Here are the Country’s Top Destinations for Meeting Planners

The United States is home to three of the top destinations being eyed by meeting planners looking to book events for the coming two years.
In what should not be entirely surprising news, the cities of New York, Chicago and Las Vegas are among the most popular choices in North America, according to a new DestinationMAP (Meeting Assessment Program) study from STR.

The comprehensive study, which delves into the preferences and perceptions of meeting planners, covers 42 North American markets. It is now in its 18th edition. New York, Chicago and Las Vegas weren’t the only U.S. cities that ranked well. The other most common destinations that meeting planners are considering using in the next two years are Orlando and Washington D.C.
“All five markets are particularly popular in what we define as the largest meeting size segment (1,000+ attendees) along with Atlanta, Dallas and Austin,” Chris Klauda, STR’s senior director, market insights, said according to “New to the list of 42 markets evaluated is Puerto Rico. While not in the list of top destinations, a notable 4 percent of the 1,000 meeting planners surveyed plan to hold a meeting in Puerto Rico in the next two years.”
Additional highlights from the 2019 DestinationMAP include:

  • London was selected by more than one in four planners as an international meeting destination in the next three years followed by Paris.
  • A majority of meeting planners require more than one hotel for at least one of their events planned in the past 12 months. Not surprisingly, the largest meeting size segment was even more likely to require more than one hotel.
  • Safety, cleanliness, value and accessibility remain the most important considerations for the majority of meeting planners when selecting a meeting site.
  • All planner segments show general consistency in the magnitude of importance for most considerations. A few exceptions are association planners who place less emphasis on recreational considerations, and the largest meeting size planners who place more emphasis on logistical considerations.
  • The presence of panhandlers is an issue for meeting planners with four in 10 ruling out a destination for this reason.
  • Roughly one-fourth of meeting planners attended local/national Meetings Professionals International (MPI) and IMEX events in the last year. Just under one-third of meeting planners did not attend such events.
  • Louisville, Austin, Denver and Nashville showed the greatest year-over-year increase in group hotel demand.

Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts to Debut in Mexico with Conversion of The Resort at Pedregal, an Award-Winning and Best-in-Class Hotel Scheduled to debut this year as Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal

Known as one of the best hotels in Mexico and recently acquired by affiliates of Walton Street Capital Mexico, the luxury retreat is set on 24 acres of dramatic mountains and pristine beaches, and is primed to welcome guests with True Waldorf Service beginning Q4 2019. “As the brand’s first property to debut in Mexico, Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal showcases the brand’s commitment to expanding our luxury portfolio to some of the world’s most sought after destinations,” said Dino Michael, global head, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts. “We look forward to combining the resort’s exclusive environment and guest-focused comforts with the brand’s unparalleled commitment to personal service, and together, ensuring our guests have the experience of a lifetime.” “We are proud to own one of Mexico’s most iconic luxury resorts and look forward to uniting this stunning hotel with Waldorf Astoria’s intuitive service culture and unforgettable experiences,” said Federico Martin del Campo, CEO of Walton Street Capital Mexico. “Our guests have come to expect the very best from our properties and we are delighted to join with Waldorf Astoria to implement their unique standards of luxury service.

Along with the Conrad Punta de Mita Resort (opening early 2020) and the Hilton Los Cabos, this represents our third resort project in Mexico with Hilton, further solidifying our partnership with Hilton for many years to come. We believe there is a tremendous opportunity for Mexico’s hospitality sector to continue its historical growth trajectory, and are excited for the future of the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal.”

Guestrooms and Suites well-adorned and offering an air of sophistication, all guestrooms and suites provide ocean views, private plunge pools, and a refined, upscale design inspired by the surrounding area’s natural elements. A fusion of modern luxury and authentic Mexican style, the exceptionally appointed rooms and suites feature neutral color palettes of beiges and browns and marble floors, as well as natural elements in wood lamps and tables. Guests are pampered with rainforest showers, stand-alone bathtubs, outdoor areas with fire pits, private chefs and more. Amenities offering an unmatched level of world-class amenities, the resort features three swimming pools including an infinity pool flowing into the horizon of the Pacific Ocean, a salt water pool and a children’s pool. Luna y Mar Spa, which received its third consecutive Forbes Travel Guide 5 Star recognition along with the overall resort, allows guests to select from a variety of organic treatments inspired by the lunar cycle, the sea and authentic Mexican folk healing, including herbal detoxes and rose crystal lymphatic facials. The luxurious spa offers a wellness grotto with local herbal remedies, steam rooms, saunas, ice rooms, whirlpools and a salt-water meditation pool.

A one-of-a-kind oceanfront escape, the exquisite resort boasts a variety of culinary options: As the resort’s signature restaurant, Don Manuel’s utilizes ingredients sourced locally and regionally to serve up authentic dishes within a Mexican hacienda.

