Everyone wants to come to Palm Springs for a convention. Most of the reasons are obvious: perpetually blue skies, wide horizons, a mountainside close enough to touch, signature mid-century architecture, celebrities, golf, alfresco dining, one-of-a-kind shops, spas and tourist-savvy hotels. In fact, Palm Springs Desert Resorts is such a popular location for meetings, trade shows and conferences that the Palm Springs Convention Center is undergoing a $28-million expansion to meet the demand. When completed, the center will almost double in size to 264,000 square feet.
The metamorphosis to a venue like no other is the result of site-specific design work by the internationally recognized architectural firm of Fentress Bradburn, whose projects include the Incheon International Airport in Seoul, Howard Hughes Parkway office buildings in Las Vegas, and the current expansion of the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.
Sitting on 40 acres within walking distance from the heart of downtown Palm Springs, the Convention Center/ Wyndham Palm Springs Hotel complex also lies near a $90-million casino opening in November 2003.
While the surrounding environment is critical to successful convention locations, convention centers themselves must accommodate a wide variety of needs. The Palm Springs Convention Center has had the benefit of hosting large groups since its genesis in 1998 and knows where improvements can be made. That’s why convention planners can be assured the expansion will incorporate vital convention features into the center’s transformation. Flexibility was a requisite in planning for the new and improved facility.
For example, the first phase of the 111,000-square-foot expansion, which began in December 2002, added six meeting rooms ranging in size from 680 square feet to 4,000 square feet. Also during this phase, an updated kitchen with state-of-the-art equipment was created to enhance the convention and meeting experience with fine dining. To ensure quality and consistency, the Palm Springs Convention Center established a relationship with its own in-house caterer, Savoury’s, which is capable of preparing everything from a buffet breakfast for five to an elegant sit-down dinner for 5,000.
Currently, the Palm Springs Convention Center complex offers 135,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space. The carpeted exhibition hall alone provides 66,000 square feet of open space divisible into five sections or expanded to 77,000 square feet using contiguous areas.
Also available are 16,750 square feet of meeting space perfectly suited for breakout sessions and smaller meetings. When the expansion is complete, there will be 38,750 square feet of meeting space. Outdoor event space is also available to take advantage of the desert’s 350 days of sunshine a year.
The next phase of the expansion, scheduled for completion in early 2005, adds another 22,000 square feet of ballroom/meeting space and 34,000 square feet of exhibit space. A two-block promenade will lead convention and meeting participants to the stops, restaurants and entertainment of the historical Palm Springs downtown village.
The expansion also means an additional 800 parking spaces, for a total of 1,300 spaces. Moving large objects into place is no problem. The Palm Springs Convention Center has hosted the Clean Cities Conference, which included exhibit vehicles as large as buses, and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Expo, which included a display of 80 airplanes.
A repeat client of the convention center, the Intel Developers Conference, has made use of another of the center’s capabilities: high-speed Internet access that eases computer networking and cyber cafe operation.
While the convention center complex includes the 410-room deluxe Wyndham hotel with 30,000 square feet of meeting space, another 7,500 hotel rooms are available minutes away within city limits.
Because Palm Springs is all about relaxation, the Palm Springs Convention Center prides itself on making group planners’ jobs as stress-free as possible. The center’s experienced staff works with groups to ensure a well-run event. The spaciousness of the convention facilities, set against the backdrop of a desert oasis, expand the possibilities.