Skip to site content
Group Travel Leader Group Travel Leader Group Travel Leader

Retail Rising at These Shopping Destinations

Some people see shopping as a necessary evil; others treat it like a competitive sport or simply enjoy it as a relaxing pastime. No matter how you approach it, shopping is serious business. Some shopping areas, whether stand-alone malls or full neighborhoods, are famous around the world, and some are simply welcome additions to the regional retail landscape.

In New York City, the new Westfield World Trade Center is a signature entry point for Lower Manhattan, and the company’s 40-year-old UTC mall in San Diego is undergoing a major expansion and renovation. Around the country, outlet shopping continues to be popular, and new outlet centers are adding to shoppers’ options in Florida, Maryland and Texas.

Westfield UTC

San Diego

San Diego’s University Towne Center mall opened in 1977, so when shopping center giant Westfield launched the first of a multiphase, $1 billion renovation nearly 35 years later, “it was time,” said Adrienne Pacheco, senior marketing director for the mall, now known as Westfield UTC.

The initial $180 million renovation wrapped up in 2012 and was largely cosmetic, with new flooring and updated storefronts. But the project also added a new dining terrace and reconfigured the former Robinsons-May shell to house a 14-screen ArcLight Cinemas theater, a 24 Hour Fitness gym and a Forever 21 store.

Crews started work on the second phase in July 2015, and the grand opening is slated for October. With a $585 million price tag, the second phase will add over 250,000 square feet of new retail and restaurant space to the center’s existing 1.1 million square feet.

“It’s a large expansion, but we made every effort to keep it upscale and refined and very comfortable,” she said. When it’s complete, “you won’t be able to see the transition from old to new.”

Room and Board is taking over the former Sport Chalet space, but Westfield hasn’t yet announced tenants for the new retail space. However, retailers will be in keeping with the center’s approach of curating “unique and first-to-market retailers,” such as Warby Parker, TravisMathew and Bonobos.

Nordstrom “won’t miss a beat” when it moves from its existing space at the mall into a new, two-story flagship store being built on-site complete with an in-store restaurant and coffee shop.

The Pointe will be a promenade of restaurants with al fresco dining around fire pits and a koi pond, and The Winery wine bar anchoring one end. Other restaurants include Javier’s, known for its elevated Mexican fare, and dumpling house Din Tai Fung. An 18,000-square-foot indoor and outdoor event space will overlook The Pointe, and the expansion will also feature a valet area with an arrival lounge and a new 2,300-space parking garage.

Clarksburg Premium Outlets

Clarksburg, Maryland

When the Clarksburg Premium Outlets opened in October, “it was one of the best grand openings in recent history for the entire premium-outlets platform,” said Michael Mitchroney, general manager.

Simon Property Group’s new shopping center is in Clarksburg, Maryland, just off Interstate 270 about 30 miles northwest of Washington and 50 miles west of Baltimore.

The center features 90 stores, with several more still under construction, and “premium” is the key word for the retailers, which include high-end, name-brand outlets such as Armani, Hugo Boss, Salvatore Ferragamo, Kate Spade and Coach, as well as national brands like Nike, Under Armour, Polo Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy.

“We have the greatest mix of brands possible in the marketplace,” Mitchroney said, adding, “It’s a great opportunity to touch all the bases and cater to the customer.”

Simon designed the center to offer visitors a relaxing shopping experience. The LEED-certified project is a two-story outdoor center that features outdoor gathering spaces with seating areas with tables and chairs as well as soft seating, a fireplace, two fountains, a playground, a bike path that runs through the property and an amphitheater “where we’ll put on events during the warmer months.”

Market Hall is the indoor eating area, with six fast-casual food options. Comfortable seating, charging stations with outlets and USB ports, and the media lounge with couches and TVs all help set the Market Hall apart from a conventional mall food court.

For the motorcoach market, “the center was designed with groups and buses and tourism specifically in mind,” Mitchroney said. A centrally located bus plaza right outside Market Hall allows groups to arrive under an overhang with heaters, outdoor seating and vending machines, and the center has bus parking. For groups of 10 or more, the center also provides someone to greet them and gives each guest a VIP Shopper Club savings passport that offers discounts and deals at a variety of retailers.

Rachel Carter

Rachel Carter worked as a newspaper reporter for eight years and spent two years as an online news editor before launching her freelance career. She now writes for national meetings magazines and travel trade publications.