Boston - A Great Convention City

In town for the American Society of Association Executives' Annual Meeting, over 6,000 members took over downtown Boston! While I currently work and live in Iowa, it was great to spend time with my friends from Milwaukee and Orlando's Caribe Royale Resort.


Boston - A Great Convention City

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by MilwVon on August 20, 2006

There is a lot to do in Boston. Unfortunately, I was in town for just 5 days, most of that spent in meetings and seminars. If you go to Boston, you really must check out the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. (See the separate journal entry.) It was truly the highlight of my time in Boston, including the conference that I was attending.

While in town, you have many options to take in the sights. The "Ducks" are always a lot of fun. While we didn't do the tour in Boston, I did do one last summer in Providence, RI, and loved it. The Boston version leaves right near the Marriott Copley Place (across the street) and costs $26 (adults), with discounts for groups and kids. More information may be found at www.bostonducktours.com or at (617) 267-DUCK.

Boston recently opened their new convention center out at the waterfront, the Boston Convention and Exhibit Center. While they may have thought they were ready for our convention of over 6,000, it was clear the city still had a lot of preparation to go. Utilizing buses to transport folks between their downtown hotels and the new convention center, and the BIG DIG still experiencing troubles, traffic in Boston was a bit of a nightmare.

I understand that there are plans to keep the old Hynes Veterans Convention Center. Both are managed by the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority. More information may be found at http://www.massconvention.com/home.html.${QuickSuggestions} If you are planning to a business trip to Boston, I would encourage you to plan for an afternoon for some local sightseeing. I was disappointed that we didn't really have the time to do anything on our own during these 5 days.

With that being said, we did love what we did get to see, even if it was just passing by on the bus between the convention center and Copley Place.${BestWay} There is a decent bus and rail system in Boston, but in my opinion, it is not for those unfamiliar with the city. Taxis are reasonably priced, but sometimes the drivers are not the friendliest. We took cabs probably five times and had unpleasant experiences during three of those trips!

If you enjoy that romantic horse-drawn carriage, Boston can be a great city to see that way. The city's architecture is beautiful, especially the churches around Copley Place and Beacon Street.


John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by MilwVon on August 22, 2006

What a special treat! Tonight we were the guests of a coalition of several convention and visitors’ bureaus hosting key client groups. Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, and Portland (Oregon) really rolled out the red carpet for nearly 200 association executive directors and meeting planners. With the museum closed to the public, it was very nice to explore and learn at our own pace.

Dedicated in 1979, this is one of the few Presidential Libraries in the USA administered by the US National Archives and Records Administration. Telling the story of the life and impact of our 35th President of the United States of America, this is probably one of the most visited sites in Boston and perhaps all of New England.

Your tour starts with a short film (approximately 20 minutes) that highlights John F. Kennedy’s childhood, US Navy service, and congressional and senate years. The film was very well done, using old family footage with Kennedy himself telling his story.

The self-guided walking tour takes you back to the beginning of JFK’s rise to the White House. There are many rooms and corridors that tell stories through actual documents, photos, and artifacts of an era long gone. There are several exhibits that include the clothing and jewelry of Jackie Kennedy. Visitors are also treated to an excerpt of Mrs. Kennedy’s televised 1962 White House Tour.

I really enjoyed watching the famous 1960 Nixon-Kennedy debate in an exhibit area that also included the actual CBS television studio set from Chicago where the debate took place. Nixon really did look old and tired as compared to the attractive and youthful JFK. Almost made you feel sorry for the guy sweating under the heat of the bright lights.

There are a couple of areas that include old TV footage of Walter Cronkite, including his call of the 1960s Presidential election and the announcement of Kennedy’s death on November 22, 1963. As a baby boomer who relates to that as the defining historical moment of my childhood, I was taken back to being that 6-year-old glued to the television in my family’s living room.

Additional exhibits areas include the Attorney General office of Robert Kennedy and stories of how John F. Kennedy’s legacy lives on through programs such as the exploration of space, Profiles in Courage, and the US Peace Corps. There is also a room highlighting the work of current Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts).

Perhaps one of the most human interest exhibit areas in the museum is the special exhibit on Kennedy’s 3-day trip to Ireland in spring of 1963. The letters, photographs, and newspaper articles tell a story of an American enjoying the exploration of his family heritage in a country far away from Massachusetts.

