Warning: Groups At Play

SUCCESSFUL MEETINGS January 2008 Sure, says San Francisco-based planner, Loretta Lowe. "Absolutely a consideration for one of my high-tech young software company clients!” she says. "They look for trendiness, nightclubs, and the feeling that they are in the center of the 'happenin' scene.' "

And there are more choices than ever, as formerly serene destinations, such as Palm Springs, Scottsdale, San Diego, and Atlantic City are cranking up the style-o-meter with boutique properties, trendy nightlife, and other adults-only amenities, in an effort to keep both resident and visiting adults happy at work and play.

"Flawless by day, insatiable by night" is the unabashed mantra at the 144-room Le Parker Meridien Palm Springs, says general manager Thomas Meding. "Everything is geared towards unwinding after an intense day, so we’re definitely primed for fun and partying," says Meding, who adds that a typical event might feature a Moroccan dinner with belly dancers, fire pits, and remote-controlled powerboat races in the pools.

For years, Scottsdale and San Diego have been equated with golf and retirees - one might even say they were once associated with long naps. Lately, however, the Arizona oasis has been reborn as a swank desert getaway, awash in sexy accommodations like Morgans Hotel Group’s Mondrian (which Dana Toland, planner for the MA-based IT Exchange Group, compares with the Delano South Beach), Kimpton's FireSky Resort, and a new W Hotel, as well as a slew of hot clubs that keep the city rocking until the wee hours. San Diego’s downtown is sporting chic new restaurants, rooftop lounges, and boutique hotels (notably the Ivy, Sofia, and Keating).

Atlantic City has already seen a "sexy" surge with the advent of the 2,000-room Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa, the new Red Door Spa at the 1,600-room Harrah's Resort Atlantic City, and luxury shopping at the Pier at Caesars and The Quarter at Tropicana. This year, the $400-million, 800-room The Water Club will debut at the Borgata complex, featuring a two-story "spa in the sky," 18,000 sf of meeting space, five heated pools, and direct access to and from Borgata. "The Borgata," says Jeffrey Vasser, executive director of the Atlantic City CVA, "is one of our more active partners in the meetings and conventions market, and has really taken this city to another level. They have redefined our nightclubs, bringing a sensual experience to the city that we didn't have before, and getting people in a great mood. And the Borgata views the meeting customer as just as important as the gaming customer. If a group wants to be a part of mur.mur - their brand-new nightclub - the club will make arrangements for them to be there, at the VIP entrance."

As Atlantic City proves, few activities can heat up a destination like gaming. Palm Springs, San Diego, and Scottsdale all have proximity to Native American casinos, too. In Las Vegas, the club scene, long a lock for men in ascots and their chirpy escorts, now sizzles with scores of hip clubs (The Wynn's Tryst, LAX at Luxor, Moon Nightclub at the Palms, and Mandalay's kicky new eye candy, among them, all of which accommodate group functions) and their attendant A-listers. Sin City spa-goers have an equally rich smorgasbord of options before them, from rock-climbing (the Venetian’s Canyon Ranch) and boxing (Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa) to Skyspa's "Thai raindrop therapy" at the MGM Grand's Skylofts.

But "sexiness" does not depend purely on gaming, as Miami Beach will tell you. "Sexy is not a bad word here," says Erin Kozlowski, spokesperson for the 180-room Catalina Hotel + Beach Club, part of South Beach Group, which operates seven Miami Beach properties and a monthly newsletter ripe with warm bodies and hot gossip. (Five of South Beach Group’s hotels, including the Catalina, even offer free cocktails during their nightly "hook-up" hour from 7-8 p.m.) "Our corporate clients, like Coca-Cola, don’t want the typical sort of business hotel, they want someplace fun." That works for owner Alan Lieberman, she says, whose hands-on "South Beach sexy" design "adds to the whole theme of being able to play as much as possible while still at work."

In fact, Miami Beach has long held the East Coast's "sexy getaway" mantle, with more than a few swanky properties set just a short hop from the city's convention center. The city recently held its first Sleepless Night promotion, where hotel packages included everything from bar chits and toga parties at the Circa 39 Hotel to breakfast with live jazz (2-6 a.m.) at the National Hotel.

So, what is your group doing tonight?