Like a three-act play, a three-day meeting has a narrative arc. When David Merrell, creative director of AOO Events, a meeting and event production firm based in Los Angeles, produced a multiday sales conference at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE for a global wellness company, he wanted the drama to increase with each dinner. That meant three distinctly different styles and moods in tabletop décor.

DINNER NO. 1

“People were meeting each other for the first time at the welcome dinner,” Merrell says, “so we wanted to keep things simple without a lot of distractions from those initial conversations.” The tabletop décor was clean with a white-on-brown color scheme. The crinkled two-tone linen tablecloth was rented from Wildflower Linens, the white leather chairs from Classic Party Rentals. The low-profile orange floral displays featured the client’s branded colors.

DINNER NO. 2

The second evening’s dinner was a fundraiser for an internal nonprofit dedicated to helping families. The setting was the same ballroom as the previous night’s event, but the space had been completely transformed. “The theme was based on Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” Merrell says, “and we wanted to bring the garden indoors.” The walls were draped with cloth so images of forest branches could be projected in a kind of shadow play, along with images of children whom the foundation has helped. The floral arrangements were set in vintage birdcages, which AOO had in its own warehouse.

DINNER NO. 3

WP24 by Wolfgang Puck, located on the 24th floor of the Ritz-Carlton at L.A. LIVE, was the setting for the closing night’s gala dinner. With a buyout of the upscale restaurant, Merrell removed all the furniture and replaced it with 40-inch-long “royal” tables that each sat 28 guests, and lighting fixtures that mimicked the light from the skyscrapers coming through the windows. The tables were covered with elegant black and white silk with cascading three-dimensional lily pads. Place settings included red glass chargers, black shantung napkins, classic floral displays of large red roses in square crystal containers, sparkling silver votive containers and a scattering of faux diamonds. Clear acrylic Louis XIV ghost chairs comple-mented the dramatic interplay of light, shimmer and glamour and the spectacular views.

westdrift Manhattan Beach has 393 guest rooms, 26 acres and 35,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor event space, but it also has the intimate feel of a boutique hotel. In that way it’s true to Marriott’s Autograph Collection—it’s the first of these properties to open in Los Angeles area—which combines the muscle and know-how of Marriott with the appeal of unique design and amenities.

 

To the annals of great bakery hybrids like the cronut, duffin and cretzel, add the churro croissant from Los Angeles bakery Pitchoun! A flaky pastry dusted with cinnamon sugar and filled with vanilla custard cream it combines French sophistication with the childlike joys of theme park eats. Originally put on the menu for the month of November, the churro croissant has been extended through January and, perhaps, beyond.