Delano Las Vegas' Franklin Lounge (pictured) is one of a number of new event spaces that offers an intimate, casual experience in the city.
While the gaming mecca of Las Vegas can exceed expectations for groups of thousands, it has been proving itself adept at hosting events for smaller groups as well. A number of new properties and event spaces, as well as perennial offerings from the city's favorite hot spots, have shown incentive planners that while Las Vegas can go big, it can go small and intimate as well.
Part of the reason the destination makes for a great place for small incentives is that it is already equipped to handle massive gatherings. The fact that Las Vegas offers large-scale infrastructure and cutting-edge technology that keeps huge corporate groups happy also benefits the usually smaller incentive groups.
"Once the technology is incorporated into a meeting on a large scale, it's not like it goes away," says Chris Meyer, vice president of global business sales for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. He adds that, "we've already worked through the rough edges," so visitors know that the logistics for their group will be handled.
The sheer variety ensures that small groups will find a property and space that can be tailored to their needs. The greater Las Vegas area offers 298 properties of all varieties, whether large or small, high luxury, or more casual.
Robert Richardson, owner of Richardson Graphics & Marketing, a local marketing company that has held a number of small events in the city, agrees that selecting the right venue and meeting elements can make Vegas feel like a much smaller city.
"Even though the city is large, and known for its larger conventions, there are a number of places that cater to these smaller events," he says. "By scheduling after-hours networking events at some more intimate nightclubs and lounge venues, to high-class luxurious dinner events or private shows, these smaller events are often more memorable for attendees than the city's larger conventions, where an attendee can feel like just another number."
Most of the destination's meeting and incentive managers both sell to and service groups of 100 rooms or less, providing their service acumen to groups of any size.
This desire for more manageable, intimate venues has led to the rise of a number of new properties that may be a bit too large to be called "boutique" in any other city, but could classify as "Vegas boutique."
The Cromwell Las Vegas, the 188-room luxury property owned by Caesars Entertainment, offers what Meyer calls a "very boutique feel," as well as the chic-yet-welcoming new Italian restaurant Giada, from Food Network star Giada de Laurentiis.
Meyer also gives the example of the Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas. With 335 sleek guest rooms and 57 expansive suites measuring as large as 3,100 square feet, it's certainly a Vegas-sized boutique hotel. But the property's relaxing, non-gaming environment, along with numerous spaces that can be booked exclusively for groups, helps create a sense of intimacy for visitors.
A similar boutique experience, albeit on a larger scale, applies to Mandarin Oriental's neighbor, the 1,495-suite Vdara Hotel & Spa. A part of MGM International's massive CityCenter project, it's an all-suite, non-gaming, smoke-free, eco-friendly retreat that's ideally located in the center of The Strip, with easy access to ARIA Resort & Casino.
Also helping to give visiting groups a "Vegas boutique" experience is Delano Las Vegas. Formerly THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, the transformed property opened last September. With 1,117 rooms, it's hardly a traditional boutique hotel, but its four separate floors of meeting space, and 31 customizable meeting rooms provide a tailored experience for groups.
"We fuse personalized service with a high-end design concept for groups," says Sarah Lantzer, sales manager for Delano. She adds that this extends, in particular, to the property's customizable food and beverage service, which emphasizes farm-to-table dishes made from local, organic ingredients, and the property's unique event spaces.
Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas offers a number
of luxurious and group-friendly rooms
Photography: Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas
Operating independently within five floors of the Mandalay Bay tower, is the hotel-within-a-hotel, the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas. While the property provides the Four Seasons brand's high-end offerings, it includes a number of spaces ideal for more intimate events. A pair of 1,900-square-foot hospitality suites -- the Mojave and Sierra -- offer stylish design and boardroom seating. The natural lighting and floor-to-ceiling windows provide impressive views of the Las Vegas Valley.
"The hotel recently hosted a 'Roaring '20s' event in the Mojave Suite for 50 people," says Gus Tejeda, director of marketing for Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas. "The room's sleek, sophisticated setting provided the perfect backdrop for a champagne fountain and snacks such as salted pretzels and a popcorn machine. Black-and-white films and jazz music played in the background."
He adds that the hotel has also hosted a number of craft beer and tequila-tastings for groups of 40 to 60 people in the association and financial-services sectors.