Some cities across the United States hold a long-standing reputation for hosting religious conferences and events, but recently, the religious meetings market has begun to experience a shift. As the popularity of certain locations has increased, so have the rates, forcing faith-based organizers to seek more affordable alternatives.
Here are five cities that have emerged as promising destinations for the religious sector.
Nestled in the heart of the Bluegrass State, Lexington is surrounded by some of the country’s most prestigious and beautiful horse farms, earning the title Horse Capital of the World. Thanks to interstates 64 and 75, the city is accessible within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population, making it a convenient crossroads for travelers.
“This is just a really good hotel, restaurant, hospitality community,” said Doug Barger, destination sales manager at Visit Lex. “The people here are so friendly and welcoming, and that goes a long way. When we have site inspections, we get a lot of compliments from planners, saying, ‘We don’t see you guys competing with each other; you work together.’”
Lexington is also known for its diverse restaurant scene and family atmosphere. After meeting in the Lexington Convention Center, attendees can explore the colorful downtown area to grab a bite to eat, relax by one of the city fountains or browse a local art gallery.
“It’s such a nice downtown,” said Barger. “We have a feel that religious planners just really like. They want vibe, but not too much vibe.”
Lexington offers two major downtown hotel properties for meeting groups, with a third projected to open in 2019. In the center of downtown, the Hyatt Regency connects directly to Rupp Arena as well as the Lexington Convention Center, offering a combined total of 130,000 square feet of meeting space. Groups can enjoy various amenities at this elegant venue, including free parking, Wi-Fi and airport shuttle services. Just a mile and a half from downtown, the award-winning Campbell House Lexington is a lovely boutique hotel with 24,000 square feet of meeting space.
Nearby attractions include the Kentucky Horse Park; Old Friends, a retirement farm for thoroughbred horses; Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, home of the country’s largest private collection of original 19th-century buildings; and the Ark Encounter, a 510-foot timber replica of Noah’s Ark about an hour’s drive north of town.