To mark the completion of a three-year, $35 million redesign, Irvine Marriott relaunched its coastal-themed hotel in Irvine, CA, not with a ribbon-cutting, but with an event series that offered a multisensory journey into the guest experience. Called Studio Irvine, the three events each focused on a tenet of the Marriott brand—Studio: Taste, held on Feb. 9, Studio: Culture, held on March 9, and Studio: Innovation, held on April 25. The events highlighted new spaces and technology at the Irvine Marriott, including the Great Room, M Club Lounge, pool and patio areas, food and beverage concepts, meeting rooms and the outdoor Cannery Row event space.
“Many hoteliers will have a grand opening party, and that can be somewhat effective, but when there are hundreds and hundreds of people there, it’s very difficult for individuals to have the same experience that they would as a traveler and, secondly, it’s difficult for the hotelier to execute what it is they’re trying to showcase,” says Scott McCoy, general manager at Irvine Marriott.
The first event, Studio: Taste, featured a progressive dinner where 50 attendees, including top customers and travel and hospitality bloggers, rotated through culinary stations, each representing one of the five senses. Chefs from several Marriott properties each crafted a food and beverage experience for the event. These included an audio pairing of the sounds of the ocean with a seafood station, an aromatic station where you smelled what you were about to eat before you looked at it, herb tastings and texture explorations like carrots cooked and presented in five different ways.
The Studio: Culture event took place in the back-patio Cannery Row space at the hotel and offered networking and entertainment for 200 attendees, including influencers and partners such as local farmers. The outdoor event featured the visual and performing arts, including an aerialist who performed around the pool, a 3D “upcycler” sculptor, a flamenco dancer and a surfboard artist. And the Studio: Innovation event highlighted Marriott history as well as future “approaches” to ingenuity and meetings. The event, with 75 attendees, offered virtual reality experiences, classic car displays, a LEGO design workshop, TED Talk lounges, robot demonstrations and an on-site Escape Room.
“We’re celebrating our 90th year and we recently acquired another company, Starwood, so our cultural piece is very powerful for us,” McCoy says. “We know that travel changes you and when you experience new places, you become a better person because you had this travel experience, so we wanted to invoke that feeling in rolling out our series.” Agency: Fast Forward, San Diego.
Scenes from Marriott Irvine’s Multisensory Journey