Summerlin conference center opens to brisk business

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SUMMERLIN, Nev. -- When Kurt Bjorkman, director of catering and conference services at the Resort at Summerlin, used the words "extremely busy" to describe the property's conference and banquet center, he was not kidding.

To hear him tell it, the paint was barely dry on the walls of the 50,000-square-foot facility when it opened in September.

"A half hour before our first meeting [in the conference center], the fire marshall said it was OK for occupancy," he said.

The conference and banquet center at the Resort at Summerlin, Nevada opened in September. Demand for the resort's meeting space was fueled in part by its sales staff, which has been actively booking social events and business functions for more than a year, Bjorkman said.

"Local people can't keep away from us [for] weddings," he said. The resort has implemented a policy of one wedding per day, maximum.

This time of year, though, "is when we kick in with our serious meetings business," said Bjorkman, who added that the resort's meeting space is booked through March.

The conference center includes a 14,000-square-foot ball- room with 19-foot ceilings and a built-in stage as well as up to 11 breakout rooms.

The facility's interior strives to match the resort's overall Mediterranean look with a color scheme of rich reds, greens and blues, Bjorkman said.

The breakout rooms have a similar look to the ballroom, with richly hued wallpaper that looks handpainted, he added.

Three of the rooms have windows that overlook some of the resort's garden areas, Bjorkman said.

One nice feature is a built-in meeting planner's office equipped with a registration desk, roughly 1,800 square feet of storage space, a computer and extra telephone lines, he said.

"We give the meeting planner the key, and it's your room," he said. "It's a popular idea, especially if you're a large group and you don't want to take up one of the breakout rooms with meeting planner space."

The facility can accommodate as many as 1,100 people and, according to Bjorkman, has hosted functions for as few as six people.

This willingness to host small meetings is one of the elements that sets the resort apart from its Las Vegas counterparts, Bjorkman said. Another is its location -- 25 minutes from the Strip.

"We offer the best of both worlds," he said. "If you want to go to the Strip, we can get you there. If you never want to see all that action, you can stay here."

"Here" is the master-planned community of Summerlin, a suburb of Las Vegas with clusters of homes and several golf courses. In fact, resort guests can reserve preferred tee times at their choice of 10 area courses.

At first, Bjorkman said, the resort's meeting sales staff seized on the property's resort ambience and "went into [it] like they would sell a Scottsdale [Arizona] resort.

As time passed, though, "we found that we needed a little of the Las Vegas identification," he said.

Many companies, ranging from big pharmaceutical firms to smaller incentive groups, are taking a second look at Summerlin, Bjorkman said.

"A lot of people are looking at us because we're not on the Strip," he said. "They don't want to be a part of that big picture."

Besides the meetings facilities, the 541-room property offers the Aquae Sulis spa, a 50,000-square-foot casino, a pool complex, two restaurants and the Boulevard marketplace.

Resort at Summerlin
Phone: (877) 869-8777
Web: www.resortatsummerlin.com

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