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4 Wonderful Winter Inspirations for Corporate Events
Planning a corporate event in the New Year isn’t easy — most winter themes are exhausted over the holiday season. You don’t want your professional event to come off like a lackluster copy of the holiday party that occurred a month ago.
We’ve seen and hosted countless winter corporate events that are fresh, invigorating, and distinctly set apart from the classic holiday tropes. No matter what type of event you’re planning — from corporate retreats, to conferences and conventions, to team culture events — we’ve got refreshing inspiration for themes to impress your guests. Check out four of our favorite event themes, and see if these spark a vision for your next function.
Cozy, Casual Rustic Ski Chalet
For a less formal event, a rustic ski chalet theme makes for a cozy evening. This theme is well-suited for team-building retreats and culture events. Think sweaters, delicious comfort foods, and decor featuring wood on wood, on wood — adorn your space with rustic reclaimed wood signage, vintage wooden skis, and lighting to look like stars overhead, to set a comfortable mood. Use name tags or table name cards made to look like lift passes. Take the opportunity to promote your company a bit, by offering guests branded throws to keep them warm throughout the evening.
As for the menu, a rustic evening at the lodge calls for serious comfort foods. Warm dishes like roasted beet salads, French onion soup, and grilled rib eye will give your guests something to rave about — and for dessert, go with the ever-splendid chocolate fondue. Give each guest a personal jar of skewered treats to dip.
No cheerful, casual event is complete without a photo booth for entertainment. Set up a ski lift seat with skiing accessories, and give everyone the chance to have some fun, and take memorable pictures for the office.
Polished Winter Wonderland
Although the holidays are over, it’s still winter for the next few months — and a winter wonderland theme lends itself perfectly to a classic and enchanting event. Imagine your guests walking into a room drenched in dazzling whites and blues, icicles and snowflakes dripping from the ceilings and walls. For a chic, tech element, consider 3D images of snowflakes projected around the room, transporting attendees to another world. Use snow globe name tags, as a simple way to add a personal touch.
Offer your guests a wonderland of food options through a robust canapé menu, with bites like persimmon bruschetta, mushroom and caramelized onion polenta bites, and seared tuna with mango and cucumber salad. For dessert, whimsical snowflake cookies or white cupcakes with silver dust will add a sweet flourish.
This theme can easily be tailored to a casual, intimate group vibe; or a large, professional conference setting. To go a little more laid-back and fun, name special drinks with wintry themes (an Icicle Martini, perhaps?) and consider a photo booth with silly props. For a more sophisticated and tasteful event, keep things elegant with simple decor, subtle touches of color, and the classy use of drapes or curtains.
Mardi Gras Carnival
Bring the excitement and historic tradition of Mardi Gras to your function (let’s stick to the PG version, shall we?). This theme brings a lively atmosphere, dancing, and merriment to any celebration. Start by decorating your event space with purples, golds, and greens — incorporate the color scheme in beads, masks, fleur de lis, and balloons. Get enough beads and masks for your guests to play with, or even take home with them; after all, half the fun of Mardi Gras is wearing extravagant glitz and glam!
A true New Orleans-style party begs for hurricane cocktails and rich indulgent food. Offer dishes like char-grilled oysters, crab cakes, BBQ shrimp, and mini catfish po-boys. Last — but certainly not least for a southern buffet — go all out, and serve bread pudding with whiskey sauce, crème brûlée, and pecan pie.
Get the party started with a jazz band to help your guests get comfortable and up on their feet. This theme is perfect for an upbeat, team-building experience where you can have a little fun with the spirit of Mardi Gras; or, alternatively, a fabulous corporate conference where you can wow guests with top-notch live entertainment and an energetic atmosphere.
Relaxing Hawaiian Luau
This theme takes a complete U-turn — give people a night to forget about their winter blues, by throwing a Hawaiian Luau! Adorn your event space with warm lighting, tiki masks, and decor inspired by palm trees and surfboards. Add beautiful centerpieces to your tables, by combining tropical fruits — like pineapple, papaya, and starfruit — with orchids and lilies.
Go totally authentic to the islands with a menu of spam musubi, pulled pork sliders with charred pineapple, seared ahi tuna, poi, and haupia. Of course, don’t forget the tropical drinks with umbrellas.
Give everyone a lei as they arrive at the event, and get your guests into the aloha spirit with a live Hawaiian band; or, perhaps a ukulele player with hula dancers. Your guests will enjoy the brief transport to a more tropical and relaxing location, in the middle of chilly winter.
5 Date Ideas You Need to Try
Don’t let your dates get dull and dreary with the same old routine. Put a new spin on date night by trying something a little different. Here are five ideas to get your creative juices flowing and help you spice up your upcoming night out with that special someone.
Learn Something New
Humans bond through shared experiences, and a great way to share an experience and leave a lasting impression is to learn something new together. Whether you opt for checking out a historical museum, taking a harbor cruise, signing up for a cooking class, diving into a dance lesson, or visiting your local science center, you will find that a shared learning experience can provide a fun backdrop for bonding and building on your existing relationship.
If there’s something you’ve been meaning to try, consider it for your date night! There are plenty of sports and activities that are no more than an hour’s rental away. Take yourselves toward adventure and pick up a lesson from a local surf instructor, rent a paddleboard, kayak, or jet ski, hop on a bike, take a hike, go to the driving range, or strap on some rollerblades and hit the local boardwalk. No matter what direction you choose, you can add a little excitement to your romance by taking on an active attitude and getting out of your comfort zone.
