Examining the Purpose of Meetings

By Andy Dolce Founder, Chairman & Managing Partner, Dolce International | October 28, 2008

The way in which we conduct business today has truly evolved. From e-mail and instant messenger to telecommuting, teleconferencing and virtual world meetings, these modern day tools allow executives to go a full day without a face-to-face encounter.

While on-site meetings will always be an integral part of many businesses, the focus is becoming as much about building relationships as it is about learning. And with good reason. Personal relationships will always play a vital role in many industries and for these industries, networking and relationship building will always be a top priority.

Today's meeting planners have a lot more to consider than just booking sleeping quarters, outfitting seminar rooms with multimedia equipment and ergonomic chairs and organizing group meals. Meeting groups now require the latest in technology (Wi-Fi is a must), entertainment and amenities while also demanding the latest in comfort, cuisine and last but not least, an inspirational setting where business and bonding can be conducted in every corner.

The setting plays a huge role in creating a relaxing environment for learning and networking alike. A comfortable, peaceful environment, free from distractions, needs to also offer amenities and post-meeting activities that help attendees feel relaxed and special no matter what job title they carry.

At Dolce International, we found that inspiration comes from settings that draw energy and focus from natural elements and the environment, which are all integrated into unique design features at several of our properties. At Dolce La Hulpe Brussels for example, guests look out at 1,700 acres of forest from an open-floor design with floor-to-ceiling windows. Contemporary European design, modern furnishings, smart technologies and the integration of indigenous materials stimulate interaction with the stunning natural backdrop. The use of natural light adds energy to the space and allows attendees to feel a part of the great outdoors which is a nice change from traditional gray conference rooms.

Another example can be found at Dolce's Aspen Meadows Resort which features an environmentally friendly design that incorporates natural materials and cutting-edge building technologies. Nestled into the Rocky Mountains, this innovative new property incorporates flowing water, stone floors, an outdoor fireplace and awe-inspiring mountain vistas throughout the property all of which help stimulate the brain.

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Hotel Spa: Oasis Unplugged

The driving force in current hotel spa trends is the effort to manage unprecedented levels of stress experienced by their clients. Feeling increasingly overwhelmed by demanding careers and technology overload, people are craving places where they can go to momentarily escape the rigors of their daily lives. As a result, spas are positioning themselves as oases of unplugged human connection, where mindfulness and contemplation activities are becoming increasingly important. One leading hotel spa offers their clients the option to experience their treatments in total silence - no music, no talking, and no advice from the therapist - just pure unadulterated silence. Another leading hotel spa is working with a reputable medical clinic to develop a “digital detox” initiative, in which clients will be encouraged to unplug from their devices and engage in mindfulness activities to alleviate the stresses of excessive technology use. Similarly, other spas are counseling clients to resist allowing technology to monopolize their lives, and to engage in meditation and gratitude exercises in its place. The goal is to provide clients with a warm, inviting and tranquil sanctuary from the outside world, in addition to also providing genuine solutions for better sleep, proper nutrition, stress management and natural self-care. To accomplish this, some spas are incorporating a variety of new approaches - cryotherapy, Himalayan salt therapy and ayurveda treatments are becoming increasingly popular. Other spas are growing their own herbs and performing their treatments in lush outdoor gardens. Some spa therapists are being trained to assess a client's individual movement patterns to determine the most beneficial treatment specifically for them. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.