Connecticut's Mohegan Sun Welcomes Back First Meeting Group
“We’re ready to welcome you back safely, when you’re ready,” reads the new tagline on the Mohegan Sun website. The resort and convention complex in Uncasville, Connecticut, began reopening in phases on June 1 and welcomed its first meeting last week.
The measured reopening of the 5.5 million-square-foot property followed the implementation of many new health and safety protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Guidance for these came from a variety of sources: the CDC; Connecticut State Department of Health; and the Chief Medical Officer and Tribal Health Department of the Mohegan Tribe, which owns the property and the land on which it sits.
“From the day we closed the property in mid-March, our leadership team immediately started working on the reopening plan,” says John Washko, vice-president of expo and convention sales for Mohegan Sun.
To create the plan, the Mohegan Sun team took a new look at the guest experience, starting from the moment people step onto the property. New additions include thermal scans at every entrance, self check-in kiosks, UV lighting and advanced sanitation protocols in all 1,600 guest rooms.
Washko says some of the most important additions aren’t visible. For example, “We now have UVC emitters in our air-handling systems, and will have the entire property outfitted with this state-of-the-art air disinfection technology by year’s end,” says Washko. The new ventilation systems are designed to create the highest possible air exchange rate throughout the property.
When it comes to the meetings experience, Mohegan Sun created three documents to provide a roadmap for planners. The first is designed for large groups booking more than 1,000 rooms. It illustrates what social distancing might look like in their two convention centers, Sky Convention Center and Earth Convention Center, which have a combined 275,000 square feet of space. The second document provides a framework for smaller meetings, while the third specifically looks at the new protocols for food and beverage service.
“It is not just about creating more space in a meeting room,” says Washko. “It’s the egress and movement through the meeting, and things you might not think of — like how to organize bio-breaks or move a large group down from guest rooms when only four people are now allowed in an elevator.”
One advantage Mohegan Sun has when it comes to the concept of social distancing is the sheer amount of space it offers. “Having a large facility comes in really handy,” says Washko. The complex has four parking garages, myriad entrances and 35 dining outlets.
The first meeting the property hosted was on the small side — a hybrid corporate meeting for a supply-chain provider with 20 people gathering on-site linked virtually to similar groups in four regions of the country — but it was still a big moment. “It was great to hear the clapping and the laughter,” says Washko. “The event went really well,and we were happy to be back in the game.”
The rest of the summer, Mohegan Sun is scheduled to host some social events and sports competitions. Washko says he looks forward to the meetings business getting back up to speed in the fall, and that early 2021 already looks “fairly robust.”
“We have the advantage of being a strong regional destination,” says Washko, which saves people the worry about getting on a plane. He also mentions the strength that comes with being owned by the Mohegan Tribe. “They’re going to be here for generations to come. That provides a level of assurance and confidence in the people you are doing business with and what the experience is going to be.”
For more information on new protocols for meetings at Mohegan Sun, check out this video.