Be a Tourist
While a great home-cooked meal and the comfort of your own couch is lovely on most nights, it can also be a lot of fun to take the burden of cooking off the table and opt out of the sedentary entertainment to get away from your regular routine. Being a tourist in your own city offers you the opportunity to take in sights with a fresh set of eyes and find interesting and unexpected facets of your hometown. Treat yourselves to a staycation by booking a room at a local hotel. Visit the busy downtown streets, and then have dinner at the hotel’s restaurant or one of the new joints you’ve been meaning to try, and end the night with live music and a nightcap at the hotel bar.
Keep It Simple
When looking for great date ideas, it might seem counterintuitive to consider a simpler approach. But for those couples who are on-the-go day after day, setting aside some time to just be with each other and minimize distractions can be quite the treat. If you find yourselves longing for a plan that doesn’t take planning, consider one of the simplest, time-tested dates in the book: Pack up you and your partner and head out on a sunny day for a picnic in the park. Pack yourself up a basket or a bag with some fresh fruit, a baguette, and a nice bottle of wine (park regulations permitting) and spend a sunset with your significant other.
Explore Your Artistic Side
What better way to commemorate a great date than with a piece of handmade art? Ceramic painting is a pastime enjoyed by children and adults alike. Many studios offer adult-only nights for the adventurous couple who wants to split a bottle of wine while they show off their artistic flair. If canvas is more to your liking, take your beau or belle to a wine and painting night. These events are a great way to loosen up, show off your talents, and build a keepsake to help you look back on a night full of artistic adventure.
Every once in a while it’s important to make time for each other and splurge on your relationship. Building and maintaining a strong bond can help increase your happiness together and help you better cope with future challenges. So next time date night is on the books, get out those paint brushes, tour your own city, book a room, explore activities, and bond with each other over a new skill.
4 Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding Budget
Wedding costs add up quickly. On average, couples spend between $19,984 and $33,306 on the ceremony, reception, and surrounding events like the rehearsal dinner. Those numbers don’t even include the honeymoon. Of course, most people don’t set out to spend that much up front, but by the time all the details for the big day add up, the costs can really compound.
The rising costs of weddings are a big stressor to new marriages, according to experts. And people who enter a marriage already worried about money have a higher chance of divorce. The last thing you want in the weeks leading up to your wedding is stress over the cost, and you don’t want it to take an anniversary or two to pay off. Making and sticking to a wedding budget is important but not always easy to do.
If you’re looking for smart ways to save on your wedding ceremony and reception that won’t cheapen your big day, take a look at these suggestions:
Get Married in the Afternoon
Opt out of a traditional evening wedding followed by an all-night reception. Most venues will charge less for afternoon events, and you can also end the party portion before dinnertime without people minding. Serve lunch items instead of a full-course dinner and keep everything a little less formal for a lot less money. This is an especially nice option if you plan to have families with small children at the wedding and reception.
Go All In
You will save money bundling wedding services through one provider or venue as opposed to hiring separate vendors for each piece. The price tag on a venue that includes ceremony spots, reception hall options, cocktail hour choices, catering in-house, live music, and even preferred photographers may seem steep at the outset but will save you money overall. By the time you price out everything individually, and pay separate deposits, you will find that your wedding budget is incredibly tight. There is also a convenience factor in booking everything through a central spot, and that will streamline your day and make it less stressful for everyone involved. Most venues that offer a variety of wedding services also provide wedding planners to help everything go smoothly.
Pick a Pretty Venue
This sounds simple but picking a venue that is already elegant will save a lot on trying to dress it up. The average couple spends more than $1,500 alone on décor. Picking a boring spot that costs less will take a lot more work to fix up so keep that in mind as you venue shop. You may still want to add your own decorative touches, but starting with a spot that is sophisticated will save you a lot of time, and money.
Stay Close to Home
The assumption that planning a destination wedding will save you money is a flawed one. By the time you fly somewhere exotic, pay for meals, pay for your stay, and ask your guests to the same – the overall ticket price goes way up. Consider who is on your priority guest list. Are there people who would have trouble traveling? Are there people who would have trouble affording to travel? In most cases, the answer to that is “yes.” Pick a venue that is drivable for most people, even if it means going to the next closest major city to make it happen.
Every couple wants a picturesque wedding day but it shouldn’t cost more than the couple can afford. By planning smartly and picking where to pull back, your big day can still sparkle without as big a dent in your wallet.
How To Do Drapery for Your Next Event
As you prepare for an event, you’ll find one of the challenges is making the space look beautiful and appropriate for the occasion, without spending an arm and a leg on special decor. If you want to dress up your event easily — or on a budget — consider drapery as an affordable way to fill out a space. Drapes are quite versatile, from varieties in the color and fabric, to multiple options for the way they’re hung, which contribute to the look and feel of the event.
The right drapery makes for a simple, effective, and fast way to “class-up” any event. Here’s how to drape your event in style:
Think About Your Fabric
Your fabric choice is just as important as your color choice. Certain fabrics, such as chiffon, are well suited for elegant or romantic events, like weddings. However, that can be a bit more expensive if you’re looking for a last-minute budget option. Velour is a popular choice for corporate events, as it brings a professional flair to the room. Take a look at different textures and fabric weights before buying, to get a feel for what might be best for your formal event.
