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What's New in Event Venues: The 'Taylor Swift Lift,' Stargazing Experiences, and More

BizBash rounds up the latest news from hotels, convention centers, meeting spaces, restaurants, and other event venues around the world.

Event Venue News for February 2024
Interested in camping but not quite ready to go out in the cold? InterContinental New York Barclay is offering a fun new experience in its penthouse suite. Through a partnership with Starlight Slumber Party, the hotel offers themed glamping setups in its Harold S. Vanderbilt Penthouse—or on its 1,300-square-foot private terrace—and comes complete with Champagne and cheese boards for adults or milk and cookies for kids.
Photo: Courtesy of InterContinental New York Barclay

In Case You Missed It
BizBash's editorial team recently shared some tips for using short-term venue rental platforms—like Peerspace and Open Venues—for events, including ways to comply with local laws, communicate clearly with property owners, and more.

Here are five more things to know this month... 

1. U.S. hotel construction hit an all-time high at the end of 2023.
Here's some good news: According to Lodging Econometrics, the number of hotel projects and rooms being built or planned has reached an all-time high, with 5,964 projects and nearly 694,000 rooms. This marks a significant increase from the previous year, with more hotels under construction, about to start construction, or in early planning stages than ever before. A large portion of these new hotels fall into the upper midscale and upscale categories, adds the recent report, which also notes an increase in hotel renovations and brand changes, suggesting a growing interest in updating and repurposing existing hotels.

Looking ahead, Lodging Econometrics is optimistic about continued growth in hotel development, partly because the Federal Reserve plans to cut interest rates. (Lower interest rates make it cheaper to borrow money, which could encourage more construction, renovations, and hotel purchases.) "We expect lending volume to increase slowly in the first half of 2024 and then gradually pick up the pace in the second half of the year," notes the report

2. Taylor Swift's tour continues—and event venues are "ready for it."
The U.S. leg of the superstar's record-breaking tour may have wrapped last year (click here to read our event-based analysis of just what made it so special), but the international dates are just getting started. And one property that's ready for it is Bisha Hotel in Toronto. The luxury property has debuted The Taylor one-bedroom suite, which is decorated with visuals from her albums and fun details like custom friendship bracelets; guests can also receive custom Taylor-themed artwork from a local artist. Before the November tour stop, the hotel plans to rename its seven floors after Swift’s albums. 

But the Taylor Swift effect goes far beyond themed suites, with hoteliers seeing record hotel bookings for her tour stops—in fact, her tour already contributed $208 million in hotel room revenue, according to reports from August. It’s a big enough phenomenon that Mastercard has coined the phrase “The Swift Lift” to describe the boost in sales that the Eras Tour brings to local businesses. The Mastercard study noted that within a 2.5-mile radius of the stadiums in cities that Swift visited, spending growth at restaurants increased by 68% per day, and spending growth at accommodations increased by 47%.

3. This year, hospitality is all about the stars—and we don't mean celebrities.
In 2024, memorable guest experiences seem to be written in the stars. Moxy Hotels, for example, has teamed up with digital astrology platform Sanctuary for a yearlong partnership offering astro-guided adventures, personalized travel recommendations, and unique guest experiences—including a "Sip by Sign" cocktail menu—along with travel-inspired horoscopes and other astrology-based insights. 

Starry stays are extending beyond astrology, too, with a variety of stargazing-inspired experiences being promoted at hotels and resorts. A standout? Under Canvas, which recently announced that all five of its Utah and Arizona camps—in Zion, Bryce Canyon, Lake Powell-Grand Staircase, and Moab national parks—have been recognized as the world’s first official DarkSky-certified resorts.

“Today, astrotourism—in which travelers seek out destinations that offer ideal conditions for stargazing and observing celestial events—is one of the top travel trends in the world,” said Ruskin Hartley, CEO of DarkSky International, the recognized global authority on light pollution. “Under Canvas has been at the forefront of this trend. The brand has consistently demonstrated its commitment to preserving the night sky for present and future generations, and sharing awe-inspiring dark sky experiences with its guests.”

4. Hotels are doubling down on wellness. 
If you thought wellness was a passing January fad in the event and hospitality industry, think again. Several properties are leaning into permanent new wellness facilities, including JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, which recently debuted the Interactive Co-Ed Wellness Lounge & Spa Experience. A first for the Marriott brand, the experience is located within the hotel’s 38,000-square-foot space and aims to merge relaxation and new technology. There are 15 high-tech loungers, and guests can choose between various options like the Mind-Sync Lounger (where guests don noise-canceling headsets for vibroacoustic sound wave therapy).

Hawaii's 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay, meanwhile, has debuted the comprehensive "Within Wellness" program that includes the Vitahealth medispa, offering an integrated medicine program powered by a team of doctors and nurses. There's also a hyperbaric chamber, a float tank, sleep therapies, a meditation pod, and more—all accessible for guests. And in London, Maybourne Hotel Group's upcoming The Emory plans to open a four-story wellness enclave on April 4 that will blend spa, beauty, recovery, and fitness amenities—including classes from renowned trainer Tracy Anderson. 

5. Restaurant design may get bolder in 2024.
In the publication Hospitality Design this week, a group of industry leaders predicted 2024’s biggest restaurant design trends, which include a resurgence in retro-inspired design, an increase in open kitchens, secret menus, and more. “Culture seekers are driving the global tourism economy, and this means that food and art are becoming much more important to the hotels that these travelers are selecting for their stay,” Larry Traxler, senior vice president of global design for Hilton Hotels & Resorts, told the publication. “As a result of this growing importance placed on foodie travel, hotel restaurants are becoming bolder and more curated in their design.” Click here to read the full article. 

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