By Astrid Zeppenfeld
Can The Ritz-Carlton Get Even Ritzier?
The Show-Me State has many cool meeting venues and event properties to show for, but St. Louis’ ritziest place is, and will always be, The Ritz-Carlton (pun intended). And this wonderful venue never disappoints! Especially in recent years, as so many major enhancements have been taking place at the property – the Club Lounge remodel and Club Level rooms upgrades in 2019, shortly followed by upgrades to the remaining rooms, the transformation of The Restaurant and The Grill into the internationally acclaimed Casa Don Alfonso, the remodel of The Cigar Club, and the addition of The Bijou, as well as The Solarium indoor/outdoor meeting space, in 2020/21.
What’s new at The Ritz-Carlton, you ask? Actually, nothing. The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis just keeps delivering outstanding service and excellence, with beautifully understated elegance – day after day, year after year. Each of the Ladies and Gentlemen of The Ritz-Carlton welcomes the guest with a warm, genuine smile and greeting – as set forth in the Motto and Credo of the company, which every employee memorizes. “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen […] and the genuine comfort and care of our guests is our highest mission. We pledge to provide the finest personal service […] for our guests who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed yet refined, ambiance.”
Bleisure Meets Luxury
Christie Pink, Director of Sales and Marketing at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis posits, “Individuals are choosing destinations because of what they can experience. This is true for business meeting planners as well as the leisure traveler. We’ve got this amazing, acclaimed restaurant and beautiful meeting space; yet we are so close to all these cultural attractions. It’s not just the gracious hospitality, but there’s so much to do as well.” One of the many cultural options she points out is a self-guided walking tour of Clayton that takes visitors around to different art features.
Bleisure Travel is a term in everyone’s repertoire these days. And who could make it any fancier, dare we say “Ritzier”, than The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis? Meeting professionals from near and far have flocked to this venue for many reasons – chief among them the amazing ambiance and hospitality provided to both planners and attendees. Add to that the central location of Clayton, a uniquely picturesque suburb of already centrally located St. Louis, Missouri. Closer to St. Louis Lambert International Airport than Downtown St. Louis, but yet near to the bustling nightlife you’d expect from a “big small town” in the Midwest. This is where The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis is located. In the heart of it all, close to the second-largest municipal park in the entire country.
Don’t Forgo Visiting Forest Park
Coming into town for a multiple-day work event and having your family tag along? Did you know that, while you are busy attending to business, your family can walk or bike – courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton’s guest bikes – over to Forest Park to see the Saint Louis Zoo, visit the Art Museum or History Museum, and take a boat tour on the lake next to the Boathouse before dinner? If you’re not already at a team-building event playing golf in Forest Park, that is. The Ladies and Gentlemen of The Ritz-Carlton and the Concierge Team are happy to help curate any outside experiences event attendees are looking for. Pink illustrates, “We can do little picnic baskets, we’ve got bicycles people can take into Forest Park, we’re pet-friendly.”
While walking tours of the city and bicycling in the park may sound enticing to outdoorsy folks, The Ritz-Carlton offers plenty of indoor activities to all its guests as well. Pink suggests incorporating cooking classes at Casa Don Alfonso as a team-building event at your next meeting. “Bring your spouse, and while your spouse has nothing to do during the day, they can do a cooking class. In fact, bring your family and we’ve got kids’ versions of cooking classes also”, she proposes. IF you can get your kids out of those really cute tents the wonderful Ladies and Gentlemen set up for them in your room as their very own campout area, complete with felt fire pits and s’mores. Maybe to learn how to make perfect pasta or pizza while you are taking a class on cocktail-crafting or participate in a coffee-tasting of the specially imported espresso beans from Italy.
Meeting Planners Love The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis – For Good Reasons
Amy Ruebsam, CEO, Midwest Region and Executive Director of the Association for Corporate Growth St. Louis, holds events at the property once or twice a month. Ruebsam explains, “Our monthly breakfast series we do in the Amphitheatre space, where we invite a corporate president, CEO, or owner of a local business to tell their company’s growth story. We usually have about 100-130 people attend that. There is coffee and networking prior to the event.” When talking about other meetings she executes at The Ritz-Carlton, Ruebsam is proud to have been part of one of the first groups to have an event in The Solarium space. “The annual wine tasting was perfectly set in The Solarium,” she declares. “It’s such a pretty setting with all the vines, and they will remove those glass walls to expose the great backdrops of downtown Clayton.” She further elaborates, “We have a corporate peer group that meets bi-monthly at The Ritz-Carlton to share best practices and help and advise each other. Those meetings are on the second floor in the smaller meeting rooms because that’s a smaller, more intimate group. We typically have anywhere from 25-30 attendees.” The company’s annual DealSource in the Ballroom is one of their favorite events. Ruebsam explains, “It’s an opportunity for investment bankers and private equity firms to get together and meet for four hours of ‘speed dating’, to learn about each other and enter into business transactions.”
Shelli Thomson, CMP, Senior Director, Event Management at Equifax, echoes those sentiments, “The Solarium is a great event space in the spring and fall to host evening events and offers such a lovely ambiance and views that extra décor is not needed.” She adds, “Equifax Workforce Solutions often utilizes the Ballroom for larger sales meetings and the second-floor meeting space for smaller leadership meetings.”
Thomson is also a meeting planner who holds multiple events at the property every year. Adamantly, she states, “A strong partnership between hotel and meeting planner is a vital component in ensuring the success of a meeting or event. The best thing about The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis is the personalized service and attention to detail that the staff provides. When you are at The Ritz-Carlton, you know every minute detail is taken care of, and you can count on the Ladies and Gentlemen to successfully execute every directive with prompt responsiveness to any last-minute changes or requests. Moreover, the hotel offers comfortable and well-appointed guest rooms, a stellar restaurant, and a great meeting team. It’s always a win-win for both our attendees and our events team.”
Ruebsam couldn’t agree more, “The level of service there is unbelievable. They go out of their way to make us and our guests happy. Especially post-Covid, it seems like customer service is dead – except for there. People just want to feel taken care of and appreciated, and The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis is one of the few venues that works really hard to make sure that will happen.”
Astrid Zeppenfeld is a contributing writer from St. Louis.
Director of Sales and Marketing
100 Carondelet Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63105