It's no surprise that Stamford, Connecticut is a prime destination for businesses and organizations holding events or meetings. It’s just a train ride away from New York City without Big Apple costs, has a thriving business scene and, with its views of the Long Island Sound, offers scenic beauty.
“Stamford, Connecticut, is a big city with a little-town feel and residents are friendly, accommodating and pleasant,” says Stephen Hallett, general manager of the restaurant Del Frisco’s Grille. He adds that hotels, theaters and organizations with headquarters in Stamford, such as Morgan Stanley, IBM and Thomson Reuters, have made the city “a booming meetings and events destination in the Northeast.”
Bryan Mattimore is a professional meeting facilitator and author who lives in Stamford and has high praise for the city. “One of the better things about Stamford as a meeting site is its proximity to NYC [50 minutes by express train], access to beaches and parks in the summer and now a dynamic downtown entertainment environment.”
Where to Eat
Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant brings the flavors of Spain to Stamford with a seasonal menu and one of the largest Spanish wine programs in the United States. “Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant is a warm and welcoming neighborhood tapas bar inspired by the culture of Spain,” says Raasikh Muhammad, general manager. “The ever-changing menu is focused on clean flavors, seasonal ingredients, specialties from Spain and the Mediterranean and rustic small plates.” For meetings and events, Barcelona’s dining room can accommodate up to 68 people, while a private dining room can host 42. The bar area accommodates 17.
The Crab Shell offers fresh seafood and waterfront views, whether guests are dining indoors or out. Offerings include clams, oysters, shrimp, mussels, Maine lobster, crab and more. Also popular are the restaurant’s lobster pot pie, crab cakes and a creole dish made with shrimp, chicken and sausage. For nonseafood lovers, the menu includes baby back ribs, filet mignon and burgers.
Meeting spaces include outdoor areas that can accommodate 20-200 people, and indoor rooms that can hold 40-165.
“We have three separate areas inside and of course have lots of space outside during the warm months,” says owner Dick Gildersleeve. “We typically do a lot of cocktail meetings where we serve our platters in a more casual dining setting, but of course we do full sitdown dinners and lunches as well.”
Del Frisco’s Grille in Stamford is a modern and stylish restaurant with classic bar and grill dishes made with bold flavors and market-fresh ingredients. “Offering an enticing menu of premium American classics with bold flavors and market-fresh ingredients, Del Frisco’s Grille is Stamford’s energetic eatery for a quick business lunch, casual dinner, drinks on the patio or weekend brunch,” says Hallett. “Located in the heart of Landmark Square, the Grille’s elevated menu is best paired with signature cocktails and craft beers from the buzzing bar or the eclectic, Wine Spectator award-winning wine list.”
A private dining room can seat about 30 guests. Hallett says the room combines warmth and an industrial design. “The open kitchen creates a vibrant, bustling ambience that’s felt both inside and outside of the private dining room,” he says. There also are banquettes and expansive tables to accommodate large parties for dinner and business lunches. Renting the entire restaurant for an evening is also an option.
Where to Stay
The Hilton Stamford Hotel & Executive Meeting Center has 61,000 square feet of meeting space across 37 meeting rooms, including the largest hotel ballroom in Connecticut, according to Ernie Taddei, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing.
But also special about the Hilton is its accessibility to what Stamford has to offer after the workday is done. “The special thing about the Hilton is that we’re less than a mile from what’s considered downtown Stamford,” Taddei says. “Not just office buildings, but groups can go to restaurants, they go to entertainment and theater. They’re looking for other things to do when the day is done.”
The hotel offers a shuttle to downtown and another area of Stamford that has become popular, Harbor Point, which Taddei describes as a beautiful, upscale area with luxury apartment complexes, restaurants and shops. “It’s waterfront, so it gives you a whole different feeling than walking downtown.”
The Crowne Plaza Stamford bills itself as “The Place to Meet” thanks to its proximity to major corporations, highways, airports and rail. For meeting space, the Crowne Plaza has 17 rooms, from conference rooms to several ballrooms, the largest of which can accommodate up to 800 people. Available amenities include high-speed internet access and A/V equipment. Also available are audio-visual technicians and a meetings director.
With its 18 meeting rooms, totaling 39,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, and downtown location, the Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa is a prime destination for business travelers. The hotel’s Grand Ballroom totals 9,000 square feet and can be divided into four sections with 14 additional breakout rooms. Also available is the New England Ballroom, which can accommodate up to 250 people. A mezzanine level offers six executive conference rooms that can accommodate 30-50 people. Wi-Fi teleconferencing and video conferencing are available in all the conference rooms.
When the work is done, the hotel’s spa offers relaxation and pampering with services including body scrubs and wraps, massages, facials, manicures and pedicures, steam room, spa restaurant and more.
What to Do
The Palace Theatre hosts live performances from a wide variety of entertainment genres, including everything from the Air Force Heritage Band to rock bands and family programming.
“I like to think that the Palace Theatre has something for everybody,” says Michael Moran, executive director. The Palace seats 1,580 people and opened in 1927. Over its 90 years, the Palace has been a vaudeville house, a movie theater and now a venue for live performances.
Spaces that are available for private rental include a Founder’s Room, which the Stamford Symphony uses for its board of directors’ meetings and an upper lobby.
“And it’s become popular for other local not-for-profits to actually rent the entire theater and they hire an artist to come in and do their own fundraising events,” Moran says.
The Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens offers more than 90 acres of natural landscape, award-winning trees, gardens, meadows, red maple wetlands, boardwalks and walking trails. It also hosts events such as concerts, tours, educational programs and classes. “The Arboretum’s colorful and majestic trees and gardens offer the perfect backdrop for private parties, and corporate events (outings, retreats, meetings),” says Jane Von Trapp, CEO. “Indoor and outdoor locations are available to rent throughout the property.”
Also available is a classroom with theaterstyle seating and a large screen that can hold up to 100.
The Stamford Museum & Nature Center presents exhibitions and programs about art, nature, science, history and pop culture.
Its collections include artwork by American artists including Guy Pene Bois, Reginald Marsh, Milton Avery and others. It also houses a collection of Native American art and artifacts, as well as collections that illustrate the natural history of New England.
Other attractions of the museum include Heckscher Farm where visitors can learn about farm life and see farm animals. There are also a pond, trails, a maple sugar house, and an observatory and planetarium.
A large mansion on the museum’s grounds is available for rentals and can accommodate up to 150 people. A conference center is available for smaller meetings.