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Bright Lights, Big City Resorts

Written by
Morgan Saltz
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Bright Lights, Big City Resorts

Written by
Morgan Saltz

How to combine luxury, experience and CSR with metropolitan meetings

When planning a luxury incentive or executive retreat, meeting professionals often default to places removed from the hustle and bustle of a metropolitan area. There is a lingering stigma that while urban hotels are obviously more convenient for transportation and provide easy access to convention centers, they may not have the high-end service and resources of a luxurious retreat or an environment as relaxing and desirable as those in those sprawling properties on a beach or golf course.

But urban resorts are now dispelling that myth—and thriving in big cities everywhere.

These urban oases hit the sweet spot with business travelers who want more than just a complimentary breakfast and meeting space. With authentic experiences and wellness treatments trending, urban hospitality has stepped up to provide all the luxury and curated activities of the isolated resort in their city settings. Yet the very fact of their metropolitan environment also allows them to easily do more than pamper—urban resorts are committed to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs that give back to the communities in which they operate. Meeting professionals can provide attendees with luxury, wellness and abundant meeting space alongside the rewarding experience of helping to serve the unmet needs found in every city.

Best of Both Worlds

hotel rooftop pool
Pool, Hotel X Toronto

While resorts set in more remote areas have the space for large spas and fitness centers, they are removed from the culture, dining, people and nightlife of booming cities. Attendees may have that “I could be anywhere” feeling even as they are attending a work-related event. Urban resorts give freedom for those visiting the city to experience its personality, stay in the resort to take advantage of its fitness centers and spas—or both!

These resorts have become a new frontier for blending high-end facilities with urban experiences. Their compact footprint is a welcome challenge for Dipesh Gupta, co-chairman and CEO of Shashi Group, whose portfolio includes Shashi Hotel Mountain View, in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley.

two cruiser bikes
Complimentary Bikes, Shashi Hotel Mountain View

“Urban resorts are not built on eight acres or ten acres,” says Gupta. “The challenge was, how do you bring that resort experience within these constraints? I think that’s where the concept of ‘urban resort’ came to fruition—the opportunity to really design something above and beyond what most hotels are able to do.

“We really designed something which tailors to the customers and also speaks to the market,” says Gupta. “It has been extremely well received by Silicon Valley. We are rapidly penetrating the market as an independent urban resort.”

Brett Forshag, director of sales and marketing at The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa, agrees that the dual benefits of urban resorts create both relaxing escapes and exciting, fast-paced destinations.

“You really have the opportunity to mix what is traditional of a resort—relaxation, spread-out, beautiful surroundings, pools, unbelievable spas and workout clubs,” says Forshag. “But then you are also in the middle of the fourth-largest city in America. If you want to do something and branch out, you have the opportunity to do both. We’re in the best of both worlds.”

Authentic Experiences

As experiences have become increasingly important among professionals of all ages, business travelers—and meeting goers—are more eager than ever to venture outside of the hotel and familiarize themselves with the destination.

“Urban resorts embody the pulse and personality of their city in ways that isolated resorts cannot,” says Matt Black, director of marketing and revenue at Hotel X Toronto. “They offer immediate access to local culture, cuisine and entertainment, allowing guests to dive deep into the city’s life with ease.”

Sauna, Shashi Hotel Mountain View

While your typical luxury resorts may have golf carts or scooters to take you from green to green or from the lobby to an on-site restaurant, urban resorts provide travel options that allow visitors to choose their own adventure and explore the city on their own terms. For example, Shashi Hotel Mountain View provides guests with complimentary bikes to peddle to neighboring Shoreline Park with its 50-mile trail and a lake with options to kayak and sail, or cruise down to Shoreline Amphitheater or the Computer History Museum for some big-name entertainment and tech culture.

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