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When it came to creating a magical weekend for the Starwood Partner Summit, held in October at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., Los Angeles-based EventWorks strived to add “the element of surprise to every function,” says Janet Elkins, EventWorks' president. However, she and her crew got a surprise of their own as they set up on the morning of the welcome reception, when the normally dry Arizona skies started pouring rain.

The evening's opening reception, originally slated as an outdoor event, required “a fast and furious team effort to get everything inside,” says EventWorks account executive Monica Antola, who worked hand in hand with the client to produce the event. That client was Starwood Hotels' special events director Larry Hanson, who contributed to the event's creative design.

“Oftentimes you can be in a situation where the client says, ‘Come up with the ideas and call me.’ In this particular situation, it was a lot of brainstorming back and forth, and there was a pretty big team that worked on this — primarily [Larry], Monica and myself,” Elkins says.

The reception's “Chilling with Starwood” theme arose from a mutual desire to create something unexpected in the hot environment — a cool oasis in the middle of the Arizona desert — which attendees discovered as they entered the reception room. A brushed-aluminum bar and cocktail tables — covered in frosted acrylic — custom-built by Pasadena, Calif.-based Ethos Design, gave the room a cool aura, while ice sculptures set on four sides of the bar were decorative as well as functional, serving to keep bottles of liquor icy cold. Glowing ottomans along one wall and blue lighting gave the room the frosty allure of a midwinter night.

Another room featured a 50-foot-long serpentine table set with hundreds of flickering candles, which added to the shimmering decor. “One thing that's great about Arizona is that you can use open flame, and we had candles everywhere,” Antola says.

The night's entertainment also served to highlight the reception's chilly theme, from the ethereal sounds of the “Curved Harp” instrument played by Los Angeles-based musical act String Theory, to the grand finale performance by Deer Park, N.Y.-based Fear No Ice, who staged an ice-carving show featuring Arizona and Starwood themed carvings.

Elkins credits the creativity and professionalism of her vendors as one of the success stories of the event, one which helped turn the entire summit into “a most impressive weekend,” despite the unexpected start to the opening party. “Little by little we put bits and pieces together — we all contributed to the creative, and we kept revising and editing until we got it right.”

EventWorks 340 W. 131st St., Los Angeles, CA 90061; 323/321-1793;

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