This Week in Event Venues: Stadiums Serving as Voting Centers, a Socially Distanced Concert Venue, and More

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

Carlsbad, Calif.'s 327-room Park Hyatt Aviara reopened this week after a $50 million renovation. Highlights include 83,000 square feet of upgraded meeting and event space, plus a new Topgolf suite with games and a billiards table, refreshed pools and private cabanas, and guest rooms with a nature-inspired design. Opening in early 2021 is a new restaurant from celebrity chef Richard Blais.
Carlsbad, Calif.'s 327-room Park Hyatt Aviara reopened this week after a $50 million renovation. Highlights include 83,000 square feet of upgraded meeting and event space, plus a new Topgolf suite with games and a billiards table, refreshed pools and private cabanas, and guest rooms with a nature-inspired design. Opening in early 2021 is a new restaurant from celebrity chef Richard Blais.
Photo: Courtesy of Park Hyatt Aviara

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
Our roundups of the new venues in cities across North America continued this week! Check out our recent spotlights on Los Angeles (including what is now the largest stadium in the NFL!), San Francisco, and Seattle

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

1. Sports venues and convention centers are doubling as voting centers.
With early voting well underway across the United States, a number of venues have been transformed into election centers for the Nov. 3 presidential election. In Los Angeles, for example, spaces like the Staples Center, the Forum, the Long Beach Convention Center, and Dodger Stadium (fresh off a World Series win!) will open for early voting this weekend, with extended hours on election day. In New York, Madison Square Garden opened as a polling site Oct. 24.

These large venues are coming in handy during COVID-19, allowing voters to socially distance while waiting in line. "We want voters to know it is safe to come and vote. You don't need to make a choice between your health and safety and participating in the election," said L.A. Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan in an interview with ABC. 

Other stadiums that are doubling as polling sites include Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, NRG Park in Houston, Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco, Fenway Park in Boston, and many more. New York's Madison Square Garden is open for early voting through Nov. 1, and will serve as an Election Day voting site on Nov. 3.New York's Madison Square Garden is open for early voting through Nov. 1, and will serve as an Election Day voting site on Nov. 3.Photo: Courtesy of MSG Entertainment

2. Orlando is getting a new outdoor theater with socially distant pod seating.
After photos of Newcastle, England's socially distanced Virgin Money Unity Arena went viral this summer, it was only a matter of time before the U.S. built something similar. Enter: Orlando's Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, which is currently building an outdoor entertainment venue with 380 elevated platforms that can hold more than 1,500 people. Once completed, the space plans to host the Front Yard Festival, a six-month lineup of events kicking off in December and featuring a mix of music, comedy, dance, and more. Orlando City Council has given $250,000 to the project in an effort to attract more visitors to the downtown area; the money will be used to help pay for staging, sound, lighting, and fencing.

“Arts and events not only help provide needed jobs and employment for our residents but also food for our souls,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer in a statement to the Orlando Sentinel. “The space will help bring our arts back and bring our community safely together to gather, celebrate, relax, and be inspired.”

3. Venues have started planning their socially distant holiday pop-ups.
The holiday season will undoubtedly look a bit different this year, but that hasn’t stopped some bars from moving ahead with their annual seasonal makeovers. In Las Vegas, for instance, Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa will open Merry Crimson, a festive indoor and outdoor pop-up bar with over-the-top holiday decor. Opening Nov. 27, the space will feature themed cocktails with cheeky names (think: “The Tree Isn’t The Only Thing Getting Lit This Year,” a combination of bourbon, mint, blackberry syrup, and blueberry Red Bull, served in a light bulb glass), plus desserts, live entertainment, and photo ops. There will also be an oversize gingerbread house and s’mores kits for guests seated at fire pits.

Meanwhile, Miracle—the franchise of popular holiday bars that pop up around the world every year—plans to open in about 100 participating locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. Organizers are taking steps to keep attendees safe, including set reservation times, indoor and outdoor seating, and optional to-go cocktails in celebratory mugs. “[The bars] will be more socially distanced and a little more structured,” said founder Greg Boehm in an interview with Fortune. In 2018, Miracle transformed the bar at the Kimpton Everly in Los Angeles into a retro winter wonderland with a lighted archway, a tree created with presents, and a 20-foot-tall inflatable Santa.In 2018, Miracle transformed the bar at the Kimpton Everly in Los Angeles into a retro winter wonderland with a lighted archway, a tree created with presents, and a 20-foot-tall inflatable Santa.Photo: Bread & Butter

4. Marriott invests in remote work.
Like a number of hotel chains, Marriott International had begun leaning into offering work-from-anywhere options. Through its Marriott Bonvoy program, the massive hotel chain is offering a new day pass, “stay pass” (including an overnight stay), and “play pass” (with family-friendly activities) packages, all designed as flexible options for short work-related stays. The program was launched after the brand learned that 42% of business professionals would consider working from a hotel.

"Working remotely doesn't necessarily have to mean working from home, where blurred lines between personal and professional lives can create distractions and stress," said Stephanie Linnartz, Marriott’s group president of consumer operations, technology, and emerging businesses. "We are inviting guests to work anywhere with Marriott Bonvoy to help them be more productive and achieve a better work/life balance by reimagining our hotel rooms as local remote workspaces for our customers.”

5. Caesars Forum finally hosted its first live event.
The $375 million Caesars Forum, a 550,000-square-foot conference center on the Las Vegas Strip, hosted ConferenceDirect's annual partner meeting from Oct. 26-28. The conference marks the first event held in the new venue, which debuted March 18 and will accommodate as many as 10,000 attendees once COVID-19 restrictions lift. Caesars Forum bills itself as the first facility of its size built on a single level; it has two 110,000-square-foot, pillar-less ballrooms, plus 100 breakout rooms and a 100,000-square-foot outdoor event space.ConferenceDirect's annual partner meeting featured socially distanced seating, where each attendee had their own small table and chair.ConferenceDirect's annual partner meeting featured socially distanced seating, where each attendee had their own small table and chair.Photo: Courtesy of Caesars Entertainment

6. This international hotel chain is going full vegetarian for an entire year.
Yes, you read that right! While vegetarian and vegan options are widespread at hotels these days, boutique hospitality chain Ovolo Hotels—which operates four properties in Hong Kong and seven throughout Australia—plans to go 100% vegetarian for an entire year. The goal is to engage in more sustainable and ethical practices, said Ovolo Group CEO Girish Jhunjhnuwala in a press release.

"Dining out and enjoying tasty food and wine with great company is one of life’s simplest pleasures," he said. "Good times and good intentions is how we’re evolving. We want to be conscious about what we are consuming and practice environmental sustainability as best as we can, as this leads to a larger impact on humanity, not just the environment."

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