Prevue September-October 2014 - (Page 80)

Kansas City Innovation & culture combine for memorable meetings F [ON LOCATION] JOHNALEE JOHNSTON "Five years ago road warriors traveled with laptops," Steve Shalit, complex GM of the Westin and Sheraton Kansas City at Crown Center says over a bite at Sheraton's Spectators Gastro Pub. "Now it's a laptop, tablet and smartphone." After a quick walk across The Link, a climate controlled sky bridge linking the Westin and Sheraton, Shalit is explaining the finer details of sophisticated IT infrastructures as we reap the spoils of executive chef Franck Marciniak's high-end bar food. It's clearly hard to pick a favorite dish, but the California avocado with lump crab, pico de gallo and chipotle mayo and Asian glazed pork wings seem to be on everyone's radar. "You put $250,000 into your IT structure and it's obsolete five years later," Shalit says. "You can absolutely destroy a meeting by not having the right bandwidth." By the end of the year, the two hotels will have 1 GB of bandwidth throttled between them as needed-up 500 percent in 2014. New routers and switches will support the kind of speeds that planners need, as will the switch to fiber-optic Internet. The new infrastructure will support all aspects of the hotels, including the 150,000 sf of meeting space spread between the Westin and Sheraton, and the connected 45,500-sf Crown Center Exhibit Hall. Jovial servers drop off a round of tall Boulevard Pale Ale beers brewed locally by the Boulevard Brewing Company, a perennial favorite at Spectators. "We do big really well here," Shalit quips. Exploring the hotels and all that Kansas City has to offer over the next few days, it soon became apparent that tech and innovative f&b were only part of the equation. THE CITY Kansas City is a cultural maven that is accessible to groups via a three-hour flight from just about everywhere in the U.S. Though incredibly walkable, bus systems, taxi and Uber service, and bike-share kiosks make getting around easy. A new two-mile streetcar route will soon zip around throughout the city. Groups will enjoy a vibrant KC arts scene that unravels in numerous ways. In fact, every district in KC is festooned with art, thanks to the One Percent for the Arts program, which mandates that 1 percent of all public development funds go directly to some form of noticeable art display. More than 200 fountains dot the city-from grand cascading centerpieces to small spouting sculptures. KC's fountain culture dates back to the 1800s when horses outnumbered humans and troughs were regular implants to surrounding landscapes. Now, the fountains add beauty, creativity and calm to the urban landscape. Customizable bus tours and guides for a self-guided tour of 32 of the city's fountains are available from the City of Fountains Foundation. With a design that is internationally recognized, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts pumps out worldclass performances by the Kansas City Symphony and Kansas City Ballet. Jazz clubs abound throughout the city. Just outside the Westin's front doors is the incredibly interactive National WWI Museum at Liberty Memorial, the only WWI museum in the country, and the 100-year-old Union Station, with its traveling national exhibits. Hallmark's Crown Center surrounds the Westin, 76 | prevue magazine 76-77_KC.indd 76 9/3/14 8:53 PM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Prevue September-October 2014

Planner’s Pick: The London, Los Angeles
Fresh Meets: InterContinental Hotels
Bureau Buzz: Oakland CVB
Good Business: Virginia Beach CVB
Sea Shores: Meetings 2.0
The Future of Meeting Design
On Location: Phoenix
On Location: Park Hyatt Beaver Creek
On Location: Westin and Sheraton Kansas City
Checkout: Princess Grace Rose Garden, Monaco

Prevue September-October 2014