The New Space Race Energizes Awards Party Scene

When planning an elegant A-list dinner for 10 to gala parties for a thousand, event planners have a sophisticated mix of locations to choose from in New York and Los Angeles. Variety looks at new and updated venues that cater to gatherings during Hollywood’s awards season, and throughout the year welcome all kinds of happenings — from film and content production celebrations to branded events and premieres.

Lower Manhattan

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Lower Manhattan is steeped in U.S. history and home to the country’s financial epicenter, the New York Stock Exchange. Venues with panache include Cipriani Wall Street (Rihanna’s Diamond Ball), the iPic Fulton Market Theaters (with menus by celebrated chef Sherry Yard) and the Royal Suite at the Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown. The suite can serve as a serene pre-event ready room or with its private kitchen and 10-seat dining room, an exclusive spot for intimate dinners on the 24th floor. Views encompass lower Manhattan, with the striking Oculus at the World Trade Center in view.

The multiple spaces of the Seaport District’s Pier 17 include the grand 65,000- square-foot rooftop. A clear Plexiglas-walled winterized tent (opened in mid-December) makes the East River-overlooking space usable in colder months. Overlooking the Hudson River on Lower Manhattan’s western side, the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place has room for 1,000 in its soaring atrium; outside, the 10,000-square-foot open air Waterfront Plaza has an ice skating rink in winter and a popular outdoor bar once it warms up. There’s room for close to 4,000 at the scenic space. Several catering options are available.

Downtown Los Angeles

Showbizzers tend to descend on downtown Los Angeles for big nights (Emmys and Grammys), cultural events and Staples Center’s pro sports. Pre-game and after-party alternatives abound.

Guest zoom to the 73rd floor and L.A.’s highest rooftop deck and bar via high-speed elevators at the Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown’s Spire 73. The north deck has more than 3,000-square-feet of open-air terrace above the entire L.A. basin plus fire pits, lounge seating and celestial views. “The Last Jedi” global press junket reception and a Netflix location shoot in addition to non-pro meet-and-greets have utilized the singular location. West of the 110 freeway on 7th Street, the newly renovated 294-room Mayfair Hotel, built in 1926, has a soaring and ornate lobby under a glass atrium, stylish cocktail bar and contemporary art throughout. It’s a quick ride from the Staples Center to this remade classic.

West Hollywood

High design is one of West Hollywood’s assets. The lobby at the 105-room Kimpton La Peer Hotel — with its design from architect Gulla Jonsdottir — is a pleasing combination of comfortable low seating, bronze accents and curvy lines. It opens to a covered “backyard” bar, lounge and pool providing an easy indoor-outdoor flow. (Audi set their pre-Emmy shindig in the poolside space.) There’s also a 4,000-square-foot rooftop terrace at the ready featuring a tented pavilion.

Up on the Sunset Strip, Tesse, from vet restaurateur Bill Chait, can welcome up to 80 for receptions, 50 seated in its adjacent wine store, Boutellier. Separating the restaurant and private space is a bronze screen door; above is a striking light-filled oculus adding even more zing to the chic space.

Beverly Hills

After a $10 million redesign and rebuild, Crustacean in Beverly Hills now has the flexibility for numerous kinds of experiences, from seated customized dinners on its flower walled patio (35 seated) to the newly built jewel box upstairs dining room and bar, Da Lat Rose, with its own private entrance. The celebrated An family restaurant has a full event production team, in-house mixologist and extensive wine selections.

Pacific Palisades

Developer Rick Caruso’s remake of Palisades Village has an industry appeal built-in.

The five theaters within the Bay Theatre by Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas

have deeply cushioned leather seats, drink and food service and impeccable projection and sound. Follow a screening up at The Draycott, where the outdoor dining terrace is sheltered by leafy olive trees. The marble-and-leather-accented restaurant, which opened in October, features seasonally fresh produce and British-inspired cuisine. Matt Damon is among those who’ve hosted dinners at the clubby spot.

Besides fresh venues and spaces, event planners offer trends to look for in 2019.

Generating buzz is the point of most industry parties, and these days it’s all about the visuals. “No matter the budget, every entertainment client wants the same thing: create an event where people want to come in and take a photo,” says Samantha Slacker, CEO of event company the Firm. Here are five tips from event pros on how to amplify visibility, engage guests and create those all-important social media moments.

1. Exercise the art of plating.

Food must be camera-ready and Instagram-worthy at events. L.A.’s James Beard award winning chef, industry event caterer and restaurateur Suzanne Goin (Lucques, A.O.C., Tavern) melds flavors and eye-catching details in every plate. Roasted carrots with beet puree, topped with Spanish cheese, is a bouquet of color and artful composition under Goin’s deft touch.

2. Serve a signature beverage.

“It’s all about the look before taste” when serving a “wow” beverage, says Rosemary Renteria-Vera, director of sales and events for the Innovative Dining Group (IDG). Edible flowers and dry ice create a talking point: BOA’s Pacific Scorpion cocktail is a tropical mélange of fruit juices and vodka, finished with and an edible floral and smoking dry ice for that Instagrammable moment.

3. Make it hands-on.

To launch Bob Dylan’s Heaven’s Door limited release 10-year-old Tennessee bourbon whiskey in Los Angeles, Handcrafted PR incorporated the maestro’s hobby of iron welding into the occasion. Bottles of Heaven’s Door whiskey are etched with a stylized metal gate motif of Dylan’s design. Participants augmented premium bourbon tastings with a unique test of skill: a metal welding session with an expert welder.

4. Custom designer looks throughout.

Entertainment industry event planners are tasked with engaging all the senses for sophisticated crowds. For the TBS/TNT Emmy party, the Firm tented the backyard of an executive’s mid-century home and carried its architectural details through to the party’s decor style. From the Sputnik-style chandeliers to custom plush velvet lounge furniture and metal-frame tables, the customized look was designer sleek and echoed the home’s mid-century modern character.

5. Collaborate with artists.

Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio celebrated its partnership with color maven Pantone and launched the 2019 color of the year — Living Coral — during Miami Beach’s Art Basel week with a colorful and whimsical pop-up hotel experience at the Royal Palm South Beach Miami Resort. Vivid animations, murals and digital projections, along with a playlist, were commissioned. Guests interacted with the travel-inspired Pantone pantry while learning about Tribute Portfolio properties.



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