Keep a Style in Mind
The style of drapery you choose will define the feel in the room. You might go with pleated drapes, swagged drapes, or flat drapes. You can run them from ceiling to floor, or from ceiling beam to ceiling beam. And you can always add twinkling lights or adornments to dress things up even more. The style of the event can guide you in choosing the type of fabric, and how much you need.
While considering style, it’s also important to think about placement. For wedding receptions, drapery running across the ceiling can add an elegant touch to your event space. For corporate events, set the mood by covering the walls with drapes, and using drapery to frame the stage.
Dress Up the Drapes With Uplighting
When it comes to drapery colors, neutral shades like white or ivory tend to accommodate almost any event, from weddings to corporate events. If you want to add a little flair later in the night, consider placing colored lights on the floor and aiming them at the drapes to give them a trendy, dazzling appeal. This is a great way to create a new look at each event, without having to buy new drapes to match the décor every time.
Use Drapes to Hide Areas of The Event Space
If you notice any unsightly parts of your event space, use drapery to keep these areas out of eyesight. You can also use this technique to gently and elegantly guide your attendees away from certain areas (such as doors leading to employee-only spaces, or the backdoor exit). Just keep practicality in mind, if you need to access any of these areas. For example, if you’re using drapes to conceal doorways or fire escapes, be sure there’s enough space to get behind them if necessary.
Use Drapes to Divide the Space, or Draw The Eyes
Drapery isn’t just about adding appeal to an event space. It can also serve a practical purpose in several ways — one of which is to divide up the room. If you’ve rented an event space that feels too big for the number of attending guests, “cut” the room in half with drapes that fall from the ceiling to the floor.
Another great use for drapery is at an event that’s divided into segments, where you need a smaller area for one part and a larger area for another. For example, wedding parties might decide to separate the ceremony area from the reception area. Drapes could even section off a corner of the room designated for a photo booth.
You can also use drapery to draw the eyes to specific areas, such as a head table or a stage, depending on the colors you use and the way you choose to hang the drapes. Head to your nearest fabric store to explore textures, patterns, and colors; then hang your new drapery and watch the room transform from a generic event space to a personalized, classy space that fits the occasion just perfectly.
The History of the Horton Grand
When you walk into the doors of the Horton Grand Hotel, your attention is immediately drawn to the timeless touches, reminiscent of the hotel’s early history. Antique furniture, marble-framed fireplaces, and detailed era architecture will transport you back in time to where it all started.
Whether you’re visiting the Horton Grand for the first time, or are returning for another stay, we invite you to explore the splendid history of our beloved hotel below.
1880s: A Tale of Two Hotels
You might be surprised to learn that the Horton Grand’s history is tied to not one, but two historic hotels. The first was the Grand Horton Hotel, which opened in 1886. Just a year earlier in 1885, San Diego’s first transcontinental railroad arrived, and the Grand Horton was designed to accommodate the city’s new visitors.
The second building, the Brooklyn-Kahle Saddlery Hotel, opened in 1887. This hotel wasn’t quite as elegant as the Grand Horton — rather than an Italianate Victorian design, it featured more of a Cowboy-Victorian feel. Though it was originally named The Brooklyn Hotel, the name Kahle Saddlery caught on in 1912, thanks to the saddle and harness shop located right within the hotel.
Both of these original buildings sat where the Horton Plaza mall stands today. Prominent guests of these original hotels include lawman Wyatt Earp — who was a guest at the Brooklyn Hotel for seven years — President Benjamin Harrison, and Babe Ruth.
1970s-1980s: Saving the Historic Hotels
During the 1970s, the Grand Horton and the Brooklyn-Kahle Saddlery were two of the only remaining historical buildings in San Diego. In the late 1970s, the City of San Diego purchased the Grand Horton, with plans to build the Horton Plaza at that location. Although the City Council voted to demolish the buildings to make way for the plaza project, that’s not exactly what happened.
Thanks to San Diego activists and local developer Dan Pearson, the buildings were saved — to some extent. Pearson purchased the Grand Horton for a mere $1, and helped tear the building down, brick by brick. Each brick was catalogued and stored. When all was said and done, the activists had saved 40 tons of materials, including 82,000 bricks, the original bay windows, doors, banisters, and railings. With these materials, Pearson planned to reincarnate the elegance and beauty of the old hotel, by developing a building in its honor a few blocks away.
Shortly after dismantling the Grand Horton, the Kahle Saddlery Hotel was scheduled for demolition in 1982, in order to build a parking lot at its location. Pearson had an idea: just as he had with the Grand Horton, he’d save original materials from the Kahle Saddlery to construct a second building next to the first, and connect them with an atrium and courtyard. Therefore, the second dismantling project began.
1986: The Horton Grand Opens
By 1986 — and $12 million later — the bricks that had been catalogued and stored during the demolition of the two hotels were reused to build a new hotel: The Horton Grand. Today, the hotel stands just two blocks from its ancestral buildings’ original location.
It wasn’t just about the bricks, though. Original windows, doors, and even the $200,000 split oak staircase all contribute to the Horton Grand Hotel, preserving the 1880s style the previous hotels were born with. Of course, not everything could be sourced from the original buildings; however, antique pieces authentic from the era are used whenever possible. For example, the oak registration desk you’ll see when you walk in and the bar located in the Palace Bar both come from an old New York church.
