Unique Hotels: Are They Right for a Corporate Program?

As event planners, we know the right hotel can make or break a program. With so many to choose from—and each unique in its own way—matching clients to ideal hotels based on service level, group size, location, rates, and desired experience is a complex process.

Individual travelers now opt more for the “wow” factor when choosing a place to stay. Should corporate groups consider these same unique experiences?

Most people have heard of ICEHOTEL in Sweden, constructed entirely of ice, or Atlantis in Dubai, built partially underwater. But there are many more weird and wonderful options as well.

Before you go booking your next corporate retreat in a treehouse hotel, consider these tips from SHW’s site sourcing team:

Pros:

They can make for a very unique incentive experience. These are things you don’t normally see, so you will definitely have your VIP guests talking long after the trip is over. Hotels like these are architecturally fascinating, and are usually rooted in local culture and history. Take the Liberty Hotel in Boston for example. The Liberty Hotel was constructed inside of an old prison, and while the building was renovated to be a luxury hotel, it still features many original design elements.

They come with built-in experiences. What makes these hotels unique also lends itself to seamlessly built-in onsite activities for guests to enjoy. The Hotel La Cofradia in Tequila, Mexico, with guest rooms made of real tequila barrels, also offers tequila tastings and educational activities about the tequila making process.

The service is more customized in smaller hotels. A small group in a small 5-star hotel likely will get premier and customized service to make the stay memorable.  It’s important to look at the overall service level more than anything, but one plus to a smaller hotel is that they can customize service to your group more than a larger hotel.

Cons:

They may not appeal to all your guests. What makes these hotels unique also may turn off your guests, whether because of their preferences or because of personal fears. In Sweden’s ICEHOTEL, some people may prefer to stay out of the cold. On the other hand, an underwater hotel like Dubai’s Atlantis, or a hotel with guest rooms suspended on cranes like Amsterdam’s Crane Hotel Faralda, may drive away guests afraid of being underwater or afraid of heights. Consider who your guests are.

There are risks and limitations that come with these hotels. There’s inherent safety risks that come with checking into a room suspended in the air, and risk management is important to prepare for in all aspects of your program. These hotels can come with more common limitations, however. For example, hotels built in prisons, tend to have spotty Wi-Fi because of the thick walls. The same goes for hotels in remote locations.

They may not be used to working with groups. Some smaller, independent hotels don’t have a dedicated sales team, which makes it more difficult to plan a group trip, particularly if guests are flying in from various cities. Working with a professional site selection team can be a big help navigating these hurdles.

Check a few of our favorites:

Tequila Barrel

Matices Hotel de Barricas by La Cofradia

Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico

Tequila is one of Mexico’s “Pueblos Magicos,” famous for its expansive blue agave crops and tequila distilleries, and named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016. The Matices Hotel de Barricas takes the tequila experience a step further, with luxurious guest rooms built into giant tequila barrels.

ICEHOTEL

ICEHOTEL

Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Just north of the Arctic Circle, ICEHOTEL was founded in 1989 and built entirely out of ice. Each year the hotel was melted down during the warm months and reimagined by a collection of local artists during the winter. In 2016, they launched ICHOTEL 365, a permanent structure that features both “cold rooms” and “warm rooms” to choose from.

Treehouse Point

Treehouse Point

Issaquah, WA, United States

Treehouse Point is owned and operated by Nelson Treehouse, the company at the center of Animal Planet’s hit TV show “Treehouse Masters.” There are nine treehouses in total. Not looking to stay? Public guided tours are available as well.

Palacio de Sal

Palacio de Sal

Potosí, Bolivia

Palacio de Sal is the only hotel made entirely of salt—everything from walls, to floors, to decorative sculptures. The hotel pays tribute to its location on the banks of the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat.

The Liberty, A Luxury Collection Hotel

The Liberty, A Luxury Collection Hotel

Boston, MA, United States

When the Charles Street Jail was completed in 1851, it was home to some of Boston’s most notorious criminals. Renovated extensively to become the luxury hotel it is today, The Liberty has maintained many of its historical elements and offers historical tours for guests.

Dog Bark Park Inn

Dog Bark Park Inn

Cottonwood, ID, United States

This cozy bed and breakfast is truly one-of-a-kind built inside the world’s largest Beagle. The owners began by selling folk-art style wooden carvings of dogs, offering their sculptures in over 60 different breeds. The Dog Bark Park Inn was opened as a passion project later in 1997.

Crane Hotel Faralda

Crane Hotel Faralda

Amsterdam, Netherlands

This five-star hotel on the banks of the river IJ, was built inside of an extensively restored and remodeled crane. The hotel now offers multiple luxury suites, a penthouse jacuzzi overlooking the river, meeting and event space, and a state-of-the-art music studio.

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

Saariselkä, Finland

250 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, this village is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights. While they offer plenty of standard suites and private chalets, the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is best known for their glass igloos.

Wigwam Motel

Wigwam Motel

San Bernadino, CA, United States

This quirky spot in California’s Coachella Valley, right along the historic Route 66, was the inspiration behind the Cozy Cone Motel in Disney/Pixar’s film “Cars.” The collection of 19 teepees pays tribute to the Route 66 Culture made famous in the 1930s, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

Skylodge Adventure Suites

Skylodge Adventure Suites

Valle Sagrado, Cusco, Peru

Get a bird’s eye view in a transparent luxury capsule suspended from a mountain in the Sacred Valley of Peru. A stay at Skylodge Adventure Suites is designed to be a true escape into nature, featuring activities like hiking and ziplining led by certified guides.

Cave B Inn & Spa Resort

Cave B Inn & Spa Resort

Quincy, WA, United States

At the same latitude as the wine-growing regions in France, Cave B is a working farm and vineyard located on the cliffs above the striking Columbia River Gorge in Washington. The resort has a variety of unique accommodations for guests to choose from, including Desert Yurts, standalone Cliffhouses, or Cavern Rooms built directly into the cliff face.

Atlantis, The Palm

Atlantis, The Palm

The Palm, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

This expansive resort sits on the arc of The Palm in Dubai, the world’s largest man-made island. Named after the Lost City of Atlantis, the resort was built partially underwater, featuring underwater suites, an underwater restaurant, as well as a waterpark with an open shark lagoon.

Want to learn more? Let SHW help find the perfect destination for your next meeting or incentive trip. You can reach us at info@shworldwide.com, or through our online RFP tool.


Meet SHW's Site Selection Team

Cheryl Barnet

Cheryl Barnet, Senior Manager – Site Sourcing, Registration & Housing

Michelle Morin

Michelle Morin, Site Sourcing Specialist

Jill Bell

Jill Bell, Site Sourcing Specialist

Sibyl Adams

Sibyl Adams, Site Sourcing Coordinator