Business trip: Boston

The sad events of the Boston Marathon bombings have proven to be but a blip on the radar for tourism and business travel to New England's crown jewel.

As one of the United States’ most historic cities, Boston is New England's crown jewel, and its constant growth in both business and international tourism proves its worth as a regal American icon.

In the past year, nearly 23 million visitors have packed the streets of Boston, resulting in an $8.6 billion economical impact on the city. According to the latest statistics from the Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, that visitor count is expected to grow an additional 4% for 2013. The sad events of the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings have proven to be but a blip on the tourism radar, with the city rebounding quickly. Businesses downtown remained closed for just a day or two, and travellers quickly returned to fill hotel rooms in force. Many attribute such a rapid return to normalcy to be a hallmark of the signature Bostonian spirit.

In a coup for New England, officials at Boston’s Logan International Airport secured non-stop flights to Tokyo with Japan Airlines aboard the new Boeing Dreamliner. Before this 2012 development, Boston was the largest US market for traffic to Asia that lacked a nonstop flight.

Europe is a big player too, as Boston is the closest major international US airport to the continent. This summer, thrice-daily Icelandair flights join the schedule plus daily Swiss flights to Zurich and daily Lufthansa flights to Frankfurt and Munich.


In Boston's West End sits the recently renovated (and renamed) 80-room The Boxer hotel, with its eclectic yet conservative decor of Old World antiques and cleverly modern fixtures. The intimate lobby showcases shelves of books amid modern light fixtures and a flickering fireplace where guests can gather for impromptu meetings. Upstairs, the rooms are crisp with crystalline chandeliers, spacious work desks and adjustable chrome reading lamps. The American restaurant dishes up comfort food like mac and cheese and a classic New England clam chowder. The historic marketplaces of Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, and Boston Common (America's oldest public park and the starting point of Boston's Freedom Trail) are all within walking distance. The Boston Harbor Hotel sits on its namesake locale and offers stunning views of the water from its 230 rooms and suites. Besides the luxurious guest rooms with their panoramic windows and mahogany wood desks, the property is home where you will find the creator of the Boston Wine Festival. Chef Daniel Bruce of the locally favoured Meritage the Restaurant created the event 25 years ago for Bostonians to savour some of the world's top labels. It has quickly evolved into a worldwide event for the fine vintages paired with delicious food. Bruce's latest restaurant menu of Kobe beef and Maine Pemaquid oysters is worth travelling to experience.

Along the South Boston waterfront, Marriott's Residence Inn Seaport is opening a 120-room, $40 million property in June 2013, comprising six storeys of spacious suites with separate living areas. The extra space is perfect for those staying in town for longer periods of time and will be the neighbourhood's first boutique hotel. Baseball fans will find the new 175-room Residence Inn Fenway to be a great home base for Red Sox fans. The all-suite hotel offers elegant, residential appointments and exceptional views of the ballpark from the highest of its eight floors.

Booking a room at the 400-room Royal Sonesta guarantees exceptional views of the Charles Bridge, which separates Boston from the city of Cambridge where notable universities like Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are located. The hotel’s ArtBar has an outdoor patio that serves the delicious "Taste of Cambridge" cocktail (vodka, lemon bitters, strawberry and orange shrub and prosecco), and the antipasti plates at the hotel’s Dante restaurantare a great way to kick off the evening (order the fava bean dip with chips, crostini, potatoes, beetroot and celery root, and prepare to be tantalised).

In the heart of the theatre district and steps from Boston Common, the 356-room Revere Hotel straddles the line between business chic and new age style, attracting a smattering of local glitterati to its Emerald Lounge for evening cocktails. Guest rooms scream modern simplicity, from the high leather-padded headboards perfect for breakfast in bed to lengthy chaises lounges ideal for catching up on emails while ogling the exceptional views from the panoramic windows.

Downstairs in the Emerald, the lounge hops with a see-and-be-seen crowd who congregate for pre-dinner craft cocktails and small plates (think fish tacos and duck spring rolls), then dancing and mingling in the later evening hours. The hotel’s unique Theatre 1, with its screen and stage capability and Italian leather seating, hosts some the city's more prominent corporate events. After hours, the space is often used for film screenings and performances including the likes of the Boston Film Festival and the Boston Independent Film Festival.

While the 318-room Langham, housed in the city's former Federal Reserve Building, would traditionally be classified as an elegant hotel, the property's $6 million lobby overhaul pushes it into an edgier terrain, blending conservative style with a hip ambiance. Transforming one of Boston's iconic hotels is no easy task, but the designers have magnificently welded a series of antique artworks with 21st-century furnishings such as modern lamps, a quartet of standalone reception desks and zigzag-lined carpeting. The new Reserve Champagne and Tea Lounge is a delightful place to spend an afternoon sipping and supping after a morning meeting in the historic city centre.

Expense account
Legal Harborside, in the South Boston waterfront district, is the flagship restaurant of the popular Legal Seafoods chain of restaurants and attracts hungry diners with its three floors of varying concepts. The ground level offers the most casual fare, while the middle floor extends the price and menu into a more expensive, contemporary realm. The third floor's retractable roof is great on warmer days, especially with a plate of freshly prepared sushi and one of 27 bottles of wine on offer.  The restaurant's new series of wine dinners pairs region- and country-specific labels with complementary fare.

Meat lovers find the new Boston Chops to be a quintessential spot to impress clients or indulge in a generous helping of steak frites. It is the latest opening in the city's chic South End district. The braised short rib with sour cream mashed potatoes and mushrooms has its own following; though nothing can compete with the poutine-style, twice-baked potato loaded with cheese and toppings – hearts could stop in excitement (or because of the calories).

Regular diners will find the new Quattro pizzeria and grill to make a nice addition to North End, serving Neapolitan-style pizza, house-made pasta and a selection of Italian sfizi (tapas) like stuffed zucchini flowers and authentic Italian meatballs.

Back at the Revere Hotel, the city's Hand Wall showcases actual clay moulds of the hands of notable theatre and local arts visionaries. Honourees include Gregory Maguire, author of more than a dozen novels for children and adults, including Wicked, the basis for the eponymous Broadway musical, and Mikko Nissinen, artistic director for the Boston Ballet. Theatre lovers will find this a great way to wind down (or jump start) an evening before or after cocktails at Rooftop@Revere), a massive outdoor bar and lounge with exceptional cityscape views. Order the Hibiscus Rum Punch and watch the world float by below.

Off the clock
The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, which opened in summer 2012, is a great way to explore the city's most historic event up close. Live actors and tea-throwing re-enactments mimic the events that took place between 1773 and 1775, helping to spark what became the American Revolution. Multisensory displays are impressively crafted to help visitors of all ages understand the events and give access to life-size replicas of the infamous ships: the Dartmouth, the Beaver and the Eleanor.

Like a local
On a sunny afternoon, locals flock to Rose Kennedy Greenway in the North End, which is flush with beautiful flowers and blossoming trees. Alternatively, the Boston Harbor Walk features a network of pathways and trails ideal for biking or a simple nature stroll in plain sight of the city's striking skyline. A downloadable audio guide educates visitors on interesting facts along the way, ranging from notable movies filmed in Bean Town (the city's playful nickname referring to its signature baked beans recipe) to interesting artists that live in the neighbourhood.

Don't do this
Baseball is big in Boston and gallivanting around town wearing New York Yankees gear will certainly earn some attention. While jokes about the Bostonian accent are commonplace, visitors would be wise to leave those for the sitcoms rather than jokingly testing them out with locals.