While the meetings industry spent much of the past year on hold, properties worked behind the scenes to spruce up meeting spaces and expand their group offerings, adding everything from shimmering new ballrooms to rooftop lawns with killer downtown views. Now that meetings business is ticking up, hotels are ready to introduce their refreshed designs for groups.

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PGA National Resort and Spa 

John Paladino, owner and founder of Scottsdale-based Milestone Meetings, visited 22 destinations and toured more than 100 hotels and resorts throughout the U.S. over the past year. During his time on the road, he has seen quite a few transformations in the meetings and events space, including recent transformations at ALHI member hotels The Don CeSar in St. Pete Beach, Fla and PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

"Despite 2020 being a challenging time for the industry, there's a silver lining. A lot of these renovations that were completed in late 2019 and early 2020 are sitting at the ready for your future program, whether that's as soon as this year or in 2022," he said.

Read on for more details on meeting space renovations and updates.

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The Breakers Palm Beach

Introducing: New Sweeping Views

Taking full advantage of its locale near South Beach, The InterContinental Miami added the 35,000-square-foot SkyLawn to its meetings repertoire, replete with 360-degree views of Miami, Port Miami and southeast Florida's largest estuary, Biscayne Bay. Perched on the hotel's fifth-floor pool deck, SkyLawn is the epitome of Miami chic, featuring expansive green space for up to 1,000 guests and a pre-function lounge area. The outdoor venue is wired for sound and lighting, including a 172-foot long exterior projector wall.

The Breakers Palm Beach in West Palm Beach, Fla., also plays up its seaside locale with its newly renovated Gulfstream Meeting Rooms, showcasing sweeping views of the Atlantic from its oversize picture windows. Design inspiration for the versatile spaces, which can be divided into varying configurations of up to five rooms, came from Gulfstream private jets, spurring their contemporary and geometric shape. These intimate spaces are ideal for board meetings, breakout sessions, private dining or receptions.

Omni La Costa

The Omni La Costa Resort & Spa

Along the Pacific, the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, in Carlsbad, Calif, unveiled this year a new event space, the Costa de la Luna, and completed its west expansion of the Coastal Events Center. Costa de la Luna offers 14,000 divisible square feet of ballroom space, 4,000 square feet of pre-function space, two breakout rooms, an expansive event lawn and a dedicated valet entrance. Costa de la Luna also features an adjacent foyer and offers outdoor space with its own terrace that looks out over the event lawn.

Omni’s Coastal Events Center, West adds 7,500 square feet of event space to the resort’s footprint. The meetings rooms in this extension reflect the resort’s natural center, each named after various species of hummingbirds, which are the key pollinators of flowers native to the region.

Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach, Calif., introduces its new event space this June called Lighthouse, an indoor/outdoor space overlooking the 127-slip marina, the ocean and beyond. Featuring a 2,669-square-foot interior, the Lighthouse Room is connected to a full-service built-in bar, private outdoor patio space with a fire pit, and an attached 308-square-foot versatile private room. The Lighthouse's modern gathering space is decked out in cool white tones, new contemporary artwork as well as accent mirrors, which all add to the ambiance. For groups, display monitors are available for meetings and presentations. The space can accommodate up to 150 guests.

Horseshoe Garden

Horseshoe Garden, Langham, Pasadena

California's The Langham Huntington, Pasadena also expanded its outdoor space for groups with its newly renovated Horseshoe Garden, the centerpiece of the historic property, which can trace its roots to the early 1900s. The garden now boasts an additional 3,500 square feet of event space, complemented by native and succulent plants, as well as subtle uplighting. With the expansion, the Garden can host groups of up to 1,000 guests.

At the Portola Hotel & Spa in Monterey, Calif., the new Jack Terrace adds outdoor meeting and event space, part of the hotel's $11.2 million dollar renovation. The terrace, which can accommodate groups of up to 200 for a reception, features custom fire pits, a variety of seating options and living walls to add to the outdoor ambience. In addition to the new terrace, select meeting spaces at the property have refreshed soft goods, such as carpeting and wall coverings, for an all-new look.

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Fairmont Olympic Hotel Seattle

Highlighting Historic Beauty: Historic Hotels Update Meeting Spaces

Many of ALHI's historic properties are sporting new looks for their meeting clientele.