With timeless, elegant charm in a location travelers can’t beat — we’re right next to the convention center — the Horton Grand Hotel is a fantastic place to stay when you’re visiting San Diego. Explore our accommodations to learn more about our guest rooms, which expertly combine historical decor with modern amenities, for sophisticated comfort.
Tips for a Great Corporate Event on a Budget
In the business world of emails and smartphones, in-person networking events and conferences are (perhaps surprisingly) making a comeback. A Live Marketing survey found that 48% of event attendees believe in-person networking with brands is more important than it was two years ago. Hosting corporate events has emerged as an optimal way to get in touch and create connections with like-minded people.
There’s no question: A well-executed corporate event bolsters your company brand and expertise, and can even make some revenue in the process. If you plan smart, you don’t need a giant budget to put on a sophisticated, successful corporate event.
Here are our best tips for planning a corporate event on a budget:
Timing Is Everything
The “when” of your event may have the biggest impact on what it ends up costing, and potentially earning, your company. Consider other events going on in your industry, as well as things like holidays that might interfere with a good turnout. As you research, call event venues and ask what times of the week, month, and year are the least expensive. Venues would rather have paying customers than empty meeting spaces, so they’ll be happy to find an affordable option for you. Keep in mind that certain times and dates are discounted for a reason — and you want a well-attended event — so try to strike a good balance between cost and timing.
The Closer to Hotels, the Better
Keep the event within walking distance (or reasonable transportation distance) from hotels. Attendees should never have to spend time in traffic, or pay a fortune for a cab ride, to get from hotels to events. To make things even simpler and more convenient for guests, consider hosting the event at a hotel that accommodates corporate functions. Hotels are usually willing to cut attendees a room rate deal if the event is happening in their meetings spaces — if you’re planning to charge attendees an all-inclusive rate, this can cut costs significantly.
Research Food and Drink Packages
If you’ve planned company events before, you know that paying to rent a space is usually a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the food and drink expenses. Depending on the type of event, you can save a lot of money by bundling space rental with food and drink packages.
If your event doesn’t fall during a meal time, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Remember that you’re inviting people to an event you’re hosting; that makes you responsible for ensuring their food and drink needs are met, even if they are buying it separately. If food isn’t part of the event schedule, make it easy for attendees to eat by choosing a venue with an on-site café, sit-down dining, and bar options.
Go With a Theme
Up the fun level of your corporate event with a theme that ties together all of the individual activities. You can save money on this by starting with the theme and seeing what affordable do-it-yourself options are out there, or what items you buy inexpensively. Once you’ve found a theme that will fit your budget, plan everything else (menus, decorations and more) around it.
Offer Early-Bird Discounts
Encourage more people to sign up nice and early with a discounted price. When you are able to plan more in advance, from food to seating, you will save more money. If your corporate event happens annually, offer a discount to people who sign up on the spot for the next year. The sooner the better when it comes to knowing your event numbers.
Look for Entertainment Nearby
This is especially important if you have attendees traveling a significant distance for your event. Part of the appeal of going to a conference comes in the fringe benefits and activities. Hosting a corporate event in a tourist-popular city elevates your event from a basic meeting to a mini vacation, of sorts.
Choose a spot with built-in entertainment, or nearby attractions. For instance, the Horton Grand offers live music every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night — and the best of San Diego nightlife within walking distance. These features can turn undecided attendees into definite ones. When arranging your venue, ask specifically what else there is to do on the property, or in the surrounding area. It will boost the appeal of your corporate event, even if you didn’t directly plan the actual entertainment and attractions.
Team Building Activities to Kick Off the New Year
The holiday season gives companies and employees plenty of reason to celebrate – and the New Year offers a chance for goal-setting. If you want your team to work at its highest level this year, start out with some team building events to strengthen employee connections and camaraderie. Consider making it an inspiring multi-day occasion, by planning a team building retreat at a hotel or resort with the right accommodations.
The truth is, a close-knit team will work better together and produce better results for the company. Employees who like their colleagues, and feel part of a larger team, have higher job satisfaction — which improves talent retention. You’ll see higher productivity and a higher bottom line with an amicable, supportive, happy team.
Organizing a team building event is one thing, but planning what to do during your event offers its own challenge. The activities you choose can impact the tone and success of your team building pursuits. No matter where you host your event, here are a few memorable and engaging team building activities to consider trying in the New Year:
In the ultimate game of reliance, employees work in teams to find the ultimate prize before their peers. Try to create groups of people from different departments, or those who don’t normally work together, giving employees a chance to interact with fresh personalities and make new connections. Design the scavenger hunt inside the office, outdoors, or even as a driving-across-town game. The strongest teams are ones that tap the strengths of each individual to reach a common goal.
Are You My Opposite?
In this game, you (or your appointed activity leader) will come up with several pairs of items that go together; like salt and pepper, or peas and carrots. Write these items on separate pieces of paper, and tape one piece of paper to the back of each participant. Participants must interact with each other, asking only “yes or no” questions, in order to figure out what word is on their back. Once they know that, they must try to find their other half. This is a fun and casual game that gets people walking around the room and mingling, and relies on clear communication to succeed.
