In Incentive Travel, Special Events, Strategic Meetings

As in-person meetings & events recover post-pandemic, those returning to travel are taking a fresh look at where and how they will gather to do so safely and effectively. Staying within a bubble and focusing on unique domestic destinations still should and must bring an extraordinary experience.  Taking a closer look at boutique properties across the U.S., we asked Nicole Trottier, Director of Group Sales for Leading Hotels of the World, to bring a few of her best. “If you are looking to deliver something that feels exotic and off-the-beaten path, something truly special that offers a bit of novelty – a boutique property like those in the LHW portfolio can be a perfect fit.”

One of SDI’s strategic and trusted hotel partners, Leading Hotels of the World offers a collection across more than 80 countries, and member hotels are known to embody the very essence of their destinations — ideal for the experienced and curious traveller.  Over many years of successful programs with LHW, the SDI team has enjoyed bringing clients to these exceptional venues and extraordinary experiences that they may have never discovered on their own.

Trends in Executive Meetings

Post-pandemic travel adds a few critical requirements to the important considerations when booking meetings and events – and in particular with gatherings of senior staff. “Outdoor space has become critical – not just what social events can be held outside, but overall what outdoor opportunities and space can a property offer,” says Trottier. “In addition, exclusive use through a buy-out of the full property lets an organization create and maintain their bubble – and a confidential environment valued at any executive function.” Further, with the postponement of nearly two years of in-person events and now the release of that pent-up demand, space has become increasingly scarce and competition intense – making boutique and off-the-radar properties even more attractive.

Stand-Out Properties

It’s difficult to assess the seemingly limitless options for meeting venues and hotels across the United States – which is why the partnership between SDI and LHW brings such value. Leaning into decades of experience and an extensive knowledge of unique offerings around the world, we efficiently support clients in identifying where to build their ideal experience.

Looking across the country and the LHW portfolio, we highlight a few below, known to deliver remarkable experiences for guests, whether close to home or coming from around the world.

Parker Palm Springs

With sprawling grounds and its own luxurious club featuring a spa and three pools, the gorgeous Parker Palm Springs feels more like a private estate than a hotel. A truly special property, the Parker is a delightful oasis of 144 rooms tucked into Palm Springs gorgeous desert backdrop. Full of color, quirky design and possibility, the hotel is very accommodating to buyouts for groups looking to maintain a quarantine bubble or create a truly exclusive experience. In addition, with 13 acres to explore, the estate has outdoor space in abundance. The Parker team is always available and willing to help design creative and unique experiences to delight their guests and leave lasting memories.

The Newbury Boston

Opening May 2021 after a complete renovation, The Newbury has been a hotel since 1927, when it opened as one of the first Ritz-Carltons in the United States. This iconic property, located at One Newbury Street, embodies modern comfort and luxury right in the heart of Boston. The calming, contemporary interiors feature custom furnishings from acclaimed designer Alexandra Champalimaud. An often-overlooked destination option, Boston offers incredible experiences to fit the needs and desire of every traveler. From The Newbury guests can venture out into this walkable city packed and explore incredible history, great culinary tradition and revered sport teams. Boston offers so many unique opportunities for guests – from shopping right on Newberry street to baseball games at Fenway to world-class restaurants – making it an ideal location for weekend or short term incentive trips and executive meetings.

Washington School House Hotel, Park City

Park City is an exceptional destination anytime of the year – offering skiing and snow sports in the winter and summer activities like hiking and golf, all with a gorgeous Mountain backdrop. Washington School House Hotel is an award-winning boutique hotel with just 13 spectacular rooms. Ideal for a high-level executive retreat, especially for companies looking to have exclusive use of a property, the Washington School House Hotel can offer exceptional privacy. Originally built as a school in 1889, and named for revolutionary George Washington – the property is an ideal place to be inspired and think big. In addition to a private ski lodge exclusive to hotel guests, the Washington School House Hotel provides its guests with exceptional cuisines from a private chef, in-room massage and a heated terraced pool – in addition to gorgeous views and a perfect location for exploring Park City.

The Hay-Adams, Washington D.C.

Located in the heart of Washington, D.C., The Hay-Adams is an incredible property from top to bottom. Their meeting space, known as “The Top of the Hay” offers spectacular views of the White House and the Washington Monument. With a full-service rooftop kitchen and the ability to divide into five meeting spaces accommodating up to 340 guests, the meeting space at the Hay-Adams is extraordinary. The exceptional team at Hay-Adams ensures your guests will be engaged and inspired while at this intimate feeling property. The accommodations are no less inspiring providing the perfect mix of history and modern convenience with sweeping views of Washington, D.C.’s most iconic sites. Heading back down to earth from your lofty meeting space, tucked below street level you’ll find what Forbes has named one of the “World’s Best Hotel Bars”. The place to see and be seen in Washington, D.C., Off the Record is famous not just for its inspired menu and superb wine selection, but for its ever-evolving caricature coasters featuring the political elite of the day, which make an special memento for your guests to take home with them.

The Sonnenalp, Vail

Demand for mountain retreats offering an abundance of outdoor activities has increased post-pandemic as the meeting and events industry returns to travel. Owned and run by the Faessler family, whose ranch in Bavaria inspired the design, the Sonnenalp Hotel sits in the heart of Vail just steps from the ski lifts. With a heated indoor-outdoor pool and a private eighteen-hotel golf course just minutes away, the hotel is a year-round destination for meetings and events of groups up to 250. Dining options right on the property create a true apres ski environment with Swiss Chalet offering authentic European favorites including fondue and schnitzel while the legendary mud slides from Bully Ranch are equally delicious after a day on the slopes, links or in the boardroom.

Nobu Hotel, Chicago

Chicago is beloved as a meeting city thanks to its accessibility, stunning skyline on the coast of Lake Michigan, vibrant culinary scene and countless options for meeting locations. Just west of downtown, off the beaten path for most visitors, Chicago’s West Loop has long been the go-to for Chicagoans in the know.  Only recently has this neighbourhood become a destination for business travellers to the Windy City. Home to the corporate offices of ConAgra, Google, McDonald’s, Vital Proteins and others – as well as a growing design district and some of Chicago’s most interesting restaurants – the addition of easy transit via a dedicated mass transit “El” stop and several boutique hotel properties has made the West Loop an ideal location for a Midwest meeting. Coming in at the top of the list – Nobu Hotel Chicago. The 115-room hotel opened in 2020, delivering the gorgeous modern Japanese design and incredible culinary offerings we’ve come to expect from the Nobu brand. Exceptionally designed accommodations offer unusual offerings for an urban hotel – including teak soaking tubs.  Meeting space with a skyline view, an intimate ballroom accommodating 150, a rooftop restaurant and private dining rooms at Nobu Restaurant provide an indulgent setting for guests to enjoy exceptional sushi, waygu beef or black cod with miso.

Planning an incentive trip or executive meeting and making the choice the stay closer to home? With Leading Hotels of the World’s exceptional collection of properties and SDI’s experience in creating extraordinary events from beginning to end, a U.S.-based destination is as exceptional, unique and once-in-a-lifetime as any destination across the world.

About Us: SDI Meetings & Incentives is the global-yet-boutique meetings, incentives and special events partner driven by the basic truth that Experience Matters.  Creating custom experiences to reward performance and fuel growth, SDI taps decades of expertise to deliver solutions managed from concept through execution by one tenured point of contact. We’ve produced programs around the world, for groups from 10 to thousands, combining the exact right elements to support our clients’ goals and to motivate and inspire their attendees. Find out more and contact us at