How Boutique Hotels Are Redefining Immersion and Wellness for Meetings

The courtyard of the Pendry, a boutique hotel in Baltimore.

Skift Take

The demand for in-person meetings has never been higher, but attendees now expect to get more from these experiences. Find out how boutique hotels can help planners deliver on the promise of more meaningful connection, inviting attendees to enjoy a shared experience of enhanced wellness, immersion, and cultural authenticity.

After over two years of limited opportunities to meet in person, the demand for human-to-human connection is greater than ever. As research for Skift Meetings’ Designing for Connection report revealed, these face-to-face meetings now have a larger role to play in maintaining corporate culture and fueling team creativity. Ultimately, that means each touchpoint needs to be designed with intentionality — fostering the ideal environment for interpersonal synergies by emphasizing authenticity, cultural immersion, and complete mind-and-body wellness.

With that in mind, choosing the right venue has never been more important. It’s not just about finding a property based on the size of the room block or the square footage of the ballroom. Today, event professionals need to look deeper to appreciate some of the subjective qualities of a space. Can the hotel inspire a deeper connection to the host city? Does the venue offer an enhanced approach to wellness that can help busy attendees reconnect with their sense of calm? Will the environment’s aesthetics turn an event into a one-of-a-kind experience?

As you look for the right setting for your next program, the boutique hotel community in Baltimore offers a glimpse of how extraordinary hotels can elevate the attendee experience.

What’s Outside Is Just As Important As What’s in The Room

When your attendees aren’t at your meeting, they’re probably inside. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend an average of 90 percent of life indoors. That’s a troubling statistic, considering the numerous studies that demonstrate the importance of getting closer to nature.

As you look at your next event venue, think beyond the ballroom and the number of breakout rooms to chase some underneath-the-blue-skies possibilities for your attendees. In fact, if your meeting can help them spend more time outside, you’re going to contribute to their health. To enhance the restorative impact, planners should look for venues that complement these al fresco event settings with multiple opportunities to nourish body and mind, ideally marrying fine dining with easy access to both outdoor excursions and fitness centers.

A New Kind of Fitness Routine at the Sagamore Pendry

Event organizers might have trouble choosing where to welcome attendees when they decide to step outside the Sagamore Pendry’s interior event space. Should they pick the 4,000-square-foot courtyard space with the Botero horse sculpture as a centerpiece or the 5,700-square-foot pool with a sweeping view of the harbor? Either choice will impress attendees, and the menu — filled with classic Italian dishes from renowned chef Andrew Carmellini — will introduce them to one of the best names in the Baltimore culinary scene. If they need to recover from the festivities the next morning, a restorative excursion is readymade for them: The decompression starts with a quick and scenic water taxi ride, taking them across the harbor to FX Studios, a state-of-the-art fitness facility on Under Armour’s corporate campus, which welcomes all guests of the Pendry.

The courtyard of the Sagamore Pendry, a boutique hotel in Baltimore. Credit: Jason Varney.

Five-Star Views at the Four Seasons

While top-tier luxury adds appeal to all of the 211 rooms and 45 suites at the Four Seasons, the real magic happens once attendees step outside the 18-story urban retreat. From the fourth-floor Splash Terrace to the fifth-floor Harbor Terrace, the property gives organizers the chance to show off stunning waterfront views of Charm City while pleasing appetites with one-of-a-kind takes on Maryland crab and Chesapeake Bay seafood. And even when it’s time to get down to business, attendees will still feel like they’re outside thanks to loads of harbor views throughout the venue’s 20,595 square feet of event space.

Transformative Terraces at the Canopy Harbor Point

The 3,300+ square feet of event space at the Hilton Canopy Harbor Point might be the headline that captures an organizer’s attention, but the view from the terrace on the ninth floor will be the image that sticks with attendees long after they leave. Plus, the floor-to-ceiling windows scattered throughout the hotel bring the Baltimore harbor into the indoor environment.

A dining room in the Hilton Canopy Harbor Point hotel with floor-to-ceiling views of Baltimore's harborfront.
Floor-to-ceiling window views of the harbor at the Hilton Canopy Harbor Point. Credit: Greg Ceo.

