Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly Hearts Columbus

By Michael J. Solender, May 17, 2018

Columbus wasn’t even on Jan Sneegas’s radar as she initially considered sites for the 2016 Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly. Sneegas, UUA’s director of general assembly and conference services, was encouraged to explore Columbus by a colleague who’d just hosted a group here.

“We did a site visit and were blown away with what we found,” says Sneegas. “Columbus is clearly a city on the rise.”

The Assembly had 3,780 attendees with 1,350 room nights on peak, according to Sneegas. Properties used included: the Hyatt, Hilton, Crowne Plaza, OSU dorms, Courtyard by Marriott, Red Roof Inn, Sheraton at Capitol Square, and Doubletree.

“There is such a wide variety of hotels and price points within proximity of the convention center,” says Sneegas. “Columbus takes walkability to a new level, not only from an accommodations perspective but also food and beverage. I was also struck by the [lodging] value Columbus offers. We used OSU dorms as a very economical option.”

Sneegas praised the Experience Columbus staff for their close collaboration with UUA and their citywide connections.

“We do a witness event every year and had planned to do this at the State House just a few blocks from the convention center, which Experience Columbus facilitated,” Sneegas says. “While the weather didn’t cooperate, Experience Columbus was extraordinarily professional, service oriented and helpful in assisting us.”

When it comes to dining, Columbus was a big hit with UUA attendees.

“What is so stunning about Columbus are the multiple close-in options,” Sneegas says. “North Market is exciting [with offerings like] Hot Chicken Takeover, and The Pearl [from local restaurateur Cameron Mitchell] is a nice mid-range option. Columbus represented some of the best dining options of any city we’ve been to.”

UUA attendees were impressed with Columbus. “They were thinking sleepy Midwest college town, and were surprised at how hip, cosmopolitan and friendly it is,” says Sneegas. “Columbus is a gem and an underappreciated venue.”

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