Dinner and a show? The Lotte Hotel Seattle can do you one better: The luxury hotel is hosting a theatrical cirque residency with gravity-defying acts and live music staged in its opulent Beaux Arts-style Grand Ballroom. The hotel’s executive chef Jesse Olsen, who has three decades of experience helming kitchens in luxury hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants, is curating the special dinner menu for the shows.
Beginning in October, the beloved Seattle-based Teatro ZinZanni will take up residency at The Sanctuary, a former church that was built in 1908, and that’s attached to the ultra-modern Lotte Hotel Seattle. The performances will afford a one-of-a-kind cultural experience for groups meeting in the city. Not only can they immerse themselves in Seattle’s rich arts scene—vaudeville once thrived here—but they can do so in one of the Pacific Northwest’s most spectacular meeting spaces.
The Lotte Hotel Seattle’s landmark ballroom received a $40 million makeover, yet has retained its original splendor. That’s to say during the forthcoming Teatro ZinZanni performances, trapeze artists will dance in the air under the domed 58-foot ceilings, with stained glass panels and terra cotta moldings providing a gorgeous backdrop.
The residency will mark Teatro ZinZanni’s 25th anniversary, and the celebratory shows will bring more visibility to the splendor of The Sanctuary, a hidden gem in the heart of Seattle that, beyond cirque, can also host weddings, galas, and group events.
Here’s a look at how two icons—the Lotte Hotel Seattle and Teatro ZinZanni—are coming together to provide a supremely unique Seattle experience for visitors.
The Sanctuary: Seattle’s Most Stunning Place to Meet
Located in the downtown business district, Lotte Hotel Seattle is a five-star luxury hotel designed by world-class industrial French designer Philipe Starck. Rooms show off views of Elliott Bay and guests are within walking distance of the city’s famed amenities, like the Pikes Peak Market.
The hotel’s 189 guest rooms, as well as its food and beverage venues, spa, and other facilities are housed in a sleek and shiny 44-story glass tower that reflects the city’s elegance and high-tech prowess.
But what makes the Lotte Hotel Seattle especially unique is that it’s a place where the present and past meld, and meeting planners have their pick of beautiful meeting and events spaces.
The modern hotel converges with The Sanctuary, the nation’s oldest Beaux-style architectural building that was once America’s first United Methodist Church. A painstaking restoration preserves traditional pieces from the century-old church, including the full-wall pipe organ and intricately carved woodwork. The space, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has contemporary elements, too, including the Halo Bar on the balcony level, where hanging halo-like light fixtures connect the past and present.
The Gallery Ballroom is filled with original art and hallway carpets and light fixtures feature rustic timber patterns. The fourth and fifth-floor function space has small-to-midsize meeting spaces with a vibrant black-and-white design and natural light.
The cirque performance in the Grand Ballroom is a testament to The Sanctuary’s boundless potential.
“The space is incredibly versatile, accommodating anything from corporate meetings to elegant weddings, galas and holiday parties,” said Ian Ring, Director of Sales and Marketing for Lotte Hotel Seattle.
Groups love the unique setting, he said. Guests can enter the Gallery Ballroom from The Connector, a first-floor entrance bridging the stunning glass hotel tower to the historic Sanctuary, which has the original façade, stained glass window and a double-sided mirrored staircase that leads to the Gallery Ballroom.
“It’s a showstopper when you walk through the doors,” Ring said. “Following Covid I believe groups are looking for non-traditional general session settings and The Sanctuary checks all the boxes.”
Teatro ZinZanni Brings Cirque, Cabaret and Comedy to the Lotte Hotel Seattle
Staged in the Grand Ballroom, Teatro ZinZanni’s show will be themed around love, chaos, and a dinner party. The production combines improv comedy, vaudeville revue, dance and cirque, with a live five-piece band providing the soundtrack. A cast with performers from around the world includes a renowned juggler, a sixth-generation circus performer and contortionist, as well as singers and comedians.
While dazzling the crowd, the troupe will break the fourth wall—an expression in theater that means those performing acknowledge and even engage with the audience. The style can give way to convivial experiences for meetings and incentive groups.
“We realize that an audience doesn’t want to be on the outside looking in,” said Norm Langill, who founded Teatro ZinZanni in Seattle in 1998, inspired by European cabarets. “They want to be on the stage with the performers. They want to be a part of the world they’re creating.”
When Langill started Teatro ZinZanni 25 years ago, it was originally set to run for 10 weeks. But the performances hit home with a broad audience as people were eager to come together over a shared human experience, Langill said. To date, the theater company has since performed 9,000 shows, and demand is heighted as we come out of the pandemic with a desire to connect with others through the arts.
We spend so much time on our laptops and tethered to our phones, Langill said, but that doesn’t stoke emotions like live theater can.
“You get to be with other human beings and share a common experience with them,” he said. “As humans we need that to be happy.”