planning a 5K

Planning a 5K | myriad botanical gardens in oklahoma city

Event planning is a skill that is easily transferable. I have planned a lot of different kinds of events, of various scale and size. I really believe that a good planner should be able to plan almost anything, as just about all events have the same basic foundation.

So when I was tasked with planning a 5K I was not worried, despite the fact that A) I had never planned a 5K (or any type of running event) before and B) I’m not a runner (surprise surprise!) and I had never even attended a 5K (or any type of running event) before.

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oklahoma history center

oklahoma history center - private events

If you are regular reader of this blog (thank you!) you’ll know that I recently had the opportunity of spending a week in Oklahoma City. On the off-chance that someone stumbles across this blog who is interested in planning events in Oklahoma City, I’ve reviewed each of the venues we’re used for the event. Rounding that out is the Oklahoma History Center and the good news is, even if you are just planning on visiting OKC, this is a must see. Being able to plan or attend an event there is just a bonus.

The Oklahoma History Center is dedicated to Oklahoma history, past and present. There are numerous galleries on various topics. There is also a cafeteria and meeting space.

The conference we were hosting in Oklahoma City was headquartered at the Skirvin Hilton, but we wanted to move on evening’s dinner offsite to mix things up. My colleague, Christina, found the history center and we immediately fell in love. Now full-disclosure: I am a history nerd (I think Christina is as well!), but look at this gorgeous atrium:

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oklahoma city convention center – quick update

oklahoma city convention center

I had recently attended a conference (attended!) in Oklahoma City. The Renaissance was the headquarters hotel and the majority of the sessions were held at the Convention Center, which is attached. I already reviewed both spaces in July when I was in town for a site visit, but I wanted to give a quick update after seeing the space again.

The space…

The space is average for a convention center. It’s definitely a smaller convention center which makes a meeting of this size (750 people) much more manageable, compared to the miles and miles you could walk at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.  The Great Hall was used for meals and the space was an ideal size for the group.

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the skirvin hilton in oklahoma city – an update

hilton skirvin | amanda jayne events blog

I recently 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.

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renaissance oklahoma city convention center hotel

renaissance oklahoma city convention center hotel | amanda jayne events blog

If you’re looking to host a large meeting in Oklahoma City, your largest option is the Renaissance Oklahoma City Convention Center Hotel. The hotel has 311sleeping rooms and a few smaller meeting rooms (boardroom sized), but it is connected to the convention center, which has 68,000 square feet of meeting space. The convention center’s meeting space is managed by the Renaissance (the arena and exhibit hall is managed by a different company).

The hotel

The hotel has a large, open atrium style lobby with a lovely water feature and glass elevators on either side. The “front desk” is really four different individual desks with a single clerk, I suppose to make check in feel more intimate.  There is a restaurant and a lounge off of the lobby.

renaissance oklahoma city convention center hotel | amanda jayne events blog

renaissance oklahoma city convention center hotel | amanda jayne events blog

The sleeping rooms looked nice and relatively recently renovated (we didn’t stay – we had stayed at the Skirvin Hilton a block away). The linens have recently been updated and I thought they looked nice. The rooms seemed a bit smaller but perfectly fine for a business traveler.

renaissance oklahoma city convention center hotel | amanda jayne events blog

renaissance oklahoma city convention center hotel | amanda jayne events blog

The king suites were very nice with a separate bedroom. I was amazed that there were 88 in the whole hotel, a significant percentage of the inventory.

renaissance oklahoma city convention center hotel | amanda jayne events blog

There are a small number of boardrooms and small meeting rooms that seemed nice but nothing special.

renaissance oklahoma city convention center hotel | amanda jayne events blog

Overall the hotel just seemed to be having an identity crisis. It was nice enough, but it didn’t wow me. The lobby was nice, but that coupled with the decor and the carpet, seemed more appropriate for a beachside hotel somewhere tropical (I’m not sure if you know where Oklahoma City is, but it’s about as far from either ocean as you can be!). Even the spa seemed out of place with the loud salsa-like music being played outside its doors.

The convention center

The convention center is accessed via a walkway from the hotel. It’s a basic convention center with a tiny bit of western flair to let your know you’re in Oklahoma City, like these details:

renaissance oklahoma city convention center hotel | amanda jayne events blog

It felt very dark, which was a stark contrast from the last convention center I visited in Denver.

The breakout rooms I was looking at for our meeting were what you would expect at any convention center – nothing particularly good or bad about them.

renaissance oklahoma city convention center hotel | amanda jayne events blog

renaissance oklahoma city convention center hotel | amanda jayne events blog

renaissance oklahoma city convention center hotel | amanda jayne events blog

Overall I was nonplussed. I’d love to see a little more character in the convention center, but the space was certainly functional.

Have you been to either the Renaissance or the convention center? What were your thoughts?

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).

Overall

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!