The hotel ballroom is the vanilla ice cream of meeting spaces: classic, popular, and widely available, but also completely expected and often a little boring. Of course, there's nothing wrong with an old favorite, and with the right toppings, "tried and true" can easily be elevated to "different and new." Here are five awesome hotel ballrooms that promise to infuse your hotel meeting with flavor.
The Imperial Ballroom at the Amway Grand Plaza
Grand Rapids, MI
Named for Amway Corp., which is based in nearby Ada, MI, the Amway Grand Plaza dates back to 1913, when it was established as The Pantlind Hotel. A member of Historic Hotels of America, it was reopened by Amway in 1981 and in 2000 annexed a historic bank: the Old National Bank, which operated in downtown Grand Rapids from 1853 to 1953 and is now the Imperial Ballroom. Totaling 3,300 square feet, the bank-turned-ballroom is a two-tiered space that includes a mezzanine, grand staircase, eight columns, and an ornate wood ceiling. Able to accommodate up to 150 for a seated dinner and 250 for standing receptions, it's a unique space that lends a historic air to modern meetings.
The Grand Salon Aboard The Queen Mary
Long Beach, CA
When she sailed on her maiden voyage in 1936, The Queen Mary was a luxury ocean liner transporting passengers across the Atlantic between Southampton, England, and New York. Today, she's a floating hotel moored at the Port of Long Beach in Southern California. The hotel's 9,000-square-foot ballroom, the cavernous Grand Salon, originally was the ship's first-class dining room. Its bygone Art-Deco décor and three-story ceilings remain intact to host groups of up to 700 that are looking for a decidedly "un-hotel" hotel experience.
The Great Ballroom at Le Méridien Dubai Hotel and Conference Centre
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Everything in Dubai is over the top -- including Le Méridien Dubai Hotel and Conference Centre, whose pillarless Great Ballroom spans over 8,000 square feet and can accommodate up to 1,750 guests. Although it boasts 31-foot ceilings, it has a lot more to offer groups than space alone. It also has cutting-edge A/V, for instance, including two built-in LED screens to display and project images at every corner of the ballroom, built-in electronic screens in the foyer areas outside the ballroom, and special LED lighting effects that can bathe events in colored light. Other highlights include skyhooks with power connections and large doors, which can be leveraged for launches of large products like cars, and three walk-in live kitchens, each of which features built-in hot plate, tandoor, contemporary oven, and wok stations. The possibilities for theatrical meetings and events are endless.
The Grand Ballroom at the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile
The InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile is one of Chicago's oldest hotels, dating back to 1929. Events that take place in its two-story Grand Ballroom, however, feel brand-new thanks to the room's unique elliptical shape, which literally puts meetings outside the box. At 6,400 square feet with capacity for up to 700 guests, the round room wows with 37 hand-painted murals and a 12,000-pound Baccarat Crystal chandelier that is one of the largest in the world. It's an interesting space -- and interesting spaces make for interesting events.
The Panorama Ballroom and Sundeck at Andaz West Hollywood
West Hollywood, CA
Located on Sunset Boulevard, Andaz West Hollywood is pure Los Angeles. So is its rooftop Panorama Ballroom, which features floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views of downtown Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean. Totaling 2,730 square feet with room for up to 200 people, it neither looks nor feels like a hotel ballroom. Rather, it reminds one of a swanky lounge -- especially when you take into account the adjacent open-air Sundeck. Home to the hotel's chic rooftop pool, it totals 3,600 square feet and can host another 150 attendees for an indoor/outdoor experience that's decidedly more "casual" than "corporate."