The Hollywood event business is back in style, but as guest expectations evolve, planners are tasked with tweaking their playbooks to create an equally positive experience for all attendees.
These accommodations range from welcoming differently-abled guests, serving food that accommodates participants’ wide range of dietary restrictions, to offering sophisticated and elegant non-alcoholic beverages and noise-free bars, to creating quiet spaces for guests with less sensory needs. stimulation
Everyone agrees that effective customer communication and advance preparation is what sets events apart.
“The answer is never no,” says Jacquelyn Cryan, senior director of events at Botanical Hospitality Group, the company behind West Hollywood’s EP and LP (where Apple TV+ celebrated “Loot”) and Hollywood’s Grandmaster Recorders. Catering menus are all adaptable. “We are aware that there is an option available for everyone, there are many ways we can change the menus.”
“Vegan has moved mainstream,” says Gina Wade, head of private events at Aster in Hollywood. Gluten-free requests are anticipated and fulfilled; For a sit-down dinner, Wade expects a spreadsheet of dietary restrictions, allergies and preferences in advance.
“Holiday parties feel smaller this year,” he says, and customers can book a four-course dinner with wine pairings rather than a big bash. “Because we’ve been home for so long, people want to have conversations, they want to interact, and people want an intimate experience with well-prepared food.”
Creative food styles are served alongside personalized menus at the Four Seasons Los Angeles. “There are kid-friendly setups for grown-up food stations with whimsical touches,” says director of catering Jennifer Rebello. Tater Tots served on miniature trees and elaborate fruit and pastry carts with pops of color for the morning combo are two final examples of the hotel’s famously imaginative details.
Innovative non-alcoholic beverages are also gaining attention. “We make sure we have great options, from mixers to botanical cocktails,” says Cryan of the non-alcoholic party drink trend. “The rush is that guests shouldn’t feel any different than anyone else at the event, enjoying a different option.”
“People want to feel and look like they’re having a drink, but they’re not having a ‘drink,'” says Eric Weiner, senior director of event sales at the SLS Beverly Hills Hotel. Corporate events at SLS these days often start with a signature mocktail rather than a hearty one, he believes.
Upstairs at Heimat on La Brea Avenue (RSG Group’s new gym and clubhouse, next level), 5,000 pink and aqua colored sq.ft. Chef Michael Mina’s restaurant Mother Tongue serves a Zero Degree passionfruit margarita. The hero ingredient is the Spirit of Tequila from Free Spirits, which created a full line of non-alcoholic bourbons, gins and other pours. Wellness forward is just one of the restaurant’s house non-alcoholic drinks.
Mother tongue outdoor seating is multi-colored and ready for all seasons; the new eatery joins a growing list of stylish indoor/outdoor venues. Aster offers a sixth-floor Hollywood deck and Lemon Grove restaurant patio (open to non-members). In downtown Los Angeles, the Conrad Los Angeles’ lobby, terrace and San Laurel restaurant overlook Frank Gehry’s iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall.
“It’s an incredible experience to be looking at the skyline, to have that vibrancy,” says Stephanie Leavitt, director of sales and marketing for the eighth-floor spaces at the Conrad Los Angeles hotel, which can be transformed for events. For the LA Phil gala, the hotel’s entire eighth floor and pool deck were transformed into an after-party for 350 people.
“We’ll take any idea, jump in and try it,” he says of the luxury hotel’s event staff’s willingness to test the boundaries of traditional event spaces.
Activations, food service and flow are reviewed at the macro and micro levels for fair guest experiences, says Marissa Kiersch, vice president of brand and experience at 15|40 Prods, reflecting the industry’s evolution toward inclusivity. The company produced November Pier benefiting UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, where inclusivity created an event where all guests could participate in a day of board games and rides. Event planning in Hollywood continues to shape and is only limited by the imagination.
Check out these new and convenient Los Angeles event spaces for intimate functions:
Downtown Los Angeles
Conrad Los Angeles
Frank Gehry’s striking architecture gives the 305-room Conrad Los Angeles hotel an Instagram-worthy look. Its state-of-the-art Grand Park Ballroom is the newest in the city. A dedicated elevator leads directly to the eighth floor lobby and outdoor terrace. Four connected conference rooms are entered through their own entrance. Food and beverage is handled by the Jose Andres Group, which also oversees the hotel’s lively restaurants, San Laurel and the fully open-air Agua Viva. Presidential suites double as bookable venues with outdoor terraces for meetings or dining for up to 15 people.
100 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles
Members-only Aster officially launched in July at the corner of Hollywood and Vine. There are numerous event spaces and options in the six-story building, including a rooftop bar lounge and Lemon Grove restaurant (open to the public) led by chef Marcel Vigneron. There is a 35-room boutique hotel (open to non-members) and a 40-seat plush cinema and nearby club lounge for post- or pre-show events. There is also a cabaret room with a stage, green room and light and sound systems.
1717 Vine St., Los Angeles
Mid-City Los Angeles
Mother Tongue’s versatile outdoor terrace was transformed into a greenhouse for the launch of Katy Perry’s De Soi – her line of sparkling non-alcoholic aperitifs. Combining the product line and the site made perfect sense as Mother Tongue (above Heimat gym and private club) specializes in a pre-fitness menu of healthy, natural ingredients. The patio and bar are especially weatherproof with a permanent canopy and built-in heat lamps; Pink booths and aquamarine tile add to the tropical vibe.
960 N. La Brea Ave., 4th Floor, Los Angeles
near Beverly Hills
Garden Room and Terrace at the SLS Hotel
This space is a bright indoor/outdoor pavilion with a tiled floor, lots of natural light, large mirrors and a remote-controlled retractable roof. Fully climate controlled, the space demands its flexibility and indoor/outdoor flow. There is a separate entrance from the laundry room so guests can skip the hotel lobby. The hotel is renewing its public spaces: the new buzz is the Wasp and the Wig, a hidden bar with a speakeasy atmosphere. The hotel’s white Albert ballroom and first-floor conference rooms open onto a dedicated terrace for more outdoor space.
465 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles
Gucci Osteria is Massimo Bottura
On a street dedicated to stunning looks, Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura takes dining and decor to exclusive heights above the Gucci store. The interior of the showroom is reminiscent of a magnificent Italian villa. There is also plenty of greenery and the roof opens when the weather permits. Chef Mattai Agazzi’s cuisine is as rare as the decor. Standout dishes are insalata di mare and a playful “pizza” of camouflaged risotto. Creative desserts and breads are made in-house; the wine list includes rare vintages and unique varieties from boutique producers. Event organizers often book a full buyout (50 people) for lunch or dinner. Outside catering (such as for the LACMA Art + Film gala dinner) is available.
347 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills
Penthouse Suite, Beverly Wilshire
Located on the 14th floor of the Beverly Wing at the Beverly Wilshire (Four Seasons Hotel), this completely renovated three-bedroom penthouse suite boasts sweeping views, a spacious terrace and an elegant dining room. The apartment-sized suite features a show kitchen, matching marble tile flooring the size of a small studio, and a separate room. Catering is available at Wolfgang Puck’s CUT, the hotel’s BLVD, or in-house dining.
9500 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills