Downtown Marriott will provide new event option

When the new Milwaukee Marriott Downtown hotel opens its doors to the public in July it will offer businesses almost 10,000 square feet of new space for corporate events and meetings.

The event space will include a 5,500-square-foot ballroom – known as the East Side Ballroom – in addition to three 1,000-square-foot meeting spaces and two 700-square-foot meeting spaces.

“We were looking for an event space that would really speak well to the design of the hotel as well as really allow us to focus in on service, which is our primary mission,” said Jeff Hess, general manager of the hotel. “We’re not focusing on being the largest event facility in the city, but certainly we want to be the one with the most genuine care and quality in service.”

The East Side Ballroom, located on the first floor of the 205-room hotel, sits just off from the lobby and library lounge, where the Marriott will welcome guests into a very social, interactive atmosphere.

“People work differently, and they socialize differently,” Hess said. “A lot of folks don’t want to go to a hotel just to be in a hotel room anymore. They want to be part of the life and part of what’s happening around them.”

As opposed to positioning the lobby as a place where people meet and leave, the Marriott is designing it as a place where people meet and want to stay, he said.

The ballroom, named for the East Side Commercial Historic District in which the new hotel resides, will hold up to 360 guests. The gathering space will also have the ability to be divided into three separate event spaces, each suitable for up to 120 guests, through wall partitions. The venue’s ceiling stands 15 feet at its lowest points and 18 feet at its peaks.

Along with corporate events, the ballroom will serve social events, such as weddings and reunions, according to Hess.

“Because the space is highly flexible, we can configure ourselves for any type of meeting,” he said.

Hess describes the venue as contemporary and one that pulls in the nature of the neighborhood and Milwaukee. The ballroom will soften the black and white décor of the lobby with an earthy palate that includes wood tones as well as artwork incorporating metal and rust hues, he said.

Each of the hotel’s five individual meeting rooms will draw off the ballroom’s earth palate, and the three meeting spaces located on the first floor will rely heavily on natural light with 12-foot windows.

“They’re tailored toward corporate meetings, but they also work well for individual events working in concert with the ballroom across the hall,” Hess said.

The two additional meeting rooms, located on the second floor, will offer meeting space options in the historic part of the building, which has retained original features like Cream City brick.

The new hotel, which will have its own event and catering staffs, has booked 11 meetings and events for this summer and has received several inquiries about the space for weddings and other social events, according to Hess.

The Marriott’s “new” factor will be enough to draw considerable attention during the hotel’s opening, according to Sara Dahmen, president of Milwaukee-based Golden Chic Events and Consulting. Dahmen’s company plans weddings and charity events and also consults corporate events.

“The event industry in Milwaukee is still a growing one in most categories,” Dahmen said. “There’s room for growth. Whenever there’s a new property it gets hot in the beginning, and then it levels out with everybody else.”

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