lived at for a week hosted a meeting at the Skirvin Hilton in Oklahoma City. I had been there for a site visit in July and now after getting much more intimately acquainted with the property, I wanted to share my thoughts.
To begin, let me just say that our meeting was a small conference with about 45 participants. The hotel was one of several properties in a room block for a much larger conference (750 participants) in the days immediately following our event, with some overlap, and they hosted a few events on site as well. We knew this going into the meeting, and we positioned our event where we did because many of our attendees (about half) were also attending the larger conference. If you are a regular reader of my blog (thank you!) you may surmise that this situation was what prompted me to write When your meeting is a small fish in a big pond.
Overall, I had an above average experience as a guest of the hotel (I was literally there for a week), and an average experience as a meeting planner.
The space worked out beautifully for our meeting. We used the Venetian Room on the historic 14th floor for our general session for two days. The room is gorgeous with a ton of natural light. I was pleased with how it worked out:
We used the Continental Room (also on the 14th Floor) for lunch both days. The first day we had the buffet in the foyer but that didn’t work out for our group because everyone hit it at once and there were long lines. We moved the buffet into the room for the second lunch, allowing for dual lines, and there was still plenty of room for 50 people.
We also used the Continental Room for a sponsored reception at the larger conference. This worked out well. We had about 75 guests and it was the perfect size.
For the opening reception we used the Hilton HHonors Lounge, which was a nice space with existing lounge furniture.
We then used the Crystal Room for dinner, which was lovely. Both of these rooms are on the 2nd floor.
The food and beverage…
I would say that overall, the Skirvin’s banquet food was above average for an upscale hotel. It was much much better than the Convention Center food (more on that in a different post). We ended up doing all buffets instead of plated meals because the hotel doesn’t offer tableside choice, even for an upcharge (which I hate). I really prefer to offer a choice of entree for smaller groups. The hors d’oeuvres were mostly excellent – I particularly liked the brucschetta, which was much better than most I’ve had at catered events. It was actually an unpopular choice with our guests (I understand – as it can be difficult to eat) which led me to consume much more of it than I should have (hey – we already paid for it!).
Their standard menu offered some interesting choices – such as a soup, salad and potato bar as a lunch buffet, which got rave reviews from our guests.
I would also like to mention that the bacon in the breakfast buffet was perfectly cooked, as we all know that’s incredibly important for starting your day off right.
So this is where my opinion of the Skirvin falls a bit. The service wasn’t bad at all. It just wasn’t stellar. It’s not the worst service I’ve experienced as a meeting planner, but it was also far from the best.
This is not to say that there weren’t some shining stars – I was particularly impressed with our banquet staff for the reception in the Continental Room, especially as they managed to track down a bottle of wine that I hadn’t requested on the BEOs but needed (they could have easily said no). That banquet manager was amazing – she checked in as often as necessary, I found her whenever I needed her, and she checked in at the end of the event to see how things went.
Those who plan meetings regularly should have read the above paragraph and thought – but isn’t what they should all do? Ideally yes, but we didn’t get that kind of service for most of the rest of the meeting. It was often difficult to find staff and there were a few things we had to ask for multiple times.
I won’t belabor this (you can read more thoughts here) but I wasn’t blown away. Maybe I’m just spoiled by working with other hotels in the past who have really embodied a sense of hospitality and gone above and beyond to make sure my meeting was flawless.
The valets, however, were great.
I covered the rooms in my previous post. The hotel was certainly comfortable enough, especially for my week long stay. I did pull a bit of a diva move on my first night and ask to be moved. My colleague and I arrived a day ahead of everyone else (Saturday night) and there were two weddings that evening so the hotel was completely sold out and we were both given accessible rooms. Normally I wouldn’t care, but look at this picture of the closet and tell me what you would have done if you are like me and wear mostly dresses on business travel?
They were able to move me to a standard king the next morning, which was much better.
Overall it was a perfectly fine experience. Given the market in Oklahoma City I would still choose the Skirvin again over the other options, namely the Renaissance attached to the Convention Center or the Sheraton. The only other hotel we considered was the Colcord, another historic property, but they were unavailable for our dates.
Have you been to the Skirvin? What did you think?