7 Venues in The Palm Beaches Nailing In-Person and Hybrid Events

November 16, 2020

Below, we round up seven venues in The Palm Beaches that are meeting new client needs with innovative measures and paving the way for successful future events.

Despite meetings and events being one of the hardest hit global industries during COVID-19, The Palm Beaches has been cooking up creative ways to lead us into the “next normal.” From in-person events featuring cutting-edge sanitation measures and reimagined outdoor spaces, to the hybrid movement of adding a virtual component to live meetings, The Palm Beaches is at the forefront of hosting business with the highest safety standards – raising the bar for a new vision of success. 

1. The Breakers Palm Beach

Front image of The Breakers Hotel exterior
Cutting-edge technology and industry-leading safety standards were front and center at the 14th annual Global Wellness Summit, The Breakers’ first convention since the pandemic. The hybrid event, fittingly themed around “Resetting the World with Wellness,” welcomed less than 150 in-person attendees, all of whom required negative COVID-19 tests to enter, and was streamed to attendees around the globe; the event typically hosts around 600 people each year. The Breakers – whose praise-worthy approaches are further backed by GBAC STARTM accreditation – set the bar high from the start, with the following safety measures:
  • A UV technology-enabled sanitizing walkthrough by Healthe Lighting, reminiscent of metal detector, that instantly cleans clothing and personal belongings
  • Mandatory, rapid COVID-19 testing for all attendees upon check-in
  • Daily temperature checks upon entering the conference
  • Two routinely sanitized podiums at opposite ends of the stage
  • Individually packaged, grab-and-go snacks
  • Socially distanced seating arrangements
  • Mask requirement while not eating or drinking

2. Hilton West Palm Beach

Ballroom image at Hilton West Palm Beach
The Palm Beach County Convention Center’s connected hotel hosts more than meeting attendees. Sought after for its eclectic design, central downtown location and beautifully manicured, expansive outdoor space, the 400-room Hilton West Palm Beach is also a popular choice for weddings. The property – which helped lead The Palm Beaches to become the first destination in the U.S. to have its airport, convention center and convention center hotel receive GBAC STARTM accreditation – recently hosted a 300-person wedding in its 13,000-square-foot Oceana ballroom. Among the sanitation measures taken were:
  • Tableside cocktail reception, with individually served hors d'oeuvres to avoid congregating groups
  • Limitations on seats per table
  • Bread served in bags versus preset on tables
  • Monitored capacity limits on the dance floor to ensure social distancing
  • Contactless hand-sanitizing stations throughout
  • Individual hand-sanitizing dispensers on tables
  • Directional stickers noting where to enter and leave the ballroom
  • Tableside dining service, presented with wrapped utensils and covered plates
  • Social distancing decals at bars
  • Mask requirement while not eating or drinking
For a 450-person lunch buffet, Hilton West Palm Beach utilized both its Oceana and Coral ballrooms to control social distancing and stagger the lines. They achieved this through: 
  • Dividing the group into smaller groups of 50 
  • Servers behind plexiglass managed two buffet lines and served food directly to the attendees
  • Rope and stanchions to create a 6-foot distance between attendees as well as the buffet
  • Food served in individual packaging
  • Iced drink displays, from which attendees would select their choice and a gloved server would hand it to them
  • Mask requirement while not eating or drinking
Hilton West Palm Beach’s plethora of outdoor space also sets the stage for many events. Wondering what happens when the weather doesn’t work out in your favor? A 75-person reception and awards presentation – originally set up for an outdoor event lawn – recently had to move indoors for this reason. Utilizing most of its Oceana ballroom, the hotel: 
  • Brought the outdoors in by dividing the reception and presentation with foliage
  • Created a theater-style space for the presentation, in rows of two
  • Placed food at stations throughout the room, while serves behind plexiglass handed individually portioned lunches to attendees 
  • Socially distanced rounds and placing only four seats at each table
  • Held registration outside the ballroom, with social-distancing floor decals in line
  • Utilized contactless hand-sanitizing stations
  • Enforced mask requirement while not eating or drinking

3. Aloft Delray Beach

A loft meeting room with social distanced chairs.
Steps from Delray Beach’s famed Atlantic Avenue, one of the city’s newest hotels has been successfully hosting hybrid meetings since June 2020. At a recent tourism roundtable – led by the Delray Beach Chamber and featuring internationally acclaimed travel industry expert, consultant and public speaker Scott Eddy – Aloft Delray Beach helped orchestrate a hybrid presentation on video marketing for 10 in-person attendees by:
  • Creating a custom, socially distanced U-shape seating layout in its Exchange Ballroom, which can be divided into three, approximately 1,200-square feet areas and accommodate up to 80 people
  • Setting up a live Zoom feed with screen sharing
A second meeting hosted by a surgery center welcomed 15 attendees in person, while implementing the following measures:
  • Socially distanced U-shape seating arrangement in the Exchange Ballroom
  • Food and beverage served by a local restaurant using stringent sanitation measures
  • Individual sanitizing wipe packs at each seat
  • Sanitizing stations located throughout the room 
Additional safety protocols followed by Aloft Delray Beach, as part of Marriott International’s Commitment to Clean and Global Cleanliness Council include:
  • Enhanced cleaning throughout the hotel, including public spaces, guest rooms and meeting spaces
  • Leveraging technology to give attendees the choice on how to interact with hotel associates
  • Providing options with technology and AV partners that enable meeting planners to customize solutions to best suit their needs
  • Reimagining spaces to enable more distance in accordance with best practices and local guidelines
  • Offering a wide variety of food and beverage options, including pre-packaged, grab-and-go and plated service
  • Easing process to offer flexible terms and simplified contracts

