There's something afoot in the meetings and events planning world. As Bruce Curry, director of sales and marketing for the Hotel Indigo Los Angeles Downtown, explains, it’s all about getting in some extra steps.
“We are definitely seeing a trend of groups wanting to get up and out of the boardroom so they can break up their days, explore their surroundings and do some walking,” he says. “Our MICE offerings are designed to include a healthy, active disruption in the workday. We’ve designed a full menu of options that invite attendees to step out of the meeting space, experience Downtown Los Angeles and then reconvene with renewed energy and a fresh perspective.”
Harvard Medical School in its publication “Walking for Health” agrees that taking a stroll is one of the best ways to increase brain memory, lower blood pressure, boost the immune system and even ease joint pain. It also allows attendees with varying fitness levels to participate, unlike breaks that include more challenging activities, such as kayaking, paddle boarding or strenuous hiking.
Hotels and resorts offer a wide variety of walking tours. They can focus on culinary, cultural, historical or artistic experiences, and most can be modified to be as leisurely or vigorous as suits the group’s members. It’s a trend that’s especially suitable for California, where the weather can usually be counted on to cooperate year-round.
Here are some properties that combine meetings with movement.
Downtown Los Angeles
Hotel Indigo Los Angeles Downtown is a new boutique hotel just a block from Staples Center and L.A. Live, with a 1920s-influenced design fitted out with 21st century modern amenities. An elegant spot with a boutique feel, the hotel has 22,343 square feet of indoor and outdoor venue space, including entertainment suites that open onto a roof deck and the pool deck, which has cabanas, fire pits, a bar and plenty of room for food stations.
In conjunction with Cartwheel Art, the property offers five different walking tours, telling lesser-known stories of the local neighborhood. Curry’s personal favorite is “Underground LA,” which explores the tunnels and speakeasies that date from the Prohibition Era. The décor in Metropole Kitchen, the hotel’s lobby restaurant, features a circular entrance and other elements that evoke those underground tunnels that transported contraband spirits to the city’s unmarked and forbidden watering holes.
At the cozy and historic Colony Palms Hotel in downtown Palm Springs, 57 rooms and suites allow a full buyout of the hotel for an intimate meeting setting. Built in 1936, this pretty hotel has numerous beautiful spots for meetings, including the recently renovated Palme d’Or event space that seats 50, a poolside terrace for 100 seated guests and various smaller indoor and outdoor spaces. Fine dining at the Purple Palm under chef Nick Tall extends to all the venues. For a fascinating walking tour break, the nearby Palm Springs Historical Society offers public or private tours including “The Heart of the City,” “Inns, Architecture and Glamour” and more.
One thing virtually guaranteed during meeting sessions anywhere in Napa Valley is that sooner or later fine food and world-class wine are bound to appear. In both the city of Napa and the town of Yountville, meeting planners will find welcoming hotels with plenty of event space and easy-toarrange walking tours to nearby places where wine and food are impeccably paired. In Napa, where the new Archer Hotel Napa offers 183 rooms, 17,000 square feet of event space for groups of 10-220, you can take the group out for a customized walk around downtown with Rooted Fork Foodie Tours. Offered with alcohol or without, the experience includes a stop at the famed Oxbow Market. Up in Yountville, the Hotel Villagio and new Vintage House hotels make up the Estate Yountville, equaling 55,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor space, curated to serve any size group’s needs. When the group is ready to stroll, the self-guided Yountville Wine Walk begins at the Yountville Welcome Center; pick up maps for the group and follow the 1-mile walk that includes 19 tasting rooms.
“As part of our commitment to the wellness of our guests staying at The Estate Yountville, we encourage a healthy work-life balance by offering enticing experiences that get groups out of their seats and on their feet so they can take a break from their meeting and enjoy the beautiful surroundings,” says Melissa Dima, wedding and social sales manager for the property. “For example, we recommend trying the Yountville Art Walk that takes visitors past 26 public sculptures sprinkled throughout the town and across The Estate, or exploring the 26-mile, interconnected walking and biking Vine Trail that runs through Yountville down to Kennedy Park in South Napa.”
The historic Hollywood Hotel, at the eastern end of Tinseltown, has 127 well-appointed rooms and plenty of event space, including the Pickfair Grand Ballroom (reception capacity: 278); the Laurel & Hardy Petite Ballroom (capacity: 90); the Charlie Chaplin Salon (capacity: 69); the Fountain Courtyard (capacity: 185) and the Buster Keaton Board Room. Those who want to break a sweat will be glad to know that it’s the closest hotel to the Hollywood Sign, Griffith Park and the Mount Hollywood hiking trails. For a less strenuous outing, there’s the Old Hollywood Walking Tour, where a well-schooled guide will regale participants with stories of the glamorous early days of this world-famous movie-making neighborhood and peeks inside some storied gems along Hollywood Boulevard.
Cape Rey Carlsbad: A Hilton Resort in northern San Diego County uses its oceanfront location to its advantage when welcoming groups to the 215-room resort, as General Manager Thomas Lee points out. “Just 150 steps from the surf, Cape Rey Carlsbad is a popular choice for adventure-seeking groups that want to explore and connect with California’s coast,” he says. “There’s a definite rise in requests for outside activities. From guided Reef Walks at Terra Mar, exploring low-tide pools and marine life with park rangers, to Sunset Socials where guests can unwind after a day of meetings and discover the coast at sunset, we’ve worked closely with California State Parks to ensure guests are offered a localized and authentic experience while visiting Carlsbad’s unique coastal habitat.” With 25,000 square feet of meeting space, this award-winning resort brings a unique opportunity for groups to get out and enjoy the fresh air.