CONGRATULATORY MESSAGE TO OUR 2019 WINNERS


We are proud to introduce to you our Best Of award winners for 2019. Each winner was voted on by our vast network of planners in the U.S. & Canada to be the Best Of the best – this is no easy feat, especially since the competition was so fierce in each and every category. We hope that you take the time to learn about each of our winners and remember them when you are planning or booking your next meeting or event – the amount of care, service, and unique experiences offered are unlimited and memorable for planners and guests.


Congratulations to all of our winners – your commitment to making the events industry unique and commitment to customer service for planners is undeniable. Your passion and dedication to excellence is admirable and are well-deserving of your recognition and awards.

And now, we present to you the Unique Venues Best Of 2019.


-Chuck Salem and Neal Burghardt, Unique Venues Owners


BEST EARTH-FRIENDLY VENUE

Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

Banff, Alberta, Canada

877-760-4595 | conferences@banffcentre.ca

Banff Centre is a venue that’s environmentally friendly - and their staff is friendly, too! Banff Centre is a full-service conference and hotel venue located within Canada’s leading arts and cultural organization based in the Canadian Rockies. Its location in Canada's first National Park keeps the environmental sustainability central to its approach - all meetings and conferences are green by default at no additional cost. The Centre’s principle meeting facility (Kinnear Centre for Creativity & Innovation) is engineered to be one of the greenest meeting facilities in Canada attaining LEED® Gold designation. To keep current with environmental best practices within the meeting and hospitality industry, the Centre participates in eco-rating programs such as Green Leaf, Green Key, and IACC Green Star. The Centre is committed to environmental leadership in waste management, recycling, conservation, protecting natural environment and reducing our contribution to climate change.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 1,000

Total Meeting Rooms: 60

Maximum Overnight Capacity: 850

Event Types Welcomed:

adult social events | corporate social events | expos/competitions | family reunions | leisure travel | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats | wedding ceremonies & receptions


BEST HIGH-TECH VENUE

Attune Washington DC

Washington, D.C., United States

630-719-0239 | bethb@mclabs.com

Located just a short 10-minute walk from The White House, Attune Washington DC is the ideal venue to host your next professional event. Every feature-packed room in this modern meeting and training facility is equipped with the latest technology. The venue boasts high-speed internet connections with built-in redundancies to ensure you never miss a beat, robust computer training labs that can run even the most demanding software and programs, and sophisticated cloud-based learning labs that can bring your technology training experience to all of your attendees, regardless of the device they’re using. Attune Washington DC also offers industry-leading virtual attendance and collaboration technology, allowing your remote attendees and presenters to meaningfully interact, no matter where they’re located. With the added support of Attune Washington DC's planning experts and dedicated on-site tech support team at your side, there’s no limit to what your team can achieve.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 100

Total Meeting Rooms: 11

Event Types Welcomed:

professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats


BEST LARGE-MARKET VENUE

Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, Georgia, United States

404-894-2469 | john.nussear@conference.gatech.edu

Georgia Institute of Technology is located in the heart of Atlanta, the capital of Georgia, and the largest city and unofficial capital of the South. Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Tech for short, offers the best of the urban setting within close proximity to a world-class international airport, public transportation and tourist attractions. Add to these conveniences a lush, green Trees Campus USA that provides serenity to its guests, students, faculty and staff, and you have the best of both worlds. Georgia Tech Conference Services is an ACCED-I Certified One-Stop Shop that coordinates everything from on-campus lodging and dining to meeting and event spaces, transportation resources and registration services. In addition, counseling and advisement for events happening on and off campus is available.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 4,000

Total Meeting Rooms: 50

Maximum Overnight Capacity: 6,000

Event Types Welcomed:

expos/competitions | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats | youth retreats & camps


BEST MARKETING CAMPAIGN

The Regency Center

San Francisco, California, United States

415-447-4909 | jparres@aegpresents.com

The Regency Center Ball Room and its Social Hall created a clever marketing campaign, utilizing email marketing to promote Social Hall Fest, an open house event for event planners and vendors. Their goal? Show off their unique space while providing an opportunity for planners to meet the staff and tour their venue. Their email marketing campaigns proved to be a success with the turnout, which included not only event planners, but local caterers, entertainment, beverage sponsors, and corporate clientele. After creating a marketing concept for the Social Hall Fest, the marketing team coordinated event signage and posters and branded material and collateral for attendees – even providing branded gift items. Thanks to the marketing strategy behind the event and the hard working staff and venue management, Social Hall Fest not only provided a fun night for its guests, planners also booked several events after spending the evening there. And we can see why - this versatile San Francisco landmark offers three separate venues - The Regency Ballroom, Social Hall, and Lodge - each with unique architectural characteristics and an array of accompanying rooms. Originally built in 1909, The Regency Center is considered the finest example of Scottish Rite temple architecture in the country, featuring Gothic, Neoclassic, and Beaux-Arts styles. The building has housed a Masonic Temple, a dance studio, the Polish Arts Foundation, and a movie theater. Recently restored to its original splendor, this landmark offers three levels of unique gathering space.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 2,000

Total Meeting Rooms: 8

Event Types Welcomed:

adult social events | corporate social events | family reunions | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats | wedding ceremonies & receptions


Committee Award

BEST MID-MARKET VENUE

The Mountain Winery

Saratoga, California, United States

408-913-1720 | rvaughn@mountainwinery.com

High above the Silicon Valley, where the views are breathtaking and the buildings are steeped in rich tradition and history, stands The Mountain Winery. This 600+ acre Santa Cruz Mountain wine estate will delight and inspire your event guests. The natural beauty of the venue offers a unique yet convenient destination for your next meeting or special event.


The Mountain Winery is the ideal location for conferences, group meetings, corporate retreats, or special events. Perched just above Saratoga Village, The Mountain Winery is a short drive from San Francisco, Oakland, Palo Alto, Fremont, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Santa Clara, and San Jose. Corporate meeting planners continually choose The Mountain Winery as an attractive alternative to traditional meeting and dining facilities. The flexible meeting spaces can accommodate groups of all sizes. Whether one is planning a day-long meeting, seminar, dinner, reception, or team-building event, The Mountain Winery can help make it a memorable occasion.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 2,511

Total Meeting Rooms: 10

Event Types Welcomed:

adult social events | corporate social events | family reunions | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats | wedding ceremonies & receptions | youth retreats & camps


Runners Up

Anvil Centre


Maritime Conference Center

BEST OUTDOOR EVENT SPACE

University of British Columbia - Vancouver

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

604-822-1060 | conferences@housing.ubc.ca

The University of British Columbia - Vancouver features impressive venues with breathtaking views of Vancouver’s undeniable beauty. UBC is a 'must-see’ for any visitor to the city — where snow-capped mountains meet ocean, and breathtaking vistas greet you around every corner. Host your outdoor event on the grounds of the Museum of Anthropology, which offers spectacular views of the North Shore Mountains and the Georgia Strait, or immerse yourself amongst the beautiful collections of trees and flowers at the UBC Botanical Garden. The various beautiful outdoor locations on campus will act as an unforgettable location for your ceremony, reception and photos. Whether it’s a group of 20 or a gathering of 2,000, your guests will be impressed by the world-class setting of the UBC campus.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 2,200

Total Meeting Rooms: 200

Maximum Overnight Capacity: 5,000

Event Types Welcomed:

adult social events | corporate social events | expos/competitions | family reunions | leisure travel | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats | wedding ceremonies & receptions | youth retreats & camps


BEST RENOVATION / ADDITION

Boston University

Boston University | Boston, Massachusetts, United States

617-353-3520 | meet@bu.edu

Nestled in the heart of Boston University’s busy urban campus lies a hidden gem adorned with gargoyles, decorative medieval hardwood, ornate cut-stone masonry, and a terrace with sweeping views of the Charles River. More than 100 years after its construction, The Boston University Dahod Family Alumni Center at the Castle was recently renovated and restored to its original grandeur with a modern twist.


Construction began in the summer and was completed within a period of about a year and a half. The project was funded by the university and various donors at a final cost of 10 million dollars. The project included restoring original masonry and woodwork, re-fitting original windows, installing an HVAC system around original construction to replace AC window units, and a complete roof re-haul (all while retaining the original style and elegance of the structure). Additions to the venue included access points to the adjacent Admissions Center and BU Pub providing increased ADA accessibility, as well as an outdoor terrace, and glass-enclosed patio. Alumni began enjoying the renovations and restored grandeur of the venue at the newly designated Dahod Family Alumni Lounge in September of 2018. With a stunning century-long history, similarly dazzling exterior façade, and a refined, elegant interior, the Castle is equipped to continue accommodating even the most dignified events for another hundred years to come.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 8,000

Total Meeting Rooms: 300

Maximum Overnight Capacity: 4,500

Event Types Welcomed:

adult social events | corporate social events | expos/competitions | family reunions | leisure travel | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats | wedding ceremonies & receptions | youth retreats & camps


BEST SMALL-MARKET VENUE

Boston College Connors Center

Dover, Massachusetts, United States

617-552-9210 | meet@bc.edu

A fully restored, turn-of-the-20th-century mansion situated on 80 acres in Dover, Massachusetts, the Connors Center offers the flexibility and amenities of a modern conference facility in a singular setting. Located just 20 miles from downtown Boston, the Connors Center provides a picturesque backdrop for executive retreats, multi-day conferences, weddings and social events.


