Working with External Decor Companies-A Hotel Perspective

Friday, September 26th, 2014

While working as a Hotel Group Coordinator, we hosted some pretty incredible events. It’s a lot of fun to work with Meeting Planners who understand the unique preferences of their group participants and possess the ability to plan well for a desired reaction. As the hotel contact, Group Coordinators often operate as the middleman coordinating the relationship between the Meeting Planner and the external décor company. This is especially the case when language or cultural obstacles exist.

decor pics

Here are few tips I learned along the way to help facilitate event concept creation:

  1. Identify the creative minds from both the Meeting Planning Team and the Décor Company. Introduce them and get them talking with one another. I recall a situation when I introduced my client to an external decorator by e-mail. My client envisioned several ambiguous décor concepts which were difficult for her to verbalize. She referenced color schemes and desired moods rather than specific items available in an inventory catalogue. The decorator took note and inquired about the ages and style of the attendees and then responded, “I think I know how to create what you want.” Three weeks later, when my client came for a site inspection, I invited the decorator to set up some sample décor concepts in our hotel ballroom to offer my client. My client walked into the middle of the room and immediately pointed to 3 distinct set ups selecting her desired décor concepts for each of her events. “Yes, yes and yes. Night 1, night 2, night 3.   You nailed it, this is exactly what I wanted.” I stood there with my jaw hanging down. What I expected to take hours was resolved in seconds.
  2.  Give the decorating company space and time to do what they do best. Ensure the timetable is clear but when possible give them the flexibility to deliver and start set up when they prefer. Create an atmosphere that welcomes external companies that contribute to the success of hotel events. Get to know the labor employees, thank them for their hard work and get out of their way so that they can do what they do best.
  3.  Take photos of great set ups! The reality is, not all Meeting Planners are gifted in the area of event concept creation and not all decorators are gifted in suggestive selling. A good hotel contact will bridge the gaps and share photos which help the Meeting Planner select an appropriate décor concept.


Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Golf & Spa Resort Los Cabos features 270 spacious guest rooms, five swimming pools, two Five-Star Diamond award-winning restaurants (Pitahayas & De Cortez Mesquite Grill), 18,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and charming outdoor event venues for conventions, incentives and weddings. The Resort is surrounded by the Cabo del Sol Ocean Course by Jack Nicklaus.

Writer: Jayson Stirrup, Sales Manager, Sheraton Hacienda del Mar

Featured Décor by: Del Cabo Event Design

Hotel Spotlight: Naples Grande Beach Resort

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

The Waldorf Astoria Naples is undergoing a huge renovation.  We have asked the hotel for a description of what is going on there and the improvements that are being made:

What a breathtaking view!

What a breathtaking view!

With this enhancement will also come a new name and change in brand affiliation. Our owners, Northwood Hospitality, own and operate some of the country’s most successful independent luxury hotels such as The New York Palace, The Cheeca Lodge and The London West Hollywood. They plan to apply the same formula here in Naples under the new name, Naples Grande Beach Resort effective September 9, 2014.

While we have had a great partnership with Hilton Worldwide and Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, we are excited to start this new chapter as an independent luxury resort.

Please find an overview of the exciting changes below.

Tower guestrooms, suites and corridors

King Room

King Room

  • Beach-inspired blues and pastels with a focus on driving guests to spend time on the balcony enjoying the private space, panoramic views and lovely Florida weather.
  • Mangrove Pool (family pool)
    • In addition to the popular zero entry and 100-foot waterslide, we’re adding family cabanas with a “surfboard” theme and some gaming tables such as ping pong for a more interactive experience.
  • Palm Terrace Pool (adult pool)
    • This pool will be a more exclusive and upscale adult experience. It will be further enclosed with additional landscaping, trellises and bougainvillea. It will have its own adult food and beverage menu and private service.
  • Pool Bar & Grill (to be renamed Gulf Coast Oasis)
    • Enhanced seating and deck space. Upgraded food and beverage menu.
  • Hibiscus pool (lap pool)
    • We are pleased to let you know that this project is complete. Additional landscaping has been added to provide a more secluded retreat and tropical poolside experience.
  • New Seafood Restaurant Concept (to be named Pelican’s Catch)
    • Formerly the Strip House, a Manhattan based steakhouse, this will be re-concepted into a fresh fish market restaurant to capitalize on Florida’s local coastal cuisine.
  • Clam Pass Beach
    • Brand new floor planks and beach boardwalk.
  • The pavilion will feature a fresh new palette of Mediterranean-inspired stark blues & whites
  • The restaurant will reopen under the name Rhodes End and will offer an upgraded restaurant menu and seating. A great place for casual lunch or to grab a drink and watch the sunset.
  • Sunset Deck (to be renamed Sunset Veranda)
    •  Adding couches, sheers, candles and décor to offer a more chic vibe for guests who want to relax and read a book, or have a casual cocktail.
  • Enhancements are currently underway in the guestrooms, corridors and exterior of the building and will continue into the first week of the New Year. While we don’t have a firm timeline yet on specific dates for each of the other mentioned areas of enhancement, we do anticipate them to be done by December 2014.

