“Architects love natural sunlight,” stated Tonya Horsley, director, meetings and registration, The American Institute of Architects (AIA), when speaking about venue selection on a MICE panel at NYC & Company’s annual meeting this March.
What goes for the AIA—and who better to qualify the sunny standard—not only goes for meeting planners and attendees, but for us all. As studies from leading wellness brand Delos and other researchers have conclusively established, natural light is the natural state for humans. Tied to our circadian rhythm, benefits include brighter mood, increased productivity, and healthier sleep.
Ocean settings multiply the health and wellbeing effects. From the color blue, which induces calmness, and the music of rolling waves to salty spray in your nostrils and sand beneath your feet, the ocean produces a symphony for the senses that is both meditative and uplifting.
"There are all these cognitive and emotional benefits that we derive every time we spend time by water," said Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist and best-selling author of the “Blue Mind” in an Inc. article on the healing benefits of being at the beach. "Once you get into it, you realize that it's chemistry, it's biology, it's physiology. It's deeply personal but it's also strong science."
For ALHI members featuring 100 percent oceanfront views from all guest accommodations, such as 560-room Terranea Resort, located just north of Los Angeles on the spectacular Palos Verdes Peninsula, the call of the ocean is irresistible to meetings professionals and their clients.
“When planning high-end events for C-suite executives and A list talent, partnering with Terranea, a resort where every sleeping room have a spectacular ocean view, is priceless,” said Nicole Buckman, owner of Santa Monica, CA-based Buckman Events. “To know that all guests will have a stunning VIP view positions attendees to be in their best mindset and exponentially elevates the overall event experience.”
Terranea’s unimpeded scenic splendor was decisive for a recent senior leadership retreat brought in by Brian Landers, senior vice president and team leader at ConferenceDirect. For Christine Carley, senior director, global accounts at HelmsBriscoe, “the spectacular sea views throughout the resort truly transform the meeting or event experience…every client that has booked a program at Terranea has wanted to return.”
Offering 75,000 square feet of outdoor space and other 60,000 square feet inside, Terranea is emblematic of other coastal, peninsular or island ALHI member hotels that by design, feature full ocean views from all guest accommodations. This purposeful positioning in maximum exposure, which include signature outdoor venues, produces maximum benefits for planners and attendees.
Yet more Southern California dreaming beckons at Surf & Sand Resort in the storied seaside resort city of Laguna Beach. Directly facing 500 feet of pristine beachfront, the Mediterranean-style oasis offers 167 beachfront guest rooms, including 13 Laguna Beach suites. All feature Pacific Ocean views and private balconies. The laid-back beach vibe extends to 20,000 square feet of versatile group space, half inside, half outside. Sun- and star-kissed venues include the stand-alone conference center’s elevated oceanfront terrace, and 15FiftyFive beach lounge, a stylish spot for gatherings under the stars.
Located on a peninsula near the southernmost tip of 800-mile-long Baja California, One&Only Palmilla offers singular views of the Sea of Cortez at every turn. That includes all 174 oceanfront rooms, suites and villas, which look out across the azure waters once described as “the world’s aquarium” by Jacques Cousteau; two ocean-view pools; and one of the only swimmable beaches in Los Cabos. Ocean-facing event venues in this tropical Mexican paradise, which opened in the 1950’s as the first resort in Los Cabos and welcomed guests including Bing Crosby, Ernest Hemingway and Dwight Eisenhower, include Turtle and Pelican Beaches, Agua Pool Deck and South Lawn.
Nearly 9,000 miles away across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, The Apurva Kempinski Bali is another promontory paradise with peerless ocean views. Located in the luxurious resort area of Nusa Dua (“two islands”) at the southern tip of Bali, the five-star equatorial escape’s mix of 475 clifftop and beachfront rooms, suites and villas all offer inspiring views of the Indian Ocean. More than half (60 percent) feature a private plunge pool. Commanding the collection is the Nusantara (“Indonesian Archipelago”) Presidential Villa, set right by the beach with unrivalled ocean views. Majestic meeting spaces include the Ocean View Grand Ballroom and Cliff Board Rooms, and magical oceanfront Apurva Chapel.
