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Before attending a trade show in America, I recently visited our offices in Ivyland, Pennsylvania to spend time with our fantastic US Venue Sourcing team.

It is always great to catch up with old friends and colleagues and this visit I had the opportunity to meet some new team members face-to-face. Whilst we operate in a globally connected manner it is always beneficial to meet in person and, for me in particular, every visit is valuable to learn more about nuances in domestic US buying behaviour and client requirements.

Following a productive week in Ivyland, I had the weekend to occupy myself before flying across the US to Las Vegas. Rather than spend the weekend in the bright lights of Vegas with hundreds of thousands of other tourists I decided to spend the time more sedately in Philadelphia.

This was my third visit to the city, and I must admit I felt very indifferent about going back. My last visit was in 2012 and I was really not expecting much from the weekend.

How wrong was I? Walking around the city is very easy and enjoyable as it is quite compact and the grid street system is a dream for those of us who do not really have a sense of direction. I really took advantage of the glorious early autumn weather and walked around admiring the cleaned up and revitalised Philly. My highlights were strolling through Logan Square and onto Benjamin Franklin up towards the Philadelphia Museum Of Art. This is a must do if you are in Philly and if you can manage to run up the famous Rocky steps I would be in awe. I did, however, manage a brisk walk up them and rewarded with a striking view of the city.

The Parthenon-like museum is impressive and the collection inside is made up of renaissance, American, impressionist and modern art, and highlights include a great Rogier van der Weyden altarpiece, a large Bathers by Cezanne, a room devoted to Philadelphia’s own Thomas Eakins, and Marcel Duchamp’s notorious mixed-media Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors (The Large Glass). Other highlights in the city include the Liberty Bell, Rittenhouse Square and Reading Terminal Market amongst many others.

Philadelphia is the second largest city on the East Coast of the US and there are 11 healthcare companies based in and around the city. The extensive life sciences community in the city includes five medical schools, 22 nursing schools, two dental schools, two colleges of pharmacy, a veterinary school, a school of optometry, a podiatry school and almost 100 hospitals. U.S. News ranked Philadelphia in the top 15 Best Affordable U.S. Destinations. This is particularly pertinent to our pharmaceutical events as the city has an abundance of compliant four-star hotels, with over 10,000 compliant hotel bedrooms within a ten-minute walk to the Convention Centre.

Some of the properties I visited included the Kimpton Hotel Monaco and Palomar and these certainly made an impression. The Hotel Monaco has a must go to rooftop bar called Stratus with views over the city, and the Boutique Hotel Palomar is an Art Deco building with a stunning interior. The Sofitel and the Lowes are also great additions to the city and bedroom stock.

As with any cosmopolitan city, there is an abundance of restaurants and cuisines in Philadelphia, and amongst my favourite are the Stephen Starr restaurants. He currently has ten in the city and the cuisine varies in each one, from Alma de Cuba (Modern Latin) to Budakkan (Modern Asian Cuisine). One of my favourite dishes on the menu in a couple of the restaurants is the Lobster Mac n Cheese – just unforgettable!

So, all in all, I was thrilled with my Philly experience this time and it is definitely an East Coast city to visit – and not only as a delegate!

Louise Goalen is Business Director at Ashfield Meetings & Events | Venues

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