the skirvin hilton in oklahoma city

hilton skirvin | amanda jayne events blog

I had the opportunity to visit Oklahoma City for a site visit last week – it was my first time in Oklahoma. What a quaint little city! No offense to Oklahomans, but I’m from New York and I live in the Washington, DC area so OKC definitely seems “quaint” to me. But in the middle of downtown Oklahoma City is a hotel full of history and charm – the Skirvin Hilton.

The hotel dates back to 1911 and is named after its original owner. From the moment you walk into the Skirvin you can tell that it’s special. It’s probably the most unique Hilton I’ve ever been in – in a good way. My colleague, Christina, said it was just like walking into The Great Gatsby. The lobby was full of red velvet and plush (a tribute to Mr. Skirvin’s daughter, Perle Mesta who would go on to be the US Ambassador to Luxembourg) and it smelled amazing. It reminded me of how Kimptons always have interesting scents.

The Gatsby-esque Lobby:

hilton skirvin | amanda jayne events blog

Fancy elevators:

hilton skirvin | amanda jayne events blog

The room

I was in a king standard room which was very comfortable. There was a desk and chair plus an armchair. The decor was a bit darker than you find in most modern hotels, but it worked perfectly with the historic vibe.

hilton skirvin | amanda jayne events blog

hilton skirvin | amanda jayne events blog

My favorite part of the room was the blanket with the Skirvin Hilton story. I love tributes to a property’s history!

hilton skirvin | amanda jayne events blog

The bathroom was nice – I liked the terrycloth shower curtain but I’m probably just weird like that. I appreciated the nicer than average robes as well.

hilton skirvin | amanda jayne events blog

hilton skirvin | amanda jayne events blog

My only complaint was the room was SO COLD and I couldn’t find a thermostat to adjust. I could have called to ask about it but I didn’t – I just used the cold as an excuse to cuddle up under the blankets and fall asleep earlier than I intended while binge-watching HGTV.

The meeting space

Here is where the Skirvin really shines. Much of the meeting space in the hotel is perfectly aligned with its historic character – even the newer space has great detail.

My favorite room was the Venetian Ballroom on the top floor (14th). The room was original to the hotel and is on the historic register. There are windows on all four sides overlooking the city. It has carpet now instead of the original floor but that’s better for acoustics anyway. The room just feels historic and I love that!

hilton skirvin | amanda jayne events blog

Also on the 14th floor was the Continental Room which was smaller but also had some great views.

hilton skirvin | amanda jayne events blog

The 2nd floor of the hotel had some smaller rooms, such as the Crystal Room, and then the back of the hotel (the most recent addition, I understand) has the two ballrooms. Even though these are interior ballrooms without natural light, they felt at once modern but with an homage to the historic roots of the property.

The Hilton HHonors Lounge (which is available for meeting and event use):

hilton skirvin | amanda jayne events blog

A section of the ballroom:

hilton skirvin | amanda jayne events blog

I absolutely adored the grand entrance with the Skirvin “S” shaped chandelier. It would be an amazing entranceway and place for wedding pictures (they do a ton of weddings at the Skirvin, it seems).

hilton skirvin | amanda jayne events blog

The hotel is perfect for small to medium sized meetings. The largest ballroom is 6100 square feet and the hotel has 225 sleeping rooms. For larger events in the city you would likely be at the Renaissance and Convention Center.

The only downside is that the space is pretty divided between the 14th and 2nd floor. This is good for giving your guests some different scenery, especially since the 2nd floor has a very different vibe than the 14th, but can prove challenging for scheduling if you have a lot of breakouts. The program we were finding space for on our site visit goes back and forth between general session and breakouts quite frequently, which will mean guests having to travel back and forth from the top to the (almost) bottom of the hotel. This certainly isn’t a deal breaker for us.

The food

We ended up eating two lunches and one breakfast in the hotel restaurant, Park Avenue Grill. The food was good – the breakfast buffet was above average. The most important thing that you need to know about the food is that the truffle fries are amazing – that might be why we ended up there a second time for lunch. We didn’t sample any banquet food but the prices looked good (but this might just be because I’m used to DC and NY menus).


There aren’t a ton of hotels in downtown Oklahoma City but the Skirvin still manages to shine. I would definitely come back!

Your thoughts

Have you been to the Skirvin Hilton? What did you think? Any other recommendations for Oklahoma City, I’ll be back in September!


how to save money on lounge furniture rentals for weddings & events

AFR Furniture Rental | amanda jayne events blog

I love the lounge furniture trend at weddings and events.  It’s comfortable (it is called lounge furniture after all), it creates little nooks within your event space for guests to connect or reconnect.