On the heels of a multimillion-dollar renovation, the Fairmont Olympic Hotel Seattle totally reimagined The Garden, taking the space down from three levels to two, but with an increased footprint that still benefits from natural light streaming through its Palladian windows. The hotel's other meeting rooms have been refreshed with new carpet, paint, artwork and lighting.

"It literally takes their breath away," said Victoria Dyson, Director Sales and Marketing, Fairmont Olympic Hotel, speaking of meeting planners' first eyes on the renovation. "It brings a new glamour to this historic beauty and illuminates the timeless tales told across generations. From the glitter of the chandeliers to the classic splendor of the original flooring we've set the perfect stage for momentous events. There is no better time to be here than now."

In Colorado Springs, The Broadmoor's new 125,000-square-foot Bartolin Hall was added to the resort's existing Broadmoor Hall, International Center and Colorado Hall to create the new Convention Center at The Broadmoor, a total of 200,000 square feet of flexible meeting and exhibit space. The venue brings the total meeting space at The Broadmoor to 315,000 square feet.

Bartolin Hall itself is a 125,000-square-foot facility that boasts 93,500 square feet of true exhibit space, featuring 25-foot-high ceilings and direct connection to the 60,000-square-foot ballroom known as Broadmoor Hall. Bartolin Hall has 18 breakout rooms on the first floor and dedicated food service areas. The second-floor mezzanine level has an additional 14 meeting rooms equipped with airwalls for customization, bringing the total number of meeting rooms to 32.

The Langham, Boston anticipates reopening this June after a two-year, multimillion-dollar renovation. As part of its new meetings offerings, the property is introducing its new Lincoln Ballroom, which can accommodate 200 guests. The highlight of the ballroom space is its use of natural light via a skylight, as well as windows overlooking Norman B. Leventhal Park.

Langham also put the finishing touches on a sophisticated update to The Governor's Room, a boardroom, which now sports a custom-stained oak table with bronze plate detail and leather inlays. The Wyeth Room is a highly sought-after meeting and event space in the city; clients are drawn to the N.C. Wyeth murals that flank the room, originally commissioned by the Federal Reserve Bank.

Recent renovations to the Conference Center at centuries-old The Greenbrier in West Virginia include soft goods, such as a new carpet, furnishings, and art. The Greenbrier also added technology enhancements to include additional bandwidth and Wi-Fi hotspots.

The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel San Francisco debuted its renovations in January 2020, including the hotel's meeting and event spaces. The Velvet Room dining area was transformed into an event and meeting space, and modern touches were added to all the hotel's meeting spaces include 55-inch monitors, projectors and automated screens, programmable touch lighting, as well as automated filter sheers and blackout shades in rooms with natural light.

The Clift, which originally opened in 1915, is also debuting its newly reimagined 2,300-square-foot Spanish Suite private function space, and the decadent 1,175-square-foot Private Apartment, which can be used for functions. 

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Caribe Royale Orlando

More Refreshes to Consider

A host of other ALHI properties have been renovating and refreshing meeting space and ballrooms.

Caribe Royale Orlando added the new 50,000-square-foot Palms Ballroom to its existing indoor and outdoor meeting spaces to bring the hotel's total event space to 220,000 square feet. The Palms' decor of tans and blues is neutral enough to work with any planner's vision, and the lighting is complimentary.

The property also offers three other flexible ballrooms, 54 breakout rooms, three executive boardrooms, poolside venues and 120 fully renovated lakeside villas that are ideal for small breakout sessions.

PGA National Resort and Spa invested $100 million in upgrades to their secluded cottages, guest rooms and lobby with upgraded amentities and tech enhancements, but they didn't stop there. The resort also transformed the golf experience with two new golf courses, making the experience now total 99 holes. 

As part of its $32 million re-imagination and renovation projects, the San Diego Mission Bay Resort completely transformed its conference center and upgraded its Wi-Fi to cover its 25,000 square feet of meeting and event space. The resort also recently transformed its waterfront pool bar, Solrisa, which is an enticing outdoor space for groups.

The Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown, also refurbished its meeting spaces with all new furnishings, carpets and fixtures. Meanwhile, in Texas, Omni Dallas Hotel redesigned and refreshed its meeting spaces and ballrooms for groups.

For more on ALHI hotels & resorts, please view our Annual Hotel Guide.