The cliffside El Farallon offers an ocean-to-table menu developed by a culinary team that guides foodies in selecting side dish and wine pairings against the sound of crashing waves.  In the center of the pool bar sits Crudo, which incorporates local flavors into casual fare including a variety of fresh ceviche and sushi for light midday meals.  The Beach Club is popular for its freshly caught fish and crisps, and the organic vegetables from local farmers, that go into crafting featured dishes such as spiced pork belly buns and braised Angus brisket tacos.

Guests can arrange for a private chef in the comfort of their suites for personalized meals on their terraces or indulge in handcrafted cocktails from one of the resort’s on demand cocktail carts available throughout the property.

Marriott entering all-inclusive resort business

Marriott International wants a piece of the lucrative all-inclusive resort business, as it faces a lawsuit over ‘drip pricing’ of resort fees, the company is also keen to offer an all-inclusive pricing model.  It announced two new all-inclusive resort developments that will cost more than $800 million.

It will introduce an all-inclusive 650-room hotel in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic as well as a multi-brand project in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico. This will include the first ever all-inclusive Ritz-Carlton along with branded properties for Westin Marriott and the Autograph Collection.

“What’s disappointing to us is when one of our loyal customers says, I want to have an all-inclusive experience in a given destination, and by virtue of the fact that we don’t have that offering, it causes them to go outside of our system,” said Tony Capuano, global chief development officer at Marriott. “Our new all-inclusive resort platform is a natural progression for Marriott International. It will provide the ownership community a game-changing value proposition for their luxury and premium resort projects.”

The company plans to expand the concept globally through new builds and conversions.

The all-inclusive Autograph Collection hotel planned for Punta Cana is being developed by Bulgaria based DIT Hotels, while Mexico City-based Artha Capital is handling the four-brand development in Riviera Nayarit. The four Marriott hotels will anchor the ‘NIA’ development, a new all-inclusive resort destination.

Banyan Tree Mayakoba announces $50 million expansion as iconic Riviera Maya Resort celebrates its 10th Anniversary

Banyan Tree Mayakoba, an all pool-villa resort nestled on the Caribbean coast of Mexico’s famed Riviera Maya, today unveiled a substantial expansion and renovation plan that will introduce 40 new keys, including several new room types such as overwater pool villas and beachfront suites, as well as an expanded beach club, new dining options, swimming pools, kids’ programming and more.

Last month, the resort opened its new MK Blue event space, all part of a $50M investment as the property celebrates its 10th anniversary and continues to evolve, positioning itself as the premier luxury offering in Mexico’s exclusive Mayakoba resort community.

Internationally-renowned Sordo Madaleno Architects is overseeing the expansion project, which draws inspiration from multi-sensorial experiences and fuses the warmth of Mexican hospitality and traditions with the intimacy that is the Banyan Tree standard, creating a comfortable luxury that soaks in the resort’s tropical setting of turquoise sea, meandering waterways, plush lagoons and mangrove forests.  “It’s an exciting time as we reinvest back into the resort in honor of our 10th year. These enhancements come as a direct result of listening to our guests’ feedback. We know today’s discerning traveler is looking for high-design, private villas; innovative dining options serving fresh, local cuisine; and more robust kids’ clubs,” said Banyan Tree Mayakoba General Manager Peter Hechler. “These new villas will be a bit of a departure from the existing accommodations in terms of design, while still embracing and celebrating our unique natural setting in a new way. We’re proud to evolve and grow while maintaining the same level of luxury service and intimacy that our guests expect.”

The three new accommodation types, all situated along the ocean and lagoon, include:

Lagoon Sunset Pool Villas – The resort’s first overwater villas are gently placed in the crystal-clear lagoon, just steps away from the beach. These two-story villas span 2,385 square feet with an open layout and organically-infused indoor-outdoor atmosphere. The spacious bedroom features a king bed and extends to an outdoor shower and whirlpool bathtub, while a private solarium offers a sunset-view heated plunge pool.

Sands Beach Club

The new, 43,000-square-foot Sands Beach Club will encompass two expanded oceanfront pools and an all-day dining oceanfront Mexican restaurant and seafood market with an adjacent chic raw bar, as well as beachfront lounge and library, a larger interactive Rangers Club for kids with a pool, and ocean view massage rooms operated by the Banyan Tree Spa. With the space completely open to the sea breeze, senses will illuminate with sight, touch, sound and scent, which are highlighted in the exterior architecture and interior decor, merging into a single essential space where nature flows from the outside to the inside, and vice versa.

MK Blue

Also part of the expansion, the resort debuted MK Blue in June 2019. This all-new 10,358-square-foot indoor-outdoor event space is located near the resort’s main entrance and features unobstructed views of the nearby waterways and tropical forests. The space features 7,885 square feet of indoor function space, as well as a 2,500-square-foot outdoor terrace. The roofed outdoor venue is designed with a raw and organic feel, effortlessly immersed in nature. MK Blue comfortably seats 550 guests and features state-of-the-art AV and production equipment, along with a premium selection of the best décor suppliers in the area.