Small meetings are better held in small hotels than cavernous ones where your group is sharing space with noisy convention crowds, right? Lots of planners think so, and in San Francisco, there’s no shortage of boutique properties welcoming small to midsize groups. If those groups are comprised primarily of millennials, some extra requirements come into play.
“Younger groups want to keep things informal for open-ended brainstorming sessions,” says Amy Cacho, area director of sales and marketing for Noble House Hotels & Resorts, whose portfolio includes the Hotel Zoe, a reimagined boutique property that opened in 2017 in the shell of the former Kimpton Tuscan Inn. “They like things understated and unfussy.”
The Zoe, with 220 guest rooms in the Fisherman’s Wharf district, is one of five San Francisco hotels with names beginning with the last letter of the alphabet. While not all related when it comes to management (the Zoe and sister property Argonaut Hotel are managed by Noble House; Zetta, Zeppelin and Zelos by Viceroy, and Zephyr by Davidson Hotels & Resorts), they share a hipster vibe that’s attractive to a younger demographic. That means lots of elements appealing to the senses, from contemporary design and lighting to communal worktables in the lobby and even the music played over the public address system (the Zoe’s playlist was custom-curated by a professional DJ).
“What we’re really going after is corporate groups; our perfect size is 40-50 people,” Cacho says. “We sell it as an exclusive, very private space for your group.”
Facilities available for meetings include about 2,000 square feet of meeting and function space divided into venues that can accommodate 10-80 guests. A new private dining space with catering from Pescatore, the Italian restaurant next door, seats 30. Groups can also reserve the hotel’s central courtyard, made cheery with fire pits, where breakout sessions and receptions can incorporate everything from yoga and meditation sessions to life-size Jenga and movies on a big-screen TV. There’s no fitness center, but guests get complimentary access to a nearby 24 Hour Fitness club. “We also have complimentary bikes and access to activities on the water, including boat tours and paddleboarding,” Cacho notes.
The nearby Argonaut Hotel, with 265 rooms and suites, opened in 2003 as a Kimpton property in the former Del Monte warehouse across the street from Hyde Street Pier. It retains its retro-nautical appeal and offers 10,000 square feet of meeting space including a 4,200-square-foot ballroom and a courtyard frequently used for ceremonies and standing receptions.
Other hotels in the “z” group reflect a contemporary ethos similar to the Zoe’s. They include:
At the corner of Fourth and Market, near Union Square, the Zelos is housed in a landmark building once home to the Kimpton Hotel Palomar. It offers 204 guest rooms and six meeting rooms totaling 5,000 square feet.
A boutique property on Fifth Street, in the SoMa district, the Zetta has 116 guest rooms and 2,760 square feet of private event space. Remodeled in 2013 with contemporary flare, it occupies a building that formerly housed the Hotel Milano.
The Zeppelin opened in 2016 with 196 guest rooms and 4,000-plus square feet of event space taking over what was once the Hotel Prescott. Located on Post Street, it’s a few blocks from Moscone Center.
Housed in what was the former Radisson Fisherman’s Wharf, the Zephyr boasts shipyard industrial chic design, 361 guest rooms, 1,610 square feet of indoor event space, a game room and an 8,000-square-foot interactive courtyard venue for up to 500 guests, the largest outdoor venue in the Fisherman’s Wharf district.