Wish You Were Here
Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Issue: May June 2013
Hotels That Cater To Delegates Traveling With Families & Children
By: Gloria M. Herbert
African-Americans have historically taken along family members and combined business trips with getaway vacations. It was common practice for Black delegates to arrive a few days early or stay a few days after the conference ended in order to spend some quality leisure time with loved ones. This practice even increased after 9/11 when general market travelers, brought face-to-face with their motility, experienced a similar need to spend more time with family and friends. Here then are a few possibilities for hotels and resorts that offer superb meeting facilities as well as great family friendly fun activities and recreational opportunities.



FOXWOODS RESORT, MASHANTUCKET, CT
Each of their unique properties sets the stage for creating your ultimate Foxwoods experience. The Grand Pequot Tower is the perfect combination of traditional elegance and uncompromising comfort. The newly renovated Great Cedar Hotel is perfect for those with a thirst for adventure. The stylish MGM Grand at Foxwoods bustles with high voltage energy and superb service. The welcoming Two Trees Inn is preferred by guests who want to hedge their bets by combining the simple pleasures of a country inn with lively casino action just a short walk or shuttle ride away.

Choose Foxwoods for your next meeting, conference or trade show and enjoy working with their experienced and friendly team who will ensure your event is flawless. Whether for 10 attendees or 2,000, they have a variety of flexible options including 150,000 sq. ft. of conference space, four award-winning hotels with 2,200 deluxe rooms and suites, and a wide range of world-class business and entertainment amenities. All under one roof.

Are you or any of the family members traveling with you serious foodies looking for sophisticated award-winning cuisine? Perhaps you are a grab and go type of guest. Or do you simply want a night out with family and good food? Foxwoods Resort Casino is the perfect destination with 38 restaurants that include stars of the culinary world and familiar casual dining that is constantly evolving.

Looking for some family oriented entertainment? It’s game on for gamers of all ages at the Foxwoods Tree House with over 100 of today’s top video games, classic arcade games, pinball machines, and much more. The whole clan can win tickets and redeem them for great prizes at this multi-level arcade that offers an enormous redemption counter including hundreds of toys, gifts, apparel, and electronics.

While Foxwods may be known for superb meeting space, gaming, fine dining and entertainment, don’t overlook its luxurious spa facilities and two championship golf courses for those family members that are searching for tranquility at the hands of expertly trained staff of professionals, or who yearn for an opportunity to stroke a few balls surrounded by stunning vistas ad magnificent settings.

Foxwoods Resort Casino, the largest resort casino in North America, is owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. For more information visit ww.foxwoods.com.

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QUEEN MARY, LONG BEACH, CA

It is said that the Queen Mary is not just a hotel, but a journey. Considered one of the grandest ocean liners ever built, the Queen Mary has resided for over 40 years in Long Beach, California as a floating hotel awash in history and grandeur. Set on 45 waterfront acres, she combines all of the elegance of a bygone era while incorporating modern amenities, lively entertainment, daily tours, award-winning dining, specialty boutiques and much more. The Queen Mary hotel is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Each stateroom is unique, offering 1930’s decor featuring rich wood paneling and art deco designs with 21st century amenities.

This historic floating hotel features a spa, fitness center, business center and offers valet parking and a complimentary city shuttle. There are 315 non-smoking staterooms, eight full suites and five mini suites. The Queen Mary offers over 80,000 sq. ft. of meeting & banquet space located ship-wide. The ship is about as unique a venue as they come and provides a truly unforgettable experience for any occasion. Their meeting spaces – The Verandah Grill, Windsor Salon, Grand Salon, Sylvania and many others, are able to accommodate groups from 10 to 2,000. There is also a wedding Chapel for ceremonies, which can seat up to 160 or wedding guests can enjoy services on the Sun Deck Gazebo, which can seat 100.

Aboard the Queen Mary, guests can partake in a variety of historical, educational and paranormal tours. Throughout the day, passengers can enjoy a Behind-the-Scenes Guided Tour, where a tour guide takes guests through the ship’s history and recounts tales from her sailing adventures and unveils her many stories. The Ghosts & Legends Show leads participants on an interactive journey of the ship’s most haunted locations. Through special effects, the stories of the Queen Mary’s ghosts come to life. The World War II Tour features a tour guide who tells the story of the illustrious “Grey Ghost,” the most wanted target of German U-boats, and a crucial part of allied success in the war. On the Haunted Encounters Tour, passengers learn about the reports and stories of the ghostly happenings with a guide on a walking tour of the most haunted locations on the ship. For more information visit their website at www.queenmary.com or call guest services at (562) 435-3511.

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RENAISSANCE MOBILE RIVERVIEW PLAZA HOTEL, MOBILE, AL
The Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel is a AAA Four-Diamond hotel ideally suited for business, conventions, stylish social gatherings or weekend escapes. Step into a fresh space of contemporary design and experience world-class amenities unrivaled by other Gulf Coast hotels. Featuring 373 hotel rooms including 10 suites, 2 Club Levels and 44,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, this premier convention hotel in downtown Mobile is connected to the Arthur Outlaw Convention Center via a skywalk.