Three Truths and a Lie
Instruct employees to write down three true statements about themselves, and one lie. Go around the room and have each person read all four items, in random order. After each person reads their list, the rest of the employees try to decide which statements are true, and which is made up — explaining why they do or don’t believe the statements. Encourage employees to make all four items believable and, of course, suitable for the workplace. This is a fun way for participants to learn several interesting (perhaps even unexpected) things about each other, in a short amount of time — and also to think about the perceptions their colleagues have about them.
This game is pretty simple. Pair up participants who do not know each other (do your best), and give them a total of 5 minutes to learn as much as they can about the other person (or, depending on time constraints, you may give 2.5 minutes each). The participants can take notes if they want. Once the time is up, each participant must present the information they learned about their partner to the rest of the group. This is a great meeting-opener, because it doesn’t require many resources, and it gets employees talking to each other and sharing ideas right off the bat.
You’ll need open space for this activity — perhaps a company conference room, or a corporate meeting room, or an open venue space. The activity leader sets objects to create obstacles around the room, like balls, boxes, and traffic cones. Participants are paired up. One person is blindfolded, and the other is not. The blindfolded team member must walk through the “minefield,” without stepping on any mines, guided only by the instruction of his or her partner. As each new person is blindfolded, the activity leader rearranges the minefield items. This activity improves listening and communication, is a great exercise in trust, and acts as a reminder to pay attention to cues from teammates.
Feeling inspired about organizing your next corporate team building event? Check out the event space available at Horton Grand Hotel!
Planning the Perfect Post-Wedding Brunch
A proper wedding celebration is about so much more than walking down the aisle. From engagement parties and rehearsal dinners, to cocktail hours and more, there are so many ways to celebrate love before, during, and yes, even after the wedding.
Hosting a post-wedding brunch is a great way to show appreciation to guests. Though the couple of the hour are likely off honeymooning, friends and family are still in town, ready to embrace one last chance to celebrate before the wedding festivities end. Plus, if the bride and groom are still in town, they can enjoy a few more moments with their loved ones before returning to “real life.” This simple gesture leaves a lasting impression on guests – and it’s not very complicated to plan.
Here’s how to set up a lovely wedding brunch that doesn’t require a lot of work, and shows your guests how appreciated they are (even if you’re off on a honeymoon with your sweetheart).
You’ve already asked your guests to travel (even if it’s just across town), so plan your brunch in the same hotel or area as the wedding. Asking your guests to go somewhere different, especially the morning after wedding festivities, will result in a low turnout. Think of this brunch as an extension of your wedding. Check with the hotel where your guests will be staying – if the wedding venue and hotel are one in the same, even better!
Keep It Simple
You’ve already wowed your guests at your wedding and reception – you don’t need to outdo that. The simpler, the better. Like you, your guests have stayed up late partying, so they aren’t looking for anything too complicated. A warm breakfast with some coffee, juice, and mimosa options is all you need to make them feel appreciated. Everyone is in relaxation mode after the wedding, so pick a warm, inviting space. Aim for a sophisticated brunch in a casual atmosphere.
Ask the staff at your venue if you can reuse the flowers and centerpieces for the brunch – if possible, you can switch up the look a bit, but don’t spend too much time on it. There’s no reason to come up with a completely new concept for brunch. It isn’t meant to overshadow the wedding festivities, but to complement them just before people leave town. When choosing a venue, find out if there are options to host brunch in a different area of the same building – a café or hotel courtyard, for instance.
Pay for It (or Find Something Reasonably Priced)
According to The Knot, the parents of the bride usually pay for brunch, but contemporary wedding arrangements vary. If possible, the bride and groom should pay for it as a “thank you” to the people who made the day special for them. Don’t go over the wedding budget though – your friends and family will love the gesture of brunch, no matter how simple. If you can’t afford to foot the bill, arrange for a group discount at the hotel restaurant, so your guests have a reasonable brunch option before they leave town. Don’t spend more than you can, and don’t put an overwhelming expense on your guests, either.
A relaxing, fun, and delicious post-wedding brunch adds the perfect finishing touch to a memorable wedding. Send your guests off on a high note (and with full stomachs). Years later, when the wedding itself is a distant memory, they’ll remember more than just the ceremony – they’ll reminisce on the overall joy of the entire celebration, the good times they had with friend and family, and your generous hospitality from start to finish.
4 Amazing Attractions in San Diego
When it comes to your vacation, the planning process is the hardest part, but it’s also one of the most exciting. First, you need a place to go and things to do. Why not choose San Diego? As for things to do, it has something for everyone! It’s a city filled with history, art, museums, beaches, shopping, and more! Take a look at a few of our favorite San Diego sights and spots below.
SeaWorld is a must-do. Located in Mission Bay, SeaWorld offers fun and adventure for the whole family. It popularly provides animal shows featuring dolphins and sea lions, and exhibits with penguins, stingrays, and more. It also has a theme park with toddler rides, and on the other end of the spectrum, extreme roller coasters featuring water. Of course, there’s also an aquarium with an interactive acrylic tunnel that allows guests to observe the sea life up close.
If you want to go the extra mile and get the most out of your visit to SeaWorld, there are also specialty services; things like, animal interaction programs and VIP tours. Pricing for the park varies depending on what you are looking to do. A day pass costs $69 with varying costs for extra services, and it’s a convenient seven miles from the Horton Grand Hotel.
