Let the City Set the Scene

Think you can’t do an incredible outdoor event in an urban hotel? Think again!
Marriott Marquis Houston's Altitude Rooftop & Pool Deck

Think back to the most memorable conferences, events and celebrations you’ve attended.

What stands out most in your mind? What made that event completely unique and utterly unforgettable? Aside from that time your boss decided to sing karaoke (poorly) in front of the entire company.

As with any great story, your unforgettable event story probably starts with the setting. It has the power to make or break any event.

So here are a few tips if you want your setting to make it – and never break it …

If you’ve chosen an urban destination for your event, do everything you can to use the beauty of the city to your advantage. Don’t wall yourself in when picking your venues.

In fact, you may not need walls at all.

Some of the most memorable events are held outdoors. There’s a wide world out there and plenty of fresh air for your guests to enjoy. Every city comes with its own Instagram-worthy sights that will have your guests snapping photo after photo.

They’ll post them online for their friends to “like” and “love,” and then they’ll look back on them forever, with the biggest smile.

Infuse Downtown Into the Background

If the hotel or conference space hosting your event is in a bustling city, it only expands the realm of possibilities.

The Marriott Marquis Houston proves that everything really is bigger in Texas. Guests are immediately in awe of the Texas-shaped lazy river winding through Altitude Rooftop & Pool Deck. With panoramic views of downtown Houston, the setting offers a perfect location for welcoming receptions, cocktail hours and dinners. The exceptional views provide just the right perspective to help guests get familiar with the city and pick out the destinations they may want to visit during their stay.

Nashville is known as Music City USA, and it has become one of the South’s most sought-after event destinations. The JW Marriott Nashville also offers a rooftop pool, but for more formal events, hosts can choose the outdoor event lawn known as “The Green.” The broad open space, in the midst of the urban area, creates a gorgeous oasis that sets the tone for an engaging event. When your event is done, you’ll already be planning an encore for next year.

Perhaps the most urban of all urban destinations is New York City. Short of renting out Central Park, it may seem difficult to host a private outdoor event in the city. Once again, you simply have to look up.

For events at the New York Marriott Marquis in Manhattan, event planners can take advantage of two outdoor terraces connected to the hotel’s Broadway Lounge. The terraces sit 8 stories above iconic Times Square, offering unbeatable views of Broadway, the bustling lights and the flashing billboards.

Pacific Plaza Park Adjacent to the Sheraton Dallas Hotel

Bring Out the Beauty of Your Surroundings

While some destinations can give you a bird’s-eye view of the buzzing city streets, other urban and semi-urban locations can offer event locations that create an infusion of natural beauty to your events.

Combining the proximity to city attractions with the serenity created in nature can be a best-of-both worlds scenario. Just outside of Jacksonville, the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra features 64 acres of outdoor event spaces with sweeping views of moss-covered oak trees intertwined with Sabal palms. Its club deck is perfect for a relaxing waterfront reception, overlooking the 13th hole on the iconic Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.

Meanwhile at the San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk, the Oak Tree Terrace is perfect for smaller intimate events with outdoor drinks and dining overlooking the city’s famous Riverwalk.

If your host hotel doesn’t have the type of on-site outdoor spaces you’re imagining, don’t worry because there’s a good chance they can still make it happen for you. Consider the nearby locations close to the property and imagine the possibilities.

Sheraton Dallas Hotel has partnered with Pacific Plaza Park, adjacent to the hotel, to create a premier outdoor culinary experience in the heart of downtown Dallas. The park offers over nearly four acres of green spaces with city lights illuminating the backdrop, and food and beverage costs count towards hotel contracted F&B minimums.

The Westin Bayshore, Vancouver invites event planners to schedule breakout sessions that break out of the hotel entirely. Teaming with Nature’s Boardroom, the hotel offers attendees the chance to journey through Stanley Park for a walking meeting or take a wellness break with a private group activity.

As with any event, the key is to play to the strengths of your destination and your host hotel. Start early and collaborate freely to choose just the right venues for each event on your schedule. Every destination has something special to offer. With smart, creative planning, you can make any event completely unique and utterly unforgettable.