The 50,000 square-foot facility offers flexibility and comfort, with 12 light-filled rooms of various configurations. The largest can accommodate 160 in theater-style seating. Several rooms are equipped with multimedia systems and event and meeting spaces are enhanced by a gracious ambiance that includes wood-paneled parlors, built-in bookshelves, fireplaces and large windows that look out at distinctive terraces, ornate stone pathways and archways, and acres of stunning grounds. The Connors Center partners with select caterers to offer you a range of on-site dining choices, with menus customized to your needs. We have experience accommodating a range of events and special dietary requests.


For guests seeking overnight accommodations, the Connors Center can offer lodging for as many as 90 guests. Room choices include six signature suites, 21 guest wing suites, and 36 single-occupancy guest rooms. A hospitality suite (equipped with snacks, beverages, a television, piano and books and games) and a cardiovascular room are among overnight guest amenities.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 160

Total Meeting Rooms: 12

Maximum Overnight Capacity: 63 Rooms

Event Types Welcomed:

adult social events | corporate social events | family reunions | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats | wedding ceremonies & receptions | youth retreats & camps


BEST SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE

Galena Country Tourism

Pekin, Illinois, United States

815-776-9200 ext. 103 | jhelle@visitgalena.org

Reaching an impressive social media milestone in February (100,000 Facebook followers!), Galena Country Tourism says this achievement was no easy task. “We've almost quadrupled our followers in the last 3 years by spending countless time curating excellent imagery, engaging off-link content, and quick and clever status copy. All social media posts are scheduled a month in advance, with the annual calendar theme prepped a year in advance, and we post at least two times a day.” And it's working! Not only are people following their Facebook page, but they are also actively engaging with their content, having more than 269,000 engaged users in FY '19 - already surpassing last fiscal year by 50,000!


Visit GCT's Facebook page @VisitGalena.org and you, too, will see highlights and happenings around the picturesque Galena Country proving that Galena is the perfect destination for planners looking for endless experiences for groups to enjoy. Galena Country Tourism does an amazing job at capturing the sense of community, atmosphere, and opportunities available through its social media presence – utilizing high-quality imagery, intriguing captions, and stunning video. Check out Galena Country Tourism’s Facebook page – you’ll love what you see!

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 600

Total Meeting Rooms: 50

Maximum Overnight Capacity: 1,000+

Event Types Welcomed:

adult social events | corporate social events | expos & competitions | family reunions | leisure travel | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats | wedding ceremonies & receptions | youth parties | youth retreats & camps


Committee Award

BEST VENUE FOR AN LGBTQ-FRIENDLY EVENT

Vancouver Aquarium, an Ocean Wise Initiative

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

604-659-3456 | cateringandevents@ocean.org

As one of the world's top aquariums, guests can't help but be awe-inspired by this venue. Almost doubling its event space capacity a few years ago, meetings, events, and parties have flocked to one of Vancouver's favorite destinations. In fact, hosting special events is a specialty for the Vancouver Aquarium, especially as an LGBTQ-friendly venue and ally. Besides hosting same-sex nuptials, this year, on August 1, 2019, the Vancouver Aquarium hosted its 2nd Annual 'Celebrate Pride' event - described as an after hours event dedicated to celebrating Pride. The Vancouver Aquarium invited and encouraged event guests to get "freaky and fabulous" and "dress in their finest drag". Ultimately setting the tone for a high energy and educational event. Guests were granted access to exhibits and had the opportunity to learn about the sexual habits of aquatic creatures. A unique experience brought to life by the Vancouver Aquarium, an Ocean Wise Initiative and a way for celebrating diversity and inclusion for all creatures - aquatic and human.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 2,000

Total Meeting Rooms: 7

Event Types Welcomed:

adult social events | corporate social events| family reunions | leisure travel | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats | wedding ceremonies & receptions | youth retreats & camps


BEST VENUE FOR CONCERTS OR SHOWS

The Theatre at Grand Prairie

The Theatre at Grand Prairie | Grand Prairie, Texas, United States

972.854.5081 | asimon@aegpresents.com

The Theatre at Grand Prairie is a concert hall located in Grand Prairie, Texas, 16 miles west of Dallas and 24 miles east of Fort Worth. Each year the venue hosts hundreds of concerts featuring today's top entertainers and most popular bands. One of the most flexible and advanced indoor performance spaces in the United States, The Theatre at Grand Prairie is the first venue of its kind. Many touring artists have already called The Theatre at Grand Prairie "the theater of the future."

