There is a place that is unquestionably unique but also familiar. It is a place filled with culture and a strong sense of community; a place brimming with artistic and natural beauty. This place is Bentonville, a new American town.
Long known as a corporate town with the hustle and bustle of vendors traveling in and out to meet with Walmart, Bentonville has experiences a seismic culture shift in the last decade spurred by the 217,000-square-foot Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art designed by world renowned architect Moshie Safdie The Museum is the pulse of the arts community and houses iconic works like Norman Rockwell's Rosie the Riveter and Any Warhol's Dolly. Architecturally stunning, Crystal Bridges is now home to another architectural gem, the Bachman-Wilson hose, a Frank Lloyd Wright design relocated to a hillside on the Museum's property.
Centrally located in one of the fastest growing regions in the country, Bentonville is four miles from NW Arkansas Regional Airport, which is served by American Airlines, Delta Global Services, United Airlines, and Allegiant Airlines, with nonstop service to 14 destinations. As the gateway to Walmart's world headquarters, the airport offers more nonstop daily flights to major cities than most facilities its size; with year-round daily service to New York-La Guardia, Los Angeles, Chicago O'Hare, and Dallas/Fort Worth.
Largest among Bentonville meeting venues are the 140-room DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Bentonville and the 105-room Four Points by Sheraton. DoubleTree by Hilton can accommodate a meeting of up to 400 people in a 4,050-square-foot ballroom that divides by three, plus four breakout rooms. Four Points by Sheraton can handle meetings up to 550 people with its 11,000-square-feet of flexible meeting space and five breakout rooms. Another new player, the 104-room 21c Museum Hotel, opened in early 2013 with 12,000 square feet of gallery and event space featuring curated rotating exhibitions of contemporary art. Many of the possible party spaces are equipped with top-of-the-line audio-visual technology, architectural details that filter natural light, and lofty ceiling heights. In addition, the 133-room Hilton Garden Inn can handle a meeting for 65; the 107-room La Quinta Inn & Suites has meeting space to accommodate up to 75 people; and the 112-room Comfort Inn can host a meeting for up to 40 people.
Meeting venues in Bentonville that are not affiliated with a hotel include Compton Gardens & Conference Center, the historic home that once belonged to physician and naturalist Dr. Neil Compton. The conference center, built in Dr. Compton's renovated home resting in a 6.5-acre park, can handle a meeting of up to 60 in four function rooms. In addition, The Peel Mansion Museum & Heritage Gardens is an Italianate structure built in 1875 by Confederate Colonel Samuel West Peel. Authentic from top to bottom and loaded with period antiques, this living museum is also an elaborate garden of historic roses, perennials, and native plants. The event space in the mansion can hold up to 100 people at banquets. Arend Art Center has a theater that can seat 1,190 and Northwest Arkansas Community College can accommodate a meeting of up to 170 in four function rooms.
When it comes to special event venues in Bentonville, the spotlight often turns upon the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and its abundant special settings. The Great Hall can seat up to 220 for a banquet or host a reception for 450 with several outdoor spaces that can handle from 20 to 200 for a reception. Small groups can choose one of the three Landing Suites, which each seat 20 for dinner; a 15-person seminar room; or a boardroom to accommodate 20. Another new player, The Record, is a 12,000-square-feet renovated mid-century car dealership turned printing house with wooden barrel ceilings and exposed brick walls. Modern technologies and systems have been implemented for a wide range of uses, from conventions, meetings, talks, and private parties to music and community events. The raw interior, two large outdoor green spaces, catering kitchen and 2 large fixed bars give events infrastructure as well as flexibility, all in walkable downtown landscape.
Coinciding with the arrival of the new museum were substantial renovations at two other Bentonville institutions. The Walmart Museum offers a mix of interactive, hands-on displays and unique exhibits detailing the history and future of Walmart and the Walton family, and the expanded Museum of Native American History offers a better frame for what has been touted as one of the most comprehensive collections of Native American artifacts in the South. Not losing sight of its roots in the first county in the state, Bentonville has maintained its historic charm while transitioning into a progressive community, carefully tending the 72 historical buildings and homes within the city limits while spreading welcoming arms to new restaurants and shops serving the increasing numbers of visitors.
The Bentonville dining scene has exploded in recent years, part of the new energy infusing the city since the opening of its major art museum. Bentonville has also hosted an annual Friends of James Beard Foundation Dinner since 2013 which includes restaurants and executive chefs from: Tusk & Trotter, The Hive at 21c Museum & Hotel, Eleven at Crystal Bridges, Oven & Tap, Pressroom and newly opened The Preacher's Son. As a result of our culinary popularity, so does our demand for new dining experiences. Watch for innovative food trucks, national award-winning barbecue, increase of craft breweries and creative dining experiences. Culinary experiences are being embraced by chefs, locals and our visiting guests.