Mansion Expansion

By Heather Baldwin

Many smaller meeting facilities face a common challenge: they’re great at hosting smaller, regional-type meetings, but when satisfied customers inquire about bringing in their national-level meetings, the facilities too often have to say no due to lack of space. That was the problem faced by The Hayes Mansion Conference Center, located in San Jose, CA, until a few months ago. In the late 1990s the facility was turning away several million dollars a year in business due simply to insufficient space, according to Curt Abramson, Hayes Mansion’s vice president of sales and marketing. In response it embarked on a $19 million expansion and renovation project that was completed in late November 2002.

There were three major components to the project. First, the number of guest rooms was increased from 135 to 214, bringing overnight guest capacity to a little more than 300. Prior to the expansion, capacity was about 230 overnight guests. The second component of the expansion was the addition of a full-service, resort-style spa. “We found that although we aren’t a resort, we get a lot of feedback from clients about being able to have some of those resort-style amenities,” says Abramson. With the spa’s focus on relaxation and rejuvenation, “a lot of people said spa treatments would really add to their ability to conduct effective meetings.” The 7,000-square-foot spa facility – built in space that previously was used for storage and meetings – includes a fitness center, locker rooms, five treatment rooms and areas for manicures, pedicures and facials.

Most significantly, The Hayes Mansion more than doubled its meeting space to 33,000 square feet, up from 15,000 square feet previously. The Hayes Mansion now offers 22 meeting rooms as well as some additional space, such as a glassed-in patio, that doesn’t meet the facility’s parameters for a meeting room but is ideal for events such as a cocktail hour. The most notable addition is that of a 6,600-square-foot general session room or ballroom. This room, the largest in the conference center, has 20-foot ceilings and three built-in, prefocused, high-resolution LCD projectors trained on three separate screens.

Abramson says other major meeting space additions include “significant amounts of data and phone cabling” for high-speed Internet access or data networking. At the same time, the facility has rolled T1 Internet access into its complete meeting package. The Hayes Mansion also added smart podiums, which enable the presenter to control almost all aspects of a meeting room, including lighting, audio/visual, projection screens and more.

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