Checking In Can Open Doors to Cultural Experiences

Hotels aren’t just places to stay; they can be opportunities to escape from real life and turn into someone new. Remember that attendees are just like other travelers: They’re looking for authentic experiences — the kind of stays that give them a story to share with their friends when they return home. Destinations with a rich heritage can help set the stage, but it’s key to choose a venue that allows attendees to feel truly immersed in the city’s cultural scene. Baltimore’s long list of homegrown trendsetters and creative thinkers have offered a foundation for the city’s hotel scene, and these three properties are beacons of the city’s artistic side.

Bridging Local and Literary Adventures at Hotel Indigo

Edgar Allan Poe, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald are just a few of the writers who have chased inspiration in Baltimore. The Hotel Indigo pays homage to that literary legacy with a lobby library where attendees can get lost in a story before heading out to explore the surrounding Mount Vernon neighborhood. In fact, it’s just a five-minute walk to the George Peabody Library — often called one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.

The library at the Hotel Indigo, which features diamond-shaped shelving and a collection of classics.
The library at the boutique Hotel Indigo in Baltimore.

Embracing the Unexpected at Ulysses

Watch any film from Baltimore-born filmmaker John Water — Pink Flamingo, Hairspray, and Female Trouble, for example — and you’ll get a sense of the kind of underground innovation that has always pulsed through Charm City. Go to Ulysses, and that kind of envelope-pushing beauty and quirkiness will come to life throughout the 116-room property. From old-school Baltimore quilts on the beds to a drinking parlor designed to feel like an old steam train, this hotel is a haven for any group that wants an environment that feels miles away from a big brand.

The Ash Bar and Restaurant in the boutique Ulysses Hotel. Credit: Brett Wood.

Supporting Living Artists and Community Development at Hotel Revival

If attendees don’t have enough time to visit the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Hotel Revival can bring the art scene to them. Located on the site of the museum’s first exhibition in 1923, the 107-room property features in-room artwork curated by the local Paradigm Gallery + Studio. Plus, meetings here do more than bring the city into the space; the property’s Charitable Charm Package will donate 5 percent of your master charges to a local group in need and coordinate an experience that gives your attendees a chance to make a difference.

A lounge and meeting space in Baltimore’s boutique Hotel Revival. Credit: Jason Varney.

History Can Come to Life

While events are focused on integrating next-generation technologies, it’s important to balance the cutting-edge future with a look at the past. What better way to help attendees get a real sense of place than hosting an event in a building that played an integral role in shaping a city? With nearly 300 years of history under its belt, Baltimore’s hotel community is breathing new life into some of its most important buildings.

From ‘The Doghouse’ to a Relaxing Retreat at the Admiral Fell Inn

If you told any of the sailors who needed to go through a mandatory delousing upon arrival in Baltimore in 1900 that their boarding house would one day host VIP dinners on a rooftop, they might have thrown you into the harbor. However, that’s exactly what has happened. Formerly called “the doghouse” due to its once tiny rooms, the venue is now a seven-building luxury property with more than 4,000 square feet of event space that maintains its historical charm — minus the whole “doghouse” ambience, of course.

From a One-Family Mansion to 17-Room Luxury at The Ivy

When Charles Carson, the architect behind Baltimore’s Grand Masonic Venue and Methodist Church, designed this Mount Vernon Mansion in 1889, he only had one person to please: John Gilman, a banker and industrialist in the city. Now, Gilman’s vision to build a house of “wealth, power and taste” lives on for organizers who want to introduce executive groups to the epitome of personalized service.

The Gilded Age Enters the New Age at the Kimpton Monaco

Rewind to 1906, and you would have met some of the most important members of the country’s most important industry at the time — railroads — right here at the B&O Railroad Headquarters, which was the city’s biggest employer until World War II. While it was the center of Baltimore’s hustle and bustle then, today, the Kimpton Monaco aims to help attendees find peace of mind with in-room yoga mats, nightly wine happy hours, and a luxurious spa.

Boutique Meeting Experiences Start With Boutique Venues

While there is heightened demand for face-to-face meetings and events, attendees now expect more from these encounters. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to build the entire experience from the ground up. A boutique hotel can help you introduce elements of outdoor ambience, foster a spirit of wellness and joie de vivre, transport them to a bygone time, and immerse them in a city’s cultural scene. In sum, they can help you to create shared memories that will form the foundation of stronger team bonds.

To learn more about all the unique venues, amenities, and attractions that Baltimore has to offer, go to the Visit Baltimore website.

This content was created collaboratively by Visit Baltimore and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.