With its 6,350-indoor seating capacity, this venue was conceived and designed to accommodate a wide range of stage productions, including pop, rock, country, comedy, magic, Broadway and family shows. Since its February 2002 opening, the facility has hosted everything from the Eagles, Alicia Keys, Michael Bublé, George Lopez, Robin Williams, Sesame Street Live!, Justin Bieber, Celtic Woman, and Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

Featuring comfortable, spacious seating, elite luxury suites with private entrances, upscale catering, corporate hospitality areas, and convenient parking, The Theatre at Grand Prairie sets a new standard in the concert and theatrical touring industry, also creating a buzz in the events industry by providing event planners a great option for large gatherings and groups.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 6,800

Event Types Welcomed:

adult social events | corporate social events | family reunions | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats


BEST VENUE FOR CONFERENCES

Maritime Conference Center

Maritime Conference Center | Linthicum Heights, Maryland, United States

443-989-3509 | jporter@mccbwi.org

Located just four miles from Baltimore, five minutes from Baltimore Washington International Airport and a short drive from Washington, D.C., MCC's central location provides a convenient, easy-to-reach destination for unions, educational institutions, government entities, associations, corporations, non-profits and religious organizations planning a meeting or group event. Set on the beautiful, green campus of the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies (MITAGS), Maritime Conference Center offers an idyllic and inspiring venue for guests to conduct a successful meeting or event away from urban bustle and distractions. Between events, guests pass through hallways adorned with seven-foot models of seafaring vessels and centuries of Merchant Marine history. Maritime Conference Center’s expertise and success in training Mariners at their school has translated into a successful Conference training experience as well.

From classroom space to dining, guests’ needs are provided for in-house. MCC offers all-inclusive, value-added, Day Meeting Packages & Complete Meeting Packages. Its dedicated staff and package structure make it easy for meeting planners to custom design gatherings to meet their budget and specifications. The delicious food served in the bright, airy Chesapeake Dining Room and on their centralized breaks cater to all dietary needs without the difficulty of choosing menus. Complimentary onsite parking and free shuttle service to BWI Airport, AMTRAK, MARC and Baltimore Light Rail Stations provides guests with a convenient way of traveling from both near and far to their campus.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 500

Total Meeting Rooms: 55

Maximum Overnight Capacity: 400

Event Types Welcomed:

professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats


BEST VENUE FOR CORPORATE EVENTS

Museum of Science and Industry

Chicago, Illinois, United States

773-753-2583 | stan.hansen@msichicago.org

Located minutes from downtown Chicago, and just steps from Lake Michigan, the Museum of Science and Industry provides a unique experience for its guests, even declaring that MSI has "Events Down to a Science", which is especially true for corporate events. As the largest science center in the Western hemisphere, it is also one of few venues in Chicago capable of hosting groups with more than 5,000 guests. And since the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago has more than 35,000 artifacts and nearly 14 acres of hands-on experiences, meetings and events require little embellishment, making the venue not just an engaging option but a smart one for corporate events.


Not only will event attendees be impressed by the artifacts and experiences available, event planners will be equally impressed by the staff, the ability to customize menus to feature local and seasonal ingredients, modern amenities like free WiFi in event spaces and onsite tech support, and the flexibility to setup meeting spaces to meet any corporate event needs. Lastly, easy access to transportation makes it a breeze for attendees to get to and from their corporate functions.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 12,000

Total Meeting Rooms: 10

Event Types Welcomed:

adult social events | corporate social events | expos & competitions | family reunions | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats | wedding ceremonies & receptions


BEST VENUE FOR DAY MEETINGS

OFFSITE New York

New York, New York, United States

212-366-1828 | Shaun@offsitenyc.com

Designed and wired to inspire creativity and optimize productivity, OFFSITE was built from the ground up with the perfect gathering in mind. The three-story enclave offers the ideal backdrop for board meetings, brainstorming sessions, focus groups, product launches, or social events. Centrally located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, convenient to various transportation types, OFFSITE is a modern space that’s broken out of the mold of traditional event spaces.


