Throughout its 32 year history, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. has always been known as a leader in luxury meetings for both corporate and incentive programs hosted in the iconic brand’s hotels and resorts worldwide.
“Tailoring custom experiences for attendees has always been a priority for us, and today the localization of those experiences has become extremely popular,” said John Harper, Vice President, Sales for The Ritz-Carlton. “Our meeting planners host events with specific goals in mind, whether it be retaining talent or inspiring customers. We partner with our customers to help them create stronger relationships with their attendees,” Harper continued. Once again, The Ritz-Carlton was voted #1 in guest satisfaction for 2015 by J.D. Power and Associates.
New, Innovative Food and Beverage and Authentic Local Experiences:
Around the world, The Ritz-Carlton inspires luxury meeting attendees with unique destination-inspired food and beverage experiences such as The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island’s Honey Break served by the resort’s beekeeper with both honey comb and honey-infused treats. In Arizona, The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain’s “Roadrunner” food truck serves everything from ice cream to street tacos and other western culinary experiences like the Chili, Salsa and Guacamole Challenges, the Margarita Mixing Class or the “Stargazing Dessert” station filled with sky-inspired treats such as Black Hole Brownies, Lemon Moon Pies and Milky Way Cupcakes. In St. Louis, the hotel’s themed coffee breaks include pretzels, local Fitz Root Beer and Kaldi’s Coffee to the sounds of jazz and other music. In coastal Half Moon Bay, California, guests blend their own wines sourced from the nearby Santa Rita Mountains or compete in an “Iron Chef”– style cooking challenge.
Local excursions and adventures also have been curated by the hotel teams for meeting guests. For attendees looking to network with their peers, Meetings on the Grid allows participants to experience the vibrant city of Charlotte including the young city’s thriving craft beer, recreation, art and entertainment scenes in nearby neighborhoods. Dove Mountain guests venture on sunset hiking receptions where attendees journey into the magnificent Tortolita Mountains, exploring areas which the Hohokam Indians originally inhabited. Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment in St. Thomas, USVI offers group excursions including the memorable “Nightlife on the Reef,” a guided nighttime snorkel using dive lights. Guests can also snorkel around the nearby island of St. John on Lady Lynsey, the resort’s sea-going catamaran.
Other special group dining experiences include Chandeliers on the Beach in Naples, Fl., set along the water’s edge. The white sand beach hosts tables lit overhead with eight foot tall chandeliers swaying while guests dine and view the sunset to the sounds of the Gulf of Mexico’s crashing waves. The ‘Sea to Sails’ experience in St. Thomas is authentically Caribbean with guests greeting the fishermen daily as they bring their seafood ashore, delivering them into the hands of the chefs. Guests hand-select their fish and lobsters, photograph, share while chefs prepare and serve their meal.
Engaging Meeting Planners and Attendees Through Technology:
Both meeting planners and attendees are now utilizing technology to maximize the luxury meeting experience. Planners are looking for fresh inspiration constantly and for those active on social media, Pinterest has quickly become the go to source for aspirational imagery in the meeting planning phase prior to arrival. The Ritz-Carlton has created a dedicated Art of Meetings Pinterest page to inspire planners to craft, photograph and share images of memorable events by The Ritz-Carlton. Imagery of meeting setups, food and beverage presentations and indoor and outdoor venues are curated on the page by The Ritz-Carlton social media team to inspire future visits and experiences.
Once guests have arrived, during the execution phase of an event, meeting planners now have digital assistance in service delivery at The Ritz-Carlton hotels and resorts throughout the Americas with the launch of ((Chime)), the new mobile app launched earlier this year. ((Chime)) allows planners to communicate with their conference concierge using an online menu of options on their wireless-connected or web-enabled mobile device, including service requests, food and beverage changes, audio visual requests, in-room temperature changes, room set-up and scheduling alterations and many other options from a simple touch-activated app. There is also a text feature, and once a request is made, the planner will receive a response from the conference concierge confirming receipt of the request and that service is in process. ((Chime)) is available for download at Ritz-Carlton hotels and resorts throughout the region from New York to Los Angeles, San Francisco to Grand Cayman and Atlanta to Marina del Rey, CA enhancing service delivery to meeting planners across the Americas. To viewthe ((Chime)) YouTube video or learn more about ((Chime)) for your mobile device, please visit www.ritzcarlton.com/chime.
For meeting attendees, The Ritz-Carlton App is putting service at attendee’s fingertips. The Ritz-Carlton App wants to be a part of the overall meeting guest experience, bringing the legendary service of the luxury hotel company to the attendee’s smartphone. In addition to mobile check-in and check-out, The Ritz-Carlton launched real-time service requests, food and beverage ordering, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards account review, folio review, hotel offers and exclusive local destination content with concierge tips powered by the brand’s FourSquare “World Concierge.” Ritz-Carlton concierge tips now number over 1,000 around the globe. To view World Concierge Tips please visit www.foursquare.com/ritzcarlton. The app also features Travel Poster memories for attendees to download and share. The updated app is available for immediate download by visiting www.ritzcarlton.com/app.
New, Renovated Meeting and Event Space:
With a sharp eye on creating state-of-the-art luxury meeting experiences for planners and attendees of corporate meetings and incentives, The Ritz-Carlton throughout the Americas continuously improves its meeting and event spaces. Over the last year many hotels have expanded, renovated or opened new facilities and venues to heighten the guest experience. In late 2014, San Francisco completed a full renovation of its Ballroom and conference rooms. St. Louis similarly debuted its new Ballroom, while Amelia Island completed the refresh of 30,000 square feet of its meeting space in March 2015, including new access to the Ocean Front Lawn and beach with stunning views. Half Moon Bay unveiled the new Mar Vista Lawn, a 7,500 square foot large grassy space with an intimate seating area with Adirondack chairs and gas burning fire pits. Grand Cayman recently added new fifth floor meeting spaces with an adjacent Foyer that can accommodate pre-function events, breakouts or cocktail receptions while overlooking the Harbour Club with panoramic views.