By Stephen Lindsley
Business travelers can occasionally end up in some very exotic locations for a meeting. Whether the meeting is in Key Largo or Fiji, the landscape inside the meeting facility usually feels very similar to that in many other hotels on the planet. Tables, chairs, whiteboards, tepid glasses of water and hotel-branded pencils – it’s an all-too-familiar scenario. To friends and family it may sound glamorous to attend a business meeting in Fiji, but all too often businesspeople never even see all that sand and sunshine while attending all-day meetings. They return from tropical shores more pale and less rested than before they left. After years on the road, one meeting room looks very much like every other.
Well, St. Louis may not be as exotic as Fiji, but Clayton on the Park tucked away in downtown Clayton – a St. Louis suburb – is a rare exception to the curse of the homogenous meeting space.
Clayton on the Park was itself a novelty when it was conceived and built – a 23-story luxury high-rise that serves as both a hotel and residence. This concept,
widely accepted by Londoners and Manhattanites, initially eluded many in the St. Louis area.
At first, Clayton on the Park struggled to define itself, but soon it began to flourish with the arrival of its general manager, Micarl Hill. A native of California, Hill successfully managed a number of high-end and boutique hotels on the west coast, serving as VP of Operations for six Woodside Hotel and Resort properties. Hill also acted as general manager of the Clift and Huntington Hotels in San Francisco as well as the Sorrento Hotel in Seattle.
By focusing his management and marketing background on this unique property that mixes overnight guests with long-term residents, Hill created an elegant, cohesive experience for Clayton on the Park that quickly drew praise from both overnight guests and residents. Shortly thereafter, high-profile St. Louis Rams and Cardinals players began moving their families in for the season, and the word spread about the high level of customer service and personal attention Clayton on the Park delivers.
SOUNDS GREAT, BUT WHAT MAKES THIS MEETING SPACE SO SPECIAL?
When it came time to develop a meeting and event venue within Clayton on the Park, Hill and owner/developer Bob Saur wanted the facility to be a strong extension of the hotel’s overall philosophy.
“We really wanted it to reflect the values we already maintain,” says Hill. “The goal was to extend the existing elegant, boutique quality and add a wacky, unpredictable flavor. We knew we didn’t want an ordinary meeting space. When Bob (Saur) first viewed the proposed space, his initial comment was, ‘Hey, we could put garage doors in here!’”
And then there were three…garage doors, that is. In fact, all of them can be raised and lowered with the push of a button on the touch-sensitive video control panel behind the speaker’s dais. All the controls for the largest meeting room – including a pair of drop-down projection screens and two 42-inch flat screen televisions – can be accessed from a single panel.
Dubbed “A Place to Meet,” the venue contains a series of flexible and multi-functional spaces that can be configured for almost any imaginable small to mid-sized meeting’s requirements. The seven-foot steel and glass garage doors separate the largest room, which seats 50, from a reception area that can also accommodate extra seating for larger groups when the doors are open.
So, clearly this is no ordinary meeting space. Attendees enter the venue along a narrow vaulted hallway that extends from the hotel lobby. Overhead hangs a series of colorful vintage motorcycles on loan from a private collection.
The next pleasant surprise comes when you take your seat. Yet this seat is no ordinary seat. Every chair in Meeting Place One’s 1,825-square-foot main room is a fully adjustable Steelcase “Think” chair. By the end of the day you’ll be wishing you had one of these behind your desk in your own office. The tables have built-in plug-ins for laptop computers while numerous LAN jacks can be found conveniently located throughout. And yes, you can utilize wi-fi throughout the facility!
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!
If your smaller group requires a more intimate setting, A Place to Meet offers several options. Outside Meeting Place One is an open space with tables and chairs for breakout sessions … or just a break. Around the corner is a large counter area with waist-high maple cabinets, perfect for accommodating a snack or buffet lunch service.
Next to Meeting Place One appropriately enough sits Meeting Place Two. Organized in a theater-style arrangement, Meeting Place Two accommodates up to 18 attendees and features comfortable lounge chairs with foldaway mini-desks that stow in the chair arms. A state-of-the-art Bose sound system and overhead projection equipment make this space ideal for multi-media presentations. The large etched phrase “THINK OUT-OF-THE-BOX” on the window adjacent to the door encourages non-linear thinking.
Up next, Meeting Place Three. Often arranged in a traditional U-shaped boardroom table configuration, this flexible 590-square-foot room can be reorganized to seat up to 50. At the far end of the room a large maple cabinet conceals a multi-media center.
Two smaller rooms, adjacent to Meeting Place Three, serve as virtual offices or small meeting rooms. One of the two spaces contains a conference table and seating for five while the other features a desk and chair, computer and printer. The names of the rooms are simply yet whimsically designated, the “Office on the Right” and the “Office on the Left.”
Paula Miller, an accountant at Digital Partners, Inc., has planned several events at Clayton on the Park. DPI is a technology integration firm specializing in advertising, graphics and printing. Miller says they keep going back to Clayton on the Park because of the staff’s courteous, first-class service and because the facility perfectly suits their needs. “Our clients are always very excited when they first enter the Meeting Place facility,” says Miller. “We always hear things like, ‘Wow! What an amazing space! This is really cool!’ Not only is the facility unique and eye-catching,” says Miller, “but it is very functional and comfortable.” Her firm’s out-of-town visitors have become regular guests of the hotel, making meetings there even more convenient.
WHAT? YOU WANT SOMETHING EVEN MORE UNIQUE?
Ordinarily that would be a tall order, but Clayton on the Park boasts a number of different environments that serve well as meeting and event spaces. First up is the relatively new Finale Music and Dining venue developed by Bob Saur, Contemporary Productions’ Steve Schankman, and Ted Geiger of St. Louis restaurants J. Buck’s and Fuzio. The 6,000-square-foot space splits its personality between fine dining and contemporary music that compliment each other beautifully. First, there is an elegant 75-seat restaurant that overlooks nearby Shaw Park. It can easily accommodate a large group, whether for a private reception or sit-down dining. Additionally, the Wine Room – housing the restaurant’s wine selection amid dark wood appointments – can be used for a smaller gathering of up to 12.
The other side of the space belongs to St. Louis’ newest music venue, a 122-seat club with a generous stage. If your event plans include a company talent show, a light-hearted version of Mutiny on the Bounty or even a roast for your curmudgeonly CEO, Finale provides the perfect setting.
Finally, Clayton on the Park’s Rooftop Veranda crowns this fabulous, contemporary, 23-story high-rise. Its spectacular views of downtown Clayton, Shaw Park and many points beyond create an inviting setting for a cocktail reception or similar event. A small indoor foyer greets visitors as they step off the elevator, which opens onto a large, immaculately landscaped terrace that is especially stunning at sunset.
MIX AND MATCH MEETING SPACES
With such a broad range of venue options, configurations and functions, A Place to Meet at Clayton on the Park appeals to groups of various types and sizes, while a variety of spaces throughout the property offer many alternative meeting choices. The experienced staff, including Director of Sales Robyn Mitchell, can accommodate the needs of meeting planners, caterers and groups large and small. Robyn and the staff of Clayton on the Park take nothing for granted, and their attention to detail and impeccable service set them apart. So the next time you think you need to go to Fiji to impress a meeting group, think again. Clayton on the Park, located in St. Louis, offers exceptional meeting spaces that certainly depart from the ordinary. MM&E
(Stephen Lindsley is a contributor from St. Louis, MO.)
Clayton on the Park | A Place to Meet
8025 Bonhomme Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63105