Brandywine Valley, Pennsylvania at a Glance
Location: Southeastern Pennsylvania, between New York and Washington, D.C.
Access: Interstate 95 to U.S. Hwy. 1, SEPTA commuter rail, Amtrak, Philadelphia International Airport
Major Meeting Spaces: Desmond Malvern, a Doubletree by Hilton; Sheraton Great Valley; Embassy Suites by Hilton Philadelphia Valley Forge; Mendenhall Inn
Hotel Rooms: 4,000
Off-Site Venues: Phoenixville Foundry; American Helicopter Museum and Education Center; Conference Center at Penn State Great Valley; Faunbrook Bed and Breakfast; Malvern Retreat House; 430 West; Loch Aerie Mansion; Inn at White Wing
Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau
Located between the sprawling metropolitan areas of New York City and Washington, D.C., and west of Philadelphia, Chester County, Pennsylvania, provides welcome rural relief amongst the lush Brandywine Valley’s winding, woodsy backroads; through its historic inns and covered bridges; along its beer, wine and spirits trails; and in its spectacular gardens.
“The Greater Philadelphia region is known as America’s Garden Capital, with over 30 public gardens,” said Courtney Babcock, director of sales for the Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau. “Ten of those are in Chester County.”
Three distinctive downtown areas highlight the county: the boroughs of Kennett Square, West Chester and Phoenixville. All are known for rustic, small-town appeal, cobblestone streets and striking storefronts.
Nicknamed the Mushroom Capital of the World, Kennett Square is surrounded by farmland but is not quite country, with 500-plus historically protected buildings built between 1875 and 1924.
Boasting awards from the Trust for Historic Preservation and Main Street America, fast-growing West Chester is home to quaint buildings circa 1789 that cozy up next to cutting-edge boutiques, award-winning restaurants and bars known for splashy nightlife.
On the Schuylkill River, the one-time steel town of Phoenixville is all repurposed architecture, sought-after antiques, artsy galleries, vintage clothing, funky vibes, river adventures and a restored 1903 theater showing classic, cult and feature films.
Chester County offers more than 50 meeting venues for groups of 10 to 300 people. New options continue to pop up.
Lovingly restored, the 150-year-old Loch Aerie Mansion, 6,552 square feet of Romanesque artistry, has an ample choice of event spaces, plus an elegant new ballroom that accommodates up to 250 guests. A new contemporary space, 430 West, brings an industrial-chic, open-air event option to the table with an al fresco courtyard.
The 229-room Embassy Suites recently completed a $12 million renovation of its entire property, a prime location for small conferences and retreats in its 5,000-square-foot meeting space. The county CVB can keep planners abreast of everything that’s new.
“We are a planner’s best resource to enhance a meeting,” Babcock said. “For example, as an incentive through the rest of 2021, each new meeting or event booked in a Chester County lodging property with 25 or more room nights will receive a $500 signing bonus.”
Chester County’s largest event and conference center, the 195-room Desmond Malvern, a Doubletree by Hilton, offers 26,000 square feet of meeting space. Its awning-covered outdoor dining deck seats 150, and the glass-ceilinged conservatory can accommodate 60 guests. Amenities include a walking/jogging trail and a pickleball court.
Tucked in the woods, the property specializes in culinary teambuilding. Themes include a mystery basket cookoff and an hors d’oeuvre-making challenge followed by a cocktail party.
“What sets us apart is the way we go above and beyond service-wise thanks to the longevity of our employees,” said Kim Mullen, marketing director. “Attendees want to come back here just to hang out.”
Dedicated to the history of rotor flight, the American Helicopter Museum and Education Center features a spacious gallery where 350 attendees can gather among helicopters such as the iconic Bell 13 featured in the opening scene from “M.A.S.H.”
“You’re in a massive two-story industrial building surrounded by three dozen helicopters that span from an early model made in Sikorsky’s garage to the latest and greatest,” said Paul Kahan, executive director. A docent-led tour can be added.
Built in 1882 on the banks of French Creek, architecturally stunning Phoenixville Foundry’s industrial exterior belies a sophisticated and elegant interior with space for up to 500.
A circa 1860 Victorian inn in the Brandywine Valley, Faunbrook Bed and Breakfast has seven guest rooms. Two suites have fireplaces. Function spaces include the inn, the porch and a tented patio that is illuminated at night.
“Faunbrook is ideal for a corporate retreat because it doesn’t feel corporate,” said owner Lori Zytkowicz, owner. “Our two wooded acres are a peaceful retreat setting.”
With roots in the Underground Railroad, the 70-guest-room Inn at Mendenhall has 25,000 square feet of flexible space. Two ballrooms can accommodate 650. If walls could talk, the inn’s upscale, historic restaurant and friendly tavern would have many tales to tell.
One of the world’s premier horticultural display gardens, 1,077-acre Longwood Gardens features 20 indoor and 20 outdoor gardens with 5,000 types of plants, as well as the country’s most significant fountain collection. Built in 1919, its gorgeous conservatory is considered one of the world’s great greenhouses.
Honoring the artistry of the beloved Wyeth family, the Brandywine Museum of Art hugs the banks of the Brandywine River and features paintings by N.C., Andrew and Jamie Wyeth; the museum offers studio tours.
The county’s Brandywine Valley is home to historic Chaddsford Winery. Up to 30 attendees can enjoy a guided tasting in its newly renovated, 100-year-old farm cottage with a tented brick patio.