BANISH BORING MEETINGS AT THESE NEW NYC HOTELS
As the team behind the best un-conference in the biz, we’re obviously big fans of meetings that defy convention. So, we love hearing about hotels that break the boardroom mold and have meeting rooms that are actually beautiful—places we’d happily spend time in, because they’re calming or inspiring or simply incredibly easy on the eye. If you’re over the staid old meeting room experience and have a New York City meeting coming up, you’ll want to check out these two newcomers and their fresh new ways of doing business.
On a recent tour of this new hotel, we noticed some of the most serene meeting rooms we’ve ever seen, with floor-to-ceiling windows and views of the leafy park outside or (more dramatically) of the East River and Manhattan skyline. On the ground floor, the Meadow Rue event space actually opens onto the Brooklyn Bridge Park and has a full wall of collapsible doors and windows to help facilitate the calming influence of the natural world. When it opens later this spring, the hotel’s rooftop bar and event space will be hard to beat, with its front row seats to the NYC skyline, plunge pool and fire pits. One floor down (via a private staircase) is a 2,800-square foot 10th Floor Hospitality Suite & Lounge, a cozy space with a working fireplace and wooden bar.
As for what you’d consider the most “regular” meeting rooms, they all have names inspired by native plants, grasses, trees and shrubbery found in the Brooklyn Bridge Park (such as Blue Wood Aster, Saltgrass and Sweetgrass), and are filled with natural light and (if desired) fresh air. Forget stodgy banquet food; meetings guests here have access to healthy snacks and dining menus, and carafes of triple-filtered water. 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge also has a 50-seat screening room on the cellar level, which is available for private viewing events.
Perhaps the most notable thing about 1 Hotel’s meetings, however, is their “Meaningful Meetings” program, which will also be available at 1 Hotel Central Park. 1 Hotels developed this program in partnership with local mindful living firm Holstee. The inspiration, according to 1 Hotels’ VP of Brand Kane Sarhan, came from observing the way companies like Google and General Mills conducted their meetings, with a focus on mindfulness and creating an environment for clear communication, innovative thinking and better reactions to stress. There are three themes for the meetings program: Zen, Creative and Focused, depending on the clients’ goals. At the start of one of these Meaningful Meetings, attendees will be asked to check their phones, to prevent distraction. They’ll experience stretching breaks and snacks and menus designed to match the desired mood—for example, using ingredients known to increase focus and energy, or to promote creativity, such as walnuts, almonds and blueberries. Digital welcome and closing meditations are available, as are coloring pencils and decision-making dice. Sounds like fun to us!
As anyone who has hosted or attended a meeting at one of Firmdale’s properties in London or New York knows, there is nothing quite like a meeting room designed by Kit Kemp. Which is why the arrival of The Whitby in Manhattan’s traditionally buttoned-up area of Midtown is such a breath of fresh air. The private event spaces at The Whitby are ideal for events where luxury and service are important, but not at the expense of creativity and personality.
The fun begins when you take the colorful, art-filled staircase from the hotel’s lobby down to the lower level where the meeting and event rooms live. There’s art in the elevator too, but we say take the stairs so you can check out Kate Blee’s Tribe print, along with art by pop-artists Joe Tilson and Jim Dine.
The first thing you notice in the event space lobby is the giant wooden bear presiding over the gathering from his perch on the bar. It’s a lovely, playful touch in a room layered with whimsy—including a Bollywood wallpaper designed by Kit, tapestries by Craigie Aitchison, Elizabeth Frink, Howard Hodgkin and Breon O’Casey, and six hyperrealism paintings of New York scenes by Peter Rocklin.
More incredible wallpaper can be found in the Araminta and Anrep meeting rooms, which sport a wallpaper by muralist Melissa White in collaboration with Kit Kemp. The Anrep Room features eight canvases reproduced with permission from mosaic floors by Russian artist Boris Anrep for The National Gallery in London. The Araminta Room features art by Eileen Cooper and lamps designed by Margit Wittig. These two rooms can also be connected to create a larger space.
Like The Crosby Street Hotel, The Whitby has a 130-seat screening room, which can also be used for presentations and live performances. But our favorite meeting venue is the book-lined Reading Room, with its curated collection spanning genres, a light sculpture by Martha Freud, painting by Australian artist Graham Fransella, and screen prints by Francis Van Maele and Antic-ham.
In short, any meeting you hold at The Whitby is sure to make quite the impression on your guests. Just make sure you give them time to take in their surroundings before you start delivering any essential information, or you’ll risk being outdone by the highly original beauty Kit Kemp is so well-known for.