When it comes to creating a unique event, you don’t necessarily need to tear down the whole thing and start from scratch. Even just one distinct, out of the norm feature can be the thing that leaves guests talking about your event for weeks. Here’s a list of one-of-a-kind features to get your inspiration started.
Lessons Led by Professionals
Sometimes, the most engaging entertainment is educational. Learning new skills and spending time shoulder to shoulder with experts in both classic and obscure fields is a great way to create memorable experiences that attendees can walk away from feeling accomplished.
- This year, Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa offered a Father’s Day package that consisted of a variety of private lessons, including coconut husking, ukulele, cocktail sampling, and for kids, fire knife lessons. Guests had the opportunity to explore the Hawaiian sea in a snorkel trip in a Catamaran and participate in a NASA astronomer-led star tour.
- Weekapaug Inn offers the service of an on-site naturalist to lead stargazing, biking, and birdwatching excursions.
- Oberoi Rajvilas Jaipur, in India, offers guests weekly spice talk sessions. These hour-long sessions teach the secrets of herbs and spices used in traditional Indian Cuisine.
- As one might expect from London, the Lanesborough St. Regis serves afternoon tea, accompanied by a pianist and an English tea sommelier, who educates guests on the subtleties, preparations, and benefits of different teas.
- Park Hyatt Aviara Resort has previously offered a “surfing with the chef” program. Attendees ate breakfast with the executive chef, then went surfing with him, ending with lunch on the beach served by the chef. Attendees received a personalized longboard to take home.
Ideas to steal: Contract an expert in a unique skillset and allow guests to hone their capabilities in crafts they might not otherwise seek out. Offer cooking lessons relevant to the location of your event; host your own afternoon tea, complete with a tea sommelier and classical musician; involve the venue’s head chef in the experience and have them teach guests about the landscape and sourcing of ingredients for the menu.
Retreats and Wellness
It’s becoming commonplace to include wellness spaces at events, but you can take it a step further than meditation rooms and breathing exercises. Offer personalized activities and use your event as a way for attendees to completely recharge and reconnect with themselves, so that they have a fuller capacity to immerse themselves in the event experience.
- The Art of Living Retreat Center in Boone, North Carolina offers a variety of retreats, such as yoga, silent, Ayurveda, and meditation sanctuaries.
- Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa also offers a three-day wedding package that includes several spa treatments: a hot stone spa and massage with aromatherapy, a coconut oil scalp massage, a foot scrub, and a jacuzzi soak.
- Las Alcobas, Napa Valley offers guests a unique healing experience: an apothecary-style aromatherapy blending bar. Research shows that scents directly activate the brain’s limbic system, which facilitates memory, emotion, and unconscious experience. Aromatherapy works with the brain to control emotions and can give guests a chance to ground themselves in the event experience and create positive emotions.
Ideas to Steal: For multi-day events, where attendees can get swept up in itineraries, think about incorporating a brief retreat or some spa moments that allow them to reconnect with themselves and get more out of the event experience. If you’re more crunched for time, create your own aromatherapy station, whether through oils, candles, or other scented objects.
Everyone loves to feel special and to express their own individuality. Giving guests choices, no matter how small or grand, will increase their engagement and presence in an event.
- The Halcyon in Denver gives guests a plant menu, where they can choose from a menu of plants they'd like to care for in their room. Each plant includes directions on its care, including where to place inside the room.
- For Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017, Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello offered “Après in the Air.” Through a private flight, guests stayed at three legendary properties throughout Canada, and spent the days following customized itineraries, with activities including dog sledding, skiing, a spa day, and a private dinner party.
Ideas to Steal: Give guests choices in small details, like personalized décor, or in major event areas, like their schedule. Set a different plant at each table and seat guests according to the plant they choose. Take attendees on a private flight, and give them the option to customize their itineraries, ensuring they get the experience they will enjoy most.
Curated Event Highlights
History, geography, and culture offers some of the best inspiration for distinctive event features.
- The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa’s aforementioned wedding package also shows off the local culture by including a helicopter ride above Maui, and a special wedding ceremony feature: the couple is provided with two Hawaiian leis and a conch shell blowing tradition.
- A fun feature of all St. Regis properties is that in the evenings, they host a champagne sabering ritual, the way Napoleon Bonaparte opened champagne with his saber.
- In 2017, the Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills held a caviar reception and subsequent six-course dinner with champagne pairing for participating guests.
Ideas to Steal: Lean into local tradition for ceremonies and celebrations. Take a lesson from history and wow guests with a champagne sabering highlight. Choose a specific food to be highlighted at a reception and offer champagne pairings to curate guests’ palates.
Hobbies as Extras
Sometimes, all you need for a little extra flare is to simply take an activity or souvenir to the next level.
- At the Curtis Downtown Denver, guests can choose from several theme rooms, including an arcade room with Pacman and Donkey Kong arcade games, as well as other board games.
- The Betsy in Miami’s Art Deco District gifts guests with bookmarks made of recycled paper and wildflower seeds, which can be replanted and grown into a garden.
- Portland’s Hotel deLuxe is a pet paradise, providing visiting furry friends with bedding, water, food, and toys.
Ideas to Steal: Define your audience demographic by their interests and use their hobbies or passions to your advantage. Rent an arcade game and set out some good old-fashioned board games for an interactive game station; give invitations, bookmarks, programs, or other paper products made of recycled paper and wildflower seeds to guests for a unique and functional souvenir; make your event pet-friendly and provide goody bags for each guest’s fur baby.