Groups can discover a wealth of spa and wellness offerings as well as world-class golf courses and upscale accommodations at luxury resorts in New Jersey, Long Island and Connecticut.
“Now that the convention industry is returning back to normal after COVID, people are eager to travel and are looking for experiences that they can’t find anywhere else,” says Robert Murdock, president, Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau. “Connecticut’s variety of locations is very appealing to planners as there are many options for customizing their events to make memorable experiences for their attendees. It’s a compact state that is easy to travel, known for its richness of historic and cultural arts attractions, most of which can be used as unique venues for after-event socials.”
The new Bristol Event Center, located 19 miles west of Hartford, is set to host its first event in September this year. The cornerstone of the venue is the Century Ballroom offering 50,000 sf of event space as well as an expansive outdoor area. Two onsite hotels include the newly built 90-room Bristol Home2 Suites and the already existing 141-room Bristol DoubleTree by Hilton.
Madison Beach Hotel is a spa resort on the Connecticut coast overlooking the Long Island Sound. The resort is situated just steps away from the beach and every guest room boasts a view of the water. Groups can unwind at the Sounds of the Sea Spa, as well as at the resort’s yoga studio, and can enjoy alfresco dining at The Porch Restaurant, coastal cuisine at The Wharf, and cocktails at the newly renovated The Crows Nest.
“Saybrook Point Resort & Marina is ideally situated on the Connecticut shore at the mouth of the Connecticut River,” says director of sales Kim Simone. “You can explore some of the state’s most popular attractions and scenic towns within minutes of our beautiful property. From nearby walks along the Causeway to the beautiful gardens and park that surround the resort, there is so much to enjoy in Old Saybrook. The local beaches are just a short ride from the resort and there is a quaint main street to explore nearby shops, dining or a nice afternoon stroll or bike ride. The Fenwick golf course is steps from the resort and offers a 9-hole course overlooking the beautiful shoreline.”
The resort’s lobby recently underwent a renovation and it will be opening a new Marina Bar in late May offering a view of the marina and outdoor seating. It offers 101 guest rooms on property, with 81 in the Main Inn. Based on size of group and time of year, it can offer a full property buyout of the rooms and meetings space. The Guesthouses at Saybrook Point are an ideal luxury retreat for groups. They offer 14 guest rooms, a rooftop deck for receptions, and executive boardroom for meetings. Saybrook also boasts a full-service spa offering massage therapy, esthetics, two year-round pools, and a sauna and whirlpool overlooking the marina.
“Nestled in the picturesque mountains of northwestern New Jersey, just one hour from New York City and Newark Liberty International Airport, Crystal Springs Resort, the Northeast’s largest solar-powered resort, is the perfect destination for MICE travelers,” says Linda Alloco, regional sales director at Crystal Springs Resort. “Whether you’re planning an intimate retreat for 10 or an event for 500, our inspiring settings in nature provide the opportunity for teams to recharge and do their best work.”
The resort offers a choice of two hotels as well as more than 100,000 sf of flexible indoor/outdoor meeting space. Other amenities include six championship-caliber golf courses and two award-winning spas. The resort’s Grand Cascades Lodge recently underwent a renovation to its lobby area, and will add a multi-purpose tented venue called the Big Sky Pavilion in May 2023; a new ballroom for large scale gatherings and trade shows is coming this summer.
“We value the MICE Industry tremendously as we have seen an increase in business with our clients appreciating our unique settings and offerings,” says Alloco. “Given the current hybrid employment scenario, companies have prioritized the importance of reengaging their teams. We’ve noticed meetings are now a day or two longer than pre-COVID, thus allowing their guests to have some free time as well.”
Unique experiences include goat yoga, an interactive 1-hour yoga class followed by a social mix and mingle with the friendly local animals. Groups can also experience a wine education class with an expert sommelier, featuring tastings of six distinctive wines from the resort’s 45,000 bottle wine cellar. Crystal Springs also offers Sun Gazing and Solar Education experiences, where groups can safely view solar flares using specialized equipment. Attendees will learn about the benefits of solar power, as well as the property’s own 25-acre solar farm comprised of 19,000 individual solar panels.
“Hosting a meeting with sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean or Long Island Sound, or directly on one of Long Island’s white-sand beaches, offers attendees a much more relaxed atmosphere compared to a busy urban center,” says Jackie Canko, director of sales & sports for Discover Long Island. “With nearly 400 miles of captivating coastline, it goes without saying that fishing, boating and watersports of all kinds are huge commodities on Long Island.”
The Long Island Marriott offers the largest meetings and events facilities in Long Island, with 25,894 sf of event space and a seating capacity of 1,200 in the Grand Ballroom. The event space is currently undergoing a $2.2 million makeover, with floor-to-ceiling renovations to the three largest ballrooms completed in April 2023, and the remaining venues, including the property’s 84-seat amphitheater, set to be completed by the summer. Additionally, $26 million in upgrades for the hotel’s 615 guest rooms will also soon be underway.
Slated to open by mid-summer 2023, the Gold Heritage Spy Ring Golf Club will be the newest public golf course on Long Island. Designed by famed golf course architect Tyler Rae, the modern 9-hole course will be located on historic grounds in Setauket, NY, with its name a nod to George Washington’s Culper Spy ring and the area’s prominent role in covert ops during the American Revolution.
“The MICE industry is an important part of our overall business mix on Long Island,” says Canko. “We have the product to meet the expectations of this segment and encourage planners to consider Long Island as a premier destination for MICE client events.”
Spa offerings in Long Island include Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, which underwent a $20 million renovation last year that included North America’s only ocean-fed heated seawater pool. Wellness options include seawater- and marine-based therapies, thermal pools, a seawater pool circuit, bathhouse, caladium, sauna and steam, a salt room, plus indoor-outdoor treatment suites overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Onda Beauty, co-founded by actress Naomi Watts, is a new full-service spa located in the refurbished Canoe Place Inn & Cottages in Hampton Bays. Signature offerings include the Ultimate Lift Facial and Total Wellness Massage as well as a curated collection of clean beauty products.
visitnj.org/meetings; discoverlongisland.com/meetings-groups; ctmeetings.org