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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

What else is new in 2012?

Photo courtesy Anaheim CVB

ANAHEIM, Calif. — By this time next year, patrons of the Anaheim Convention Center will be soaking up the California sunshine in the center’s new garden spot.

Work will begin in April on the Grand Plaza, 100,000 square feet of outdoors that will “let our clients use their imagination and create something spectacular for their attendees,” said Charles Ahlers, president of the Anaheim Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau.

Crews will build walkways, fountains and other water features and seating areas, and install lighting and landscaping. A transportation plaza also will be added. The plaza will be located along Convention Way (the convention center’s front entrance) between the Hilton Anaheim and the Anaheim Marriott.

A flexible design will allow many uses, Ahlers said. “Here groups can dine al fresco, listen to concerts, or attend receptions and exhibitions. The Grand Plaza will enhance our open, campuslike space surrounding the Anaheim Convention Center and the walkability to the adjacent hotels.”


NAPA VALLEY, Calif. — The Meritage Resort and Spa, a resort set in its own vineyard in Napa Valley, Calif. is more than doubling its number of guest rooms and its meeting space.

“We had originally planned for the expansion to begin in November 2009, but we postponed it a whole year until the economy picked back up,” said Sheri Thomas, director of sales and marketing.

The $40 million project will be completed this spring.

A new 12,500-square-foot meeting space will allow the resort to handle multiple groups simultaneously or larger groups than its existing 10,000-square-foot ballroom, which is flanked by foyers and connected to a terrace.

Like the existing meeting space, the new space will be anchored by a divisible ballroom with prefunction space and an outdoor venue. The covered terrace will have sidewalls that can be rolled down so that in cooler seasons, the space can be used with heaters.

The expansion will give the resort 320 guest rooms, up from 154, and the new rooms will have balconies or patios.

A six-lane bowling alley with its own bar, the Crush Ultra-Lounge, will be an addition to the resort’s amenities.

The resort’s research showed the new meeting space was needed. “This will be so beneficial,” Thomas said.

“Before, swe would have one group of 100 guest rooms, and they’d take up the ballroom, and we would be done. Now we’ll be able to take a larger program or two separate groups.”

Part of Thomas’ mission will now be to enlighten others as to Napa’s capabilities. Long known for its small inns and bed-and-breakfasts, the valley has in recent years added more than 500 hotel rooms.

“Planners will say, ‘I have 200 people. I can’t bring that meeting to Napa,’ and I say, 
‘Of course you can.’”