As one of California’s most photographed beaches and an underwater park ecological reserve, La Jolla Cove is a great place to spend a day on the beach. While there are many beaches in San Diego, this is one that will really wow you, and it’s only 13 miles from the Horton Grand Hotel. Its clear water, gorgeous caves, and protected wildlife make it the perfect location for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, and more.
However, because the cove is a protected area, there are no floatation devices, such as body boards, allowed. There are, however, many other La Jolla beaches in the area that do allow floatation devices. Admittance is free, but parking lots require payment.
Less than two miles from the Horton Grand Hotel sits Balboa Park, a 1,200-acre park filled with botanical bliss, incredible architecture, and over a dozen museums. The park is home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo, which holds over 8,000 rare and endangered animals.
The beautiful gardens throughout the park make a great setting for a picnic. Other attractions include performing arts centers, a miniature railroad, the Balboa carousel, and quaint shops. Admittance to the park itself is free, but some attractions require a fee.
If you’re more of a shopper, then Seaport Village is the place for you. It’s just a short walk from the Horton Grand Hotel, although there is parking available if you prefer. With over 50 unique shops and 17 delicious restaurants, it’s the perfect shopping village. In addition to shopping, there is plenty of outdoor entertainment along this lively waterfront walk. Check the events calendar online to see what kind of events are scheduled for when you’re in town.
These are just a few of the great adventures that await you in the city of San Diego. There are many others, such as Belmont Park, Old Town Historic State Park, and the town of Coronado. Any one of these wondrous locations can be just the thing to make your trip to San Diego and your stay at the Horton Grand even more fantastic!
Tips for Hosting a Spectacular Corporate Event
A successful corporate event is all about the details. You want to find the perfect combination of excitement and affordability to make the most of your event goals. Destination Hotels reports that corporate event attendance is on an upswing, making now a perfect time to plan your next event!
Take a look at the three most important factors in prepping for your next corporate event so you can start planning.
More than anything else, the location of your corporate event will determine how excited people are to attend it. A venue that’s inexpensive, but in a spot no one really wants to visit, is not likely to net the best results in terms of attendance. Picking a location for your event that is in the heart of a major downtown area or near other attractions will ensure that your attendees are excited to make the trip. You can start brainstorming where to go by checking out the Top 50 Corporate Event Destinations online. You don’t have to book Las Vegas or New York City for people to want to come; look for a lesser-traveled spot that has a lot to offer in addition to its meeting space.
Creative Meeting Spaces
You’ll want a corporate event to fit the needs of your attendees; many companies are getting away from classroom-style options. Instead of a boxed-in room, why not an enclosed patio area? Or a ballroom? Or even an old movie theatre turned conference center? If your event is over the course of a few days, pick a venue that has flexible meeting spaces so you can offer different scenery based on the topic or day. When people are stimulated by the space around them, they will have more enthusiasm for your event. If you want your attendees to walk away wowed by your company, then you need to give them something they’ve never experienced before, and that starts with innovative event spaces.
Food and Beverage Options
Make sure the food and drinks you plan to serve your attendees are up to your event standards. It’s best to go with a venue that offers a lot in the way of food options. Hotels with a restaurant, bar, and catering options are a smart choice because you can feed people on-site. Of course, you also want a location that has nearby food and drink options, especially if the event is a few days long, to provide your event attendees with the most enjoyable experience. Pick a venue that has plenty of restaurant and bar options within walking distance of where attendees will stay.
Why San Diego?
If you want a corporate event spot that will impress your attendees, San Diego is a smart choice for its beautiful weather, proximity to many attractions, and affordability compared to other large cities. The Horton Grand is a historically-inspired retreat in the heart of San Diego’s gaslamp district, near the San Diego Convention Center. The Horton Grand offers ballroom meeting options, as well as a historic theatre and a New Orleans-style courtyard for corporate events. With flexible meeting room options, your company is sure to find the space that fits your attendance size and budget. The on-site restaurant, bar, and catering services offer convenient options for feeding attendees or having them grab a bite in between sessions. Attendees will see the best of San Diego when your corporate event is hosted at the Horton Grand and will leave with a great impression of the city and your company. For more details on booking your next corporate event at the Horton Grand, visit the event planning page.
Ghosts, Ghouls and the Gaslamp This Halloween Season
The spookiest time of the year is rapidly approaching, and the Gaslamp Quarter is making ample preparations. One of the most historical areas of San Diego, chilling tales, haunted buildings, and eerie folklore are not too difficult to come by in the Gaslamp.
It just so happens that the oldest building in the entire Gaslamp, the Davis-Horton house, located on Island Avenue, is known to be a ghost-hunter’s dream come true. Convinced there’s been paranormal activity, paranormal research teams flock to the house each halloween to try and prove it to brave witnesses.
Looking For a Fright….?
Enough about that, don’t want to frighten you out of the Gaslamp… or do we? Whatever your level of fright may be, there’s a Gaslamp halloween event for you. For the partiers, the Monster Bash will make dreams come true. For those who love fake frights, the Haunted Hotel never disappoints. For those who get a thrill from potentially, very real, frights, you must go on a paranormal investigation tour with none other than the San Diego ghost hunters.
