Generally billed as one of the starring members of North Carolina’s Research Triangle, along with Chapel Hill and Durham, Raleigh is a meetings destination with the goods to go solo.
Those necessary goods include ample meetings-equipped hotels, a great convention center, attractions to both entertain attendees and host off-site events, and a delicious array of group-friendly restaurants.
“Raleigh is a lively, celebratory and smart destination for meetings and events,” said Malinda Harrell, director of sales for the Greater Raleigh CVB.
As the home to several educational institutions, including North Carolina State University, Raleigh attracts many academia-based conferences, as well as meetings that align to the destination’s four key industry clusters: cleantech/smart grid, advanced manufacturing, IT/technology and life sciences, according to Harrell.
All that is happening in the community, along with a number of new hotels coming online, point to the city’s ongoing prospects for group business.
According to Harrell, “particularly important pieces of the growing meetings and convention product mix” include highlights such as the addition of the Residence Inn Raleigh Downtown, located adjacent to the Raleigh Convention Center, and the StateView Hotel on the campus of North Carolina State University.
“We believe the future of the meetings industry here in Raleigh looks very bright,” she said.
Meet and Greet
The meetings and convention range of venues includes the Raleigh Convention Center, which is connected to the Raleigh Marriott City Center, the Sheraton Raleigh, Hilton North Raleigh/Midtown, Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley, Embassy Suites Raleigh-Durham/Research Triangle and The Umstead Hotel and Spa.
These and other area hotels amply accommodate meetings and various group gatherings, including receptions and banquets.
Fun events can also be held at Raleigh’s most popular off-site venues, including Angus Barn, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and Raleigh Beer Garden.
The Raleigh Beer Garden has three levels and can welcome up to 1,000 people inside and another 900 people outside in a covered party area, according to Harrell.
“It’s a good location for a more casual reception,” she said.
At the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, exhibit spaces accommodate knockout events, and there is also an on-site boardroom and auditorium.
“The auditorium is a state-of-the-art presentation area with a variety of media amenities and seating options,” Harrell said. “You can view presentations on an HD IMAX-like curved screen that surrounds you.”
Angus Barn, an award-winning steakhouse that has one of the largest wine cellars in the country, according to Harrell, features a lakeside pavilion for up to 500 people, and wine cellar dining rooms for parties of up to 34.
Ways to Play
Raleigh is quite the foodie destination, where culinary activities include the Raleigh Beer Trail, Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours and Distiller for the Day at Lassiter Distilling Co., a hands-on experience that includes meals and learning about the distilling process, from creating a rum wash fermentation from raw ingredients to bottling and labeling.
“Raleigh’s culinary scene is tops in the South,” Harrell said, and cited 18 Seaboard, Bridge Club and the brand-new Vidrio among the city’s many wonderful group-friendly restaurants.
In order to work up an appetite, groups can get better acquainted with the city on a Segway outing facilitated by Triangle Glides. Available tours feature downtown landmarks such as the Warehouse District and the North Carolina Center for Architecture and Design.
Groups that have a little downtime can also spend an afternoon at Pullen Park, where recreational opportunities include boat rentals, tennis courts and a circa-1911 Dentzel carousel, or at the Raleigh Denim Workshop to witness how this boutique clothing company makes denim from North Carolina-grown cotton on machines pre-dating WWII.