Proximity to Manhattan, picturesque views of the Hudson River, a great dining scene and various entertainment attractions have made Jersey City a great place for meetings, events and tourism. Obviously it’s an ideal place to stay if you’re doing business in Northern New Jersey, but with lots of transportation options, it’s also an affordable option when doing business in Manhattan.
Jersey City is a city on the rise. Starting in the early 2000s, restaurants, hotels and businesses started returning to Jersey City after it experienced some lean years. Talk to anyone who lives or works there, and they’re certain to sing the city’s praises.
“We’re close to the waterfront [in the historic Paulus Hook section], there are a lot of hotels, there’s a lot going on,” says Bill Gray, an owner of the Light Horse Tavern. “Jersey City is a happening place now.”
Where to Stay
You could say the Hyatt Regency Jersey City on the Hudson is two different hotels in one. “During the week it’s a lot of corporate meetings, and a lot of business people. Come Thursday afternoon, we see a big shift,” says John D. Pursel, director of sales, marketing and events. “We do a lot of weddings here, we do a lot of social blocks. We have people coming for vacation, either visiting Manhattan or their families in Jersey City. We’ll also do a lot of association-type business on the weekends. It’s a very diverse group of customers.”
Built in 2002, the hotel has 20,000 square feet of event space, and can accommodate groups as small as 10, and up to 600. Pursel says the Hyatt’s location is a key to its success. “We’re out on a pier, every room has a view of the Hudson, either uptown toward Manhattan or downtown toward Ellis Island Liberty State Park and lower Manhattan,” he says.
The Westin Jersey City Newport, the largest hotel in Jersey City, underwent a renovation earlier this year. It offers views of Manhattan, access to restaurants, businesses and attractions in Jersey City, and with its location near the Holland Tunnel and public transportation, it’s easy to head into Manhattan from the Westin.
Kelly Leftheris, director of sales and marketing, notes the hotel features more than 20,000 square feet of “stylish and sophisticated functional meeting space” in its flexible meeting rooms and ballrooms.
“The talents of our culinary team are sure to please and impress, whether you are hosting an intimate group dinner or a large-scale gala,” Leftheris says. “We can personalize everything from meeting breaks to goodbye brunches, and our on-site audio-visual support will provide services and equipment tailored to your needs to set the perfect tone with décor, lighting and sound.”
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Suites Jersey City is the only all-suite hotel in Jersey City. Each suite features a living area, microwave, refrigerator, desk and coffee maker. It’s ideal for business travelers who are doing business in New Jersey or Manhattan
“Our hotel is perfect for business travelers who need to be near Wall Street, major New Jersey highways and even Newark Liberty International Airport,” says Dianna Vaughn, senior vice president and global head, DoubleTree. “This hotel is also close to major transport links that provide easy access to the center of the action. We also offer complimentary weekday shuttles every 30 minutes, 6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., to businesses within one mile.”
Meeting spaces include audio-visual equipment, catering and staff to help make any event a success. “We also offer private meeting space with Wi-Fi access for small-to-midsized meetings in New Jersey,” Vaughn says, adding that the largest meeting room is 1,350 square feet and can accommodate up to 100. The hotel also offers a 24-hour business center.
What to Do
Liberty State Park is the most popular destination in the New Jersey State Park System. It is home to the “Empty Sky” 9/11 Memorial, the official state memorial that honors the 749 people who lived in or had ties to New Jersey and lost their lives in the World Trade Center terrorist attacks.
Another highlight is the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal at Liberty State Park, which was recently repaired and renovated fol - lowing damage by Superstorm Sandy in 2013. “One could say the building is the cornerstone of the park, and the building positively gleams now and pays fitting tribute to the millions of immigrants who passed through there to embark on their new lives,” says Larry Hajna, spokesperson for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
The park offers kayak tours of the Hudson River Estuary, a picnic pavilion, bike rentals, trails for walking, jogging, biking and roll - erblading, birding and fishing. A ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is available, and the park hosts concerts and other events, such as Fourth of July fireworks.
Liberty Science Center is located in Liberty State Park, and is home to 12 museum exhibi - tion halls, a live animal collection, aquariums, the world’s largest IMAX dome theater, class - rooms, labs and a tornado-force wind simulator.
“More than 650,000 students, teachers, and parents visit the science center each year, and tens of thousands more participate in the cen - ter’s off-site and online programs,” says Laurel Barbot, director of special events.
The center’s meeting spaces include a glassenclosed observation tower for an intimate dinner or ceremony. For larger events, there are two-story gallery spaces and a grand lobby that can accommodate up to 1,200 guests. Theaters can be used for multimedia presentations, and staff is on hand for planning and setup.
“If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary,” Barbot says, “Liberty Science Center offers spectacular views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty from a variety of beautiful event spaces.”
Pole Position Raceway is an 80,000-squarefoot kart racing facility with two indoor tracks, featuring hairpin turns and straightaways that visitors race in high-performance carts from Italy.
“We are a state-of-the-art kart racing experience. I always say we are all about authenticity, exhilaration and safety,” says President and co-owner Karen Davis-Farage. Pole Position has “arrive-and-drive” public racing, and actual racing events with practices, qualifiers and main events. Davis-Farage notes the electric karts can reach a speed of up to 45 miles per hour. “You won’t go that fast, but you will feel like it,” she says.
Corporate events and meetings are a big part of what Pole Position does. “We do a huge amount of both personal celebrations and corporate business,” Davis-Farage says. “In fact, this year, we’ll book about 1,200 to 1,500 events throughout the year, and every Fortune 500 company you can name, we’re proud to say we have hosted them. This is a great venue for team-building, employee appreciation and customer appreciation.”
Where to Eat
Satis Bistro serves “Modern European” food inspired by French, Italian, Spanish, Austrian and German cuisines. Co-owner Michael Garcia describes the atmosphere as “shabby chic, just very comfortable and warm. Perfect for a date night or get-together celebration. The dining room has high ceilings and there is a wine bar, separate from the dining area, with each room having a different vibe.” The restaurant can accommodate about 90 people for events.
Just as important as the food at Battello is the view. Serving modern Italian dishes inspired by fine dining in Northern Italy, Battello makes its meals with seasonal ingredients. The restaurant is elegant while evoking the industrial feel of a boathouse. It has open dining areas, as well as private and semiprivate spaces. The entire venue can accommodate 660, the dining room (including the patio) can accommodate 450 and Battello’s Lounge can accommodate 75 seated or 125 for cocktails.
“Situated on the Hudson with breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline, Battello is one of North Jersey’s premiere private dining and catering destinations, featuring exceptional cuisine, innovative cocktails, industry-leading service and breathtaking décor,” says Dominique Borzomati, director of events. “Located near several hotels and transportation options, Battello offers organizations and corporations convenience, as well as fine food and scenic beauty, in a spot for a meeting or event.”
The Light Horse Tavern has been serving modern American food with an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients whenever possible since 2002. “We’re one of the first restaurants that kind of started the food movement in Jersey City,” says Gray. “When the area was still trying to figure its way out, it was post-industrial and all the factories around us, everything was closed up. We were one of the first pioneers, now you have all these restaurants opening up, and you have a food scene in Jersey City.” The restaurant can host intimate cocktail receptions to large galas in its 3,000-square-foot space.
Seafood is a specialty, as the Light Horse offers a raw bar, fresh oysters, Maine lobster tail, shrimp cocktail and more. Entrees include steak, chicken and duck. Also available are tavern classics such as meatloaf, fish and chips and a burger.