Stay Close Together, Or Risk Being Alone When the Ghosts Arrive
Celebrating the spooky season is always tons of fun, no matter what the activities are. Being spooked in real, or fictitious, haunted houses is great for some, and for others, carving pumpkins and eating candy corn is the preferred method of celebrating. This year, we recommend throwing your very own ghastly ghoul extravaganza… or whatever you’d like to call it! What better way to incorporate your friends and family’s favorite halloween activities than providing it all in one space!
The Gaslamp is teeming with historical spaces ripe for the most spectacular halloween bash. There’s quite the plethora of San Diego Historic buildings, but the Horton Grand Hotel, a San Diego Historic Hotel, takes the cake for the classiest venue. Just in time for the spooktacular season, the elegant hotel is offering… package deal???
Your Next Group Meeting Could Use More Drama
We are in the age of creativity and innovation. With constant advances in technology, and the increasing globalization of the world, now is the perfect time to encourage out of the box thinking in your office or workplace. Even though we’re connected 24/7 via technology, the value of human interaction and face-to-face connection has never been more valuable to increase.
Meetings and event experiences are integral to the success of all businesses, but finding the right space to hold a successful meeting can be challenging. A stuffy meeting room with plush chairs and a big whiteboard may have worked in the past, but in order to foster creativity, a creative space is needed.
A place where team building and creative expression are easy to execute is key. There are few more well-equipped cities to accomplish this goal than San Diego. Full of hidden gems, and a constant source of spectacular weather, “America’s Finest City” is bursting with inspiration and creativity.
Consider holding your next meeting experience at a venue built for creativity, art, and community. Regardless of what field of work your meeting may be about, participants will gain much from the experience of brainstorming together in an intimate theatre setting.
The Horton Grand Theatre has all of the necessary ingredients for a successful event experience, while adding more creative layers to the mix, resulting in a recipe for success.
The theatre is an excellent meeting place with 240 seats, a great view of the stage from each seat, located in the heart of the Gaslamp District, and attached to a hotel. The space offers high tech sounds and projection capabilities as well.
Imagine a stage as the focal point of your meeting, a place where team building and creativity take center stage. Here are some initial ideas:
- Team members could break into groups come up with an idea, then take to the stage, and act out their idea!
- Team-building activities could take place on stage. A mini talent show could be a great way to break up the day.
- A good old fashioned game of charades, on stage, could help loosen the atmosphere, and even help get those brain juices flowing.
- Karaoke. Seriously, with the sound and projection capabilities, this is entirely possible, and will absolutely bond team members.
Those are just a few suggestions, but the sky’s the limit! Or rather, the ceiling anyway. This space is meant to be a community space, open to whoever can make good use of it. It’s centrally located in downtown San Diego, and can accommodate a rather large group.
It’s a competitive world out there, inspiring and encouraging team members, and striving for innovation are keys to success. It’s been proven time and again that meeting experiences have the potential to unlock creativity and brilliant ideas, but only if it’s the type of meeting that elicits such things. Brainstorm how your next meeting event can benefit your team and your company. Visit here to learn more about how you can utilize the Horton Grand Theatre for your next event or better yet, give Derek Johnston a call to discuss how you can take your next group event to a whole new level of creativity and inspiration.
Raising the Curtain on Community Theater and One of San Diego's…
Find yourself searching through Groupon for great deals on big Broadway productions? Went to a large theater to see a show and realized it would have been wise to bring binoculars? We have the perfect solution for you: community theater.
Most of us have a pretty grand idea of what going to the theater should be like. A humongous stage, hundreds and hundreds of seats, balconies, extravagant set design, and, well, maybe some snobbiness (yes, we just said that).
But that isn’t necessarily an accurate depiction of the theater. Just like not all films are big summertime blockbusters, not all theaters and productions require so much finery. Smaller community theaters bring it back to the basics, providing a more intimate experience, greater audience immersion, and the opportunity to explore interesting plays and productions that wouldn’t make sense on a big stage.
Not only that, but local theaters provide an authentic gathering place to revive community interest in the performing arts, which is absolutely crucial. Community theaters have the special job of incubating up-and-coming actors, directors, playwrights, and stage managers. Where else could this invaluable experience be gained? The next generation of big-name actors in Hollywood and Broadway are honing their skills and building their dreams in small theaters all over the country as you read this.
Small local theaters play such an important role, but often go overlooked–which is the recipe for a hidden gem.
Case in point, you might not be very familiar with our own Horton Grand Theatre located here in Downtown San Diego, right next to the Horton Grand Hotel. This off-broadway style theater is pretty small, holding about 240 people. Because it’s so small, every seat in the house is incredible. When you see a show here, you’re part of the experience. You’re so close to the actors that you can really see them. They are so close to you that their performance is less showy and more authentic.
Another special thing about the Horton Grand Theatre is that it is available for use. It’s an open invitation. This space has so much potential and is within reach for all to use.
“Most people don’t realize this venue is available to them,” commented Derek Johnston, Horton Grand Theatre Sales Manager. “The truth is, the Horton Grand Theatre is perfect for many things, whether it’s an all-day meeting, training event, product launch, media event, speech, or, of course, the performing arts. Plus, the fact that it’s in the Gaslamp and attached to the Horton Grand Hotel really gives it the edge of being in a great, convenient location,” Derek added.
