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Unique Hotels: Are They Right for a Corporate Program?

As event planners, we know the right hotel can make or break a program. With so many to choose from—and each unique in its own way—matching clients to ideal hotels based on service level, group size, location, rates, and desired experience is a complex process.

Individual travelers now opt more for the “wow” factor when choosing a place to stay. Should corporate groups consider these same unique experiences?

Most people have heard of ICEHOTEL in Sweden, constructed entirely of ice, or Atlantis in Dubai, built partially underwater. But there are many more weird and wonderful options as well.

Before you go booking your next corporate retreat in a treehouse hotel, consider these tips from SHW’s site sourcing team:


They can make for a very unique incentive experience. These are things you don’t normally see, so you will definitely have your VIP guests talking long after the trip is over. Hotels like these are architecturally fascinating, and are usually rooted in local culture and history. Take the Liberty Hotel in Boston for example. The Liberty Hotel was constructed inside of an old prison, and while the building was renovated to be a luxury hotel, it still features many original design elements.

They come with built-in experiences. What makes these hotels unique also lends itself to seamlessly built-in onsite activities for guests to enjoy. The Hotel La Cofradia in Tequila, Mexico, with guest rooms made of real tequila barrels, also offers tequila tastings and educational activities about the tequila making process.

The service is more customized in smaller hotels. A small group in a small 5-star hotel likely will get premier and customized service to make the stay memorable.  It’s important to look at the overall service level more than anything, but one plus to a smaller hotel is that they can customize service to your group more than a larger hotel.


They may not appeal to all your guests. What makes these hotels unique also may turn off your guests, whether because of their preferences or because of personal fears. In Sweden’s ICEHOTEL, some people may prefer to stay out of the cold. On the other hand, an underwater hotel like Dubai’s Atlantis, or a hotel with guest rooms suspended on cranes like Amsterdam’s Crane Hotel Faralda, may drive away guests afraid of being underwater or afraid of heights. Consider who your guests are.

There are risks and limitations that come with these hotels. There’s inherent safety risks that come with checking into a room suspended in the air, and risk management is important to prepare for in all aspects of your program. These hotels can come with more common limitations, however. For example, hotels built in prisons, tend to have spotty Wi-Fi because of the thick walls. The same goes for hotels in remote locations.

They may not be used to working with groups. Some smaller, independent hotels don’t have a dedicated sales team, which makes it more difficult to plan a group trip, particularly if guests are flying in from various cities. Working with a professional site selection team can be a big help navigating these hurdles.

Check a few of our favorites:

Want to learn more? Let SHW help find the perfect destination for your next meeting or incentive trip. You can reach us at, or through our online RFP tool.

Meet SHW’s Site Selection Team


Cheryl Barnet, Senior Manager – Site Sourcing, Registration & Housing


Michelle Morin, Site Sourcing Specialist


Jill Bell, Site Sourcing Specialist


Sibyl Adams, Site Sourcing Coordinator