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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Savoring The Suburbs


West Des Moines, Iowa

As far as suburban histories go, West Des Moines doesn’t fit the usual trajectory. It all started with a lone tent in 1846 pitched by James Jordan on the western Des Moines border. The tent became a house and, in the 1890s, the focal point of an area called Valley Junction, due to the local Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad yard. Today it is an important destination for meeting planners because it retains its position as a key junction, although one that caters more to regional business travelers: the intersections of interstates 80, 35 and 235.

“It’s a great location for highway access, and it also has become home to a lot of corporate headquarters and two major shopping malls,” said Greg Edwards, president and CEO of the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau.

To cater to both local corporations, and state associations and conventions that want to be near the state capital, meeting planners can choose between independent conference centers like the 11,500-squarefoot Hy-Vee Conference Center and full-service hotels that have operated in the area since the 1980s, when the 285-room Sheraton West Des Moines opened.

With 15 rooms and 19,000 square feet of meeting space, including an exhibition space of 12,000 square feet, the Sheraton is now the secondlargest meeting space in town, superseded only by the West Des Moines Marriott, which has a smaller grand ballroom but a total of 14,000 square feet of meeting space spread over seven rooms.


Chesterfield, Missouri

Chesterfield, Missouri, has the type of backstory you’d expect from a suburb: It grew primarily in the 1960s as a set of condominiums and apartments around the Chesterfield Mall, but in the intervening years, it has added attractions and meeting spaces that make it a simple choice if you need a meeting space near St. Louis.

The IACC-certified DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel St. Louis-Chesterfield has recently completed a $10 million renovation that overhauled every inch of the 224-room property, including its 36,000 square feet of executive conference center and meeting space. Several other smaller properties throughout Chesterfield offer meeting space for smaller groups, but the DoubleTree is the only full-service property.

For receptions that pack a big bang for your budget, meeting planners can use Chesterfield’s unconventional venues: Faust Park and the Kemp Auto Museum. In the park, before attendees dine on a 4,800-square-foot covered terrace, they can visit the 1,200 tropical butterflies that inhabit the Butterfly House.

At the museum, located in the Chesterfield Commons, the longest outdoor mall in America, up to 850 guests can mingle and dine among some of the rarest automobiles in existence, including an 1886 Benz Patent Motor Car, the first-ever motor vehicle, and one of 183 extant 1931 Mercedes 370S Mannheims, the first car built when Daimler and Benz merged.