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This Week in Event Venues: Exciting New Openings, The Rise of Pod Travel and Other News

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

Outdoor Dining Experience at Spago Beverly Hills
While indoor dining restrictions are slowly easing around the country, many venues are still focusing on outdoor space. Wolfgang Puck’s Beverly Hills restaurant Spago, for example, is building an outdoor dining experience on the cul-de-sac outside the acclaimed eatery. The space, which is backdropped by the Tomokazu Matsuyama art wall on Canon Drive, includes slotted walls, vented semiprivate seating areas, a cocktail lounge and more, all covered by a large tent with large archways. The structure is modular and allows each section of space to evolve as dining restrictions lift.

“The restaurant industry is the second largest employer in the United States,” said Puck in a statement. “We need to get our people back to work. Finding solutions that will make that happen and keep our guests safe means thinking out of the box. This structure is just the beginning of new ideas that will provide a promising future for our industry."
Photo: Courtesy of Spago

We're rounding up the biggest venue news of the week—in one convenient place. Got a tip? Get in touch!

In Case You Missed It
We learned how venues like Boston's Gillette Stadium and New York's Javits Center have been transformed into large-scale vaccination sites—something the Javits Center's Tony Sclafani says is "the most important event we could ever host." Click here for the full story. 

We also caught up with Adam Burke, the new CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, for a deep dive into how LA is preparing for the return of live meetings, and chatted with Timewise Event Management founder Arlene Schilke about her favorite event venues in Western Canada

Here are five more things you should know this week... 

1. Venue restrictions continue to ease around the country.
The last few weeks have seen a promising decline in COVID-19 cases, sparking a variety of venue reopenings throughout the country. In Los Angeles, for example, the hard-hit city entered a new tier of restrictions on Monday, allowing indoor dining, museums and even movie theaters to reopen at reduced capacities. In New York, restaurant capacity bumps to 50% later this week, and the city has launched several creative new ways to bring back the live event industry—including a special permit type for ticketed events, as well as outdoor pop-up performances. (Read more in our story this week.)

Another city making steady forward progress is Las Vegas, which was particularly damaged by the loss of tourism and convention business. On Monday, Nevada's Gov. Steve Sisolak announced he was raising capacity to 50% for meetings and conventions and entertainment venues. Event hosts and venues are required to submit a Large Gathering COVID-19 Preparedness & Safety Plan Certification Form to the state’s Department of Business and Industry. â€śLas Vegas has been the top convention and meetings destination for many years. We pride ourselves on providing the best facilities, the best service and now, the safest,” said Gov. Sisolak in a statement. “With great confidence in the efforts made by our resorts, convention centers and meeting hosts, I say welcome back!”

2. Creative, COVID-safe venue experiences show no sign of slowing down. 
We're officially one year into the pandemic, and the industry is showcasing more creativity than ever—and finding some increasingly clever ways to draw new business to hotels and eateries. At the 354-room Confidante Miami Beach, for example, guests can book a private “Dinner With Dali” experience inside the hotel’s Salvador Dali exhibit, the first exhibition of the artist's works in Miami. Included with the dinner is a guided private tour of the exhibit, a private server and a curated Dali-inspired tasting menu from the venue's new Ambersweet restaurant. The experience costs $3,000 and is available through April 25.Dinner With Dali Experience at The Confidante Miami BeachThe Dali exhibit, called “The Real Surreal 2.0," is curated by and presented in partnership with local art dealer Marcel Katz.Photo: Courtesy of The Confidante Miami Beach

At the Rockaway Hotel, a 60-room property that opened in New York City in September, design brand Destination Haus has launched a decorated guest suite specifically for safe private dining and small events. The space, called Destination Haus Bungalow, has “beach-chic” decor and was a collaboration with artists Laureen Vallente and Sam Malpass. An added bonus: Guests can shop every item on display in the room.Destination Haus Bungalow at The Rockaway Hotel in QueensThe Destination Haus Bungalow, which is bookable until March 31, features abstract photographs from photographer Laureen Vallente and custom mixed-media surfboards from artist Sam Malpass.Photo: Courtesy of The Rockaway Hotel

And for a fun, only-in-LA experience, acclaimed chef David Myers teamed up with Beverly Hills Car Rental and the newly opened Adrift Burger Bar in Venice Beach for a “Burgers & Bentley” promotion. The over-the-top activity is exactly what it sounds like: Diners can rent a 2021 Bentley GTC for the day and also get a decadent burger topped with caviar, edible gold leaf, a fried egg and truffle cheese. The package starts at $2,000, and a portion of the proceeds benefits Covenant House California. The offering runs through April 15.

3. Properties are embracing the rise of "pod travel."
Pod travel—aka, finding safe ways to travel with a small group and minimize pandemic-related risks—is the hottest new vacation trend, and hotels are noticing. Kimpton has launched the appropriately named Kimpton Quaranteam Getaway package, designed specifically for small family and friend circles. Guests can book a block of up to four rooms on the same floor, get daily credits for food and entertainment and book private meeting space for up to two hours so groups can hang out. The program is available at a variety of hotels around the country.

Similarly, Hawaii’s 552-room The Ritz-Carlton, Waikiki Beach, has debuted a new Pod Travel Concierge program. Guests who book any multiroom suite get exclusive access to the service, which includes private group meals, safely curated excursions, spa treatments and more. Pods can also reserve the entire floor of 10 guest rooms and suites inside the resort’s Diamond Head Tower. 

4. Major hotel chains continue leaning into COVID-19 testing solutions. 
A number of major hotel chains are rolling out enhanced COVID-19 testing options. Last week, Accor announced a partnership with x.labs to provide testing options to leisure guests and groups across all Accor-managed hotels in the U.S. and Canada. Planners will receive special access to a concierge contact at x.labs to coordinate at-home PreCheck diagnostic testing kits and/or on-site COVID-19 antigen rapid testing for attendees.

Hilton has also debuted new COVID-19 testing and health screening resources for event planners and attendees across the United States. Planners will have access to Hilton’s EventReady Playbook, which lists third-party vendors who can provide temperature-check devices, on-site testing solutions and more.

5. And now, some cool new venues that opened this week...
On Monday, Hyatt opened its 1,000th property: the new Alila Napa Valley, located in St. Helena, Calif. The 68-room, adults-only hotel is situated in the heart of wine country and has 5,500 square feet of event space plus a 3,000-square-foot lawn.

In Texas last week, the Renaissance Dallas Addison Hotel debuted a full property renovation that includes a redesign and upgrade to its 100,000 square feet of meeting and event space. The flexible function space spans 37 rooms, with the largest offering more than 25,000 square feet.

And in Washington, D.C., The Ven at Embassy Row, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, opened in Dupont Circle on March 12. The 231-room property features a Scandinavian design including an expansive lobby, a gallery space with rotating art and three meeting rooms. Later this year, the venue will debut a rooftop pool and a full-service restaurant with Nordic-inspired fare.

And in exciting coming-soon news, massive Las Vegas entertainment venue AREA15 recently started construction on The Grounds, a multiuse, outdoor event space designed for festivals, conventions, concerts and other large-scale events. The 4-acre venue will accommodate 20,000 guests and is on track to open this summer. The Grounds at AREA15 in Las Vegas“Expanding the AREA15 campus has always been part of the overall plan for the project,” said Winston Fisher, CEO of AREA15. “We look forward to hosting large-scale music concerts and festivals on The Grounds. The proximity of the land to AREA15, the Strip and Downtown Las Vegas will provide the concertgoer with an unparalleled experience."Rendering: Courtesy of AREA15

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