by Astrid Zeppenfeld
Planning your next business event in the state of Missouri? Think Kansas City, lovingly referred to as the City of Fountains because it boasts the largest amount of city fountains in the country. Yes, at this time of the year, the weather may not be as warm and sunny as in the original città delle fontane in Italy, but it is nonetheless just as beautiful. And, if you decide to hold your event at the 21c Museum Hotel Kansas City, you are guaranteed to be made feel as special as if you had been invited to meet with the Pope in the Sistine Chapel personally. Except for, instead of looking at Michelangelo’s work, you will find yourself surrounded by contemporary art of the 21st century, which this venue is dedicated to collecting and exhibiting.
Night at the Museum (and Day, too!)
Step into the historic Savoy Hotel and Grill Building in the heart of Downtown Kansas City and you will find yourself and your event attendees transported into an amazing art world of history. “A museum hotel with a high-end restaurant that offers unique meeting room venues,” Gary Griggs, Director of Sales & Marketing, promises. “We call them galleries because our meeting rooms contain artwork displays which get changed out once a year,” Griggs explains, adding that “those meeting rooms are anything but boring.”
Your group can meet and discuss business in one of the galleries and then take a private tour of the property, just like you would take a tour of any museum. Well, like that, but you’re actually staying at a four-star/four-diamond boutique hotel with 120 guest rooms and 8,500 sq ft of meeting space. Two of the large galleries at the property can accommodate up to 175 guests.
Griggs explains, “We are not a big convention hotel; business planners utilize our venue for their small, important meetings. We do a lot of business with the entertainment market, corporate and financial businesses downtown here in Kansas City, and a lot of architecture and engineering firms enjoy holding their meetings here because the hotel was built 123 years ago. The Savoy is the oldest restaurant in Kansas City, and it has the old, really cool, dark wood of the neoclassical era. We have kept the history of the original Savoy Hotel intact; the rooms and everything else is all brand new. But the lobby still has the original dome and check-in counter.” He muses, “It’s quite spectacular because it honors the history of the hotel.”
Its history includes visits from many prominent figures over the last century, including President Harry S. Truman. He actually had a favorite booth at The Savoy, which is still commemorated in the historic lounge today.
These days, you would obviously have a hard time finding President Truman in the middle of dinner there, but other living celebrities do visit quite a bit. Aaron Young is a Category Analyst for Proctor & Gamble in Northwest Arkansas about 3.5 hours away. Young is in charge of team culture and, having been tasked with planning a – mostly fun and partly business – off-site event for 30-40 people, he exclaims that this venue was “the right choice for those needs.” About the event he held at the 21c Museum Hotel Kansas City, he says, “It was really cool; we got to see some celebrities that also stayed at the hotel. Don Cheadle was there, which was great. It added to letting our team know that this was a particularly cool place to be.”
Planning a Business Meeting at the 21c Museum Hotel Kansas City
As all meeting and event planners know, successful events have to be designed and orchestrated carefully, with a great amount of forethought going into each of the planning phases. Young explains, “Having planned some of these events before, one of the most stressful parts is booking with a hotel and working with the staff to accommodate such a large group. We have 30-40 people on our team and prefer everyone having their own room. So that’s a huge block to allocate for one group of people. We also have certain breakfast needs, as well as different things that we require, and it’s always a bit of a tense situation, making sure everything is perfect for that amount of people.” He continues, “I was pleasantly surprised with how seamless the planning and working with Bryan (Kitahara) and his team at 21c was. He made it carefree and easy, and he took care of us the best way possible.” Young jokes that “Bryan obviously has more experience than I do in these things”, adding that he was very impressed with the great suggestions Bryan had for the area and what he and his staff could do to make the stay even better for Young and his team. “He was extremely accommodating,” Young concludes and goes on to say that, when his team was asked about the experience at 21c Museum Hotel Kansas City after staying there, “everyone on the team loved, loved the hotel and gave it rave reviews.”
Off-Property Activity Options for Your Meeting Attendees
Asked about possible group outings for companies planning a multi-day event at the 21c Museum Hotel Kansas City, Gary Griggs is not worried that meeting attendees would get bored. He illustrates, “We have a great location; the new downtown Kansas City is a hot and happening spot. We are a block and a half from the streetcar, which is free and takes people to all the different districts in the city. From the Garment district, where we are located, to the Power & Light district with the new T-Mobile center and its many bars and restaurants. Then it goes on to the Crossroads area, which is all the art district, and continues on to the Crown Center. And then it will soon continue on to the Plaza.”
Kansas City offers so many great options for entertainment, both during the daytime and after your business is concluded for the day. And, if you and your attendees do not want to leave the venue, The Savoy lives up to its reputation of preparing delicious food with the freshest ingredients right in its high-end kitchen. Griggs sums up, “This way, you and your meeting attendees get restaurant-quality food in a banquet setting.”
Aaron Young and his team definitely took advantage of this during their 2-day stay at the property. Young describes, “We arrived there on a Tuesday afternoon, checked in with the hotel, and then went to a Royals game that evening. After the game, we came back and spent some time having wonderful drinks at The Savoy restaurant, which is also where we had breakfast the next day. Everyone had something different and everyone loved it.” He adds, “Just the ambiance of that room is great. It’s a museum hotel, so you’re going to get some really neat art aspects to everywhere you go on the property, but The Savoy specifically was very cool.” Young did not need a dedicated gallery for his event, but he says he appreciated very much that it was offered to them and when asked if he would hold a meeting in one of the galleries in the future, he immediately responded with a resounding, “Absolutely.”
Astrid Zeppenfeld is MEET magazines’ Senior Editor from St. Louis.