I know a lot of meeting planners who get excited by new hotel properties, and I’m no exception, but yesterday I experienced something that made me rethink why I do.
It all started with a tour of the Crowne Plaza Atlanta Perimeter at Ravinia, which our sales person affectionately referred to as the “old girl.” The hotel isn’t anywhere near historic, but it’s definitely mature. And that’s what made it so special.
You see, plans for hotels built since the ’90s have been scrutinized, packaged and squeezed so that everything is optimized to make the most money. That’s design for production, not productive design.
In contrast, the Crowne Plaza, which was built when disco was still big, has some whimsical and magnificent attributes that couldn’t exist in a brand new hotel. For example, the lobby is a colossal, skylit atrium that features lush tropical landscaping around a gorgeous waterfall that leads to a floor-to-ceiling windowed wall marking the beginning of the hotel’s four acres of gardens and outdoor event areas. Who would do that today? In the lower level’s conference center, there’s a dedicated amphitheater that used to be a discotheque before it was converted into a movie theater. Today it is set for conferences, but presenters still have access to movie theater-quality equipment. And perhaps my favorite touch of all is in the Presidential Suite, which has a marble bathroom with a walk-through shower and — wait for it — a wood-walled sauna.
But if I had never toured the property, I never would have learned about these eccentric touches that really make it special. So don’t judge a hotel by its age. It may not be as sexy (or expensive) as that hot new box down the street, but it just may have some quirky amenities that will really enhance your meeting.