Another tropical paradise, the Hawaiian island of O’ahu (“The Gathering Place”), is home of legendary Turtle Bay Resort. Perched on a Pacific-lapped peninsula and spanning nearly 1,300 oceanfront acres, including five miles of pristine beaches, the three-winged landmark is the only full-service resort on O’ahu’s North Shore, the sacred home of epic big wave surfing. All 452 balconied rooms and suites were purposefully designed to provide breathtaking ocean vistas. Unveiled in July 2021, a sweeping multi-million-dollar transformation included 42 Ocean Bungalows just steps from the ocean. Groups have 24,000 square feet of flexible space for up to 2,000-person gatherings, including the new Off The Lip lobby bar, offering unimpeded surf and sunset views.
In the Hawaiian capital of Honolulu, Prince Waikiki is an inviting contemporary escape located minutes from the Ala Moana Center and Hawai’i Convention Center in the city’s energetic Waikiki district. Floor-to-ceiling windows in all 317 rooms and suites offer entrancing views of Ala Wai harbor and the sparkling Pacific waters beyond, with décor inspired by the sand, sea and sunset enhancing the sense of place. Scenic event spaces include the 100 Sails Restaurant & Bar and covered 300-capacity Muliwai Deck on the fifth-floor recreation deck, where delegates can also relax in the hotel’s signature infinity pool.
Living up to Florida’s “Sunshine State” moniker, Eden Roc Miami Beach dazzles in every way. Designed by legendary hotel architect Morris Lapidus in his iconic Miami Modern style and opened in 1955, Eden Roc became the darling of the celebrity set, including Ann Margret, Elizabeth Taylor and Harry Belafonte, who sang on opening night. Taking its name from the fabulous Hotel Du Cap-Eden-Roc on the French Riviera, this AIA-recognized treasure comes with cinematic sunrise and water views from all 415 wide-balconied oceanfront guest rooms. Groups have 70,000 square feet of versatile space, with unique options including coastal dining at Ocean Social and receptions on the Seabreeze Terrace. Eden Roc incorporates the hotel-within-a-hotel concept with 206-room Nobu Hotel Miami Beach.
Roughly 100 miles to the west via the legendary Tamiami Trail (or I-75), Naples Grande Beach Resort switches the scene to Florida’s Gulf Coast. Unfolding on 23 acres, Naples Grande’s beachfront location sets the stage for mesmerizing wide-angled views of the crystal-clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico from all 474 oversized guest rooms and suites, each featuring a private, furnished balcony. Expansive, too, is the flexibility of more than 83,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, while the resort’s nearby secluded three-mile white-sand beach is pure escapism.
The magic is still there even when a small percentage of guest rooms offer partial ocean views.
Switching Florida’s coasts again, most of the 309 rooms and suites at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa face eastward and fully overlook the Atlantic. Partial view rooms either face southeast or northeast. Famed designer Jonathan Adler fashioned all accommodations in colors that celebrate the sea, sand and sky. Situated on a private beach and seven acres of oceanfront just south of Palm Beach in ritzy Manalapan, the Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five Diamond gem offers 30,000 square feet of flexible event space. Scenic outdoor spaces include the oceanfront courtyard, resort lawn and pool terrace.
And returning to Mexico, LIVE Aqua Beach Resort Cancun offers 371 fully renovated rooms and suites, of which all but 18 offer full views of the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. Offering 20,000-plus square feet of group space, the adults-only all-inclusive beachfront resort completed a comprehensive multi-million-dollar refurbishment in early 2019 “to stay in sync with evolving group and incentive trends.” Renovated venues include Azul Restaurant, a semi-open Mayan palapa with outdoor seating. Amenities include a private white-sand beach and eight swimming pools, including an infinity pool.