The Ritz-Carlton, meetings and events are anything but ordinary: they are sensory experiences that enliven the participants and create memories. In a new program, “A Meeting of the Senses,” the relaxed and refined environments of participating hotels and resorts around the globe set the scene for the skilled Ladies and Gentlemen of The Ritz-Carlton to create innovative meetings that awaken the mind, stir creativity, and intensify focus. At the heart of this new initiative is a group of trusted advisors, who draw upon the latest trends to craft experiences that positively impact everyone from the meeting planners to participants.
Sixty Ritz-Carlton properties around the world are participating in this program dedicated to hosting luxury meetings and events that create immersive experiences. Expert meeting planners draw inspiration from unlikely sources to curate unique and unexpected food and beverage experiences, develop wellness-inspired breaks, and personalize itineraries that embrace the environment of each individual hotel and destination.
The Ladies and Gentlemen of The Ritz-Carlton are experts at delivering engaging and unexpected events, often drawing inspiration from popular culture, social media, and fashion to set the bar high for success. A key component of the planning process is Pinterest; its visual and creative focus has proven to be one of the most invaluable resources for trend spotting for planners at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis. Meeting planners at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island visit New York each year to tour the holiday window displays at luxury department stores, and bring back ideas to incorporate in future events. The team at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman dedicates time to view high-end runway fashion shows, incorporating couture into décor and set-ups. At The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, planners utilize the beauty of the location as a platform for planning. For example, the resort was the first on island to offer a Picnic Under the Stars, which included a movie and picnic basket for each guest, on its rolling Plantation Lawn.
For food and beverage design, The Ritz-Carlton thinks outside of the box with examples of customized dishes, breakout meals, and local activities. Kapalua serves garden-to-glass specialty cocktails, featuring herbs grown on-site and brings in food trucks and the local Farmers’ Market to the hotel. They also create menus that are interactive and specific to Maui, with a meeting break “Shop” offering pineapple three ways: fresh pineapple juice, candied pineapple rings, and pineapple scones. For a client program focused on racing and innovation, Grand Cayman served miniature versions of “high octane fuel,” a creative presentation of chilled espresso shots. The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans has an “Oyster Butler” and “Crawfish Concierge” that teach attendees how to properly shuck oysters and peel the local delicacy. At The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage, hands-on cooking classes and wine tastings as team-building sessions utilize all senses to fully engage guests.
Now more than ever, planners and attendees are looking to extend their active and healthy lifestyle at meetings, and The Ritz-Carlton takes the wellness trend to the next level. Rather than a simple juice bar, Kapalua offers a Green Smoothie Station, Kombucha Bar and Acai Station. The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba brings the spa’s oxygen bar into meeting breaks to allow guests to breathe deeply and unwind, and leave feeling energized and alert. With a focus on fitness, The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna offers a personal trainer during coffee breaks, and a Sightseeing Run at the end of the day, touring the city’s Old Town.
The Ritz-Carlton planners remain ahead of the curve in the corporate meeting space, staying abreast of industry trends and in many cases, leading the new wave. The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain predicts a shift to family-style meals and unique seating layouts, doing away with banquet rounds of ten in favor of community tables and interactive set-ups. More organic networking opportunities are being curated in locations outside of the ballroom on Grand Cayman. In Aruba, an increased focus on the lighting (to energize) and temperature (and offering scarves for comfort) of a room has resulted in positive feedback from planners and attendees. Taking advantage of being in a fashion capitol of the world, meeting attendees at The Ritz-Carlton, Battery Park in New York will have access to the express private shopping program from Saks Fifth Avenue at Brookfield Place during meeting breaks.
“Bleisure” travel continues to be popular across The Ritz-Carlton properties worldwide and as a result, some hotels are adding activities to Ritz Kids in the evenings, and planning day trips for accompanying families.