Meeting attendees will be impressed by the state-of-the-art audio-visual system, with the option to integrate technology like 70-inch LED TV’s, iPads, or iMacs. OFFSITE also provides total connectivity with its private high-speed internet and WiFi options. The dedicated staff is there to help planners every step of the way! With exclusive access to all three levels, there are endless possibilities for the flow of meetings and events, with flexible spaces and furniture to suit event needs.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 200

Total Meeting Rooms: 3

Event Types Welcomed:

adult social events | corporate social events | expos & competitions | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats


BEST VENUE FOR EXPOS AND TRADE SHOWS

Pacific National Exhibition

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

604-251-7787 | sales@pne.ca

The Pacific National Exhibition, Vancouver's largest event destination, provides the ideal location for expos and trade shows. With five buildings housing event spaces within, extraordinarily, each has the ability to provide catering services and event management. When it comes to hosting trade shows and expos, though, the PNE Forum and the Pacific Coliseum, two of the five buildings part of The Pacific National Exhibition, provide the ideal setting. Both are large spaces with the ability to accommodate the unique needs that trade shows require.


The PNE Forum, grossing 45,000 square feet of flexible space offers abundant ceiling space, perfect for accommodating larger displays and taller booths.


The Pacific Coliseum boasts a massive 80,000 gross square feet of exhibition area on the main floor and an additional 14,000 gross square feet on the concourse with the capability of being connected via a 14-foot-wide ramp.


The flexibility, multiple on-site spaces, and large square footage make the Pacific National Exhibition the perfect location to host your next expo or trade show.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 100

Total Meeting Rooms: 11

Event Types Welcomed:

professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats


BEST VENUE FOR FORMAL AFFAIRS

The National Archives Museum

Washington, D.C., United States

202-357-5404| events@archivesfoundation.org

The National Archives Museum, situated on Pennsylvania Avenue not far from the White House, has event spaces adorned with marble floors, bronze accents, vaulted ceilings, antique furniture and stunning chandeliers. Guests will be awe-struck by the grandeur of The National Archives Museum's elegance, neoclassical revival architecture and history, making this venue stand out as the best venue for formal affairs.


Built in 1935, the museum is home to the original Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, and the Bill of Rights and on display for event guests to explore. This provides a unique experience for all event types, but specifically for The National Archives Museum's Annual Gala, a black-tie affair in which over 200 distinguished guests, including members of Congress and the Administration are in attendance. Last year, former First Lady, Laura Bush was recognized and awarded the Records of Achievement Award at the Gala to honor her contributions to arts, culture, and history around the world. This year's recipient was Cokie Roberts who was recognized for her achievements in journalism and political commentary among other successes.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 1,000

Total Meeting Rooms: 60

Maximum Overnight Capacity: 850

Event Types Welcomed:

adult social events | corporate social events | expos/competitions | family reunions | leisure travel | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats | wedding ceremonies & receptions


BEST VENUE FOR LIFE EVENTS

The Conference Center at Montclair State University

Montclair, New Jersey, United States

973-655-3391 | kurdylak@mail.montclair.edu

The Conference Center at Montclair State University has seen a tremendous increase in business for life events. The amount of Bar and Bat Mitzvah’s, Anniversaries, and Sweet 16’s have become an integral portion of the client base.


It's no wonder - with an ideal location, just fifteen miles from New York City and easy access to transporatation, floor to ceiling windows, and the panoramic views of New York City and the Manhattan skyline, the ballroom has an incredible presence that appeals to all.


The flexibility of the ballroom also invites clients to create a layout specific to their vision and lets them put their signature on their event. The catering team is committed to providing top-notch service and flexible menus to help set any type of life event or party apart from the rest!

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 1,000

Total Meeting Rooms: 30

Event Types Welcomed:

adult social events | corporate social events | expos & competitions | family reunions | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats | wedding ceremonies & receptions | youth parties | youth retreats & camps


BEST VENUE FOR LOCALLY-SOURCED CATERING

University of California, Davis

Davis, California, United States

530-754-0672 | kjking@ucdavis.edu

Olive & Vine, Catering by UC Davis, is the campus catering service that specializes in offering quality food and beverage to campus dining facilities and conferences. The professional team has extensive experience in the service and hospitality industry, letting their creativity shine through seasonal, farm to fork menus. Olive & Vine is commited to UC Davis' mission to be a global leader in sustainability, which is evident in their use of over 51% of campus-grown or locally sourced food items in their menu offerings. The Student Farm is a 23-acre farm that students "maintain and explore sustainable food systems" according to the Student Farm website that assists in providing the campus-grown food. Olive & Vine also partners with alumni who provide local ingredients or products that can be used by the catering team.


