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This Week in Event Venues: an On-Site Testing Lab, a Cross-Country Road Trip, and More Ways Venues Are Bringing Back Events

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

Hawaii's secluded, 90,000-acre island of Lanai reopens today. Highlights include the 213-room Four Seasons Resort Lanai (pictured), which includes a lush pool area and outdoor restaurants, and the 96-room Sense Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort, which offers outdoor fitness facilities.
Hawaii's secluded, 90,000-acre island of Lanai reopens today. Highlights include the 213-room Four Seasons Resort Lanai (pictured), which includes a lush pool area and outdoor restaurants, and the 96-room Sense Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort, which offers outdoor fitness facilities.
Photo: Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Lanai

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, we’ve been rounding up the hottest new venues for events throughout the United States and Canada. So far, we’ve highlighted new spaces in Washington, D.C., Houston, Denver, Philadelphia, Austin, Phoenix/Scottsdale, and Calgary. Next up? New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Toronto, and other major cities.

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

1. Boutique hotels have begun offering full buyouts.
Want to ensure your event guests are safe from COVID-19? If budget permits, consider buying out an entire property for your next group event. The 12-room Washington School House in Park City, Utah, for instance, can accommodate up to 34 guests for exclusive gatherings; pricing starts at $7,000 per night, though it is higher during the winter months. The nine-room Inn at Dos Brisas in Washington, Texas, which has its own 42-acre organic farm, can be booked for $10,000.

Looking for a larger option to ensure plenty of distancing? The 194-room Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Ariz., offers full venue buyouts starting at $199,000—a price that includes accommodations, poolside cabanas, spa treatments, non-alcoholic beverages, and food. Buyouts of Park City's Washington School House also feature a 24-hour concierge, airport transfers in the property’s private fleet, a personal executive chef, and more.Buyouts of Park City's Washington School House also feature a 24-hour concierge, airport transfers in the property’s private fleet, a personal executive chef, and more.Photo: Courtesy of Washington School House

2. The Wynn Las Vegas is building an on-site testing lab for COVID-19.
In an effort to bring back large events, Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas has been working with University Medical Center, Georgetown University, and labs in California and New York to learn how to implement rapid COVID-19 testing at large gatherings. As a result, the resort is now building an onsite testing lab, slated to open before Thanksgiving.

“It's important to note that our UMC/Wynn lab will offer the most sensitive and accurate test available in the United States, utilizing FDA-approved 'gold standard' PCR technology, and we are talking to UNLV to track and analyze the results,” explained Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox in an op-ed for The Nevada Independent. “Extensive research clearly indicates that what is keeping people away from Las Vegas is not so much the physical environment, which we work diligently to keep sterilized, but rather a fear of other people. We must alleviate that fear.”

3. Omni promoted its meeting capabilities with a cross-country road trip.
Another out-of-the-box example of how hotels are encouraging meetings and events comes from Omni Hotels & Resorts. To promote its new Safe & Clean program, the brand hosted a cross-country road trip from Oct. 5-13. The initiative, called "Here Comes Omni: Road Ready," aimed to show customers that the hotel chain is ready to safely host travelers and large-scale meetings and events. A branded RV served as both the trip vehicle and the site of pop-up sales and philanthropic events in cities such as Boston, Washington, D.C., Nashville, and Dallas. For every mile traveled, Omni donated 10 meals to Feeding America, which supports local food banks. Omni's cross-country tour wrapped up on Tuesday in Minneapolis.Omni's cross-country tour wrapped up on Tuesday in Minneapolis.Photo: Courtesy of Omni Hotels & Resorts

4. Forbes rounded up 41 more ways event venues are bringing back meetings and events.
Earlier this week, a number of hotels chatted with Forbes about clever steps they're taking to bring back events, ranging from bracelet systems to display comfort levels and "vertical concerts" where guests watch live music from individual balconies, to pod dance floors, electrostatic sprayers, and more. The whole article is chock-full of inspiration—check it out here.

5. Venues continue giving back to essential workers.
As the pandemic rages on, venues aren't forgetting those on the frontlines. In one example, Hyatt Place and Hyatt House Chicago Medical/University District—a historic hospital-turned 210-room hotel—is celebrating its roots with a contest for healthcare workers. Through the end of October, the newly opened property is asking people to head to its Facebook page and nominate an essential worker who deserves a vacation package. The winner, who will be announced Nov. 2, will receive a complimentary two-night stay, a gift basket, a one-hour massage, and a custom shirt and complimentary private consultation from menswear brand Q Clothier.Hyatt Place and Hyatt House Chicago Medical/University District, the first combined Hyatt Place and Hyatt House hotels in Chicago, opened July 28 inside the 106-year-old Cook County Hospital.Hyatt Place and Hyatt House Chicago Medical/University District, the first combined Hyatt Place and Hyatt House hotels in Chicago, opened July 28 inside the 106-year-old Cook County Hospital.Photo: Courtesy of Hyatt Place and Hyatt House Chicago Medical/University District

6. D.C.’s latest hotel is focused on women's empowerment.
Hotel Zena opened on Washington, D.C.'s 14th Street on Oct. 8. The property is dedicated to female empowerment, with over 60 pieces of art including a portrait of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made from 20,000 hand-painted tampons (yes, you read that right), plus a massive installation made from 12,000 protest buttons from women's-focused marches. The 191-room hotel has over 3,500 square feet of event space.

“We created a safe gathering space that celebrates diversity, respects different points of view, and opens the floor to topics worthy of meaningful conversation,” explained Jon Bortz, CEO of Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, in a press release. “We know we’re pushing boundaries and might even make some people uncomfortable—and we’re okay with that.”Hotel Zena was conceptualized by the award-winning design firm Dawson Design Associates.Hotel Zena was conceptualized by the award-winning design firm Dawson Design Associates.Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Zena

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