Prevue September-October 2017 - 27
Previous: The lounge at MACq 01 (photo credit: Adam Gibson)
Right (clockwise from top): La Chine in The Parisian Macao; Rendering of the Christchurch Convention Centre,
New Zealand; Dining at Los Antojitos, Panama City, Florida
resorts along the coast, including the $40 million refurbishment
of the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort, Port Douglas on Port
Douglas' Four Mile Beach, are putting resort destinations back on
the meetings map as a stand-alone option.
Off the southern coast of Australia in Tasmania, a history of
rascals, charlatans and scallywags combined with artists, inventors
and millennium of aboriginals have got the walls a talkin' inside
the MACq 01 luxury "storytelling" hotel in Hobart. All 114 rooms
and suites tell the story of a different noteworthy Tasmanian-from
the woman who thwarted a train crash using her bloomers to
a criminal who inspired a character in the classic novel "Oliver
Twist." Illustrations of the historical figures are on every room door,
artifacts and artwork don the walls of each suite, and custommade headboards and furniture are inspired by each character's
Centuries-old aboriginal artifacts
accent the aesthetically bold lounge,
where groups brainstorm around a
crackling fire or listen to the stories of a
Master Storyteller (one of four on-site).
The Storytellers are on hand for property
tours, cooking demonstrations, gin
mixology classes that incorporate
Tasmanian botanicals or candid strolls
through the Hobart Waterfront with
tales of the dark secrets of Sullivan's
Cove. The hotel's Old Wharf Restaurant
reflects the area's fishing, boat building
and farming roots, and is also a popular hangout for groups. Menu
highlights include mussel chowder, wildflower honey parfait, black
truffles and local cheeses and wines. Views of the magnificent
Mount Wellington and a charismatic waterfront with restaurants,
museums and galleries in tow, add to the hyperlocal experience.
Just down the road, The Henry Jones Art Hotel, sister hotel
to MACq 01, is housed in a former jam factory with formal meeting
space in an equally artful environment. A three-story glass IXL
Atrium and tree-laden indoor courtyard edged by original sandstone
walls are striking spaces for up to 550 attendees cocktail-style.
maritime bites at Ferrucci Ristorante, stopping intermittently
for antiquing, local pottery and jewelry and for mini, 10-minute
art lessons at the Floriopolis arts and cultural venue are popular
choices. Also in its booty of spoils: the Betsy Ann Riverboat's
scenic dining cruises on a sternwheel paddleboat, historic bites at
the nautically-themed Wainwright Shipyard restaurant, a former
WWII shipyard, and community hangouts like Los Antojitos.
"We definitely veer toward the experiential side," says Jennifer
Vigil, president and CEO of Destination Panama City, adding that the
city's eclectic array of festivals are also a lure to MICE groups. "Most
attendees are looking for immersive activities that they can build on.
We say Panama City is 'where life sets sail' because whether playing a
ukulele or sailing in a world-class regatta, it's all possible here."
One case in point is the "Strummin' Man Ukulele Festival," a
ukulele-centric event focused on classes, workshops and concerts.
The DMO has also partnered with the
Panama City Beach Convention and
Visitors Bureau to host the national 5k
obstacle course race, Warrior Dash,
next March. The Panama City event,
which is one of 20 stops across the
nation, will bring thousands of athletes
into the area. Vigil says in between
meetings, groups in need of a little
nature therapy can snorkel through Shell
Island's protected natural preserve, hike
through the Sweet Bay Wetlands and
kayak through Econfina Creek.
Nestled in a 1,100-acre wildlife preserve in Panama City Beach,
groups can meet at the newly renovated beachfront Sheraton Bay
Point Resort. Golfing is a major theme of the resort, which offers 200
rooms and suites and 120 Golf Villas, a golf academy and the only
Jack Nicklaus-designed course on the Emerald Coast. In between
teeing off, the beach kiosk offers bicycles, Jet Skis and paddleboards.
"Grab & Golf" boxed lunches are available at the Club 19 Bar &
Grill, while other dining venues overlook St. Andrews Bay and the
St. Andrews Pavilion, part of the property's 60,000 sf of indoor and
outdoor meeting space.
A point of pride for Florida's Emerald Coast: the US oyster shucking
champion (yes, this is really a thing), Honor Allen, hails from Panama
City (where else would he come from, really?). In fact, oyster love
blooms eternal throughout the city, so much so that it spawned
the new Panama City Oyster Trail, a foodie's playground of 14
oyster lovin' hot spots. Whether Cajun-baked at Captain's Table
Fish House or g. Foley's fried oysters with smoked chili aioli,
andouille sausage and red pepper, there's bound to be something
for all attendee tastes. Groups can also eat their way through
the waterfront district, and often do. Dockside "garbage grits"
and papaya-marinated steak and eggs at Bayou Joe's, grilled
doughnuts on the Just the Cook floating restaurant and Italian
Events in unexpected places is trending in Madrid, and the city's
underground network of abandoned tunnels and bunkers are
prime real estate for organizing dark and mysterious attendee
experiences. Activic Events can help you make use of old trains,
military bunkers and the city's own history for tours that quickly turn
the underground into one giant escape room for groups of 20 to
300, full of strange and mysterious occurrences. The abandoned
early 20th-century Chamberie Station (known locally as the ghost
station) is now a museum with a screening room for 60 that can be
booked for events. In the past, attendees have boarded a 1960s-style
carriage here-complete with themed ticket inspectors and fetching
company imagery-for an underground tour and cocktail reception.
"We say Panama City
is 'where life sets sail'
because whether playing
a ukulele or sailing in a
world-class regatta, it's all
26 | prevuemeetings.com