4. Loggerhead Marinelife Center

Arguably one of The Palm Beaches’ most unique places to meet is Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC), a sea turtle museum and rehabilitation center nestled on one of the world’s most densely nested sea turtle beaches. The center has had a lot to be proud of since the success of its 12th annual Go Blue Awards featuring National Geographic Magazine photographer, Joel Sartore, as its keynote speaker – which was held as a hybrid event for the first time. Perhaps this testimonial from Brittney Gutin, Attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, sums it up best: “We have attended this event for many years and were thrilled that this year’s event was not another casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. We loved that the digital format opened up the possibility of Joel Sartore’s amazing message being heard by so many more people than usual. It was also a really amazing experience to be able to watch from our home with our children. It gave us an invaluable tool to have a conversation with our five-year-old daughter about the importance of conservation.” Here’s how LMC pulled it off:
  • Held virtual Sponsors Reception on day before the awards
  • Allowed only 20 in-person attendees for the reception
  • Socially distanced high-top tables featured individual iPads streaming the reception as well as hand sanitizer
  • Mask requirement for all attendees

5. The Brazilian Court

Hand Sanitizer Station at Brazilian Court
Becoming the first hotel in The Palm Beaches to earn GBAC STARTM accreditation gave the award-winning Brazilian Court a head start on implementing the industry’s highest standards of safety and sanitation. A spontaneous micro-wedding recently put these protocols to the test when a couple booked the historic Palm Beach hotel – which also won Northstar Meetings Group’s 2020 Stella Award for Best Boutique Property – as the new setting for their now-12-person celebration. The catch: the wedding needed to take place the following day. With the added pressure of needing a new caterer and priest, among other arrangements, The Brazilian Court spared no expense in recreating the wedding of this couple’s dreams with a beautifully and safely executed ceremony in the North Courtyard and reception in the Conservatory. The Brazilian Court and Café Boulud, the hotel’s restaurant helmed by celebrity chef Daniel Boulud, implemented the following measures:
  • Federal and state guidelines regarding 6 feet of social distancing, masks and PPE
  • Daily health screenings of all staff
  • Supplying hand-sanitizing stations throughout the property
  • Individual canape plates during events
  • Modified wine service by glove-wearing staff only
  • Modified food offerings to reflect no buffets; only plated food with a pre-set menu
  • Optional upgraded hand-sanitizing stations for private events
  • An appointed, on-site leader of risk management to ensure full compliance with GBAC STARTM prevention protocols and guidelines

6. The Colony Hotel

The spirit of romance continues at The Colony Hotel, another popular choice for weddings – one of which was recently featured in the New York Times – with another successful love story. This 74-person Florida fall wedding kicked off with a welcome part under the hotel’s colorful Palm Pavilion and on the pool deck, and continued with a ceremony under the hanging garden, cocktail hour on the lawn and reception in the ornate Coral Ballroom at less than 50 percent of the venue’s allowed capacity. As a further testament to the safety measures outlined below, bride Jennifer Wooten shared: “Our wedding was a success! It was absolutely beautiful, and we had no reported cases from guests and all negative tests from those who tested 14-plus days after the wedding.”
  • Temperature checks upon entry
  • Welcome bags with personal hand sanitizer
  • Soft, socially distanced seating outdoors during the welcome party and cocktail reception
  • Served appetizers in lieu of food stations
  • Plated meal service versus a buffet
  • Two bars on opposite sides of the room, during the reception, to control traffic flow
  • Hand-sanitizing stations throughout the property
  • Mask requirement for all public spaces on property

7. Renaissance Boca Raton

Another community leader in hosting hybrid and in-person events is Renaissance Boca Raton, which has already set the stage for a variety of successful events – and has even more in the pipeline. Among the events held to date include two hybrid meetings hosted by regional rotary clubs and three in-person networking, tradeshow and meeting events, respectively. Below is a brief overview of the safety measures and logistics that continue to keep business in full swing at the Renaissance Boca Raton:
  • Capacity limits on in-person components of events (15 to 30 attendees)
  • Live streaming via Zoom or another video platform
  • Options for both indoor and outdoor in-person and hybrid events – including tradeshows 
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