The Renaissance offers 18 spacious meeting rooms ranging from 400 to 10,086 sq. ft.. Their 14,000-sq. ft. outdoor conference center, which can s eat up to 840 guests, overlooks the Mobile skyline. Three exquisite ballrooms are available for everything from general sessions and banquets, to theme parties and wedding receptions. Planners will be pleased to know the property not only provides the latest in AV equipment, but also on-site tech support and dedicated event coordinators to oversee every aspect of your conference. Unique among hotels near Mobile Convention Center, the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel is directly connected to the facility.

After the workday is done (or before it starts), delegates and their family members can avail themselves of the property’s 24-hours a day Fitness Center, which is equipped with a full range of cardiovascular equipment, free weights, lifecycle and treadmill. In addition to an outdoor pool, sauna and whirlpool, guests can also enjoy hotel’s impressive itinerary of family and children’s activities.

Looking for more recreational opportunities? You and your family members are in luck. This Mobile Bay area hotel is located across the street from The Gulf Coast Exploreum & Imax, Museum of Mobile, Fort Conde, the Dauphin Street Entertainment District and within convenient walking distance of the Carnival Museum. Enjoy dining in the Harbor Room or listening to live music in Fathoms Lounge. The ambience of Fathoms Streetside can also be utilized for your catered function. The property also offers attractive packages for upcoming events such as New Year's Eve, Bayfest, Senior Bowl, and Mardi Gras. For more information, planners should call (251) 415-3086.

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OMNI HILTON HEAD OCEANFRONT RESORT, HILTON HEAD, SC
Experience their fresh new look along with the casual elegance and award winning service for which the Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort is known.

Each opportunity for the guest experience including the front entrance, lobby, meeting facilities, fitness center and Ocean Tides Spa has been transformed. Outdoor areas are revitalized including beach access and pool upgrades, the addition of a new family pool, updates to both the upper and lower courtyards, the addition of another fire pit off the HH Prime deck and the complete re-invention of the popular poolside/beachside Buoy Bar. With all the beautiful renovations, The Omni has maintained the lavish, sub tropical landscaping and exotic garden atmosphere that has long been the signature of the resort.

With more than 20,000 sq. ft. of event space, the resort offers something for everyone with flexible meeting space, premier location and casual resort environment along with unparalleled service and amenities. The Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort exudes style and Southern Hospitality that will make you never want to leave.

Located on the sugar sand beaches of Hilton Head Island on the southern coast of South Carolina, this oceanfront resort is a tropical paradise unlike anywhere else in this premier destination. The Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort offers beautiful oceanfront views from 323 studio suites including 20 Oceanfront suites. At over 550 sq. ft. with mini kitchens and private balconies, the resort boasts the largest guest rooms on the island.

As part of the prestigious Palmetto Dunes Resort community, the 100% non-smoking luxury Hilton Head beach hotel offers an adult playground consisting of an 11-mile lagoon system ideal for kayaking and canoeing, bike trails, 25 tennis courts and three championship Hilton Head golf courses featuring 54 holes of golf. The resort also showcases a beautiful courtyard poolscape with tropical foliage, three pools, two beachside hot tubs and private cabanas.

By no means is the younger set overlooked when it comes for fun things to do and see. From May thru September there’s an on site Day Camp with each day having it’s own “camp theme.” Monday it’s “Move and Groove Monday;” Tuesday it’s “Talk like a Pirate Tuesday;” Wednesday it’s “Wildlife Wednesday;” Thursday it’s “Tropical Thursday;” Friday it’s “Fiesta Friday;” and Saturday it’s “Super Soaked Saturday.” The Day Camp is available for children 4-12 years old (must be potty trained).

There’s also a Just For KidS 2013-“JFK” program each Friday and Saturday from 6pm – 9pm at an additional cost of $55 that includes dinner and allows parents some free time to do some partying of their own. For more information call (843) 842-8000.

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ATLANTA MARRIOTT MARQUIS, ATLANTA, GA
The Atlanta Marriott Marquis in the heart of downtown Atlanta’s Peachtree Center is the largest hotel in the city. This property features 1,569 rooms including 94 luxury suites, 160,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, 51 meeting rooms and three ballrooms, the largest measuring over 25,000 sq. ft.. The lobby has a breathtaking skylight atrium that climbs 50 stories above the lobby floor and a Pool Bar with skyline views of downtown and seating for up to 100.

For those who love to shop, the Marriott is connected by a covered walkway to the Mall at Peachtree Center. And for large conventions that require more rooms than the Marquis can provide, the hotel is connected via a series of walkways to two other large hotel properties. In total, the downtown area has over 10,000 hotel rooms.

After the meetings are over, the list of family friendly attractions are almost endless. The Marquis counts among its many nearby neighbors, the Georgia Aquarium, the New World of Coca Cola, Centennial Olympic Park, AmericasMart along with the Georgia World Congress Center and Georgia Dome.

