What's New in New England

northeast

Just as Roger Williams, the pilgrims and other forefathers lay ground in New England centuries ago, you can too—without breaking the bank. That may mean passing on traditional favorite Boston. As we discovered, it’s not such a bad thing to look elsewhere. Consider these destinations for what’s sure to be a historic meeting.  

Providence, R.I.

New flights into and out of Chicago (American Airlines) and Washington, D.C. (Southwest Airlines), may part the skies for groups previously on the fence about Providence. In July, 5,000 attendees at Awakening Conference experienced why the city has drawn kudos from The New York Times and Travel + Leisure this year. In venue news, Renaissance Providence Downtown Hotel completed a renovation in May, and Omni Providence Hotel wrapped a touch-up in August. WaterFire Arts Center is slated for completion this year, adding 27,000 square feet of meeting space for off-site events. The Evangelical Theological Society will reap the benefits during its 2017 meeting.

Hartford, Conn.

Home of the largest convention center between Boston and New York City, Hartford is no stranger to faith-based groups like Women of Faith (Belong Tour, November 2016) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA Northeast Regional Convention, October 2015). Not resting on its laurels, the state capital is in the midst of many projects benefiting planners. Connecticut Convention Center looks refreshed after a $2.5 million makeover; Front Street District is expanding to include more off-site dining and venue options; the 6,100-seat Dunkin’ Donuts Park is targeting opening day 2017 for Minor League Baseball games—also adding a large venue for outdoor worship or a place to catch a game on a free night; the historic Goodwin Hotel will reopen after eight years in 2017; and Marriott Hartford Downtown and Hilton Hartford both completed renovations.

Portland, Maine

Maine’s largest metro area was in good company when it landed on Jetsetter’s coolest small towns list. The fresh lobster alone is worth treating your attendees to a taste of the destination for a retreat or meeting, as the Fellowship Conference New England has the past two years. The waterfront city known for landmark lighthouses has a natural beauty few can match. New boutique hotels like 250 Main and the newspaper-themed Press Hotel—part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection—will entice planners looking to splurge on a retreat. Both debuted in 2016.