Balcony 1

Travel like a Rock Star

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

It is the height of vacation travel in the US as was self-evident when I recently flew to Hawaii and traveling through 6 airports throughout my 3 week visit.  There are some key ways to significantly lower travel stress by applying for the four major TSA programs.  This link will allow you to analyze your own needs, whether or not it includes international travel and whether you currently have a passport.

I have applied for two of the programs.  The first was paid by my American Express Platinum membership, Global Entry.  It took a couple of hours to pull everything together for my application, make an online application and wait.  When I was notified of my acceptance, the second step was to make an appointment for finger printing (My appointment was at the Customs office at the Orlando International Airport) and to secure a special ID Sticker on my passport.  I then had a lesson on how to scan my passport on a machine as I come through customs, and this also allows me to go to the head of the line, (yes, I feel a bit guilty, but also a little bit like a rock star).

I have been a long-time member of Clear, which is a private program with a small annual fee.  For about $15 / month, I can go to the head of the line, many times skipping hundreds of passengers and eliminating up to an hour wait.  My husband can join with me at only $50/year and children under 18 are FREE.  I show my Clear card and boarding pass, scan my irises, and I’m escorted to the front of the Security line where I put my possessions on the screening belt.  In Orlando, that’s a BIG Deal!  Since I’m escorted by a Clear employee, everyone is looking at me and thinking “how did she do that?”  I’m fortunate my Gateway is Orlando, as it is available.  More and more airports now offer ClearMe to their passengers including Las Vegas, San Jose, Houston, San Antonio, Atlanta, Denver and this fall in New York.  I LOVE ClearMe.  The process was similar to the TSA clearance, where I applied online, finger printing at the Orlando airport, and Iris Scanning for my records.

The TSA clearance is very comparable and inexpensive at only $85.  When we were in Honolulu, there were long wait lines for traditional travelers, and the TSA line was empty. (There was no Clear access in this airport.) This was fantastic at 8:30 PM, after a long day and avoiding lines with unhappy children.  It is a great travel move to apply before everyone catches onto this travel perk.

For a demo on how ClearMe works, please view the link below:

For some reason my last few boarding passes have been stamped with TSA approved access, although I haven’t applied. After doing some research, I have found that since I have the Global Access pass I need not apply for TSA, it appears it must be automatic.  In any event, it is worth the time and effort to be recognized in these special programs.  Wishing you a stress-free travel experience and who doesn’t want to go to the Head of the Line?

Hotel Spotlight: Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

We received an email from the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe regarding their new renovations.  The property is so beautiful that we felt compelled to share.

Aerial 3


In December 2013, they unveiled their hotel-wide transformation.  The resort improvements included:  Renovated guest rooms, breakfast meeting space, Regency Ballroom, breakout meeting space, lakeside cottages, a 3-meal restaurant, the award-winning Lone Eagle Grille, Cutthroath’s Saloon and the Lakeside Ballroom.

Lakeside Ballroom

Standard Deluxe King Bedroom

Want to book this property for your next company event?  We can help you with that!


To All-Inclusive or Not To All-Inclusive – This is the Question

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Versalles Garden Sunset 2014

More and more Meeting Planners and end users are warming up to the idea of All-Inclusive group travel programs.  All-Inclusive packages allow Planners to operate with an accurate budget right from the beginning of the hotel scouting process.  Hotels are facilitating this transition from European Plan to All-Inclusive by providing a high-end experience with All-Inclusive value.

The concerns of product quality received and possible negative perception of attendees is quickly dissipating.  How you ask?  According to Jayson Stirrup, Sales Manager at Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Golf & Spa Resort, “clients are intrigued by All-Inclusive alternatives offered by European Plan Resorts they’ve previously enjoyed.  More and more Resorts are becoming hybrid properties offering both European Plan and All-Inclusive packages.  A client considering All-Inclusive at a property they’ve used and enjoyed in the past with an European Plan allows for greater confidence in the product received and virtually eliminates the possible negative perception their guests may have of their overall Resort experience leading up to the program dates.”

With an array of options available, it’s important to compare apples with apples when considering All-Inclusive versus European Plan.  Here are 10 questions any savvy Planner should ask when considering an All-Inclusive package:

  1. All-Inclusive benefits start and end with what meals of the day?
  2. Are there additional charges associated with private, banquet events?
  3. What surcharges might be encountered with staffing?
  4. Are any restaurants or menu items not available to All-Inclusive package guests?
  5. What are the start and end times for the beverage plan?
  6. Are staff gratuities included in the quoted rates?
  7. How extensive is the All-Inclusive Banquets Kit?
  8. What activities are included to group attendees?
  9. Are attrition and cancellation policies based on the full All-Inclusive rates?
  10. Are deposits based on the full All-Inclusive rates?

Will you consider an all-inclusive trip the next time you travel?