Not only is Olive & Vine committed to delivering high-quality, locally sourced culinary experiences, the catering team chefs are flexible and will gladly customize menus to accomplish the goals of any group or event by providing guidance and expertise. They also can personalize menus according to dietary needs or restrictions, creating a delicious menu no matter what.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 6,500

Total Meeting Rooms: 150

Maximum Overnight Capacity: 3,900

Event Types Welcomed:

adult social events | corporate social events | expos/competitions | family reunions | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats | wedding ceremonies & receptions | youth retreats & camps


BEST VENUE FOR SPIRITUAL / WELLNESS GATHERING

RockRidge Canyon : BC Retreat Centre

Princeton, British Columbia, Canada

250-870-9030 | retreats@rockridgecanyon.com

“Quiet. Peaceful. Serene. Expansive. One-with-nature. Unique landscape. I feel so connected.” These are phrases often heard from retreat guests. Nestled in a secluded wilderness valley, RockRidge Canyon allows guests to get away from it all without giving up the comforts of home. Even at full capacity the property is so large that a morning walk along the lake can be taken in solitude, yet the valley is tight enough to keep guests together, without feeling lost. There is always something to do, but there is no rush.


RockRidge Canyon was built by a non-denominational religious organization and consistently hosts faith-based groups, and is well-versed in their unique requirements. As part of its practice, Rockridge Canyon uniquely offers “All Camp Quiet” - a time where all staff work ceases, activities take a break and a hush falls over the whole property. A variety of activities inspire team building and personal challenges on kayaks, paddle boards, mountain bikes, a high-ropes challenge course, hiking and more. Guests love the thrill of flying down the mountain and across the lake on the famous dual zip line! The new Rock Theatre is the perfect venue for presentations, speakers and worship events, replete with an incredible sound system and modern audio-visual equipment.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 450

Total Meeting Rooms: 20+

Maximum Overnight Capacity: 425

Event Types Welcomed:

adult social events | corporate social events | expos/competitions | family reunions | leisure travel | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats | wedding ceremonies & receptions | youth retreats & camps


BEST VENUE FOR TEAM BUILDING

Snow Mountain Ranch/YMCA of the Rockies

Estes Park, Colorado, United States

970-586-3341 ext. 6039 | acrowfoot@ymcarockies.org

Located near Winter Park, Rocky Mountain National Park & Grand Lake, Snow Mountain Ranch offers a wholesome environment where friends, families and groups enjoy a tranquil setting, more activities than anywhere else, and quality time together. Snow Mountain Ranch, just two hours from Denver, is perfect for groups visiting during every season.


With 5,200 acres of sprawling ranch property, beautiful views of the Continental Divide and something to do for all ages, you and your group will never forget this Rocky Mountain adventure. Teams will be challenged through adventure activities including a high-ropes course, zip lining, Nordic skiing, mountain biking and more. The location surrounded by soaring Rockies and facing the Continental Divide will inspire creativity and innovation and leave the team stronger than when they arrived. Does your team need state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment? They have that, too! Whether your team needs an intimate space to gather or a larger indoor or outdoor gathering space, Snow Mountain Ranch/YMCA of the Rockies will ensure that each team has what it needs to foster effective outcomes and relationships. The dedicated Teams Staff is available to help facilitate team-building activities, or groups may plan their own.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 850

Total Meeting Rooms: 23

Maximum Overnight Capacity: 1,200

Event Types Welcomed:

adult social events | corporate social events | expos/competitions | family reunions | leisure travel | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats | wedding ceremonies & receptions | youth parties | youth retreats & camps


BEST VENUE FOR UNIQUE EXPERIENCES

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum

Springfield, Illinois, United States

217-558-8873 | Britta.Brackney@illinois.gov

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum offers warm, welcoming event venues for daytime seminars, meetings, conferences, and staff and leadership retreats. And the ALPLM gives event participants the chance to enjoy one of the top presidential museums in the nation, one that combines scholarship and showmanship to tell Lincoln's great American story.

As the meeting agenda allows, experience the immersive exhibits that let visitors step into Lincoln's time and enjoy theater presentations that bring history to life with mystifying special effects. Add enhancements like a scavenger hunt -- a great team building activity -- or a discussion with the actor and show manager behind their popular "Ghosts of the Library" theater presentation.