But it’s not cheap. In fact, it can be exorbitantly expensive to rent.

I’m used to working with nonprofits who aren’t into the idea of dropping several hundred dollars to rent two couches, but I love using lounge furniture or similar items at my events. Here are some of my suggestions for saving some money on lounge furniture:

AFR Furniture Rental | amanda jayne events blog

Use what the venue has on hand

Some venues (often hotels) will let you use whatever they have on hand for your event. When working with a hotel, usually you don’t pay a separate rental fee for chairs, tables, basic linens, silverware, glassware, etc. It’s all built into the cost of your food and beverage. (You didn’t think those bacon wrapped scallops ACTUALLY cost $4.50 a piece, did you!?). As such, I’ve found hotels to be very accommodating when it comes to utilizing lounge furniture they have on hand.

They might have a few armchairs and a loveseat in a foyer that will be unused the day of your event. Ask if they’d be willing to move the furniture into your space. Most of the time they will oblige.

The same goes for other types of furniture. If you’re hosting a panel discussion and prefer your presenters to be in wingback chairs, they might have them for you. I’ve even had a hotel remove chairs from a boardroom (big fancy leather chairs) and let me incorporate them into my event. Just don’t do that if you want to use the chairs on a stage and the chairs have casters – that’s a recipe for disaster.

I’ve personally never been charged for this. That doesn’t mean a hotel can’t charge you, but it never hurts to ask.

AFR Furniture Rental | amanda jayne events blog

Pick a venue based on its existing furniture

If having soft furnishings (aka lounge furniture) is crucial for your event, look into venues that already provide this furniture in their space. I’ve seen some fun galleries that have a few couches scattered around. Since the furniture is already there, they probably won’t charge you for it (or you should negotiate this).

See what other events in your venue are using

If there is another event the day before or after your event in the same space, if they are renting furniture, you might be able to get a significant discount to rent the same exact furniture since the rental company wouldn’t need to pick up and drop off again. Of course you might not have the same taste and there is also the risk that the furniture might be become damaged in some way, but it can be a significant enough savings to be worth the risk.

AFR Furniture Rental | amanda jayne events blog

Buy (I mean rent…) in bulk

If you are hosting multiple events over a period of time and can commit to renting a certain number of items from the same company, ask if they will give you a discount due to the volume of sales.

Have it donated or sponsored

See if a donor or sponsor would be interested in sponsoring the lounge area. You could provide signage and branding opportunities for the sponsor, such as a pillow that says, “This comfy seat brought to you by X.” You could play this up further by offering special food and beverage in the area to really create a separate space.

AFR Furniture Rental | amanda jayne events blog

What are your suggestions for saving money on lounge furniture rentals? Also – what are your thoughts on the indoor-furniture-outdoors trend? I kind of like it! What do you think?

All photos via AFR Furniture Rental

disney’s grand floridian resort

manda jayne events blog

Closing out my series on Disney World meeting space, we have the Grand Floridian. The Grand Floridian is the flagship resort of the park. It’s one of the oldest resorts and it has a sophisticated Victorian theme. The resort sits on the Seven Seas Lagoon and is only a short monorail hop from the Magic Kingdom. This resort just oozes luxury (at least for a Disney Vacation) – I like to just sit in the lobby and people watch (and let’s be real – I’m secretly judging some of the people I see: “Seriously – YOU paid $500+ a night to stay here!?!”).

The meeting space is gorgeous. It’s a little more sophisticated than the whimsical BoardWalk Inn, but more old-fashioned and classic than the Contemporary Resort (that’s the one that was “Contemporary” in the 70s when it opened, and the monorail just passes right through the atrium). There’s 40,000 square feet of meeting space in the on-site convention center, including the 18,000+ square foot Grand Floridian Ballroom:

disney's grand floridian | amanda jayne events blog

That’s pretty, right? For an interior ballroom with no windows? The carpet actually works here (although I’ve already mentioned that I’m not particularly bothered by garish hotel carpets they way some people are).

But I was more interested in some of the smaller spaces with more character (although not necessarily characters like Minnie or Mickey – although I’m sure Disney could make that happen for you) so I was shown the Whitehall room and patio. The meeting room is octagonal and has some nice details, particularly the ceiling. The room holds about 50 guests, so it would be perfect for a shower or small party, or a small wedding ceremony.

manda jayne events blog

manda jayne events blog

But the real draw for this space is the private patio accessed from the room. It’s partially covered (with ceiling fans which hopefully help with the central Florida humidity – I went in early June and felt like I was melting).

manda jayne events blog

But check out this view!

