What’s New in Event Venues: NFTs, Creative Holiday Decor, a New Net-Zero Hotel and More

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

Resorts World Las Vegas Holiday Display
The new Resorts World Las Vegas has unveiled a dramatic holiday display inside its 70,000-square-foot District shopping area. A highlight comes from the area’s distinctive 40-foot-tall globe, which has been transformed with a vignette of snow falling on a hillside cabin, accessible via a 50-foot LED walkway (pictured).
Photo: Courtesy of Resorts World Las Vegas

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

1. Venue holiday decor is going big this year.
Sure, oversize Christmas trees and twinkle lights will always be staples of the season. But venues are going all out in a big way this year. And we mean big. The Thompson Dallas, for example, is celebrating both its one-year anniversary and the holiday season with an over-the-top holiday display, complete with 12 miles of LED lighting, 11 different kinds of fresh pine and more than 17,000 ornaments adorning 35 bespoke Christmas trees, which were created using six tons of custom iron.

Hotels are also thinking big for gingerbread displays this year. The Benson in Portland, Ore., is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a Polar Express-themed gingerbread display. Over 100 pounds of gingerbread, 50 pounds of white chocolate, 25 pounds of sculpting chocolate and five pounds of rice treats were used to replicate the train; the 3D setting is on view at the hotel until Dec. 26. The Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa in Las Vegas, meanwhile, has unveiled a 5-by-9-foot gingerbread replica of the resort, which took more than 150 hours to construct and is currently on display on the casino floor. Red Rock Casino Gingerbread ReplicaThe gingerbread replica of the Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa uses 50 pounds of gingerbread, 150 pounds of royal icing, nine pounds of rice treats, 15 pounds of fondant and 35 pounds of sugar.Photo: Courtesy of Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa

2. Marriott Bonvoy is creating its own NFTs.
As NFTs continue to gain prominence, particularly at events like Art Basel and Miami Art Week, Marriott is also dipping its toe in the game. During Art Basel earlier this month, Marriott Bonvoy—Marriott International’s travel loyalty program—became one of the first hospitality brands to create its own NFTs. The digital art, inspired by the program’s recent Power of Travel campaign, was a partnership with digital artists TXREK, JVY and Erick Nicolay. Each of the NFTs was an interpretation of travel from the artists’ own unique experiences, aiming to illustrate the impact it has on the human spirit.

“We are excited to bring our extraordinary portfolio of hotel brands and endless experiences into this growing platform,” said Brian Povinelli, Marriott's senior vice president, brand, loyalty and portfolio marketing. “We continuously seek opportunities to defy what is conventional and, with our entry in the digital goods space, we are further igniting the transformative power of travel in the virtual world while supporting this growing community of incredibly talented artists.”

3. The country's first net-zero hotel is opening in April. 
And it will be located in New Haven, Conn. The 165-room Hotel Marcel New Haven will be the nation’s first net-zero and Passive House-certified hotel; it will generate 100% of its own heat and hot water power via solar panels, and it will include a Power Over Ethernet lighting system, charging stations for electric cars and more. There will also be 7,000 square feet of event space. 

“With the climate crisis and continued use of fossil fuels posing an existential threat to humanity, I felt an obligation to build a building that can serve as a model for environmental sustainability,” said Bruce Redman Becker of architecture firm Becker + Becker. “The question should not be why are we doing this—but why isn’t everyone else?”

The Thompson San Antonio is serving the 'Boo Radley,' which features Ritual Zero Proof Tequila Alternative, SOM Strawberry Thai Basil Cordial, cucumber and Topo Chico.The Thompson San Antonio is serving the "Boo Radley," which features Ritual Zero Proof Tequila Alternative, SOM Strawberry Thai Basil Cordial, cucumber and Topo Chico.Photo: Courtesy of Hyatt4. Hyatt has launched a zero-proof beverage program.
Earlier this week, we spoke with a variety of top catering professionals—and many of them predicted that nonalcoholic beverages will be in hot demand in 2022. One hotel group leaning into the trend is Hyatt, which recently found that nearly 50% of travelers surveyed in October 2021 were likely to choose a nonalcoholic beverage over a beer or cocktail.

The new Zero Proof, Zero Judgement program is being rolled out to several U.S. hotels across Hyatt’s Alila, Andaz, Destination by Hyatt, Hyatt Centric, JdV by Hyatt, The Unbound Collection by Hyatt and Thompson Hotels brands. It offers creative, taste-driven cocktails without alcohol, using products from Ritual Zero Proof and Fever-Tree. In conjunction with the new beverage program, Hyatt is also introducing virtual seminars for restaurant, bar and event colleagues that focus on destigmatizing the conversation around mental health in the service industry, as well as highlighting tools for creating a more mindful, considerate work environment.

5. The majority of hotels are still reporting supply-chain issues...
According to a new survey of American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) members, supply chain issues are impacting the operations of more than eight in 10 hotels. AHLA is using the findings, which can be seen here, to argue for targeted federal relief for hotel employees.

“Hotels have a complex supply chain that requires regular procurement of a wide range of goods and services each day. And whether it’s production backups or shipping delays, supply chain disruptions are compounding hotels’ existing problems and increasing operating costs during an already tough time,” explained Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “This survey highlights just how widespread these challenges are for hoteliers. That’s why now is the time for Congress to pass the Save Hotel Jobs Act, so hotel employees can get the relief they need during these difficult times.”

6. ...but in good news, the Omicron variant is not expected to have a major impact on U.S. hotel demand.
That’s according to real estate data firm CoStar and hospitality analytics firm STR, whose preliminary performance data shows no impact from the COVID-19 Omicron variant on U.S. hotel demand. What’s more, the companies note, patterns suggest any impact in the future will likely be minimal. The CoStar team adds that in the U.S., hotel revenue per available room has been trending upward, and in preliminary November data was only 5% below prepandemic 2019 levels. Click here to read more.

7. A new training course for meeting pros focuses on infectious disease awareness. 
The Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC)—the team behind the GBAC STAR Facility and Service Accreditation Programs, which has become the gold standard of venue cleanliness during COVID-19—has launched a new training course focused on increasing knowledge of cleaning for health for individuals in all businesses. The online course, “Infectious Disease Awareness in the Workplace: COVID-19 Considerations,” highlights how pathogens spread and cause illness, and the role that proper hygienic cleaning and disinfection play in infection prevention. Click here to register.

8. Noble House Hotels is using technology to curate creative group experiences.
Boutique hotel brand Noble House Hotels & Resorts has partnered with tech company Way to launch a first-of-its-kind bookable experience menu. The new offering showcases local artisans, entrepreneurs and businesses available to host curated and unique regional experiences for hotel guests and groups, who can peruse options by category or vibe and book right from the hotel’s website. The Edgewater Hotel in Seattle is the first property to launch this platform, and Noble House will soon debut the offering at several other spots including Kona Kai Resort & Spa, River Terrace Inn, Jekyll Island Club Resort, San Diego Mission Bay Resort and L’Auberge Del Mar.  

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