Glenn and I recently had the pleasure of traveling to Lexington, KY to experience the destination from a meeting planner perspective and we were left ready to return as soon as we can.
Lexington is a small city but with BIG hospitality. While most people think of it as the home of the University of Kentucky and the “Big Blue Nation”, Lexington is a super diverse mid-sized city with good airlift and an easy drive from most major markets in the southeast and eastern mid-west like Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and St. Louis. Situated in the rolling hills of northern Kentucky and loaded with historical charm, it’s truly a beautiful destination for mid-sized meetings and smaller conventions.
The city center is compact and super walkable to numerous restaurants, shops and multiple hotels that are a stone’s throw from Rupp Arena and the newly re-envisioned Central Bank Center which attaches to Rupp Arena. The Convention Center is well designed with multiple loading docks with access to both the upper and lower levels of the Center as a result of the design of the building. When you include seating in Rupp Arena, the entire facility can accommodate well over 20,000 attendees. Smaller groups will feel comfortable as well – particularly those needing larger exhibit halls for vendors. Within walking distance of the Convention Center and Rupp Arena are the Hilton Lexington, the Hyatt Regency Lexington and the gorgeous, new Lexington Marriott City Center making for a quick walk to events at the Convention Center. Each of these hotels have meeting spaces onsite as well ranging from 9000 sq. ft. total to upwards of 15K total sq. ft.
Beyond a beautiful and walkable downtown experience, there is no shortage of things to see and do for your attendees. Beyond the copious number of distilleries located along “The Bourbon Trail”, there are a large number of horse farms that have opened their doors to groups providing the extraordinary opportunity to tour the barns, pet the horses and learn about the sport up close and personal. These farms provide an exquisite backdrop for any sort of reception or celebration. If being on a working farm isn’t ideal, for groups traveling in April and October, you can experience a day at the races in person by taking over a suite at Keeneland. With races going off Wed-Sun every 15-20 minutes, your attendees can have the chance to stand next to the rails and literally feel the power of these majestic animals speeding by at upwards of 45 mph. The suites allow indoor heated/air-conditioned seating on inclement weather days with the freedom to move back and forth to the stands and trackside.
Our time in Lexington closed with dinner at Apiary. Located around a half mile or so from our hotel, again, it would be a short walk for anyone inclined to take the scenic route back after an amazing 6 course meal with wine. Situated in a residential neighborhood and surrounded by a lush walled garden, you really don’t know what to anticipate when walking through the garden gate. Once inside, you’re greeted by an attentive staff with canapes and delicious cocktails – featuring bourbon of course. 😊 The décor inside the venue was nothing short of stunning and is the perfect location for a VIP dining experience.
If you’re seeking an appealing option for an upcoming meeting or convention, I highly recommend giving Kentucky a look. With “Tier One” cities booking far in advance and at much higher rates, there are great values and experiences to explore in a smaller market like Lexington. Here are some photos from our recent trip to Lexington!