“Down the Shore” at Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center

Harrah's Waterfront Conference Center, meetings
Prevue’s Barbara Scofidio (second from right) with the Harrah’s team, from left: Sariah Powell, Jim Marota, Melissa Ullman, Megan Hostetter, Alfredo Varela, Charlie Bernier, Steve Van Der Molen

I first experienced Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center In Atlantic City in 2016 during Meeting Professionals International’s WEC. Sparkling new (it had just opened in September of 2015), this $125.8 million conference center had already taken its place as the largest meeting facility of its kind from Baltimore to Boston, with 125,000 sf of total meeting space. A highly successful MPI placed it squarely at the top of the Northeast Corridor’s meetings map.

But what I remembered most? Actually, it was the water views from the Waterfront Conference Center’s pre-function space on the second floor of the center, stretching for what feels like miles overlooking the Absecon Inlet.

And on the other side of the hotel, the views look out to the Atlantic Ocean in the distance and the city’s Marina District. There are several balconies where attendees can leave their work behind and watch the legions of shore birds that make their home in the wetlands. The sea breeze is always refreshing and strong and I learned this part of the New Jersey shore is one of the windiest spots on the Atlantic Coast. After hours, a walking path just steps away from the conference center is an excellent place to get some exercise and explore the shore, and is also home to several outdoor sculptures.

For Prevue’s Senior Meeting Planner Summit, which was held at Harrah’s March 17-19, we were able to repurpose the far end of that second floor pre-function space and use it for meals and comfy living room-style lounges. We even held one-on-one appointments that normally would have been placed in a meeting room right in the pre-function space. The main meeting took place in a meeting space that the hotel was able to creatively design with a room set that mixed leather sofas, high-top charging stations and cocktail rounds, anchored in the center by a wooden farmhouse table.

Beautiful décor from Event FX Productions, Inc. mirrored the seaside setting with a coastal-chic theme, including suspended 4-ft floral sprays that wowed even this most senior group of planners. Add to that the creative F&B that took top rankings from attendees (including a bacon bar that included bacon strips drizzled in chocolate that had everyone buzzing), and Harrah’s delivered at the highest level.

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Barbara Scofidio is editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In 25 years of covering the industry, her articles have spanned topics ranging from social media to strategic meetings management. She is currently the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee and was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of Site, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. A familiar face at industry events, Barbara often leads panel discussions or speaks on topics close to her heart, such as green meetings or how the industry can help combat human trafficking. She is also on the board of ECPAT USA, the human trafficking organization. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.