first planned city in America was laid out into grids by General James Oglethorpe, who named the state of Georgia after King George. Because of its beauty and charm, Savannah was the only city spared by General Sherman on his march to the sea during the Civil War.
The Lady and Sons, Paula Dean’s landmark restaurant, anchors a varietal and distinctly southern fusion culinary scene, while mid-sized boutique hotels and a modern convention center complete the southern hospitality conventioneers will enjoy when visiting Savannah.
2. Greenville, South Carolina
Most everyone knows Savannah, but few have ever heard of Greenville, South Carolina. Known as “the new Austin” because of its dining scene with more than 110 restaurants representing 27 different ethnic cuisines, Greenville is the perfect meeting location for young companies interested in vigorous outdoor activity.
- The Gorge Zip Line Canopy Tour is a three-and-a-half-hour trip above the famous Green River Gorge on 11 zip lines, 2 huge rappels, and a sky bridge, while dropping 1100 vertical feet from start to finish.
- The BMW Performance Center – attendees get to drive the newest, high tech BMW vehicles around a 1.7-mile test track. This is the ultimate adult playground.
- Chimney Rock State Park – attendees can experience the thrill of hiking the 499-step Outcroppings Trail to the 315-foot Chimney Rock, where they’ll see an amazing 75-mile view of Hickory Nut Gorge and the Carolina Piedmont.
Five major airlines service the International Airport and the TD Convention Center contains almost 280,000 sq. ft. of convention space.
3. Monterey, California
In his masterpiece, Cannery Row, John Steinbeck made Monterey, California a household name in America. However, even Steinbeck did not adequately describe the raw beauty of the northern California coastline.
A drive along the Big Sur is to steep yourself in the world’s most unique ecology. It is considered the top road trip in America.
A round of golf at Pebble Beach, five miles from Monterey, is on the bucket list of every weekend golfer in the world.
Monterey’s conference center offers 41,000sq.ft. of exhibit or meeting space and the boutique lodging, Cannery Row, and Fisherman’s Wharf are once in a lifetime historic and ecological experiences.
Outdoorsmen from around the world have traveled to the pounding surf, rocky cliffs, and windy hiking trails along the Northern California coast.
4. Colorado Springs, Colorado
The Broadmoor, a AAA Five-Diamond resort, has inspired the adventuresome spirit of the West since 1918. Bring your outdoor, granola attendees to The Broadmoor for your next meeting and turn them loose for rafting, mountain climbing, shooting, golf, fly fishing, horseback riding, and falconry. That’s right…falconry. You never know.
The Colorado Springs Airport provides nonstop service to 17 destinations by six major carriers, and the Broadmoor World Arena holds 9,000 people while boasting 19,500 sq. ft. of exhibition space.
5. Lake Placid, New York
If your bank employees are not invited to the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland do not despair. Hold your next meeting at Lake Placid, New York.
Lake Placid was the home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. High in the Adirondack Mountains, the little town is within a two-hour drive from airports in Burlington, Vermont, Montreal, and Albany, New York.
The Herb Brooks Arena holds 5,000 event guests and ski lodge hotel accommodations abound. If that mountain high, winter ski resort feel so envied in Davos is what you’re after, Lake Placid should be on your event destination list.