Newly Renovated Monterey Conference Center Now Open for Meetings
Located in the heart of the historic city of Monterey, the new $60 million Monterey Conference Center is open for business after two years of renovations. The official ribbon cutting ceremony took place on Jan. 31, followed by a celebration that included live music, hors-d'oeuvres and guided tours of the property.
The Conference Center is a modern, LEED-certified meeting facility that features more than 40,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and can fit groups of up to 3,200 attendees.
The exterior of the building presents a striking first impression with natural stone, a large oval skylight and a sculptural fountain. Prior to the renovations, many people assumed the Conference Center and the Portola Hotel & Spa were the same property. The new façade helps differentiate the two venues.
“We wanted the Conference Center to stand alone, have its own identity and be a draw for groups and attendees,” explained Nancy Whitman, director of sales and events for the city of Monterey.
Inside, the Conference Center is clean and well laid-out. There is a large pre-function foyer right inside the front doors and in front of the 19,150 sq. ft. Serra Ballroom, with plenty of space for registration counters.
All new fiber optic cables were laid throughout the property, and there are plenty of electrical outlets and internet connection points both inside the meeting rooms and in the common areas, and even individual thermostats for each room.
On the second floor, the 10,000 sq. ft. Steinbeck ballroom features an 18-foot ceiling made up of wooden panels that mimic the feel of being on a boat. The space can be divided into five sections, with convenient hanging points in each area. There are large loading docks for easy move-in and move-out, offering the ability to bring cars in on both floors of the venue (particularly important for events such as the annual Monterey Car Week).
Sustainability is important at the Conference Center. Digital display screens appear outside of each room to encourage planners to minimize the printing of signage. There are water bottle refill stations to cut down on the use of plastic bottled water, and the facility uses recycled and compostable materials whenever and wherever possible. The building will also soon be adding solar panels for energy conservation.
The facility is directly connected to the newly renovated Portola Hotel & Spa and connected to the Monterey Marriott’s meeting space via a skybridge.
The Portola Hotel & Spa offers meeting space for up to 1,700 attendees and 379 guest rooms. Its DeAnza ballroom is also directly accessible through the Conference Center, offering seamless integration for larger meetings. The Monterey Marriott has 341 guest rooms and can hold meetings for up to 1,590 attendees.
The location offers features and attractions that are ideal for both meeting attendees and tourists alike: walking distance to the waterfront that includes the Old Fisherman’s Wharf and a large selection of restaurants and shops. There are a number of other hotel options nearby, from the boutique Hotel Pacific to the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa. For attendees who are driving, there is also a conveniently located parking garage just steps away, directly across Portola Plaza.
“We see the facility as a regional hub of innovation that will capitalize on our destination’s natural allure and, together, help drive new thinking for group attendees,” said Tammy Blount, president and CEO of the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau (MCCVB).
In an effort to make it easy for event planners to find the right space to suit their needs, the CVB has created the Monterey Conference Connection, which brings together the Monterey Conference Center, Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Marriott, enabling planners to look at all the space and sleeping rooms together, submit a single RFP and work with a single group sales contact.