When it comes to hospitality, Mohegan Sun aims for the stars. Midway through my walking tour of the property last November with John Washko, vice president, exhibitions and convention sales, he directed my eyes upwards as we approached Wombi Rock.
Centered in the resort’s 119,000-square-foot Casino of the Sky, this multilevel crystal mountain, fashioned from onxy and alabaster panels and housing the event-programmable Vista Lounge, sits below the casino’s massive suspended planetarium dome. At 150 feet in diameter, it’s one of the world’s largest projection surfaces.
For groups, that means a universe of customized multimedia possibilities, such as the “Mohegan Sun Welcomes Meetings Today” message projected onto the dome’s night sky constellation of some 4,000 fiber-optic stars.
Needless to say, it was a delightful and dazzling show of hospitality, and meeting planners and delegates can expect the same in every phase of their Mohegan Sun experience. As Washko reminded, the Mohegan Tribe follows the Spirit of Aquai, its centuries-old philosophy based on welcoming, mutual respect, cooperation and building relationships.
Flowing like positive energy throughout the resort, that spirit is amplified by the jaw-dropping architecture, decor and scale of Mohegan’s interior spaces. From the 38,000-square-foot, pillar-free Uncas Ballroom, part of more than 100,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, to the world-ranked 10,000-seat Mohegan Sun Arena, where Lady Gaga provided her own show-stopping moments that night, Mohegan Sun offers authenticity, dimension and vibrancy all its own.
The resort is poised to further enhance its competitive edge with the projected summer 2018 unveiling of its new $80 million Exposition & Convention Center. Boosting Mohegan Sun's offerings to over 275,000 square feet of meeting space, the new high-tech venue adds 125,000 square foot of contiguous exhibition space; 8,000 square feet of pre-function space; 38,000- and 20,000-square-foot ballrooms; and 18 meeting rooms, including a 1,200-square-foot boardroom.
Creating the largest expo space along the New York-Boston I-95 corridor, the investment was inspired in part by Mohegan Sun’s ongoing hosting of Barrett-Jackson’s blockbuster Northeast car auction event, which drew nearly 100,000 people last summer and is back again this year.
The expansion does not stop there. The Mohegan Tribe, which Washko called “amazing citizens on behalf of Mystic Country and southeastern Connecticut,” is seeking to invest as much as $600 million to redevelop the abandoned 390-acre Norwich State Hospital site in Preston, across the Thames River from the resort. Ambitions for the mixed-use project include a new hotel and outdoor and indoor entertainment attractions, including an indoor waterpark, marina, retail outlets and more.
With projects boding well for continuing tourism and meetings growth, groups will find a region rich with other assets, some less known. Examples include the Slater Memorial Museum in historic Norwich, close to Preston. Located on the campus of Norwich Free Academy in a spectacular Romanesque Revival building, the museum’s diverse exhibitions include its signature 1888 Plaster Cast Collection, comprising 150 important examples of Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Italian Renaissance sculpture replicated from original works.
Meandering toward the coast brought me to Mystic. Settled around 1654, this storied shipbuilding and maritime center offers groups a range of tour, event and team-building options at two nationally celebrated institutions, the Mystic Aquarium and Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea.
Closed for the winter but always calling is legendary seafood restaurant Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough (1946) in nearby Noank, with event space for 25 to 200 people.
Like Connecticut itself, Mystic Country is compact, but bountiful with options.
Mohegan Sun Casino Resort