THE OCEAN STATE MAKES WAVES
Sometimes also called “Little Rhody” because of its size (it’s the smallest state in the U.S.), Rhode Island is big on ideas and in the conference, convention and meeting space in its capital, Providence, and short on drive times to venues. Historic Newport with its scenic oceanside Cliff Walk offers the option of elegant events in the historic, landmark mansions of the Gilded Age.
LOCAL EXPERT TIP: “Providence is a compact, walkable city with a thriving restaurant scene and vibrant arts community just steps away from our Convention Center.”—Kristen Adamo, Presi
5 FANTASTIC PLACES TO MEET
Rhode Island Convention Center offers 167,000 sq. ft. of event space, a 100,000 sq. ft. exhibition hall, a 20,000 sq. ft. ballroom and 37,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. There is also 30,000 sq. ft. of registration/ prefunction space and proximity to 5,500 hotel rooms in Greater Providence.
The Amica Mutual Pavilion in Providence is the center of sports and entertainment. With 31,000 sq. ft. on the arena floor and 25,000 sq. ft. on the concourse, the multipurpose arena has room for more than 14,000 spectators. The arena is connected to the Rhode Island Convention Center via skybridge, which is in turn connected to the 564-room Omni Providence.
Veterans Memorial Auditorium (The VETS) is home to some of Providence’s most vibrant arts organizations. The 1,900-seat theatre finished in 1950 also has several rooms with capacity up to 150 for cocktail parties and other events.
Omni Providence Hotel with its signature lobby rotunda is in the heart of Rhode Island’s capital city connected to the Rhode Island Convention Center, providing access to 200,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. With an 8,000-square-foot ballroom and 20 meeting rooms fully equipped to handle a wide range of audio/ visual equipment, the hotel offers 22,877 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Newport Harbor Island Resort located harborside in Newport, Rhode Island has an 8,000 sq. ft. ballroom with 12-foot ceilings. It also boasts the 4,000 sq. ft. Rose Island Ballroom and Rose Island Ballroom and a Waterfront Pavilion with capacity for 300 guests. Numerous conference rooms include the 1,276 sq. ft. Vanderbilt room with a max. capacity of 120.
5 REASONS MEETING PROFS LOVE RHODE ISLAND
- Easy access. Providence, the compact capital is under a two-hour drive from Boston. It’s also a 10-minute drive from T.F. Green International Airport where 80 nonstop flights arrive daily. Providence is also located on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston. High-speed Acela Express train service from New York City to Providence clocks in at about two and a half hours.
- Seaside views. Rhode Island is called “The Ocean State” for its 400 miles (640 km) of pristine coastline and its large bays and inlets which take up about 14% of its total size. Newport’s Cliff Walk offers dramatic, seaside views just steps away from palatial mansions that can be booked for special events. Providence is a ferry ride away from one of the “last great places in the world,” Block Island, which is a unique venue idea for small incentive groups.
- Walkable Providence. Groups meeting in Providence are steps away from one of the country’s most beautiful and walkable cities. Downtown Providence is in the midst of a foodie-inspired renaissance with fine dining venues quartered in its well- appointed turn-ofthe-century office buildings and storefronts. The feel is Mainstreet USA-friendly but at the same time, arty, upscale, pristine-clean.
- Elegant venues in nearby Newport. Newport, R.I. was the playground of the glitterati of the Gilded Age. Today, it offers planners the option of doing special events within their mansions along the Cliff Walk with their ballrooms and manicured lawns (great for meeting planners and tented events).
- Waterfire. A public art installation first opened in 1994, Waterfire runs from May through November twice a month when the rivers of downtown Providence are lit by 86 burning.
ART, ACCESS AND ECLECTICISM: MEETING IN PROVIDENCE
To catch up on the latest in the Creative Capital and beyond, Smart Meetings sat down with local experts to find out what is really happening in ballrooms and cities.
Executive Director of the Rhode
Island Convention Center Authority
“A rich intellectual life, walkability and the friendliness of a small town make us unique.”
Q. What’s unique about meeting in Providence?
A.Walkability is one main thing: the eclectic nature of this art-filled city in a small, walkable space. The types of places people can go to in this smaller city are really unique: Providence is filled with high quality experiences and engagements like the public art display Water Fire and other events. We also have the Rhode Island School of Design, one of the best art schools in the country, Brown University and Providence College. A rich intellectual life, walkability and the friendliness of a small town make us unique.
President & CEO at Providence
Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau
“It’s not about being bigger, it’s about adapting to the needs of the groups coming in.”
Q. How is Providence recovering for meetings Post-Covid?
A.We are finding ourselves in a unique situation right now as we emerge from the pandemic. The State of Rhode Island has allocated $42 million to the Rhode Island Convention Center Authority which will be used to update our meetings venues including our Convention Center with its 100,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space. Our goal is to renovate, modernize and reimagine spaces to help improve or enhance patron experience. We will also be finding ways to improve groups to get back to pre-Covid meeting numbers.
Over the pandemic, we had two hotels open. The Beatrice named after the owner’s mother is a 48-room high-end boutique hotel a few blocks from the convention center. We also have a new Aloft in the jewelry center with a popular restaurant rooftop bar, Blu Violet next to the Cambridge Innovation Center which houses a lot of start-up tech businesses and is also available to use for meeting space.