Nashville—A New Star is Born

When Kimpton Aertson Hotel opened in June, it immediately embraced its new home and Nashville’s culture. Just months after opening, the hotel welcomed one of the biggest citywides to ever come to Nashville—Solar Eclipse 2017. The hotel offered packages, specialty drinks and viewing glasses to attendees.

This modern hotel, featuring museum-quality contemporary art, helps visitors feel they are experiencing not just the Kimpton brand, but the city of Nashville, as well. For instance, Kimpton Aertson brings in musicians from the local music scene so that guests feel a part of Music City right away.

“We’ve done everything from coffee breaks with music in the round to full-on evening entertainment,” says Chantelle Nikkel, director of sales and marketing. “The rounds are a great way for our attendees to really immerse themselves in the Nashville scene, and see what music writing and performing is all about. This is available to our groups as part of our partnership with NSAI.”

Nikkel says that the hotel likes to stay on the cutting edge.

“In our first three months since opening, we have already hosted amazing interactive breaks and breakout sessions, from goat yoga to our singer/songwriter rounds,” Nikkel says. “We’ve also had a cool on-site T-shirt ‘make and take’ station, where the T-shirts can be designed and made on-site. The Porter Boardroom has a lovely little balcony and we have devised an end-of-day bourbon bar to roll out for groups. We’ve also hosted a meeting wrap-up with a live show, poolside.”

Even big conventions and citywides still benefit from a personal touch. Creating relationships with CVBs is just part of the equation for planners. Organizers create their own bond with hotel groups, and in many cases find that smaller is better. Kimpton is part of the massive IHG brand, and has 65 mostly domestic hotels in many major cities. The brand’s boutique size offers it opportunities to easily customize stays and meetings.

“The thing we really like about Kimpton is it’s part of a large brand, so you get that level of quality, but it feels boutique, so you get the level of service you expect,” says Karen Hobson, vice president of operations for Emma, an email marketing company. “That’s why I’ve been using them there for years. The Nashville property is brand-new and there’s a lot of buzz around it.”

Hobson says that the hotel was able to quickly accommodate last-minute changes and needs for additional space. She also was impressed by the culinary offerings.

“Having a James Beard award-winning chef at your fingertips definitely has its perks,” Nikkel says. “We’ve done everything from a rooftop tiki bar reception at Woodlea, 17 floors atop Midtown, to low-country shrimp boils and handmade seasonal pastas, all coupled with our seasonal cocktails highlighting hyper-local ingredients and spirit.”

Next door to the property is Caviar & Bananas, a smorgasbord of virtually everything that guests could possibly crave, from wine to salads, to specialty food items, to, as might be expected, caviar and bananas.

Read more about citywide destinations in “Big Time: Citywides Give Planners Access to Wide Range of Experiences,” which can be found in the December issue of Smart Meetings.

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