*Though the meetings industry is currently navigating the global pandemic by remaining for the most part in the digital world, at Meetings Alliance we are sharing information with an eye on the future when the essential face-to-face component of meetings and events will once again be a reality.
Great first impressions leave lasting memories, and while the right vendors can create beautiful events in ballroom terraces, gardens, and pool decks with a view, savvy meeting planners know to look outside the box for venues that can transform a good experience into a truly memorable one.
Enter Latin America and the Caribbean, with the connectivity, professionalism, and dazzling collection of breathtaking natural locations, historical sites, and unique architecture that can help create extraordinary moments that guarantee the success of any function. Hands down, hosting an event where the backdrop is a trio of volcanoes or an ancient Mayan pyramid beats a ballroom terrace every time.
Let’s take a look at a sample of some of the unique spaces offered by Mexico, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic, to name but three of this region’s MICE powerhouses.
It’s not easy to choose just one spot in the vast country of Mexico to focus on for outdoor events—there’s no shortage of amazing sites with every service needed from coast to coast—but for sheer historical, archaeological, and jaw-dropping experiences, it’s hard to beat the combination of Mayan ruins, colonial cities, and restored haciendas offered by the state of Yucatan. This is home to the capital city of Merida, a colonial marvel steeped in culture, with open-air plazas and parks, massive sisal haciendas with courtyards, gardens, and fountains, and, of course, a wealth of Mayan ruins that welcome group events.
For example: One of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chichén Itzá’s massive main pyramid—the Temple of Kukulkan—sits inside a six-square-mile complex of ruins and several facilities including a museum and an auditorium, and is the focus of an astonishing light-and-sound show that can include a buffet lunch and round-trip transportation from Merida. Weather-wise, the best time to plan outdoor events in Yucatan is during the dry, high-season winter months from December through April.
Less than an hour away from Guatemala City, La Antigua is the crown jewel of Guatemala’s tourism thanks to its vibrant culture, gorgeously restored colonial-era buildings with picture-perfect rooftops for cocktail events, and a unique location in a valley ringed by a trio of enormous volcanoes. The city’s premier MICE destination is the Hotel Museum Spa Casa Santo Domingo, a property comprised of two sections: a five-star hotel, Casa Santo Domingo, built around the remains of an ancient monastery and a temple from the mid-1500s, and Santo Domingo del Cerro, a mostly open-air space built on top of a hill with galleries, a convention center, museums, a restaurant, and even a consecrated chapel with no walls.
The views from Santo Domingo del Cerro of the three volcanoes that ring La Antigua are astounding, and this site also has an eco-park and an amphitheater. Together, the properties have a combined 9,000 m² (96,872 ft²) for meetings and events, including a two-story convention center with capacity for up to 1,100 combined, Wi-Fi and all the a/v technology needed, plus an onsite staff of professionals to help with organization, catering, etc. An added plus? The days are warm, and the nights are cool year round (peak—as in, dry—season is November through March).
The Dominican Republic’s lush greenery, exquisite beaches, and tropical weather make it a must for outdoor events. The capital city of Santo Domingo’s recently restored colonial center is home to several historical and cultural landmarks that can host exceptional open-air functions, including the ruins of the Monastery of San Francisco, the vast Plaza España, and the Dr. Rafael M. Moscoso National Botanical Garden.
About an hour-and-a-half drive from the capital along the coastal highway is the city of La Romana, home to Casa de Campo Resort & Villas, the southern coast’s leading destination for luxury meetings and events. With 7,000 acres, there are plenty of outdoor venues to choose from including a yacht club, beaches, and their new indoor-outdoor Marina Riverside Center, but their most unusual gem is Altos de Chavón, a unique replica of a 16th century Mediterranean village. Planners can pick from several remarkable venues here for events, including the Chavón Terrace, the Chavón Plaza, or even a 5,000-seat stone amphitheater with breathtaking views of the Chavón River and the Caribbean Sea.
A note about the weather: due to the rainy season, the best time to hold events on the island is between December and April.