Taste of SonestaWhat does artistic expression have to do with meeting planning? Can you find inspiration for a corporate gathering in an herb-filled omelet station? These were just two of the pressing questions on the minds of the meeting planners who congregated for “A Taste of Sonesta” during the first weekend in August at the Sonesta Fort Lauderdale.

With sweeping Fort Lauderdale Beach their backdrop and the warm Florida sun their inspiration, they spent a productive two days discussing the finer points of their industry, all in the name of creating unforgettable and smoothly running meetings with a focus on artfully presented food. What was their key learning? Perhaps this: while logistics and organization are certainly important, the success of meetings is also measured by the palate—as well as the palette.

Each year, HelmsBriscoe, a meeting procurement agency, hosts a “Summer Camp” for its team of meeting and conference professionals. This was not the first time Sonesta has hosted our exclusive “Taste of Sonesta” event for meeting planners. Past events have taken place in Washington, DC, and Anaheim, California. But it was our first chance to show off the fantastic setting of the Sonesta Fort Lauderdale, the newest addition to the Sonesta Collection.

Sonesta’s Food Is Art Program Engages and Excites Meeting Attendees
You might think hosting an annual meeting for meeting planners is like cooking a meal for a five-star chef. We agree, which is why we had Executive Chef Peter Laufer of the Royal Sonesta Houston also on hand to oversee culinary creations, each one inspired by the destination and culture of one of our full-service properties across the U.S.

It was all part of Sonesta’s Food Is Art program, an aesthetic approach to Food & Beverage service that’s a key part of the Sonesta experience—whether we’re serving a romantic dinner for two at one of our full-service restaurants, a wedding party of 500 in a banquet hall, or a luncheon for a business meeting.

“Small plates, interactive stations, farm-to-table ingredients, and intense attention to plating aesthetics drive our Food Is Art philosophy,” says Mark Sherwin, EVP Operations for Sonesta. “Plus, it’s fun and rewarding to really impress meeting planners when you deconstruct a typical dish and re-imagine it in an artful fashion.” He cites a mini-sundae served in a petite martini glass: a tiny piece of gooey brownie is topped with melon-ball scoops of tres leches ice cream and dabs of hot fudge, homemade whipped cream chopped pecan and a fresh cherry dipped in white and dark chocolate. Such creative and elegant fare makes for a fun and memorable treat in the middle of a day of meetings.

In Fort Lauderdale, all were fully engaged at interactive food stations and impressed by the distinctive flair of tasty dishes, each of which used fresh, locally sourced ingredients as their foundation. Perhaps best of all, attendees enjoyed some free take-aways from each Sonesta destination, like barbecue sauces, creole seasoning, and spiced nuts.

“We were all very impressed with the great things going on with Sonesta, in particular the Sonesta Fort Lauderdale,” said Bill Briscoe, Chief Industry Relations Officer for HelmsBriscoe. “The staff really went above and beyond in their efforts and were extremely hands-on throughout the entire weekend. We at HelmsBriscoe will definitely be bringing more business their way in the future.”

The Perfect Meeting Venue
By weekend’s close, the Sonesta Fort Lauderdale had proved itself the perfect—and most flavorful and artfully culinary—meeting venue, even for the most discerning meeting planners. As you’re organizing your next meeting, turn to the meeting planner for meeting planners. The Sonesta Fort Lauderdale is particularly well-suited to corporate events and gatherings, with 8,000 square feet of flexible meeting space for business and social get-togethers. Penthouse level meeting rooms offer floor-to-ceiling windows and sweeping views of the Atlantic, while an oceanfront terrace is available on the second floor for hospitality events. This breathtaking setting is complemented by expert catering and audiovisual resources and free wireless high-speed internet.

If you are interested in planning your next meeting at any of the Sonesta properties worldwide, follow this link to request a proposal.