Do you desire something other than a daytime event? The ALPLM also rents the Museum for evening events such as awards banquets, convention receptions, and corporate dinners with events taking place in a beautiful plaza between models of the White House and Lincoln log cabin. Clients can choose from an array of exhibits, theater presentations and event enhancements to include in their event experience.


(ALPLM photo credit John Muchow)

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 500

Total Meeting Rooms: 8

Event Types Welcomed:

adult social events | corporate social events | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats | wedding ceremonies & receptions


BEST VENUE FOR WEDDINGS

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography

La Jolla, California, United States

858-822-5439 | basevents@ucsd.edu

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography is a stunning wedding venue unlike any other. Perched high on a bluff overlooking the seaside town of La Jolla, the aquarium boasts what is arguably the best sunset view in Southern California. From an intimate ceremony among the fishes in the Giant Kelp Forest to a boisterous fete for 500 on the outdoor Tide Pool Plaza, the 30,000 square-foot aquarium provides a unique combination of indoor and outdoor spaces — all with fantastic views — that provide brides and grooms (and their wedding planners) opportunities to use creativity and technology in new and unique ways.


During weddings, the aquarium remains open just for the guests, allowing them to explore the wonders of the underwater world. Guests will explore interactive exhibits and come face to face with exciting creatures including a rescued Loggerhead Sea Turtle, Leopard Sharks, seahorses and sea dragons, all while enjoying exquisite farm-to-table and locally sourced food from one of the venue’s exclusive caterers. For brides and grooms who want to bring an ocean experience to their guests, there are a variety of additional experiences that can be added on to any wedding package, as well.

A wedding at Birch Aquarium not only creates lasting memories, it also inspires ocean conservation by supporting exhibits, animal care, and education programs. All proceeds support Birch Aquarium’s mission to connect understanding to our ocean planet.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 1,500

Event Types Welcomed:

adult social events | corporate social events | expos & competitions | family reunions | leisure travel | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats | wedding ceremonies & receptions | youth retreats & camps


BEST VENUE FOR YOUTH RETREATS & CAMPS

University of Maryland, College Park

College Park, Maryland, United States

301-314-7884 | umdconf@umd.edu

Youth-friendly is one of the many ways to describe the University of Maryland, College Park. With more than 8,000 beds on campus, a two-layer residence hall security program, plus two dining halls, planners of youth and sports groups can rest easy bringing their young clients to this sprawling 1,800 acre suburban venue featuring 1,200 acres of park-like grounds on a campus located just 9 miles from the nation’s capital.

Each summer, sports camps that are run by Big Ten Conference coaches combine with college immersion, special studies, and STEAM programs to stimulate young minds. The Ropes Challenge Course, Rock Climbing Wall, homemade ice cream, and TerpZone recreation facility are also must-do add-ons for any youth program. The University of Maryland, College Park can also provide in-house motor coach charters that make ground transportation to nearby Annapolis, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. a breeze for side trips and/or additional educational components. Served by three international airports, the University of Maryland, College Park’s campus is an easy-to-reach venue that will also be especially easy on any required airfares.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 14,000

Total Meeting Rooms: 100

Maximum Overnight Capacity: 5,000

Event Types Welcomed:

adult social events | corporate social events | expos & competitions | family reunions | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats | weddings ceremonies & receptions | youth parties | youth retreats & camps


BEST VENUE TO FILM A MOVIE OR TV SHOW

Royal Roads University

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

250-391-2666 | eventrequests@royalroads.ca

In 1907, Samuel Maclure was commissioned to create the Hatley Castle for the Dunsmuir family as a retirement home with the goal of resembling a medieval castle on the exterior with the capability to entertain guests, family, and socialites on the interior. The Hatley Estate boasts 565 acres with extraordinary views of the Esquimalt Lagoon, the Straits of San Juan de Fuca, and the Olympic Mountains. Today, as part of Royal Roads University, it offers high-quality educational programs since being established in 1995. And as one of Vancouver Islands most prestigious film locations in British Columbia, it is no wonder directors, film crews, and photographers have been drawn to the beauty of Hatley Park, a national historic site, for over 85 years.


