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What’s New in Event Venues: Global Meetings Industry Day Celebrations, NIVA's First Conference, Sustainable Programs and More

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

Big Cypress Lodge
Looking for an unexpected destination for your next group meeting? The Big Cypress Lodge is located five minutes from the Renasant Convention Center in Memphis, which recently completed a $200 million modernization that includes the largest column-free exhibit hall in the region. The unique resort is a destination in and of itself; it’s shaped like a 32-story pyramid sitting along the Mississippi River, with accommodations that resemble vintage cabins plus the 535,000-square-foot “Cypress Swamp” featuring fish- and alligator-filled aquariums. The lodge has a variety of event spaces, including a banquet room that holds 150, breakout rooms that each old 50 and a 10-seat boardroom; other features include the “Sky High Ride” to the top of the pyramid, live-fire pistol and archery ranges, “underwater bowling” in a space called the Fishbowl (pictured) and more.
Photo: Courtesy of Big Cypress Lodge

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

In Case You Missed It
On BizBash recently, we explored Kimpton's new partnership with online therapy brand Talkspace, which offers free mental health services to both business travelers and Kimpton staffers. We also explored why North Carolina is a rising destination for corporate groups, asked one top event producer to list his favorite venues around the world and took a deep-dive into five ways CVBs and destination marketers can maximize the metaverse.

Looking for a new venue to host your next event? We also outlined eight logistical tips for planning an event in a private home, and rounded up new event-friendly venues in BostonChicago, Denver, Houston/San Antonio, Miami/South Florida, San Francisco and Vancouver—with many more cities to come this month.

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

Global Meetings Industry Day Celebration at Rockefeller CenterOn April 7, classic NYC venues, including Rockefeller Center (pictured), were lit in blue to celebrate Global Meetings Industry Day. “As the business capital of the world, we know that when you meet face-to-face anything is possible,” said Fred Dixon, NYC & Company’s president and CEO. “We join our colleagues in the travel industry to celebrate those opportunities on Global Meetings Industry Day as the world reconnects.”Photo: Courtesy of NYC & Company1. Venues around the world celebrated Global Meetings Industry Day last week.
The Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMBC) and the U.S. Travel Association hosted the seventh annual Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) on April 7, and a number of venues and destinations around the world celebrated this year's theme of "Meet Safe." In New York and Orlando, for example, the convention and visitors bureaus lit buildings across the cities in blue (MMBC’s signature color) in an effort to raise awareness of the power and impact that face-to-face meetings have on the global economy and NYC’s local tourism and hospitality industry.

Omni Hotels & Resorts, meanwhile, marked the occasion by donating one meal for every group room booked during the week of Global Meetings Industry Day—for a total of 50,000 meals to support Feeding America through its Say Goodnight to Hunger program. “This year’s GMID serves as a reminder of the incredible value of in-person meetings while inspiring business leaders to encourage their teams to get back on the road,” said Daniel C. Surette, Omni's chief sales officer.

2. Properties are ramping up their sustainability efforts.
With Earth Day approaching on April 22, 'tis the season for event venues to be thinking about sustainability. The 200-room Inn at Laurel Point in Victoria, British Columbia, for example, has launched a new Carbon-Neutral Events Program, which helps event planners calculate their carbon footprint and offset travel and food-related emissions. An added bonus? Planners are provided with a certificate of authenticity to recognize their commitment to carbon neutrality. 

Another property offering standout sustainability measures is the Naples Grande Beach Resort in Florida, which, in honor of Earth Day, is hosting its new monthly Full Moon Dinner entirely without the use of electricity. The ongoing 20-person dinners, curated by the resort’s executive chef Marcos Seville, invite guests and locals to dine under the moonlight. The electricity-free meal on April 16 will be cooked with charcoal made from Japanese Holm oak, along with Himalayan pink salt blocks used in combination with portable gas burners. Other sustainability-focused measures at the resort—which is situated in the center of a protected mangrove estuary and waterfront—include the use of biodegradable paper straws and wooden stir sticks, a reclaimed water system for irrigation and complimentary eco-tours through the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. 

3. Luxury-driven experiences seem to be in style.
Hotels and resorts continue to ramp up their unique offerings in an effort to court travelers—and many are leaning into luxury to do so. In one over-the-top example, the HĂ´tel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf in St. Barth is offering a new $11,000 Mother’s Day package, complete with personalized gifts and menus, private catamaran rides, babysitting services, robust wellness offerings and more. 

For a slightly more affordable—but still plenty luxurious—option, the 264-room NoMo SoHo in New York has launched a Champagne Suite Experience, a partnership with Veuve Clicquot, called “Ode to Bubbly.” For $400, guests can get an overnight stay in a suite filled with Veuve Clicquot-branded swag and themed decor. 'Ode to Bubbly' Suite at NoMo SoHoFor guests who want to upgrade their stay in the "Ode to Bubbly" suite, there’s the option to add on a mimosa bar for an additional cost.Photo: Courtesy of NoMo SoHo

4. Mental health continues to be a major focus.
In February, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants began offering free mental health services to travelers. (Learn more here.) Another property recognizing the importance of mental health right now is the JW Marriott Marco Island in Florida, which recently debuted a new initiative called the “Zen Den.” It’s a spa-like environment meant to offer an escape for conference attendees and can be curated in any of the resort's meeting spaces during a group event. Highlights include a floor-to-ceiling video wall that plays scenes from nature, plus dim lighting, individual chaise lounges, immersion headphones with calming music, and hot tea and water service. The designated quiet zones can hold anywhere from 5-100 guests at a time. The new initiative adds to the hotel’s free Mindful Meditation program, a 25-minute meditation class held daily on the hotel lawn that’s open to all resort guests.

5. The National Independent Venue Association is hosting a conference.
The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) will host its first-ever conference from July 11-12 in Cleveland. Held at multiple independent venues around the city, the gathering will include curated programming, industry-specific educational sessions and panels and more, all focused on uniting the independent live entertainment community. NIVA formed during the pandemic and became the driving force behind the Save Our Stages Act—now known as the Shuttered Venues Operators Grant Program—which allocated $16 billion in federal emergency relief for independent venues via the Small Business Administration. (Click here to read more about NIVA's founding.)

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