Late last month, I attended Visit Indy’s annual Hotel Symposium, a morning program that brings the local hotel community together to learn about how the city is doing in terms of leisure and group business and what’s on the horizon, including larger trends shaping the overall hospitality industry.
In a nutshell, business is good in Indianapolis. And I was able to see why for myself. It was my first time visiting Indianapolis in more than 10 years — the first time I visited the city was to attend my first PCMA Annual Meeting in 2004. When I landed the afternoon before the symposium, I checked into my hotel, and struck out on my own, with no particular goal in mind other than to get a sense of this place.
In Indy, you can check off all the necessities for groups: beautiful, state-of-the art convention center, great hotel product, modern airport. But after my short one-hour stroll, I saw so many other ingredients that give the city character — modern buildings alongside historical landmarks, parks, world-class museums, and cool shops and restaurants. Indy’s a vibrant city that is exceptionally walkable, compact, and welcoming.
And cultural! I stayed at The Alexander, a boutique art hotel that Senior Editor Barbara Palmer wrote about last year. Mesmerized by the large-screen video art installation on my room’s floor, where buildings appeared and disappeared in pop-up-book fashion, I was almost late for Visit Indy’s tastings dinner at Cerulean, conveniently located downstairs. Sometimes tasting menus are hardly that and are actually too much of a good thing. But as we nibbled our way through seven yummy, adventurous tiny courses — from rabbit terrine with raspberry verjus, to dueling tartare (beef, tomato, quail egg, potato chip, arugula, black garlic), to a two-dessert denouement including macadamia financier — it struck me that it somehow captured the essence of my brief experience of Indy: forward-thinking yet completely manageable.