For each ‘Planner’s Pick,’ Prevue interviews a planner for their choices of compelling, high value destinations.
PLANNER: ADAM CHARLESWORTH
Sodexo Management Institute
Sodexo Corporation is a global food management company with over 400,000 employees. And Paris-based Adam Charlesworth is director of Sodexo Management Institute, which he says “designs and delivers leadership development for the company’s very top levels of senior executives.”
This summer, 100 “second-tier” senior execs and 30 faculty convened at W Atlanta Midtown for a full spectrum of management teaching sessions covering business strategies, skills and leadership behaviors.
Why a W hotel, Adam?
“This is a brand new program and we wanted to do something a little different and change the tone,” he says. “We were looking for something a bit more edgy, really. Something fun and interesting, and we wanted a hotel partner who understood what we meant by that.”
Charlesworth says he visited seven Atlanta hotels with convention facilities, “all with merit,” but he came away with a slightly “mechanical” feeling about the site inspections.
“The W Midtown was the only one that felt special in terms of décor and ambience, and the way we were welcomed by both the banquet and sales staff.”
Because of W’s well-known design-centric ethos, the W Midtown staff was able to move around all the groovy custom-made furnishings to create a different mood for a variety of events in the same afternoon. For the opening event, Charlesworth says, “The staff created basically a lounge atmosphere for addresses from the top senior executives, which made everyone feel really comfortable.”
Regarding F&B, über chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten operates one of his Spice Market outlets at W Midtown, inspired by the freshness and layered flavors found in Vietnamese and Thai street markets. But Charlesworth was initially concerned about the dining. Due to the breadth of nationalities in the group, he says, “there were very varying expectations, but the food was great—there was more variety and quality than we could have imagined at that price point.”
Charlesworth arranged the final night around the 5th floor pool lounge “Wet” to create an upscale cocktail event, “so we could cut them loose around 8:30 to network on their own and enjoy one more night in Atlanta, instead of trapping everyone in a long sit-down plated dinner.”
One of the other main reasons behind choosing the Midtown property over downtown was quick access to tours at the CNN Center, High Museum, Atlanta Aquarium and World of Coke attractions.
“The location attracted us because it’s a little quieter, more relaxed and it’s close to Piedmont Park,” explains Charlesworth. “[And] the hotel staff have gone out of their way to know the best local restaurants. So it all felt very homey and friendly when we showed up somewhere and we were able to say, ‘The W sent us.’ That was highly appreciated.”
How much? Sodexo is coming back next year. Twice.