It’s Time to Make a Splash: Water-Friendly Meetings
From the dawn of time, humans have been drawn to gather together near water. Today, our instinct to meet near water isn’t about survival—but the sense of togetherness that comes from sharing companionship and connection at one of Earth’s most bountiful elements means that we still flock to lakeside retreats, ocean beaches, and poolside parties.
That makes water a meeting planner’s secret weapon. At a time when event attendance is still struggling to return to pre-pandemic levels, hosting a meeting at a venue known for its water features can be an added draw for delegates.
But it’s not just about boosting attendance. Being in “blue space” brings health and social benefits that are particularly conducive to meeting planners’ goals, including reduced stress and deeper social interactions.
Gaylord Hotels and Resorts in particular are known for their water features, but the entire Marriott Bonvoy portfolio has a wealth of aquatic delights for planners to choose from. Whether your meeting is best suited for a tranquil lakeside retreat, boisterous water park fun after-hours, or beachfront access for post-session unwinding, bringing a little H2O to your event can strengthen your meeting’s mission—and add a lot of joy.
Indoor-Outdoor Gathering Spots: Four Beachside Properties
- Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa: A champion of indoor-outdoor meetings, this resort offers attendees a uniquely Hawaiian way to connect with water—and with each other. The resort’s ʻauʻaukai ceremony, stemming from the belief of early Hawaiians who used it for renewal and connection, incorporates practices of purification via ocean water and is performed at sea. After team members return from their meetings, held in more than 30,000 square feet of event space, they can participate in the ceremony and emerge with a clearer focus on mutual goals.
- JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort: More than 140,000 square feet of event space spread over 62 rooms. Three miles of private beach along the Gulf of Mexico. Two championship-level golf courses. How could any meeting here be less than a success?
- The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach: This restored landmark hotel offers private daybeds at the pool—and access to Miami’s world-famed South Beach, complete with white sand. There’s room for business, too: Attendees can gather in more than 20,000 square feet of event space, and meetings can culminate in the 10,000-square-foot art deco ballroom.
- JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa: Spectacular for meetings with outdoor components (but no slouch in indoor spaces, with eight event rooms), the beachside hotel grants attendees access to a resplendent Caribbean beach.
Intimate Meetings, Massive Galas, and Everything In Between: Five Pool-Forward Properties
- Marriott Marquis Houston: The Lone Star State gets Texas-sized treatment here, with a Texas-shaped lazy river alongside a rooftop infinity pool and whirlpool. With more than 153,000 square feet of meeting space and 52 event rooms, the Marriott Marquis Houston would already be a draw for planners. Add in the Altitude Rooftop & Pool deck with panoramic views of downtown Houston, and meetings are primed for success.
- The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes and JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes: These two neighboring properties can work as a pair. The Ritz-Carlton offers more than 147,000 square feet of meeting space, a day spa, and a lap pool. Attendees craving more water features have access to the Grande Lakes Waterpark—complete with lazy river, waterslides, and Jacuzzis—at JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes (which has more than 100,000 square feet of flexible indoor space and another 100,000-plus square feet of outdoor space as well).
- The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa: Surf’s up—in Scottsdale, Arizona, thanks to a flow-board simulator that lets attendees “surf” in the desert. For those not ready to hang loose, there’s the pool, a 110-foot waterslide, and a lazy river. And with 41 event rooms encompassing more than 200,000 square feet of meeting space, it’s not all about catching waves.
- Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa: This Indian Wells space in the Greater Palm Springs area hosts midsize events, with space for up to nearly 2,000 attendees. The desert oasis has a sandy “beach” pool and spa amenities, including waterfall spas and a whirlpool.
Riverside Hustle, Lake Getaways, Boating Delights: Three Waterfront Gems
● San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk: Located across from the convention center and right on San Antonio’s world-renowned River Walk, this hotel gives delegates the chance to relax on the riverside Oak Tree Terrace space before ambling to the Alamo Ballroom or any of the other 13 event rooms. (And for those who prefer their water to not be a spectator sport, the indoor pool awaits.)
● The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee: An Eden of luxury meeting space offering bird-watching and other lake recreational activities, this Georgia property splits its 58,000 square feet of meeting space between 24,000 square feet of indoor rooms and the great outdoors. Executives, incentive awardees, board members—all will return from this tranquil lakeside retreat rejuvenated.
● The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village: Nestled amid 400 miles of navigable canals and waterways, this resort space offers opportunity for attendees to gather outdoors. Not that indoor spaces are ignored: Over 11 event spaces and nearly 30,000 square feet of meeting spaces let attendees take the inspiration that struck them on the canals and turn it into action.