The Horton Grand Theatre is currently open for people to come see the productions already happening here, people who are looking for a venue to put on a new production, or for businesses to host events. It’s a multipurpose space equipped with high-tech sound and projection capabilities. Previous productions include Triple Espresso and Mixtape, which just opened again this week. The theater also hosts the San Diego Film Awards.
Next time you’re looking for something different in San Diego, skip Groupon. Remember the Horton Grand Theatre!
Eat Well, Celebrate Love: All in a Day's Work for This SD …
When it comes down to it, food and cooking is really all about love. For San Diego’s Chef Nelson De Leon, that statement couldn’t be more true.
A longtime resident, Chef Nelson De Leon has been been cooking up magic in San Diego’s restaurant scene for over 25 years. He started out in the restaurant business as a busboy and waiter, and has worked hard ever since to gain the hands-on kitchen experience and culinary training that has enabled him to grow into the fine chef he is today.
Chef Nelson De Leon’s experience throughout San Diego at places like the famed local favorite Morton’s Steakhouse has enabled him to hone excellent culinary skills. But his extensive experience also gives him the ability to plan creative, enticing menus, organize and cook for banquets and catering events, direct an entire catering staff, and create memorable, meaningful experiences for those who enjoy the meals he crafts.
All of this serves him well in his role at the Horton Grand Hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter. As the catering chef for one of San Diego’s longest-standing and most highly regarded hotels, Chef Nelson is personally responsible for the delicious cuisine eaten at special events–most notably weddings–that take place here.
Through his love of food, Chef Nelson has the joy of creating special memories for lovebirds who choose the Horton Grand Hotel as the perfectly elegant and classy wedding venue. Bride, groom, and guests enjoy savory entrees like grilled lemon and herb salmon and filet mignon with shallot-wine sauce, or get their fill of slow-roasted turkey and herb-crusted pork loin from the buffet. Creative, sophisticated combinations like brie and curried apple filo make mouths water as guests toast, chat, and enjoy the merriment of the occasion. Full, satisfied bellies perfectly match full, happy hearts.
“The secret ingredient is always love,” says Chef Nelson. “I am blessed not only because I get to cook, create, and do what I love, but also because I have the important job of contributing to one of the most special days of anyone’s life. I take great responsibility in that, and am overjoyed when I know that the bride, groom, and all their guests are savoring the food that the team and I have prepared for them,” he added.
As catering chef for the Horton Grand Hotel, Chef Nelson also creates quite a spread for breakfast and luncheon events. A love for both sweet and savory flavor profiles makes it easy for him to whip up everything from fluffy belgian waffles and caramel apple blossoms to beef encroute and mouthwatering dill potato salad.
Try some of Chef Nelson De Leon’s culinary creations by booking a special event at the Horton Grand Hotel. The classic Victorian-style building set amidst the bustling Gaslamp District is complete with an elegant New Orleans-style courtyard, ballrooms, restaurant/bar space, and other on-site meeting venues. Pack your bags–the hotel has incredible accommodations for an overnight stay as well!
Most Wedding Memories are Made Around the Table, Not at the…
Warm weather, long days, no school… and lots and lots of weddings! Summertime is on full swing, and with it comes wedding season. Always a blissfully happy event, and full of delicious cuisine, weddings are one of the most exciting aspects of summertime.
Each wedding season is host to a variety of new trends, and this season has illuminated some truly delectable wedding cuisine trends!
Hot off The Farm
Similar to the restaurant craze, having a farm to table type of dinner is sweeping through the wedding industry. Couples are now opting to provide locally sourced, organic food to their guests, promoting sustainability and health. This also results in having seasonally themed dishes, since local farmers typically only grow seasonal produce.
Home on the Range
The whole concept of “rustic” is very popular among weddings right now. In regards to food it means more of a buffet style, rather than multiple courses served to each individual. Food served family style creates a more intimate affair, allowing the guests to better get to know one another.
F. Scott Fitzgerald Would be Proud
Ever since the film, Great Gatsby inspired weddings have been a huge hit. Exquisite garden parties featuring champagne cocktails, tea sandwiches, and more are all examples of the cuisine.
America’s Favorite Breakfast Desert
As donut bar restaurants have been popping up all over, donut bars at weddings have been making a frequent appearance as well. Sometimes donut bars take the place of an actual wedding cake, or in other scenarios, they are an addition to the cake, adding more color and excitement to the dessert table.
No Guest Left Behind
In addition to the farm to table craze, providing vegan dishes and gluten free options is becoming widely popular as well. Some couples are opting for entire vegan meals, or a simple vegan or gluten free option.
Shock and Awe With Unconventional Cuisine
There are quite a few breakfast loving couples out there, and they’ve chosen to serve breakfast foods for dinner, or even having a breakfast reception instead. Pancake bars, waffle bars, cinnamon rolls instead of a cake, and parfait like appetizers are just a few of the breakfast cuisine trends.
Cuisine is one of the most exciting and fun aspects of a wedding, and experimenting with new innovative ideas keeps an age old tradition feeling fresh! In the end, it’s your big day, and it’s all about the beginning of your happily ever after. Whichever cuisine trend you choose, it’s sure to be one of the most memorable experiences of your life.
To help you create a wedding unlike any other, consider having it a historical, iconic location, where the weather is reliable nearly everyday out of the year. The Horton Grand Hotel, in San Diego, California, can help you create your dream storybook wedding, that will leave your guests in awe for years to come.