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort | amanda jayne events blog

Yes – I would love a view of the monorail because I’m a nerd like that. But I actually meant this view:

jDisney's Grand Floridian Resort | amanda jayne events blog

That, my friends, is the Magic Kingdom, and that’s not even zoomed in! That might not seem that impressive, but wouldn’t it be fun to watch the nightly fireworks from here on your private patio?

For a less-private event space, (also outdoors), you can reserve space at the marina:

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort | amanda jayne events blog

And of course, all of these locations (and everything else within the Grand Floridian) is within walking distance of the Disney Wedding Pavilion, which I did not get to peek in (unfortunately), but this 43 second video sums it up nicely:

One thing to note about the wedding pavilion is that it is literally next door to the Grand Floridian, including the Grand Floridian Disney Vacation Club construction. That must not have been pleasant for some of the brides who have had their view of the beautiful red and white hotel obstructed, but the construction is almost over and shouldn’t affect weddings for much longer.

manda jayne events blog

What are your thoughts? Would you have a wedding or event at the Grand Floridian?

Read my other posts on events at Epcot and the BoardWalk Inn.

the attic at disney’s boardwalk inn

The Attic at Disney's BoardWalk Inn | amanda jayne events blog

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to tour some of the event space at Disney World. As I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog, I’m intrigued by Disney from a purely hospitality standpoint (intrigued sounds better than obsessed, right?). While most people think of the theme parks as the most exciting place to hold an event, the bulk of available space within Disney World is actually in its resort hotels, which have tons of fun details that enhance the environment.

Epcot is my favorite Disney park, and I was excited to see some different options for hosting an event within Epcot. But right outside of Epcot are the Epcot area resorts and there are a few different event spaces, including my favorite: The Attic at the Boardwalk Inn.

The Epcot Area resorts include the BoardWalk Inn and the Beach and Yacht Club Resorts, plus the Dolphin and the Swan (which are owned by Starwood, not Disney, so they don’t have all of the same on-site benefits as Disney owned resorts). All of these resorts are located within walking distance of Epcot and Hollywood Studios (which I still call MGM). So these resorts would be my first choice of accommodations were money no object since they are all in the “deluxe” category – the rack rate for a standard room at the BoardWalk Inn is $405/night.

The deluxe resorts are the most themed of the Disney hotels, and Disney takes the little details very seriously. The theme of the BoardWalk Inn is turn-of-the-century Atlantic City. There is an actual boardwalk and the resort is on Crescent Lake. The boardwalk itself has carnival games and entertainers which add to the charm.

The BoardWalk Inn has a conference center with 20,000 square feet of meeting space on one level, including the 10,000 square foot Promenade Ballroom. The decor is very whimsical, which may not be appropriate for your meeting, but is a breath of fresh air compared to most ballrooms.

Disney's BoardWalk Inn | amanda jayne events blog

The space that I really loved though was The Attic. The Attic is in the main hotel building. It is a bit challenging to get there, it is quite a hike from the elevator which might be a deal breaker if your guests were older or not as mobile. But once you arrive, you find a small little room filled with charm. The room itself is small, maximum capacity is 50 guests, but there is an adjacent covered porch which gives you some room to spread out if the heat isn’t too overbearing (which can be a problem in Orlando).  The Attic has views of Crescent Lake, the boardwalk and Epcot.

The Attic at Disney's BoardWalk Inn | amanda jayne events blog

Wouldn’t you love to watch the Epcot fireworks from here?

The existing furniture on the patio is wicker, indoors it’s covered upholstered chairs. There’s an indoor bar that can be used for your event. The rooms are filled with antiques that fit the turn-of-the-century theme, such as carousel horses.

The Attic at Disney's BoardWalk Inn | amanda jayne events blog

The Attic at Disney's BoardWalk Inn | amanda jayne events blog

The Attic at Disney's BoardWalk Inn | amanda jayne events blog

The Attic at Disney's BoardWalk Inn | amanda jayne events blog

The pros of the space are its charm and the Disney details. The cons are that it’s out of the way and difficult to find (I would recommend using lots of signage if I were hosting an event). There’s also only one bathroom which isn’t too much of an issue since the capacity is so small, but still isn’t ideal.

I think this space would be perfect for a bridal or baby shower – it would be perfectly on theme and you wouldn’t have to add to the existing decor.  It would also be nice for a small, intimate wedding (remember, only 50 guests). Corporate events might be a good fit for the space, depending on how the guests took to the theme of the space. The proximity to Epcot is definitely a huge plus.

