By Astrid Zeppenfeld
Saint Charles is to many Saint Louis city dwellers – and even some folks in Saint Louis County – like a distant cousin; one that you love but, since some family members live on the other side of the big river, you really only visit for special events. We should rethink that!
Saint Charles Convention Center
Covering 110,000 sq. ft. of the more than 160,000 sq. ft. of total meeting space in Greater Saint Charles, the Saint Charles Convention Center is where most of its big events happen. Planners find a warm, inviting space with murals, carpeting, additional restrooms, and 1,200 complimentary parking spaces directly at the convention center, as well as a full-service Embassy Suites attached to both of its levels. 296 suites and another 5,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, with the hotel’s largest ballroom accommodating 180 guests, and multiple break-out and board rooms, await attendees of business events taking place at Saint Charles Convention Center. Most recent updates include the installation of AtmosAir, an air ionization system that neutralizes airborne and surface contaminants including Covid-19. The exhibit hall of the center provides enough space for conventions and tradeshows.
Hotels with Meeting Space
Joanie Ohlms, Director of Sales at Greater Saint Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau, disclosed a few exciting new developments in the area that meeting planners will just love.
A brand-new Hampton Inn & Suites, with 117 rooms and small meeting space to accommodate up to 60 for a board meeting or training session, was added to the area in December 2021. Additionally, Drury Plaza at the center of the entertainment district, Streets of St. Charles, has 180 rooms and several meeting spaces, the largest of which accommodates up to 140 guests.
Ohlms points out, “The City of Saint Charles has been experiencing growth in tourism, infrastructure, and new developments. Saint Charles remaining open during the pandemic has allowed tourists, planners, and attendees to enjoy dining, shopping, and attractions when they may not have been able to in other areas. New restaurants and shops continue to open and many of the current businesses have been able to thrive. We’re excited about the new growth that will include additional restaurants and attractions which will only increase the planners’ options for a great attendee experience.
Our destination offers an experience like no other, with its rich history in the 12-block-long historic district of Main Street and Streets of Saint Charles entertainment district – all within walking distance or a five-minute drive to convention space.”
The Foundry Art Centre
Originally a train car factory in the 1920s, The Foundry Art Centre is a unique meeting space that has attracted planners to Saint Charles. Ohlms tells MEET Missouri, “The City of Saint Charles purchased the once-owned American Car & Foundry building and completed a $2.2 million renovation in 2004. Planners love this unique, creative backdrop for meetings, corporate receptions, and celebrations. The versatility of the Foundry space with the exhibits in the art galleries and the mezzanine level with artists’ studios is quite a draw for many meeting planners.” She elaborates, “The Grand Hall can accommodate up to 400 guests with a stage and lighting for presentations. Planners can work with the CVB and Foundry staff to design a creative, hands-on art experience.”
Rich Meyers at Ambassadors of Harmony, who recently held an event there, had nothing but great things to say about the venue.
“We held our annual Installation of Officers and Awards Event […] last weekend. The facility is just beautiful. I visited The Foundry to make the initial arrangements during the day, but it transforms into a wonderland at night – with the party lighting and art works creating a magical atmosphere. There was so much room to spread our group out that […] we had a large group sitting at tables engaged in conversation at one end of the room, and an equally large group at the end of the room singing together – and neither group disturbed the other. The membership of our group spreads from Springfield, Missouri, to Springfield, Illinois, so The Foundry’s location is another plus with lots of parking available.
The staff contributed as much to the success of the evening as did the facility. Paige and David were friendly, hospitable, flexible, and accommodating all evening long. Each request we made was met with a positive response reflecting their ‘can do’ attitude. We look forward to holding many more events at The Foundry Art Center in the future.”
More Developments for 2022
Ohlms also suggests, “Our Ameristar Casino Resort Spa is a four-diamond, full-service hotel with 400 luxury suites and 20,000 sq. ft. of beautiful meeting space, with its largest ballroom accommodating up to 800 guests. This entertainment venue offers a separate casino floor, seven dining venues, indoor/outdoor pool with an outdoor courtyard, as well as unique venues to be utilized for meetings and receptions. This experience includes a full-service luxury spa too.”
When we asked what’s on tap for 2022 in the Greater Saint Charles area, Ohlms hesitated only briefly. “We are getting a Chicken N Pickle – they’re breaking ground in Riverpointe a few months from now!” Anyone who’s ever been to Chicken N Pickle knows how much added fun and team-building activity this restaurant can provide for your business event.
Astrid Zeppenfeld is MEET Missouri’s editor/business development manager from St. Louis.