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What’s New in Event Venues: Signs of Recovery, Plus Metaverse Hotels, On-Site Herb Gardens, Accessibility Features, and More

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

Hyatt's new lifestyle brand, Caption by Hyatt, will debut this summer in Memphis. Read more below.
Hyatt's new lifestyle brand, Caption by Hyatt, will debut this summer in Memphis. Read more below.
Photo: Courtesy of Hyatt

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 also highlighted new event-friendly venues in AtlantaAustinBostonChicago, Dallas/Fort WorthDenverHouston/San Antonio, Las VegasLos AngelesMiami/South Florida, NashvilleNew YorkOrlando/Central FloridaPhiladelphiaPhoenix/ScottsdaleSan DiegoSan Francisco, SeattleTorontoWashington, D.C., and Vancouver.

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

1. Recovery may be slow—but it is happening.
According to an April 2022 report by the American Hotel & Lodging Association and Kalibri Labs, U.S. hotel business travel revenue is projected to be 23% below pre-pandemic levels this year. Urban markets like San Francisco, New York, and Washington, D.C., have been impacted the most from the loss of events, meetings, and business travel. 

But there are some growing signs to feel confident about. The same report finds that leisure travel is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022, and a recent analysis—conducted by the San Diego State University School of Hospitality & Tourism Management on behalf of AHLA—found businesses and organizations that resume business travel and in-person meetings more quickly are likely to have a competitive edge over those that do not.  

In another positive sign of the times, Lodging Econometrics reports that the total U.S. hotel construction pipeline is seeing a small increase this year, as new projects previously on hold are getting the green light. And Expedia Group Media Solutions' latest report is finding an increase in confidence and enthusiasm from travelers.

2. The metaverse continues to expand into the hospitality world.
CVBs and destination marketers have continued embracing the metaverse, with venues like Atlanta's Truist Park creating their own virtual worlds. And now, Millennium Hotels and Resorts has debuted M Social Decentraland, the world’s first hotel to operate entirely in the metaverse. Modeled after the brand's IRL hotels located around the world, the hotel transcends conventional guest rooms with locks in favor of futuristic, floating beds and staircases. Click here to learn more.

Meanwhile, Horizon Worlds—Meta’s social VR platform available for Quest 2 and Rift—is folding its virtual venue app into the larger metaverse app starting on June 6, according to a company blog post. This means anyone who accesses the Horizon Worlds app will also gain access to a dedicated venue-like digital space, which will host everything from live sporting events, to concerts, comedy shows, and meditation sessions. Highlights of the venue programming will also be available on Oculus TV. People over 18 in the US and Canada who have access to Horizon Worlds on Quest 2 will be able to access venues programming in the Horizon Worlds app starting on June 6.People over 18 in the US and Canada who have access to Horizon Worlds on Quest 2 will be able to access venues programming in the Horizon Worlds app starting on June 6.Photo: Courtesy of Oculus

3. Accessibility is top of mind as guests return in person.
Venues have been using lessons learned from the pandemic to become more accessible and inclusive, with properties like Kimpton Hotels debuting free mental health services and Kansas' Overland Park Convention Center opening a dedicated room for event attendees with sensory-processing issues. 

And now, The Schoolhouse Hotel, which opened on May 1, is billing itself as the first 100% ADA-compliant hotel in the world. The 30-room boutique property in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., has a number of accessibility-focused features, including automatic sliding doors; extensive accommodations for wheelchairs like low counters, roll-in showers, and a stage with an electric lift; synthetic grass for guide animals; lighting control to promote calming and visual aid; and more.

4. Hyatt has launched a new lifestyle brand.
Earlier this month, Hyatt hotels introduced its newest global lifestyle brand, Caption by Hyatt, with the announcement of Caption by Hyatt Beale Street Memphis, opening this summer. (Additional locations will open soon in Shanghai, Osaka, Tokyo, and Saigon.) In a sign of the times, the new brand is all about connection and community, with social spaces like an all-day lobby lounge and workspace. There will also be a strong commitment to sustainability, along with a focus on inclusivity and representation that draws from local talent, vendors, artisans, and suppliers.

5. Sustainability is still a hot topic.
In last month's column, we highlighted some exciting new sustainability measures at hotels, like the Inn at Laurel Point's new Carbon Neutral Events Program. And those efforts don't seem to be slowing down. In April, Miami's Gabriel South Beach, Curio Collection by Hilton, announced that it is now powered by 100% renewable electricity. The 132-room property is part of Conscious Certified Hotels (CCH), an ESG platform with a commitment to social, health, and environmental consciousness. The platform, created by CGI Merchant Group, focuses on implementing environmental improvements to hotel operations, and caters to travelers who seek out properties that are focused on supporting sustainable causes.

What’s more, JW Marriott has announced a new collaboration with Lily Kwong. The partnership has resulted in three edible, sustainable herb gardens designed and planted by the renowned landscape designer, located at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, the JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa, and the JW Marriott Essex House New York. The new locations join other JW Marriot properties that already have a JW Garden—dedicated spaces for hotels to grow and gather fruits, vegetables, and herbs to use in dishes and cocktails. Each JW Garden also acts as a haven where guests can reconnect with nature through activities like guided meditation, still-life painting classes, and more. The goal is for all 100-plus JW Marriott hotels around the world to have a JW Garden within the next year. To encourage guests to plant a garden of their own, JW Marriott and Lily Kwong also created the Herb Garden Kit Curated by Studio Lily Kwong for JW Marriott, an exclusive at-home planting kit and herbal seed mix that is now available for purchase.To encourage guests to plant a garden of their own, JW Marriott and Lily Kwong also created the Herb Garden Kit Curated by Studio Lily Kwong for JW Marriott, an exclusive at-home planting kit and herbal seed mix that is now available for purchase.Photo: Courtesy of JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa

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