Saying ‘I Do’ at the Adolphus
Love never stopped blooming at Dallas’s iconic Adolphus Hotel. Although corporate events have not returned, “We’ve been hosting weddings every weekend since the end of June,” reports director of catering and conference services Paula Fenner, CPCE. The state permits venues to host 50 percent of a room’s capacity, which enables Fenner to stage weddings with up to 200 attendees.
To keep safe distancing at the bigger events, Fenner’s team sets up four bars and four hors d’oeuvre stations for cocktail hour in the French Room restaurant—which currently closed to the public--then moves guests to the ballroom for dining.
Service strategies include coasters and caps on passed wineglasses and on preset wine and water glasses, staffed hors d’oeuvre stations, and a faux wedding cake---“with the exception of the piece that the bride and groom cut,” she explains.
Fenner’s clients don’t balk at the hotel’s COVID rules. “I have been very transparent with them, and fortunately we work with amazing wedding planners,” she says. “I think everyone is comfortable with the new expectations.”
The Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs, Colo., is making the most of its great big space—some 5,000 acres—in order to stage wide range of small-scale events, both corporate and social. Regulations allow director of sales Pepper Dombroski to allow 175 attendees indoors and 250 outdoors, and the property’s outstanding outdoor spaces make the task easy.
Physical distancing is a snap at the Broadmoor. “We are using lawns, patios, balconies. Our indoor spaces allow meetings to be spread out for social distancing, creating a safe and productive meeting environment,” Dombroski says. “Also, keep in mind that our ‘hallways’ are outdoors, and guests enjoy the beautiful Colorado weather as the move throughout the grounds of the resort.”
Another hit with guests: the Broadmoor’s bento box lunches, “which clients absolutely love!” Dombroski says. “It allows for a three- or four-course meal to be served in a beautiful bento box that an attendee can carry to an outside patio, their meeting room, or their guest room.:
The resort’s safety protocols have gone over well with clients. “We had a meeting here this week, and the planner said she felt safer here than at home,” Dombroski says.
San Antonio’s landmark St. Anthony Hotel has been busy with both corporate and private events, with a maximum attendee count of 125. These “micro” events have been a hit: “Our average wedding has dropped from 50 percent to 75 percent in size,” notes catering sales manager Wendy Haralson.
The St. Anthony team follows the safety rules to keep risks low but event spirits high. Haralson recalls: “We had an intimate wedding for 90. The tables were 72-inch rounds of eight and six feet apart. Guests had a great time; some even had masks that matched their evening gown. We worked closely with the DJ for the evening to remind people about social distancing. We set hand-sanitizing stations at the entryway, as well as extra masks for their convenience. While celebrating it is easy for guests to forget, and we wanted everyone to be safe.”
Indeed, helping guests remember why today’s safety protocols will help ensure successful events. “While the original vision of their event may not be able to produced, there are many other options to create a beautiful event,” Haralson says. “We just need to find what that is and the only way to do that is through communication.”
Now Hear This
The team at the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester, Mich., is busy with both corporate and private social events. The team makes the most of the property’s mix of event spaces. A recent highlight: “We are working with a corporate group of 60 people and created small gatherings in our outdoor cabanas for breakouts,” explains director of sale and marketing Sue Keels. “Lunch is served outside on social-distant picnic tables or blankets. We stagger times for meal periods and offer make-and-take pre-packed lunch boxes for participants,” she explains. “The ‘general session’ is held in our outdoor Park Pavilion, where there is assigned seating and nothing on the table. During breakouts, the space is sanitized and we also use QR codes for their agenda avoiding as much paper as possible.”
The boldest move from the Royal Park: its “vertical concerts.” Here, guests purchase rooms with balconies or terraces and enjoy live music. “We pair each vertical concert with food and beverage packages, and recently partnered with [famed distiller] Markers Mark, launching our private label ‘Rochester Reserve’ bourbon,” Keels explains. And the “vertical concerts” are a hit: “Our socially distant Nashville vertical concert sold out in three days!” she boasts. “People are craving music and good times with coworkers, family and friends.”
The buy-in from staff is crucial. “We stand by our team, and if a guests ‘tests’ us or refuses to follow one of our protocols, we don’t look the other way and be sure we not only talk the talk but also walk the walk and stand by our team,” Keels says. “Trust during the COVID world is critical.”