Reawakened Hotels & Unique Venues for Reimagined Meetings

Sometimes it’s the place that imbues offsite events with an intangible energy —the classic venue, the spectacular skyline or unexpected structure. Hotel conversions are rescuing venerable old buildings, filled with artistic craftsmanship and elegant materials—carved beams, sparkling mosaics, rare marble, and rich solid woods that deserve another chance to be appreciated by fresh eyes.

The desire for such spaces is a response to an increasingly homogenized world. So many spaces are the same and today’s event attendees crave unique venues, memorable experiences.  Experts say unique architectural features and distinctive details can convey a sense of individuality and hominess, which attendees welcome when they’re pulled away from family for several days.

If getting out of the office and shaking up the routine breathes new life into meetings and events, meeting in a hotel with an unconventional past and a story to tell can be a unique draw for attendees. Here’s a list of hotels opened in remarkable edifices which have been repurposed from their past lives and offer attendees truly unique venues:

21cMuseum HotelDetroit Foundation Hotel
A Ford Model T plant in Oklahoma City was reimagined as 21cMuseum Hotel and the Detroit Foundation Hotel has woven historical elements in with larger-than-life contemporary art pieces.

Langham Boston, JW Marriott Chicago and Ritz-Carlton
The formal, soaring halls and architectural splendor of former banks are enhanced with modern design for a stimulating eclecticism as seen at the Langham Boston, JW Marriott Chicago and Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia.

Chicago Athletic Association
Locations once highly exclusive, such as the eponymous Chicago Athletic Association, which was for decades a private men’s club where Johnny Weissmuller—the Olympian and actor who played Tarzan—once swam, give the public a glimpse behind once-closed doors.

Some locations still carry the ghosts and tenor of their pasts. Familiar prison features—the catwalks and arched windows lined with black steel bars at the luxury hotel Liberty in Boston may serve to remind your group to be on its best behavior with their immediate reminiscence of the former jail. Outdoors, drinks are served in a posh, beautifully landscaped courtyard.

High Line Hotel
The High Line Hotel in Manhattan has a reverence lent by the Gothic style of its former life as a seminary and a character no off-the-shelf design can match.

Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Downtown
White statues, known as the Ghost People, inhabit the hallways of Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Downtown and appear to be denizens of the world’s first-ever Union Station opened in 1853.

Le Meridien Tampa
Several historic properties pay homage to their origins and importance in their communities by incorporating displays of blueprint replicas of the original architect’s drawings, as Le Meridien Tampa, a former Federal Courthouse. The same lamps shown on the original design can be seen in the front of the building. Now fabulous event space, the courtroom has remained untouched, bearing the focal point of a brightly-gilded gold eagle carving.

The Chatwal
One-of-a-kind suites, available for receptions or dinners, may be as dramatic as the 4,500 square-foot Barrymore Suite and sprawling roof deck overlooking Times Square offered at The Chatwal in New York, where The Lambs Club hosted the who’s who of American theater and film since 1905.

Hotel Emma
Distinct architectural spaces often come with fascinating bits of local lore. Hotel Emma was named in honor of Emma Koehler, the intrepid CEO of this former brewery in San Antonio who kept the business and her entire workforce afloat during prohibition by converting operations to near beer, ice cream and soda.

Ace Hotel
Reopening long-shuttered spaces can help boost redeveloping neighborhoods like New Orleans’ South Market District where the Ace Hotel redesign riffs on the Art Deco building, formerly the Max Barnett Furniture Company. The multi-use space incorporates a hotel with rooftop pool deck, swanky restaurant, events hall and music venue, and is now a magnet for locals and visitors alike.

TWA Hotel
One reincarnation in the works is the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport in Eero Saarinen’s mid-century modern masterpiece which ushered in the era of jet travel.

The oldest American cities offer a stockpile of aging beauties with good bones, enviable construction materials and prime locations. Updating these unique venues takes vision, commitment, and ingenuity.  Vintage structures allow hoteliers to offer a more local aesthetic through history and eccentricity, as well as ornamentation that is not easily duplicated today.  The adage “waste not, want not” is particularly relevant in the building industry these days, where it is inspiring developers to deliver adaptive reuse projects that are not only practical and profitable, but setting new standards for sustainability, design and luxury in the hospitality industry.

Even after returning home, your attendees’ minds are broadened and the unique, immersive experiences they crave, fulfilled.

Elita Murphy

Latest posts by Elita Murphy (see all)

Smart Meetings Related Posts

Close up cropped of smiling Indian woman showing heart shape gesture on chest

How Top Meeting Profs Give Thanks

The hospitality industry has so much to be grateful for as we return to doing what we love, working with partners to welcome guests and create memorable experiences. After reading what these meeting profs are thankful forgot, don’t forget to remember what you’re grateful for.