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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Hard at work in state’s business hub

Courtesy Greater Wilmington CVB

Lyn Lewis doesn’t have to think long when she is asked about Wilmington’s assets. “No sales tax gives meeting planners an immediate return on investment,” said Lewis, director of communications for the Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Another thing that makes our area attractive is transportation. There are 80 trains a day stopping at the train station; we’re 25 miles from the Philadelphia International Airport.”

Wilmington, Delaware’s largest city, is the county seat of New Castle County, Delaware’s largest county. It is not unusual to see license plates from Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey there. The tax-free shopping and generally lower prices on wine and other products make New Castle County a draw.

It also helps that the county is a hub for big business. ING Direct, DuPont, Bank of America and AstraZeneca have a strong presence.

Suburban Wilmington is nestled next to the state’s distinctive arched border. Easily accessible hotels reside near the arch, including the 189-room Holiday Inn Select with its 12,000 square feet of meeting space. “People like that we are 12 miles from the Philadelphia International Airport,” said Juanita Tchimina, director of sales.

       Courtesy Greater Wilmington CVB

The 244-room Doubletree Hotel Wilmington, which received a makeover in 2007, has 11,000 square feet of space on two levels, including two ballrooms, eight breakout rooms and a 10-seat boardroom. It is convenient to AstraZeneca, Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children and the DuPont company.

In downtown Wilmington, the 218-room Doubletree Hotel Downtown Wilmington-Legal District has a 3,200-square-foot Law Center with office suites and a 600-square-foot boardroom. The hotel’s 20,000 square feet of meetings space includes a 9,300-square-foot ballroom.

Downtown’s grand dame is the Hotel du Pont. Built in 1913 by the DuPont company to cater to its out-of-town guests, the hotel is next to the DuPont Building on Rodney Square. It has gone through numerous expansions and restorations yet its elegance remains timeless.

More than 30,000 square feet of meeting and event space includes an IACC-approved, 20,000-square-foot conference center and a ballroom that is Wilmingtonís premier social spot for gatherings of up to 500 guests. The room’s 27-foot-high ceiling is circled with the bas-relief medallions of 20 famous women from history and literature. Thirty Italian artisans created classical wall scenes.

On Wilmington’s developing riverfront resides the Chase Center on the Riverfront, which has 33,000 square feet of exhibit space and 10 meeting/breakout rooms, a 266-seat auditorium and two ballrooms for up to 850 seated guests. There is no hotel on the riverfront, so groups must bus overnight guests from downtown, about a five-minute drive.

South of the city, the 266-room Hilton Wilmington Christiana and its 9,800 square feet of meeting space is off Interstate 95 near Christiana Hospital, the state’s largest medical facility, and Christiana Mall.

         Courtesy Greater Wilmington CVB

Meeting attendees Twitter about the hotel’s she-crab soup. “It’s our signature soup in our restaurant; it’s very popular,” said Pam Kingsland, the sales administrative assistant. Planners often request it for dinners.

In Newark, small hotels are clustered around the University of Delaware, which has its own convention and meeting space. The school’s Clayton Hall is a versatile facility with a 500-seat auditorium, 7,700 square feet of exhibit space and 22 conference and meeting rooms. The 5,000-seat Bob Carpenter Sports/Convocation Center hosts sports events, concerts, trade shows and conventions.

The Wilmington riverfront features Frawley Stadium, where the minor league Blue Rocks baseball team plays; the Delaware Children’s Museum, scheduled to open in April; and the newly opened Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge. There are also shops and restaurants there, including the Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant, which can handle groups.

Historic New Castle, which still has some cobblestone streets, will give guests a dose of Colonial charm. For culture, count on the Grand Opera House, the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts, the DuPont Theatre, the Delaware Theatre Company and the Delaware Art Museum, most of which offer space for functions.

“There’s such a wide variety of things to do,” Lewis said. “We can tailor off-site excursions to a group’s interest.”

Greater Wilmington CVB
(302) 652-4088