By Kristi Ruggles
The “pardon our dust” signs that appeared in late 2007 have disappeared. The occasional buzz of power tools is merely a memory. What remains at the Sheraton Clayton Plaza in St. Louis are brighter guest rooms, cozier event spaces, a high-tech fitness center and a business center that incorporates a bit of fun.
This hotel and event venue in the heart of Clayton has been a Sheraton since 1999, but this rehab is a wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor job that includes every guest room.
Every bathroom has a new floor, new vanity, new shower and other key new features. Every room has new furniture, drapes, plasma-screen TV, bedding, lamps and much more. The rooms sport a bright, breezy look.
The event spaces, on the other hand, have moved toward the subdued. The walls are earthier tones. The hotel has softened the ballroom spaces by adding sconces and new chandeliers. More lighting options allow for just the right feel for both the evening social hours and the breakout sessions during the business day.
The changes greet guests at the door. The lobby features new carpet, new or reupholstered furniture, and hand rails that are brass and glass. Of course, the fresh flowers that are a Sheraton signature remain.
“We wanted to freshen it up,” says Rob Cardwell, director of marketing and sales for the Sheraton Clayton Plaza. “We wanted to make it more contemporary and enhance the guest experience.”
Two key pieces in that enhanced guest experience are The Links, a new business center concept, and a fitness program sponsored by Core Performance. Both services will become standard at Sheratons everywhere.
The Links is a Microsoft-powered business center that offers computer stations and hook-ups off the lobby lounge. The set-up offers a hybrid professional/social work space where guests can tend to their business, get online for free, snack on appetizers, sip a cocktail and enjoy the sights and sounds humming through the hotel lobby.
Of course, the Sheraton continues to offer laptop hook-ups and fee-based wireless Internet access in each guest room.
For the health-conscious guest, Sheratons are rolling out a focus on fitness that goes beyond a bigger and better-equipped fitness center. Guests will also receive information about what’s on the menu from the hotel’s food and beverage department, with nutritional information and tips on food choices. For swimmers, the hotel offers a year-round indoor pool that is bigger than most hotel pools.
The Sheraton Clayton Plaza offers several options for event planners. The hotel has more than 18,000 square feet of event space that can be configured into 13 meeting rooms. Among these rooms are:
• Fleur de Lys Ballroom, an 83’ x 58’ space that accommodates 80 for a conference, 240 for a classroom and 500 for a reception. The ballroom breaks into two smaller spaces as well.
• Grand Ballroom, an 81’ x 39’ space that fits 75 for a conference, 200 set up as a classroom and 400 for a reception.
• Executive Boardroom, a 20’ x 29’ room with a wood conference table and other wood furniture, and comfy executive chairs. The table seats 14.
• A series of gallery spaces that can be arranged to meet the needs of several mid-sized groups. Details are available at www.sheratonclayton.com.
Groups booking events at the Sheraton Clayton Plaza can expect to work with a convention services manager who serves larger groups and overnight groups, or one of two catering managers who tend to details associated with meetings and events.
The manner in which they tend to those details impresses their clients. Michele Stallmann, CEO assistant at Solae LLC, describes the service at Sheraton Clayton as “gold standard.”
Solae, a St. Louis-based, global researcher and manufacturer of soy products, recently held two three-day meetings at the Sheraton, hosting the company’s leadership team from around the world.
“The staff absolutely raises the bar in customer service,” Stallmann says. “They made sure our events went off without a hitch. The audio-visual professional, the sales manager, the event coordinator, every person we encountered was wonderful.”
The hotel has a contract with Swank Audio Visuals and an on-staff Swank professional. Cardwell said groups also are allowed to bring in their own audio-visual equipment.
The food and beverage department handles in-house catering for events and meetings. In rare cases, such as a social event requiring a kosher kitchen, groups who book events at the Sheraton Clayton may use a service other than the hotel’s food and beverage department.
Guests enjoy covered parking, complimentary shuttle service to the airport and nearby St. Louis Galleria Mall, quick access to the city’s MetroLink system, and the charm of hosting an event in Clayton.
“We’re in the heart of where business is done,” Cardwell says. “We’re close to banks, law firms, Forbes companies and Fortune 500 companies. We’re close to fun, too. We are within walking distance of more than 75 shops and restaurants, so guests don’t have to worry about renting a car or getting a cab. It’s safe and lively; there’s always something to do.”
The Sheraton is a popular spot among associations, Cardwell says, as well as groups offering training.
Last year, the 258-room hotel was sold out and hosting two groups for simultaneous four-day meetings. One group was there for a corporate bio-tech meeting, the other for a state-sponsored training program for recent high school graduates.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” says Cardwell, “serving the needs of two such different events, but organizers for both groups were just really appreciative. Everyone walked away raving.”
Of course, as a Sheraton, the hotel participates in the Starwood Preferred Guest program, which means that frequent guests to Starwood properties earn privileges when they stay. On the 14th floor at the hotel in Clayton, there soon will be a space exclusive to preferred guests that offers breakfast, snacks, cocktails and a lovely view of the metro area.
The Sheraton Clayton Plaza, although it has been a fixture since 1999, is bringing something new to the meeting and event scene in the St. Louis metro area. Find out more at www.sheratonclayton.com. To schedule your event, contact Rob Cardwell at (314) 719-4304 or [email protected]. MM&E
(Kristi Ruggles is a contributor from St. Louis, Mo.)
At a Glance
Type of Facility:
Group size that this facility is willing/able to accommodate:
Type of Cuisine:
Number of meeting rooms:
Number of guest rooms:
The Link powered by Microsoft, complimentary Internet site in lobby lounge, complimentary airport transportation, newly renovated sleeping rooms and public space
Are group rates/discounts available?
Is the facility disabled accessible?
$109-$199 per room night, plus tax