And for those young (and older) history buffs in your family, just a few minutes from the Marriott Marquis’ is the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site and Jimmy Carter’s Presidential Library. If the stress of travel or a hectic meeting schedule it getting to you, the Atlanta Marriott marquis has the antidote. Whether you have an hour to spend on a mini-escape with one of their Express Service treatments, or a full day to give yourself over to blissful abandon, The Spa at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis is designed to meet your specific needs for relaxation and rejuvenation. Located in the heart of Atlanta, discover an urban sanctuary that melts your worries away in a serene setting of contemporary elegance. Discover, too, a highly trained and knowledgeable staff that will make you feel completely relaxed as you take time out to rediscover a sense of inner peace and wellness.

In addition to the Spa the property also boasts a Fitness Center, indoor/outdoor pool, massage, steam room and whirlpool. For more information or to book your meeting at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, call (404) 521-0000.

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SHERATON GATEWAY, LOS ANGELES, CA
The Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel, conveniently located blocks from the Los Angeles Airport and providing a complimentary airport shuttle to and from the hotel, offers a newly-refreshed experience for your next visit to Los Angeles. Whether traveling for business or leisure, this Los Angeles airport hotel features all the amenities one would expect from a Sheraton hotel. Whatever you need, you'll find it at the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel.

With over 50,000 sq. ft. of state-of-the-art meeting and event space, including an 11,400-sq. ft. Grand Ballroom and 38 breakout rooms, the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel is the ideal location for your next Los Angeles meeting or event. From intimate gatherings to large conferences, the property’s flexible space, convenient location, professional staff and expert meeting planners will guarantee your meeting or event is successful. The property also houses a Business Center for the convenience of meeting planners.

Relax in one of the Silver Level Certified Green Hotel’s 802 re-designed guest rooms featuring the signature Sheraton Sweet Sleeper™ Bed. Leave the laptop at home and reconnect with Link@Sheraton providing complimentary computers, printers and high speed Internet access. Entice your taste buds at Paparazzi Restaurant or recharge at a full-service Starbucks located inside their stylish new lobby. Workout in our state-of-the-art fitness center or refresh in their outdoor heated pool and hot tub after an eventful day in LA.

Sheraton Gateway family-friendly amenities include 24-Hour self and valet parking facilities, free airport pick-up and drop-off (limited), golf courses nearby, beaches nearby, Sheraton Club Lounge, childcare service, laundry/valet service, dry cleaning service and gift/sundry shop. Recreational opportunities include an outdoor heated swimming pool, fitness center, and access to the Ocean Express for easy transportation to nearby beach, Santa Monica Beach and Pier, Aquarium of the Pacific, Los Angeles Zoo, Disneyland , Universal Studios, Rodeo Drive, South Bay Galleria, Marina Del Rey and Venice Beach. There’s definitely something in this mix to please every member of the family, young or old. For more information, planners may call (310) 642-1111.

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ASTON WAIKIKI BEACH HOTEL, OAHU, HI
Everything about Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel is fun and full of life – from the urban-Hawaiian beach theme in the lobby (surfboards and all) to the vibrant tropical colors of their guest rooms. Simply put, this is one of Waikiki's most popular hotels. They're directly across from the most scenic section of Waikiki Beach, so you can get to your favorite spot on the beach with ease.

The Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, just 5 minutes from the Hawaii Convention Center, is the perfect setting for a small gathering, everything from a retreat or board meeting, to a team building exercise or incentive program. The largest meeting space offers 1,288 q. ft., large enough to accommodate 15 conference style, 50 theater-style, 20 classroom-style, 40 for banquets and 120 for receptions. An outdoor 900-sq. ft. lanai area can handle 80 for banquets, while the 720-sq. ft. Lokahi Room comfortably seats 40 for banquets and 25 in a conference set up.

All guest rooms at Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel are styled for comfort and convenience, and include mini-refrigerators and large flat-panel TVs. Most rooms have full or partial ocean views, and some offer private lanai (balconies) where you can relax and enjoy the scenery.

Hand-Selected Oceanfront and Ocean View Rooms are available for the truly discriminating travelers. Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel has chosen the most exceptional views the hotel has to offer for the Aston Select Rooms offerings. Each premium view unit also includes an arrival amenity that the general manager has personally selected, featuring an assortment of favorite island refreshments. Enjoy unbeatable ocean views and an unforgettable experience when you select the best of Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel.

Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel boasts its signature "Breakfast on the Beach" served poolside every morning between 6:30-9:00 a.m. For lunch and dinner, the on-site Tiki's Grill & Bar offers a full menu of delicious casual American cuisine, reconsidered with a Hawaiian flair. Wolfgang Puck's Express, Subway, and Cold Stone Creamery are also located on-site.

Other hotel amenities include a heated swimming pool and fitness center. Sightseeing buses pick up in front of the hotel and will escort you to some of Oahu's most notable attractions. For the younger set, rooms are quipped with a PlayStation®3 console to play DVD movies and games from unlimited access DVDNow kiosk located in the lobby area. Children also receive a free coloring book and crayons at check-in. For more information or to book your meeting, planners should call (877) 997-6667.
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