Check back later today for my post on event space at the Grand Floridian Resort.

hyatt regency denver at colorado convention center

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I recently spent a few days at the Hyatt Regency Denver as part of the PCMA Education Conference (which was a blast, by the way). The hotel is located next to the Colorado Convention Center, which was where the conference sessions were. It’s also well-situated in the downtown area, only a block away from a pedestrian mall with plenty of shops and restaurants, plus others nearby (I recommend Snarf’s for a quick bite, which was recommended to me by one of the hotel’s valets). The light rail is a block away, which takes you around the city.

The Hyatt is a huge hotel and does a lot of meeting and group business, owing to its proximity to the convention center. There are 30-something floors, necessitating two different elevator banks (think of it as the ‘local’ and the ‘express’).

I’m a Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum member (which is their middle tier, don’t get too jealous) and it’s always nice to be thanked for my loyalty. I didn’t make my reservation myself but asked for it to be tied to my account at check in, and the already-friendly front desk agent was even friendlier. The rooms do not come standard with refrigerators, but I asked for one and they said it would be no charge (normally $20 a day) because of my loyalty – which is nice.

The sleeping rooms…

I found my room to be very comfortable. There wasn’t anything particularly special (no TV in the bathroom!) but it met my needs. One feature that I liked was the large desk space, plus a roll-out additional table, which was perfect for eating my takeout lunch from Snarf’s. I also appreciated that the TV was on a swivel.

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The bathroom was small but adequate. I do love how Hyatt provides toothpaste in addition to shampoo, conditioner and lotion.

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My only complaints about the room were the lack of outlets – there were none (that I could find) near the desk. I ended up unplugging a floor lamp so I could charge my laptop and my phone at the same time. I really should just start traveling with a travel surge protector.

The meeting space…

I didn’t get as much perspective on the meeting space as I usually do since most of the sessions were are the nearby convention center, but I did get a peak at some of the spaces. There was a huge conference of high school athletic associations on property while I was there – meaning every other person  you ran into looked like a coach, no joke – but I did get a few peaks at the space.  I did like that the pre-function space was plentiful and open, and there were tons of floor to ceiling windows, which let in a lot of natural light. It’s also easy to find, as almost all of the meeting space is located on the third and fourth floors, which are accessible by an escalator from the lobby. It’s great that it’s so easy to find and you don’t have to walk for what feels like miles, but if your group is concerned with privacy, this might be a concern.

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The amenities…

The Hyatt features a 24 hour fitness center (which I actually tried out – twice!) that has plenty of cardio machines, weights, and space for yoga mats and exercise balls. There is also an indoor pool, right off of the fitness center. There’s a spa, which I unfortunately did not get to investigate.


The Hyatt Denver is a very nice property in a great location. It feels like it’s geared toward business travelers, although I did see some families there. I found the service to be top-notch, although, the hotel was aware I was there for the PCMA conference, which is a giant group of meeting planners that I”m sure they want to impress. I would be back if I have a reason to visit Denver again.

Have you been to the Hyatt Regency Denver? What did you think? Do you have any other recommendations hotels in the Denver area?

Check back later this week for my site report on the Colorado Convention Center!

hideous hotel carpets aren’t a big deal

I’m going to say something controversial: I’m not bothered by loud, vibrant hotel carpets. In fact, I rarely notice them, and I notice more than most people do in hotel meeting space.

At an event a few weeks ago, a fellow attendee commented that the carpet in the Peabody Hotel was really loud and reminded her of the carpets in Vegas convention centers. Well, I’ve never been to Vegas (I know!) but do you know what the Peabody’s carpet reminded me of? Every other hotel ballroom carpet. Maybe with a tiny bit of Florida flair.

What do you think?

So why isn’t it a big deal? First of all, if your meeting room is full of furniture you can bet that no one is going to notice. But even if the floor is visible, any room can be transformed with lighting and decor.  Look at this example:

Photo via  Superlative Events

Photo via Superlative Events

So brides and concerned planners, don’t fear the carpet! You can make it work (or you can hide it!). And I can almost guarantee that if the carpet is really that bad, the hotel staff is used to hearing about it and have some tricks to help you disguise it.

If you’re curious as to why  hotel carpets are so ugly, it’s generally because big, loud patterns hide stains and wear and tear. They also tend to create visual interest in long corridors and empty spaces. And as for the Vegas comparison – Vegas casinos apparently have some of the worst offenders, and it might just be on purpose to encourage gambling.

Complaining about ugly hotel carpets is a cottage industry – check out this Flickr site devoted to hideous carpets.

Do you hate on hideous carpets too or do you just roll with it like me? Do you have any photos of attractive hotel carpets to share?