London won this year’s award for Best International Meeting and Convention Destination, while Las Vegas remains North America’s bright star; winning Best U.S. Meeting and Convention Destination. From the U.K. capital’s bustling attractions for tourism and leisure to Las Vegas’ hot appeal as a prime location for large conventions, these cities were Business Traveler’s best. Plus, learn which restaurants are best for closing a deal.
Best International Meeting Destination
Best International Convention Destination
London’s appeal as a meeting and convention destination isn’t a tough nut to crack. First, if you’re even vaguely interested in mixing business with pleasure, the U.K. capital offers an array of world-class hotels, restaurants and bars, along with gobs of history and style.
Among the options here are spots like Wembley Stadium, which, as well as hosting soccer games, has conference rooms accommodating up to 2,000 people. Another sports stadium—Lord’s Cricket Ground—offers a range of smaller spaces, some overlooking the field.
If it’s size you’re after, there’s ExCeL, a 100-acre facility in the Docklands area, and the QEII Centre, billed as “the largest dedicated conference and exhibition space in Central London.” The QEII can also boast an unusually desirable location: Westminster, within walking distance of Big Ben, Trafalgar Square and the West End.
Location isn’t everything, of course, but as any seasoned conventioneer knows, you don’t want to end up in some ho-hum district on the edge of nowhere. While London’s patchwork of lively neighborhoods reduces the risk of be- coming a convention castaway, the city also offers a huge number of venues that are attractions in their own right.
Rooms in the iconic Gherkin high-rise, for instance, provide stunning views of the city. The Museum of London Docklands, one of London’s true cultural treasures, shares a glorious former warehouse with several meeting spaces. For a sense of the range of options available in this city, meanwhile, you need only look at the Churchill War Rooms in Westminster, where Winston Churchill plotted the course of the Second World War, and the vaulted brick spaces at The Steel Yard along the river, which also accommodate a hip nightclub and bar. —Chris Wright
Best U.S. Meeting Destination
Best U.S. Convention Destination
When it comes to the meetings and conventions industry and its nuanced demands, only one domestic destination can accommodate both the smallest gatherings and the biggest ones with the same access, service and amenities. A good share of the 40 million-plus visitors who come to Las Vegas every year make it their primary goal to do business in the city’s assortment of meeting rooms, ballrooms and convention halls. An estimated 24,000 meetings and conventions are held every year in Las Vegas, with the biggest being CES, World of Concrete, MAGIC, NAB and G2E, to name just a few of the heavy hitters who utilize all the city’s talents to deliver the best experience from 9 to 5 and beyond. So much of what happens outside of the meeting room or convention hall is what makes Las Vegas alluring. No group outing is ever boring with the region’s vast range of activities, spas, dining, entertainment and nightlife.
In the past two years, the Caesars Forum conference center opened, with the largest two pillar-less ballrooms in the world, as well as more than 300,000 square feet of flexible space and six boardrooms. And at Wynn Las Vegas, a 430,000-square-foot two-story meeting and convention expansion overlooks the only golf course on the Las Vegas Strip and is powered by 100-percent renewable energy. —Melinda Sheckells
Best Restaurant Group in the World for Business Meetings
With over 50 restaurants spanning five continents, Nobu is an ideal—and consistent—place to charm a client, pitch an idea or celebrate the closing of a deal. If you’ve ever longed for the sweet, salty pleasure of miso-marinated cod, the purity of yellowtail sashimi with fresh jalapeño, or the delightful crunch of rock shrimp tempura, you are a fan of Nobu Matsuhisa, the Michelin-starred master chef who created these iconic dishes and put an elegant, refined spin on today’s Japanese cuisine.
A classically trained sushi chef, Matsuhisa traveled from Japan to Peru, culling regional ingredients to create an inventive “Nobu-style” cuisine utilizing just a few remarkable flavors in each dish, before opening his first acclaimed restaurant in Beverly Hills, California, in 1987. From there, after being pursued for four years, Nobu joined forces with actor Robert De Niro and film producer Meir Teper, opening a restaurant in Downtown Manhattan in 1994. Nobu NYC became a celebrity hotspot and top-rated restaurant distinguished by unanimous media raves, a coveted Michelin star and a James Beard Award.
Branching out in a very thoughtful manner, Matsuhisa personally trained his sushi chefs, and his beautiful restaurants, with elegant interiors featuring modern bistro tables without tablecloths, became focal destinations around the world. What’s the secret to his success? According to the chef, it’s passion: “You have to put passion into your vision and dreams, whether it is cooking, music, architecture or politics.” —Susan Brustman
Ruth’s Chris Steak House
Best Restaurant Group in North America for Business Meetings
In 1965, Ruth Fertel acquired the Chris Steak House in New Orleans, which opened in 1927. Her signature method of preparing sizzling steaks from hand-selected cuts of custom-aged USDA Prime beef continues to command center stage at more than 150 Ruth’s Chris Steak House locations around the globe, a testament to how a small eatery became one of the largest collections of upscale steak houses in the world. This attention to detail is also seen in the brand’s excellent poultry and seafood, New Orleans-inspired side dishes, desserts, craft cocktails and, of course, award-winning wine list, all served with warm hospitality and top-notch service.
Today, Ruth’s Chis remains true to its heritage, helping corporate America celebrate over 500-degree plates.
Always interacting with the community, Ruth’s Chris hosts special dinners with civic leaders, business owners and executives to raise money for local food banks. Listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol “RUTH” since 2005, Ruth’s Hospitality Group is recognized by 50/50 Women on Boards for having women representing 63 percent of its board of directors, while 25 percent of its board members represent traditionally marginalized racial and ethnic groups, resulting in highly skilled leaders who offer a range of viewpoints. —Terry Zarikian