Open Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm. Admission is $10 for adults, with discounts for students and seniors. Additional information is available at www.jfklibrary.org.
John F. Kennedy Library and Museum
Columbia Point
Boston, Massachusetts, 02125
(617) 929-4500

Marriott Copley Place

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by MilwVon on August 22, 2006

In town for a 4-day conference, this was an ideal location in the Copley Plaza area of downtown Boston. The hotel is connected directly to the Copley Place Mall and has an assortment of outstanding dining opportunities. From Champions on the lobby level to The Sushi Bar and Gourmeli's on level two, you have many dining options. For those who cannot do without your Starbucks, you're in luck, as this hotel property also features one of their shops on the second floor.

If you can't find a menu to your liking, you can venture into the mall or down Huntington Avenue for several local restaurants, as well as some chains such as Cheesecake Factory.

As a full-service hotel, expect to be treated well by all staff. There is a fitness center, as well as a swimming pool with whirlpool and sauna on the fifth floor. Business services are also available on-site.

My sleeping room was comfortable and rather spacious for an inner city hotel. New pillow-top bedding was comfortable, allowing for a great night's sleep. Bathroom toiletries provided were Nirvae Botanicals. The hand lotion was heavenly!!

Boston Marriott Copley Place
110 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts, 02116
(617) 236-5800

Joe Tecce's Ristorante & Caffe

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by MilwVon on August 21, 2006

In town for our Annual Meeting, our contingency of 18 executives from Wisconsin ventured to Boston's historic North End into the Italian community for dinner. Bringing traditional Neapolitan cuisine to Bostonians and visitors, this local family owned restaurant has been serving the community for over 50 years!

Service was very attentive and all of our meals arrived piping hot. Not a small feat with a group of 18!

We started our fantastic Italian feast with appetizers and fresh salad. With options like calamari, mozzarella cheese sticks and fried ravioli how can you go wrong? The entrees sampled by our group ran the range of baked lasagna to the veal special of the night. Many in our group had simple pasta dishes, with chicken or shrimp. The white garlic butter sauce smelled wonderful, even from across the table.

I stayed with my normal Italian favorite veal parm. The portion was about average, with a small side dish of pasta. I really enjoyed the marinara sauce that had a tangy bite to it, which was actually pretty good. The bread was a OK but not as good as you might expect in an authentic Italian restaurant. (It was served at room temperature, rather than hot from the oven.)

Desserts were plentiful, but our group choose to pass due to the lateness of the evening. With fig cake, tiramisù, cheesecake and an assortment of freshly baked pastries and fruit sorbets, surely you can find whatever your taste buds seek.

Offering a full service bar, you can have cocktails, wine or beer. There is also live music to be enjoyed in the cafe on Friday and Saturday nights complete with free appetizers on Fridays (5:30-8:30pm).

Cab fare from the Copley area was around $11.00. If you drive to the restaurant, there is valet parking available.

Additional information may be found on their Web site at www.joetecces.com.


Sorry to not have any photos for this entry.
Joe Tecce's Ristorante
61 N Washington St
Boston, Massachusetts, 02114
(617) 742-6665

Champions

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by MilwVon on August 22, 2006

For a sports fan, there is no better place to watch an athletic event than in a local bar in the community. Baseball on the big screen is the next best thing to being at the ball park. This, however, wasn’t just any baseball game; it was the Boston Red Sox. Add to that, the hype of a legendary rivalry like the Boston Red Sox versus the NY Yankees, and you have the opportunity to really experience the rapid pulse of the city.

Champions is not your typical hotel lobby bar. With 30 TVs and two wide screens, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. You have your choice of “in the bar” or their dining area. In for dinner, I opted for a nice table right in the middle of the action. The place was hoping and jammed full. My wait for a table on this Friday night was about 10 minutes, not bad given that game two of the day’s doubleheader had already started.

I arrived at the bottom of the first inning. The second inning was action-packed, with eight runs scored between the two teams. Still close at 5-4 (Sox), it appeared that it would be a good game for Boston fans. Every time the Yankees got a hit, their fans erupted into loud cheers. And when the Red Sox tagged the runner out at the plate, their fans clapped and hooped it up! It was a fun place to enjoy the game, especially since the patrons were well behaved and respectful of the other fans. High fives all around for the Yankee and Red Soxs fans on this evening.

As for dinner, the menu featured a lot of what you’d expect for a sports bar: hot dogs, grilled chicken, tuna salad, quesadillas, nachos, onion rings, and fried mozzarella sticks. There were also several dinner entrees available, including ribs and blackened fish. I kept it simple, with a juicy 3-pound hamburger and fries. It was better than the average bar fare, with a nice charbroiled flavor throughout. I capped off my meal with strawberry-topped cheesecake, although the brownie delight was quite enticing.

