Down by the River: A sea of meeting options at a singular St. Louis waterfront hotel

September 1, 2010

FF Millennium

By Julia M. Johnson

The current century is only a decade old, but the Millennium Hotel St. Louis has spent much of that time updating its facilities and offerings in ways any meeting planner can appreciate. The Millennium’s show-stopping views of the Gateway Arch and St. Louis riverfront haven’t changed, but its guest rooms and meeting spaces have undergone significant enhancements in recent years. Planners will find the hotel’s large selection of elegant, reconfigurable meeting spaces in direct proportion to its ample dining and beverage options. Known for its 28-story cylindrical guestroom tower, the 780-room Millennium is a distinctive fixture on the St. Louis skyline. Amy Zentgraf, marketing manager for the property, talks about some of its most meeting-friendly features.

Space for just about anything
There aren’t many types of meetings the Millennium’s 65,000 square feet of function space can’t handle, says Zentgraf. And the bulk of that space is on the hotel’s lower conference level, making it easy for groups to move around yet stay connected. The Millennium’s 20,800-squarefoot Grand Ballroom, refurbished in 2008, can hold up to 3,000 guests and also can be airwalled into four smaller rooms. Laid out in a unique oval shape, the ballroom features 22-foot ceilings, sparkling chandeliers and wall sconces, considerable prefunction space, and a built-in stage. “The lighting fixtures lend a very elegant feel,” says Zentgraf. “And we can put down a dance floor for groups who need it.” Nearby is the hotel’s 7,000 squarefoot Jefferson Ballroom, which Zentgraf says can be partitioned into six smaller rooms. “This space can serve as a theater with seating and a stage, and we can add a dance floor here as well,” she says. There’s 15,000 square feet of adjoining exhibit hall space, which can accommodate up to 80 eight-by-ten-foot booths. A dock and bay door make access to this space easy, and pipe and drape are available for groups setting up tables. And breakout space is available in a number of layouts, according to Zentgraf. “Smaller groups often use our boardroom, which features leather executive chairs,” she adds. “And we have atrium rooms on our lobby level that accommodate up to 35 people. Those are a good choice for groups who need private space away from the conference crowd.” After the Grand Ballroom’s facelift in 2008, the hotel decided to refurbish the rest of its meeting spaces as well; the latter project was completed in late 2009. New carpet, lighting, and wallpaper treatments were part of the plan. Guest rooms now feature modern fixtures and finishes, and a light, warm color scheme.

Food , glorious food
Dining takes on sky-high dimensions at the Millennium. Its crown jewel is the Top of the Riverfront, downtown St. Louis’ only revolving restaurant. Situated on the 28th floor of the guest tower, the unique restaurant offers ever-changing views of the St. Louis skyline, day and night. “The restaurant makes a full circle every 90 minutes,” Zentgraf explains. “If you’ve never been to St. Louis before, it’s like having your own revolving tour guide.” There are also the Fourth Street Grill, Martini’s Lounge and the Palm Court Café for guests who want choices closer to ground level. And there are a number of downtown restaurants nearby for those wishing to go offcampus, Zentgraf says. Executive chef George O’Neil and his team can accommodate a range of cuisines and special diets, including meals for people with allergies and gluten-free needs. Clients such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation often request special dietary accommodations, and the culinary staff is always happy to oblige, according to Zentgraf.

Menu of amenities
The hotel is sensitive to meeting planners’ growing “green” awareness, and it’s evident in several ways. The kitchens use as much locally grown food as possible, and groups can order wines from vineyards that plant a tree for every bottle purchased. There’s a towel and linen reuse policy in effect; recycling bins are available for meetings; and low-energy light bulbs and bamboo hangers further demonstrate the hotel’s environmental commitment. A flyer on the hotel’s full Green Program is available from conference staff. “Even our keycards are recycled plastic,” Zentgraf says. “So you’re starting out green the minute you enter your room.” High-speed Internet is available at the Millennium, and there are indoor and outdoor pools, a whirlpool, fitness room and business center as well. St. Louisbased Swank Audio Visuals has staff at the hotel full-time to serve groups’ equipment needs. Laundry and valet services are offered on-site, and there’s an ATM inside the hotel. Specially outfitted rooms are available for disabled guests.

What planners want

The Millennium’s event client list is a varied one. Pharmaceutical meeting organizers appreciate the privacy of its boardroom and atrium rooms, and religious, educational and corporate groups enjoy its proximity to Busch Stadium, the Gateway Arch and numerous other downtown attractions. “We’re an ideal location for gatherings of baseball, Mississippi River and Route 66 enthusiasts,” Zentgraf says. Recent groups have included the Dream Girls USA Pageant, St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame, Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society, U.S. Department of Defense, and the National Association of Government Webmasters – many of whom book several hundred room nights at a time. “Everything we need, the Millennium staff offers with a smile,” says DeWitt Scott, president of St. Louis-based Scotty’s Music, and Scotty’s International Steel Guitar Convention, which has been held at the Millennium property for a number of years.

“The room rates are reasonable, and the hotel is very accommodating of our needs,” Scott says. “Our convention includes 3,000 attendees over three days, and features musical performances and parties. We often bring in big-name entertainers such as Dolly Parton and Barbara Mandrell, and the Millennium staff always attends to their needs.”

Jay Hughes, associate executive director of the Jefferson City-based Missouri Baptist Convention, echoes Scott’s sentiments. “We’ve always had great experiences booking meetings at the Millennium,” Hughes says. “Our annual convention includes 1,500 to 2,000 people over three days. It’s a big group, but staff members always find ways to show they really want us there. “One year, we were involved in another church event that had 40,000 people coming in to various hotels in St. Louis, and someone asked if I could approach my connection at the Millennium to provide some last-minute space for a phone bank,”  Hughes says. “The hotel staff responded quickly with a section of the ballroom, where we were able to set up tables and telephones. They go out of their way, even for unexpected needs.” “I’d recommend the Millennium to any group,” notes Scott. “The staff always gives 110 percent.”   MM&E

(Julia M. Johnson is the Assistant Editor from St. Louis, Mo.)

Contact Information :
Amy Zentgraf, Marketing Manager
Millennium Hotel St. Louis

200 S. Fourth Street
St. Louis MO 63102
(314) 241-9500
[email protected]

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