Outside of Victoria, British Columbia, the scenery is something like a painting with natural beauty and wildlife abound. The Hatley Castle and its heritage gardens have been showcased internationally in feature films and made-for-TV movies including X-Men, Disney's Descendants, The Boy, and Deadpool. Its unique setting and architecture makes Hatley Park and Royal Roads University a desirable location for film crews world-wide.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 250

Total Meeting Rooms: 4

Event Types Welcomed:

adult social events | corporate social events | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats | weddings ceremonies & receptions


BEST WEBSITE

Lackawanna County Visitors Bureau

Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States

570-468-8625 | aperegrim@visitnepa.org

With the relaunch of their website, www.visitnepa.org, in May of 2019, the Lackawanna County CVB has taken their digital presence to a whole new level. Partnering with Simple View, the new design is unlike anything seen before. It follows the philosophy of the Lackawanna County CVB who utilizes great photos and videos to tell the story of their amazing destination.


Not only does the website utilize high-quality imagery and videos to enhance their story-telling, the functionality for any user or professional planner is easy to navigate and with straight-forward and engaging content. Scrolling through the desktop version of the website, you see notable blocks or sections to highlight key topics such as upcoming festivals, and “This Week’s Top 5”. Marketing to certain demographics by cleverly titling other blocks as “Foodies”, “History Buffs”, “Nature” Lovers”, and “Sports Fanatics”, all interactive to display pertinent information regarding those specific topics.


The navigation bar at the top of the website has designated tabs useful for planners seeking to find meeting and event venues or one-time planners seeking wedding ceremony and reception locations. Sub-categories, "budget" and "neighborhoods" are all filters to help narrow down any search. Interactive maps and an easy-to-use search bar make this website user-friendly. Want to check out their website on the go? Their website displays beautifully on mobile-phones, displaying the same content, videos, and imagery seamlessly among devices.

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 15,000

Total Meeting Rooms: 400

Maximum Overnight Capacity: 2,400

Event Types Welcomed:

adult social events | corporate social events | expos/competitions | family reunions | leisure travel | professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats | wedding ceremonies & receptions | youth parties | youth retreats & camps


Committee Award

PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR

Julia McDevitt, CMP

Senior Director

University of New Brunswick Conference Services

Julia is a trailblazer in the collegiate meetings and events industry. Since her time in this unique sector, she has not only grown the Conference Services Department at the University of New Brunswick, where she is currently the Senior Director, but has also been able to change the perceptions of colleges and universities as meeting, conference, and event venues amongst stakeholders such as planners, partners, and clients. Because of the innovative service approach she has developed at UNB, they continually defy stereotypes and surprise their clients, in the best possible way.


When Julia started at UNB in 2013 they were managing on average 3-5 conferences a year. They now manage 10-15 conferences a year and have taken their service offerings to the next level. Through her leadership, they have built strong partnerships on the UNB campus and within the broader Fredericton community; and they have developed a strong reputation for delivering outstanding service.

(Continue Reading Here)

University of New Brunswick

Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada

Stats:

Maximum Meeting Capacity: 100

Total Meeting Rooms: 11

Event Types Welcomed:

professional meetings, trainings, conferences, & retreats

COMPLETE LIST

2019 Best Of Award Winners

Best Earth-Friendly Venue:

Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity


Best High-Tech Venue:

Attune Washington DC


Best Large-Market Venue:

Georgia Institute of Technology


Best Marketing Campaign:

The Regency Center


Best Mid-Market Venue:

The Mountain Winery


Best Outdoor Event Space:

University of British Columbia - Vancouver


Best Renovation/Addition:

Boston University


Best Small-Market Venue:

Boston College Connors Center


Best Social Media Presence:

Galena Country Tourism


Best Venue for an LGBTQ-Friendly Event:

Vancouver Aquarium, an Ocean Wise Initiative


Best Venue for Concerts or Shows:

The Theatre at Grand Prairie


Best Venue for Conferences:

Maritime Conference Center


Best Venue for Corporate Events:

Museum of Science and Industry


Best Venue for Day Meetings:

OFFSITE New York


Best Venue for Expos and Trade Shows:

Pacific National Exhibition


Best Venue for Formal Affairs:

The National Archives Museum


Best Venue for Life Events:

The Conference Center at Montclair State University


Best Venue for Locally Sourced Catering:

University of California, Davis


Best Venue for Spiritual/Wellness Gathering:

RockRidge Canyon: BC Retreat Centre


Best Venue for Team Building:

Snow Mountain Ranch/YMCA of the Rockies


Best Venue for Unique Experiences:

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum


Best Venue for Weddings:

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography


Best Venue for Youth Retreats & Camps:

University of Maryland, College Park


Best Venue to Film a Movie or TV Show:

Royal Roads University


Best Website:

Lackawanna County Visitors Bureau


Professional of the Year:

Julia McDevitt

University of New Brunswick Conference Services

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