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Hoteliers Raise the Rooftop with Outdoor Activities, Venues


May 12, 2023
The Hotel Effie Sandestin rooftop in Miramar Beach, Florida, features a lounge and pool. (Hotel Effie)

Hoteliers across the U.S. are leveraging rooftop spaces this summer to offer trending activities such as pickleball and classics such as signature cocktails.

Hotel Effie Sandestin in Miramar Beach, Florida, is designed around family traditions and creating lifelong memories for its guests, General Manager Jim Marino said.

A variety of live entertainers are among the activities it’s hosting this summer on its rooftop venue.

And at Arlo Hotels, guests will be able to experience an assortment of wellness activities.

The recently opened Upstairs at The Morrow rooftop bar features panoramic views of Washington, D.C., food prepared by Michelin-starred Chef Nicholas Stefanelli and a range of cocktails. In terms of rooftop programming, hotel guests and locals can enjoy nightly DJ sets, sunset yoga, pop-up events from its partners such as LVMH and events that support the local community.

“This summer, we are introducing live music through Sofar Sounds, so guests can party all night under the stars,” said Tauseen Malik, general manager at The Morrow. “Upstairs is D.C.’s hottest new lifestyle destination that offers a blend of culture, food and fashion for everyone.”

Chef Stefanelli said the duck confit taquitos are one of his favorite dishes on the Upstairs menu and has been one of its most popular dishes out of the gate.

“They’re perfectly crunchy, with melt in your mouth, duck confit inside and the harissa dipping sauce adds a little bit of heat. It’s a great dish to enjoy with a group of friends at Upstairs because it’s easily shareable. Enjoy along with our Sunset Margarita, made with Patron reposado, blood orange and hibiscus to balance out the heat,” he added.

The Ara Rooftop Pool and Lounge at Hotel Effie Sandestin in Miramar Beach, Florida, this summer will host live entertainers, musicians and DJs several times a week. It will also provide holiday-themed parties as well as views of the weekly and holiday fireworks at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort.

“Because Hotel Effie was designed around family traditions and lifelong memories for our guests, whether they are here for the day or a week,” Marino said. “When we have a musician who is loved by the guests, we want to continue hosting them. At the same time, we love trying new things in order to keep the guest experience fresh and exciting.”

Marino said partnering with local businesses and entertainers is crucial.

“We build solid, foundational relationships with local businesses and visitors, as well as our out-of-market guests. During low travel demand periods, these local regulars are the lifeblood of the hotel,” he added.

Kate Turner, wellness curator for Arlo Hotels, is striving to make the brand’s hotels a destination for wellness. And the wellness series programming at its New York City hotels is doing just that, she said. This season, local studios and instructors will set up on the rooftops of Arlo SoHo, Arlo NoMad and Arlo Midtown to encourage guests and locals to experience movement outside.

It partners with 305 Fitness and Lit&Lean, among others, for what Turner describes as “high-energy workouts” that “feel like a party.”

“Wellness means partaking in daily practices and activities that provide physical, mental and emotional benefits to a person’s mind, body and soul,” she said. “Even small steps toward personal wellness make a huge impact.”

Additionally, all Arlo Hotels locations will continue its year-round programming of complementary and ticketed meditation, yoga, dance and other fitness classes.

This season M Social Hotel Times Square will introduce a new music program each Thursday night, called MLive2, at its rooftop. Additionally, a rooftop pickleball court will be installed.

“M Social is a reflection of the vibrant NYC culture and trends and we want guests to see the real New York beyond Times Square,” said Pablo Lopez, co-director of marketing at M Social Hotel Times Square New York.

And as an ode to Broadway’s Charlie Price from Kinky Boots, the hotel’s rooftop bar, Beast & Butterflies, is serving the “Charlie Price” cocktail, which is made with Angel’s Envy bourbon, strawberry, basil and lemon.

The Roof at the Redmont Hotel in Birmingham, Alabama, is currently undergoing renovations. However, past events on its rooftop that were successful include a weekly workout series, led by a local pilates studio, that was followed by mimosas; a ticketed rooftop event called “Palm Party,” which was sponsored by a vodka company; and “Wine Wednesdays,” which included wine flight specials and charcuterie, said Nancy Obstler, vice president of sales, marketing and revenue, at hospitality management company Raines.

“The series of past events hosted on the roof of the Redmont Hotel Birmingham were so successful because they consistently brought in a regular local crowd who could experience all that the hotel had to offer while enjoying the beautiful views of downtown Birmingham. Hosting the events allowed the property to strengthen its connection to the local community and provide a unique outdoor venue for Birmingham residents and visiting hotel guests to experience a variety of offerings weekly,” she said.

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