10 Reasons to #MeetinCLE in 2016
10 Reasons TO MEET IN CLEVELAND
By Keith Gribbins
1. WORLD-CLASS EXPERIENCES WITHOUT THE WORLD-CLASS EGO
Downtown Cleveland has everything a meeting needs to succeed - affordable hotels, posh event spaces, famous restaurants, national attractions, and an everyone's-welcome attitude. How do we know? The experts have spoken: Cleveland was ranked No. 4 on the "12 Cities on the Rise" list, singled out by more than 800 meeting planners in the 2014 Watkins Report. Speaking of lists, Cleveland's University Circle, home to famed institutions from the Cleveland Museum of Art to The Cleveland Orchestra, was named a Top 10 Arts and Culture District by USA Today.
2. HOTELS ARE EVERYWHERE
Greater Cleveland as a whole has more than 23,000 guestrooms across all major hotel brands, representing segments from luxury resorts to boutique business accommodations. By 2016, downtown Cleveland will offer nearly 5,000 guestrooms in 18 hotels. Add in the flexible meeting spaces and unique dining spots, and these hotels become destinations in themselves. Meeting spaces from 10,000 to 90,000 square feet can range from traditional boardroom seating to AV- and tech-enabled theaters, auditoriums, and ballrooms.
3. NEW DOWNTOWN CONVENTION COMPLEX
The high-tech, eco-engineered FirstMerit Convention Center of Cleveland hosts world-class confabs, meetings, and festivals and connects to both the Global Center for Health Innovation, a new venue dedicated to displaying the latest advancements in health-related technology, and a 600-room Hilton Cleveland Downtown hotel (by June 2016). The downtown convention complex is within walking distance or cab ride of 18 hotels, entertainment districts like East 4th Street, sports venues like Quicken Loans Arena, and lakefront attractions like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
4. MEMORABLE VENUES, MEMORABLE MEETINGS
Cleveland is full of dynamic gathering spots that can empower your meeting with a motif. Classy galas or weddings would be perfect for the Cleveland Museum of Art. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum has multiple rental options, including the entire museum. The country's second-largest performing arts center, Playhouse Square, offers nine theaters of various sizes and one outdoor event space for rental. From FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns, to House of Blues Cleveland, this city has great venues that offer unforgettable experiences.
5. GETTING HERE IS EASY
Cleveland sits within a 500-mile radius of nearly half of the U.S. population - only six hours from cities like Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) is 12 miles from downtown and offers an abundance of nonstop flights around the country and internationally via most major carriers. Getting here is super cheap too. CLE offers an abundance of low cost flights, jumping from 66 to 8 on the Airport Affordability Report by Cheapflights.com due to new low-cost carriers and increased competition. We are also easily accessible by AMTRAK train, or bus, with both Greyhound and Megabus terminals close to major hotels.
6. GETTING AROUND TOWN IS EASIER
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) links busy travelers to timely destinations. Four RTA rail lines snake all over the city and to the airport, connecting with 69 different bus routes. For just $5, visitors can snag a one-day Cleveland Pass that allows for unlimited rides. The slick, modern HealthLine Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) secured an Excellence in Engineering award, connecting downtown hotspots to hospitals and restaurants. Once downtown, take advantage of the city's RTA trolley network - it's free with a smile.
7. OF COURSE, MOST FOLKS JUST WALK
Cleveland has one of the most pedestrian-friendly downtown's in America. Just ask the experts. Cleveland is the 16th most walkable large city in the United States according to the internet site Walk Score. PCMA's Convene magazine ranked the FirstMerit Convention Center of Cleveland No. 4 on the list for "Top 15 Convention Centers in Highly Walkable Places." Strollers can also take solace in the more than 70 Downtown Cleveland Alliance ambassadors that keep Cleveland streets safe and clean, patrolling on foot and bike and acting as mobile concierges.
8. PLENTY OF FOOD AND FUN
From business luncheons to wedding banquets, Northeast Ohio is full of excellent bistros, clubs, cantinas, and eateries that specialize in large parties and flavorful food. Food Network-famous chefs like Michael Symon, celebrated restaurants like The Greenhouse Tavern, and award-winning food trucks like the Hodge Podge Truck all call Cleveland home. The West Side Market and Great Lakes Brewing Co. are cornerstones in Cleveland's culinary and craft beer movement, while the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, downtown clubs, and indie music venues provide a 24/7 nightlife.
9. EXPLORING SPORTS TOWN USA
Cleveland takes its sports oh so seriously. Professional venues (which are rentable) like Progressive Field, FirstEnergy Stadium, and Quicken Loans Arena are home to venerable franchises like the Cleveland Indians, Cavaliers, Browns, Gladiators, and Lake Erie Monsters. Progressive Field just underwent a $26-million facelift prior to the 2015 season (in 2016, expect a new home plate club for season ticket-holders and more CLE-centric concessions), and FirstEnergy Stadium just finished a two-year, $125-million modernization project focused on enhancing the fan experience with slick stadium and concourse redesigns.
10. GREAT LAKES ADVENTURES
Summer or winter, Lake Erie provides some of the best opportunities for aquatic entertainment in the United States. Commission an adventure with Head Boat Fishing Charters at Wildwood Marina, swim the pristine waters of Headlands Beach State Park, or get all wet steelhead fishing in tributaries like Vermilion River, Rocky River, and Conneaut Creek. Even Downtown, behind the Rock Hall, Rock and Dock at North Coast Harbor Marina is a 53-slip transient marina, which provides jet skis, kayaks, paddleboats and boards, and boat slips for rent.