While I didn’t indulge in an adult beverage, I can report that they had a nice selection of beers to include the obligatory Samuel Adams, as well as fully stocked bar.

As busy as the place was, service was exceptional! I was in and out in just about 45 minutes, or roughly an inning and a half.
Champions Sports Bar
Boston Marriott Copley Place
Boston, Massachusetts, 02116
(617) 279-6996

Gourmeli's

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by MilwVon on August 22, 2006

One of several restaurants located on the second level of the Marriott Copley Place, a group of us opted for a round of chowder and appetizers as our late dinner. Known for their Maine Jonah crab cakes, you should also try their yummy New England clam chowder. Largely known for their seafood, we enjoyed a sampler platter plus another side of fried calamari. On the weekends (Friday and Saturday night), they do offer a full seafood buffet, but we gave that a pass as it was nearly 9pm.

The clam chowder was supposedly the chef’s own personal recipe. It was delicious, with large lumps of clam in just about every spoonful. A basket of piping-hot sourdough rolls and other freshly baked breads was delivered with the chowder.

Next came the sampler, which included three very large tiger prawns, two of the Maine Jonah crab cakes with a sweet red pepper tartar sauce, and three skewered chicken tenders prepared with a nice buffalo wing sauce coating, as well as carrot and celery sticks. Dipping sauces included a nice tangy cocktail sauce and, of course, blue cheese dressing.

The calamari had a heavily peppered flour coating, which was almost too overpowering for the squid delicacy. It was also served with the tangy cocktail sauce.

Prices were reasonable, with the chowder running about $4 for a cup, the calamari at $9, and the sampler at $18. The seafood buffet was $23 and had a wide variety of taste sensations, including a carving station with prime rib and a full dessert and pastry tray.

The next morning we did opt for the breakfast buffet, which as a bit pricey at $18, given that it was just breakfast and not brunch. They did have a cooked-to-order eggs and omelet station and a full assortment of breakfast breads, cereals, meats, and fruits. Coffee, tea, and juice were included, but it just seemed a bit overpriced to us.

Gourmeli’s also offered a special “Kidsine” menu for children, so feel free to bring along the young ones.
Gourmeli's
Boston Marriott Copley Place
Boston, Massachusetts, 02116
(617) 236-5800

Joe's American Bar & Grill

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by MilwVon on August 22, 2006

Not your average “bar and grill”, Joe’s is a real find in the Back Bay shopping district approximately 5 blocks from Copley Place. It has that CHEERS feel about it as you enter the front door of this split-level restaurant. With bars both up one level or down a level, you can have your choice of the ambiance you wish to enjoy. The bar on the upper level feels very much like a high-class, turn-of-the-century place. Downstairs, it felt more like any neighborhood corner bar in Milwaukee.

Before we were seated for dinner, we enjoyed an adult beverage at the bar. We really enjoyed the barmaid, who was about as Boston as they come. Her thick accent was a joy to listen to, her sense of humor sharp as a tack! My friends all had cocktails, while I opted for a nice local amber ale.

Relaxed from our day’s events, we were ready for dinner. There were four of us girls ready for a great dining experience. Starting with a calamari appetizer, along with a warm spinach artichoke dip, we thought we’d be pacing ourselves. Passing on salads, we went right to the main course. Three of the four of us had the prime rib. Available in two sizes, we all knew that 12 ounces was more than enough. Nobody could even imagine attempting Joe’s Prime Rib Challenge, the 24 oz. cut! At $20.99 and $25.99 respectively, you cannot go wrong with this fine cut of beef. Served with a home-blended horseradish sauce and au jus, expect to be delighted with a wonderful popover, baked potato, and the fresh veggie of the day.

The fourth in our group went for the lobster. Amazingly, market price today was just $28.99. Her lobster was huge, and with presentation being everything, it was almost a shame to eat the big guy.

As if we didn’t have enough to eat (nobody finished their meal), “some of us” just had to sample the homemade desserts. We ordered strawberry shortcake that was like the old-fashioned type, with the warm baked biscuit and a delightful warm apple walnut crisp. We passed the plates around and sampled each of the treats.

With Irish coffee, espresso, and cappuccino for the die-hard caffeine addicts, a perfect dining experience was appropriately capped off.

We could not have been happier with the quality of our meal, although service did slip slightly around dessert time. Our server indicated that the kitchen was backed up, and as a result, it took nearly 20 minutes for them to arrive. All and all, it was a great meal with friends!

More information can be found at www.joesamerican.com.
Joe's American Bar & Grill
279 Dartmouth St.
Boston, Massachusetts
(617) 536-4200

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