Located right new to Grand Central Station in Manhattan, Grand Hyatt New York is pretty much the most centrally located hotel in the northeastern United States. Talking with Jim Dale, director of food and beverage at Grand Hyatt, he says he’s worked with a large number of financial firms at the hotel during his 22 years of service there.
Following a $130 million renovation in 2011, the property has one of America’s biggest hotel lobbies, centered by a pool and two Easter Island-like sculptures by Barcelona artist Jaume Plensa. We’ve never seen a lobby so well designed for corporate networking.
The 4,400-sf Gallery on Lex meeting rooms off the lobby were designed by Bentel & Bentel, with loads of natural light, a food prep area, and a communal high-top table for casual networking and cool cocktail receptions. The sofas were also designed by Bentel, complemented with a few Viccarbe lounge chairs.
On the 16th floor, the Grand Club executive lounge was designed by George Wong Design, using a combination of organic natural materials and industrial-chic motifs. That’s attached to a great little outdoor terrace for intimate business pow wows.
We spoke with Dale to learn a little more about why financial groups gravitate towards Grand Hyatt New York.
Prevue: Why does the overall hotel product cater well to financial meetings?
Jim Dale: Location, location, location. Manhattan is the capital of the finance world, and Grand Hyatt New York just happens to have a terrific location to cater to the financial offices in Midtown, Times Square and Park Avenue.
Prevue: How about the inside space?
Dale: The layout and the functionality of our hotel and ballroom space are perfect for financial industry meetings. The hotel offers 22,000 square feet of ballroom space, and that’s where most general sessions take place. Below the ballroom level, there is another 20,000 square feet of breakouts and meeting rooms. And above the ballroom level, there are 22 meeting rooms and boardrooms that are used for one-on-one meetings or smaller meetings.
Prevue: Are your group sales teams educated in ongoing trends in the financial sector?
Dale: Absolutely. Actually our sales and event teams know and understand many of the nuances financial conferences bring. Besides knowing law and regulations the industry must abide by in planning the event, like keeping analysts and investment bankers on separate floors, we are also familiar with the customary habits of this type of conference and industry group.
Prevue: What’s one of the most important things for executives and staff to understand when a financial group is in house?
Dale: We often find that what is most important to the financial conferences are being able to communicate in a very quick and efficient manner. AV is critical, and that includes great Wi-Fi of course, but also includes things like setting up a cyber café with a Bloomberg ticker tape going non-stop. Or preparing healthy, gourmet picnic basket and boxed lunches so that attendees can move between meetings and sessions. Oftentimes these conferences set up break areas that include futons and hand/neck massage stations.
Prevue: What are three takeaways for meeting planners working with financial groups?
Dale: Know what their needs are in advance. Be flexible and anticipate needs. And keep an eye on flow and functionality.