For each ‘Planner’s Pick,’ Prevue interviews a planner for their choices of compelling, high value destinations.
PLANNER: PING HE, CMP
Director, Global Sourcing & Partner
Relations Experient Inc., Chicago, IL
The “spinning jenny” cotton loom in NW England gave rise to the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s, making Manchester “the original Modern city.” Two centuries later with its obsolete docksides in tatters, England’s second city began to rebuild with a massive amount of sustainable, hi-tech infrastructure. Capping the rebirth, BBC partially relocated from London this summer into MediaCity on the waterfront. The new National Football Museum opens in 2012. And there’s a palpable spirit of youthful creativity and innovation, especially in new media and tech.
“Ohmigod, as soon as I got off the train I said, ‘Wow, this is such a vibrant city, there’s an incredible energy here,’” says Ping He, CMP, who visited in August. “There is so much that is new, but they did a beautiful job blending the modern buildings with all of the historic architecture.”
She adds that because the city is so compact, you can walk the entire central district filled with “lovely landscaped parks” and every imaginable ethnic restaurant. There’s a busy pub on every corner and the free, color-coded public transportation is super easy to understand.
For large groups, Ping raves about the Manchester Central convention complex built inside the WWII railway station, with a $48 million extension completed in 2010. She toured The University of Manchester—“What beauty,” she says—describing a wealth of modern and elegant historic venues dedicated for conferences available at great value. And home to the world’s most storied soccer team, Manchester United Stadium “is a great offsite venue with a fun tour,” offering 180 suites/rooms, the largest of which caters to 1,100-pax receptions.
“The most gorgeous, gorgeous venue is Manchester Town Hall, which is often used as a film location,” says Ping. Built in 1877, the Gothic-style Great Hall hosts 500. At the opposite end of the design spectrum, Ping likes The Lowry arts center—a drastically modern space for 1,700 pax.