“Meet and Retreat” – The Elms Hotel and Spa’s Approach to Stress-Free Meetings and Events


By Kaitlyn Wallace

Are you bored of bleak, boring, and outdated meeting spaces? Do you find yourself stressed and tense after a long day of presentations and networking, wishing you could find somewhere to relax? Or gazing out the window into a grim, corporate downtown?

Located in historic Excelsior Springs, the Elms Hotel and Spa provides the perfect alternative to dull, stress-inducing conferences as a venue ideal for mixing business and leisure. With 16 acres of outdoor grounds and a newly renovated expansive spa, the Elms Hotel provides the space for guests to “meet and retreat” in style, all while providing a vast array of meetings and events support and amenities. The Elms’ focus on wellness, stress relief, and positive experiences provides a unique and relaxing backdrop for all types of meetings and events.

The “Meet”

The Elms Hotel and Spa offers 11,000 square feet of restored meeting space, which includes a grand ballroom, an outdoor patio, an outdoor covered gazebo, and more. As Kara Harrington, Director of Sales and Marketing at the Elms Hotel, explains: “Our meeting options are more than just a ballroom with four walls. We have unique and unconventional spaces indoors and out, including our oval-shaped Grand Ballroom featuring high ceilings, a center skylight, and beautiful chandeliers. Our Regent Ballroom offers rustic elegance with hardwood floors, exposed timbers and a large stone fireplace. The huge windows and French doors offer an abundance of natural light, as well as views of the grounds and a private patio.”

EHS 0068 scaled

These elegant spaces are accompanied by a wide range of meeting and events amenities such as on-site catering (which can customize menus, arrange tastings, and accommodate any dietary restrictions), audio-visual support, and arrangements for off-site outings such as wine tastings and visits to personally-owned eateries. As Maria R. Davis, CMP, Director of Meetings and Partner Relations for Missouri REALTORS®, says of Missouri REALTORS®’ experience with the Elms Hotel and Spa: “The staff is very accommodating with even last-minute needs, including modifying menus for dietary requirements or guest room location requests due to mobility challenges. We appreciate their attention to detail.”

The wide variety of spaces available for meetings and events also allows for a sense of specificity and personalization that is usually unavailable in typical corporate meeting and events spaces. Arielle Seabra, Chief Marketing Officer for Goodcents Deli Fresh Subs, said the following of her experience with the event space at the Elms Hotel: “We were able to really leverage all of the spaces in the hotel. One of the things we really liked about the space was that there were two large breakout spaces that we could be in, so we could present in one room and have our vendors in another. Recreationally, we also ended up really enjoying their Tavern area; that was a big hit as well.”

The “Retreat”

The historic hotel features a variety of luxury spa and relaxation spaces including an expansive 25,000 square-foot spa, a private 5th floor Royal Lounge focused on wellness amenities, 16 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds and gardens, including an herb garden, and an indoor European lap pool. The spa offers a wide variety of services, including the Grotto (a modern twist on a Roman bath), a sauna, a steam room and a 24-hour fitness room. The Elms’ focus on “retreat” as a central aspect to their meetings allows a shift towards a more peaceful and inviting environment for meetings and events. Arielle Seabra emphasized this when speaking about the hotel, noting that “it’s a real strength of the Elms; it feels more personal and much less corporate. The retreat aspect definitely came through.”

Lap pool Elms scaled

The combination “meet and retreat” approach allows the Elms Hotel and Spa to bring to life a variety of unique event visions; in the past, planners have taken advantage of the Elms Hotel’s many amenities and comprehensive support staff to incorporate into their meetings and conferences morning yoga on the lawn, wellness breaks with chair massages, an opening cocktail reception in the outdoor gazebo with nearby yard games, and desserts and drinks by the fire pits. Maria R. Davis, CMP, speaking of Missouri REALTORS®’ yearly Leadership Academy (a 5-meeting series which kicks off at the Elms Hotel and Spa), says of the experiences arranged through the Elms: “the Ghost tour is a staple in the agenda as a great educational and networking event. This allows our participants to appreciate the history of the Elms Hotel and Spa since our REALTORS® enjoy learning about historical landmarks in the communities they live and visit.”

As Maria R. Davis, CMP, mentions, activities take place against the gorgeous background of historic Excelsior Springs. Located just 30 minutes from the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, Excelsior Springs brings a sense of historic tranquility to the grounds of the Elms Hotel and Spa. As Kara Harrington explains: “The town itself was founded upon mineral waters. People flocked into the area to take in the mineral water’s healing properties. The surrounding area includes quite a few unique mom and pop shops and antique shops. It’s a very quaint but small-town feel… It gives a feel of a getaway without travelling too far.”

2021 and Beyond

It is also worth mentioning that the Elms Hotel and Spa has some of the most comprehensive COVID-19 measures on record, including GBAC (Global Biorisk Advisory Council) STAR certification, HVAC UV air purification, and sanitizing foggers, as well as maintaining high sanitization, mask-wearing, and social distancing standards. Furthermore, with its expansive grounds and arching meeting spaces, the Elms Hotel and Spa is uniquely situated to fulfill the needs of planners and guests in the era of COVID-19. Social distancing is not only possible but incorporated with ease in spaces such as the Elms covered gazebo, private patios, pool deck, lawns, and Grand Ballroom. This easy availability is a happy opportunity to reduce planners’ and guests’ stresses about in-person meetings and health concerns.

Decoupling Stress and Business

In today’s culture of efficiency and productivity, it is easy to associate business, and in particular, large-scale meetings and events, with stress. However, as the Elms Hotel and Spa shows us, this does not always have to be the case. In a time of rising mental health concerns and decreased immune responses due to stress, perhaps it is time to begin to shift the perspective of the corporate world away from pressure and intensity and move towards a future of low-stress (and high productivity) corporate meetings and events– and the Elms Hotel and Spa aims to do just that.


Kaitlyn Wallace is a contributing writer/editor from St. Louis.

For 20+ years, the MEET family of products have provided regional and national resources that have kept corporate, association, medical, education, independent, and religious meeting and event planners informed about relevant vendors, industry news, tech innovations, and resources that impact and influence how and where they plan their group business.

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