New York’s waterfront destinations beckon to meeting planners with wineries, waterfalls, outdoor attractions, numerous charming hotels and other venues.
Eleven lakes make up what is traditionally known as the Finger Lakes region. Culinary tours, wineries, art galleries and museums round out activities. The charming town of Canandaigua lies on the shores of Canandaigua Lake, 90 miles south of Rochester. Farther east, quaint Auburn on Cayuga Lake offers museums, the MacKenzie-Childs design center and award-winning cuisine. Seneca Lake supports almost half of the region’s wineries and the Seneca Wine Trail.
On Canandaigua Lake, the Inn on the Lake Waterfront Resort and Conference Center has 134 rooms and nine meeting rooms. Its neighbor, the New York Wine and Culinary Center, offers cooking classes and tasting demonstrations. Nearby, Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park is another unusual venue. The exquisitely restored, four-property Aurora Inn, with 44 rooms, perches next to Cayuga Lake with a lakeside room for 96 and a tent with banquet capacity for 200. On Seneca Lake, Belhurst Castle’s on-site catering can serve more than 500 guests, and the new Geneva Events and Visitors Center has capacity for 350.
“Our newest venue, the Seneca Art and Culture Center at Ganondagan, opened last October,” said Karen Miltner, chief content officer and public relations manager for the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection. “Roll-out theater seating in its 3,000-square-foot auditorium provides ultimate flexibility for numerous events.”
“Chautauqua Institution on the shores of Chautauqua Lake is the hub of Chautauqua County, with numerous attractions within a 20-minute drive,” said Connee Brown, with group business development for the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau.
Each summer at Chautauqua Institution, which dates to 1874, the intellect and the arts are showcased through hundreds of events and special study classes. Elsewhere in the county, Lake Erie Wine County boasts 23 wineries, and the Grape Discovery Center recounts 150 years of grape growing. In Jamestown, the birthplace of Lucille Ball, the National Museum of Comedy is slated to open next year.
Groups stay in style at the 157-room Athenaeum Hotel at Chautauqua Institution, the last of the lake’s grand wooden summer resorts. Spring and fall, the Institution offers flexible programming for groups. The Chautauqua Suites Meeting and Expo Center houses an 18,000-square-foot expo hall. At Peek’n Peak Resort and Spa, the main lodge has 108 guest rooms with additional condos and guest houses on property, plus 25,000 square feet of meeting space located on resort grounds; team-building events; an on-site aerial adventure course; golf and more. The Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum hosts seated dinners for up to 80 guests, as well as receptions. Chautauqua Belle and Summer Wind Lake Cruises offer full bars, receptions and dinner cruises on Chautauqua Lake.