This Week in Event Venues: Christmas Pop-Ups, Wildfire Relief, Micro-Weddings, and More

Rounding up the latest news from hotels, convention centers, meeting spaces, restaurants, and other event venues across the United States and Canada.

The 100-year-old Hotel Figueroa in Los Angeles has launched a new micro-wedding package starting at $149 per person. The events can host as many as 25 people, with add-ons such as small bites at the 1,500-square-foot Rick’s space (pictured), audiovisual packages for a virtual component, a photo booth, and more. “We are offering the same elevated experience as a larger wedding, simply on a smaller, more socially distanced scale. This creates an overall atmosphere that is relaxed and is a joyful celebration while still prioritizing safety,” says Matt Vargas, the hotel's director of sales and marketing.
The 100-year-old Hotel Figueroa in Los Angeles has launched a new micro-wedding package starting at $149 per person. The events can host as many as 25 people, with add-ons such as small bites at the 1,500-square-foot Rick’s space (pictured), audiovisual packages for a virtual component, a photo booth, and more. “We are offering the same elevated experience as a larger wedding, simply on a smaller, more socially distanced scale. This creates an overall atmosphere that is relaxed and is a joyful celebration while still prioritizing safety,” says Matt Vargas, the hotel's director of sales and marketing.
Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Figueroa

As hotels and event spaces begin to cautiously reopen after coronavirus-related shutdowns, we're here to round up the biggest news of the week—in one convenient place. Got a tip? Get in touch!

In Case You Missed It...
On bizbash.com this week, we brought you 15 outdoor venues around the country that can safely host events this fall. The mix of new and newly reopened spaces offer standout space for small alfresco gatherings, with eye-catching views, creative social distancing measures, and plenty of safety precautions. Not ready to go fully in-person yet? We also highlighted five production studios that can help you seamlessly pull off a virtual or hybrid event.

Here are five more things you need to know this week. 

1. Gaylord Hotels is planning pop-up Christmas experiences around the country.
Debuting in November, the hotel chain will host a Christmas movie-theme experience at its properties in Colorado, Florida, Tennessee, and Texas. The multisensory exhibitions—a collaboration with Warner Bros. Consumer Products—will feature 13 immersive scenes from films such as The Polar Express, A Christmas Story, Elf, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, complete with replicas of film props, audio clips, and more. Other highlights will include letter-writing to Santa, a Christmas-theme escape room, and an “elf training academy.” The pop-ups at the four hotels will run through Jan. 3. This year's Christmas pop-up at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, Fla., will include an 'elf training academy' for kids.This year's Christmas pop-up at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, Fla., will include an "elf training academy" for kids.

2. Some resorts are letting groups book entire buildings for social distancing.
Want to ensure a safe experience for your group? The Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva, Wis., is now allowing groups to book entire buildings throughout its 1,300-acre campus. The property has 20,000 square feet of meeting space spread over 12 rooms, plus a designated remote registration area, a variety of outdoor experiences, and complimentary parking. All areas of the hotel follow the resort’s CleanCare pledge.

3. Nashville’s new marketing campaign is supporting local venues.
The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp., in partnership with the Music Venue Alliance Nashville, has launched Music City Bandwidth presented by Jack Daniel’s to provide financial aid to independent music venues—and to promote tourism when it’s safe to travel again. The initiative will host 30 virtual concerts starting Sept. 14, ultimately supporting 15 venues and about 120 Nashville-based musicians. The shows will air at musiccitybandwidth.com, where fans can also purchase T-shirts or donate to a relief fund for local venues and artists.

“We have been closed since March, and even though we have operated frugally and responsibly, have been forced to lay off 90% of our employees,” says Exit/In owner Chris Cobb, president of Music Venue Alliance Nashville. “We fear many of us will close permanently. We know there are many people rooting for us to survive, and this marketing initiative is one of the first pieces of assistance to finally come through.”

4. California’s hospitality industry is helping in wildfire relief.
As wildfires rage throughout the West Coast, Monterey County in Central California is stepping in to help: More than 70 local hotels have been offering heavily discounted accommodations to evacuees and first responders. Many hotels, including the InterContinental The Clement Monterey, have also lifted pet restrictions. WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and Monterey Conference Center have also offered assistance as evacuation centers, with the raceway providing free camping and RV spaces.

“We are proud of how Monterey County’s hotel and lodging industry stepped up and prioritized evacuees before other guests during the peak of our wildfires,” said Jeroen Gerrese, chair of Monterey County Hospitality Association and general manager at Sanctuary Beach Resort. “The health and well-being of our more than 27,000 employees, their families, and our community is a top priority.”

5. Kimpton launched a new staff position focused on remote schooling.
A few weeks ago, we noticed a trend of hotel properties offering space and amenities for homeschooling. This week, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants took it a step further by introducing the "chief virtual learning officer," a new position at Kimpton properties across the country. The on-site officer will be available 24/7 to help with virtual learning needs, whether it’s trouble-shooting Zoom calls, providing kid-friendly desks or booster seats, or coordinating the all-important mid-day snack. The offering is currently in the pilot program stage at seven Kimpton hotels around the country, including Kimpton Saint George in Toronto (pictured), Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Philadelphia, and Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt in Austin.The offering is currently in the pilot program stage at seven Kimpton hotels around the country, including Kimpton Saint George in Toronto (pictured), Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Philadelphia, and Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt in Austin.Photo: Naomi Finlay for Kimpton Saint George

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