ARIAU AMAZON TOWERS HOTEL
ADDRESS: Rua Leonardo Malcher Centro, Manaus 69010-170, Brazil
WEB SITE: www.ariauamazontowers.com
DREAMY DESTINATION: Nestled along the Rio Negro River in the Amazon Rain Forest 35 miles from the nearest town, the Ariau Amazon Towers Hotel is accessible only by boat or helicopter. Built entirely on stilts at rain forest canopy level, the towers are perched among treetops. Guests enjoy sweeping, 360-degree jungle and river views from the hotel's event spaces. A 30-foot-high catwalk system links the hotel's wooden towers; event-goers thrill at face-to-face encounters with monkeys, macaws, parrots and sloths.
SPECIAL SPACE: The hotel features a 350-seat conference facility; a treetop auditorium can host up to 500 people. An amphitheater, which seats up to 150 guests, is available for special events. The hotel's Cosmic Suite features a circular ceiling, rustic furnishings, an entertainment center and 24-hour Internet connection.
EXOTIC EVENTS: The towers have played host to Nestle, Visa, Nivea, Sony and Honda conventions.
MBWENI RUINS HOTEL
ADDRESS: P.O. Box 2542, Zanzibar, Tanzania
WEB SITE: www.mbweni.com
DREAMY DESTINATION: The Mbweni Ruins Hotel is located beside the Indian Ocean on the island of Zanzibar; the grounds bloom with more than 600 species of trees and plants. The hotel's property contains the Mbweni Ruins, which were a 19th century school for freed slave girls.
SPECIAL SPACE: The property's event spaces include the cliff-top Raintree Restaurant, which serves traditional Zanzibari dishes. The restaurant can accommodate up to 60 guests; catering is available. The hotel hosts special events in the botanical gardens; the ruins' romantic chapel is a popular nuptial site while the Arab House is ideal for intimate gatherings.
EXOTIC EVENTS: The property hosts birthday parties, gala dinners and private parties, among other events.
ADDRESS: 750 Hearst Castle Road, San Simeon, CA 93452
WEB SITE: www.hearstcastle.org
DREAMY DESTINATION: The legendary Hearst Castle sits 1,600 feet above the Pacific Ocean along the central California coast. The Mediterranean-style estate features enchanting guesthouses, pools, gardens and terraces. Publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst hosted lavish dinners for movie stars and business moguls at the seaside castle in the early 20th century.
SPECIAL SPACE: All castle events are held outdoors; several pool-dotted terraces featuring mountain views are available. The North Terrace, which can be tented, accommodates up to 200 guests; the castle's Neptune Terrace hosts groups up to 50. Every special event must include a property tour; buses are available to transport guests to and from the event site.
EXOTIC EVENTS: Friends of Hearst Castle, a nonprofit preservation group, hosts its annual holiday feast at the castle; the property is also a popular wedding site.
A FUNDRAISING GALA TAKES OFF
In September, Chicago-based Event Creative, a full-service production company, staged the After School Matters gala — which raised more than $3 million for teen programs — on an O'Hare International Airport runway. Three 100-foot-wide tents provided 100,000 square feet of event space; more than 2,500 guests were treated to cocktails, live entertainment and dinner.