Hotel News: W South Beach Provides Immersive Tech for Next-Level Events

May 21, 2024

Imagine stepping into a ballroom and being instantly transported to the streets of London, the beaches in Rio or the enchanting gardens of Kyoto. 

With the latest 360-degree mapping technology that debuted last fall at Miami’s W South Beach, planners can recreate any ambiance and experience for their events — from a fully immersive underwater oceanic environment to the backdrop of any city around the world.

As part of a $6 million renovation of its 4,300-square-foot ballroom and meeting space, the oceanfront property also became the first meetings hotel in North America to implement the 360-degree mapping technology, according to hotel officials.

W South Beach

Fully customizable with pre-set color scenes, the space’s built-in projection system only requires light, removing the need for complicated sets, heat or UV emissions. It also offers a digital library of stills and video displays that corporate planners can select from, including abstract digital art, lush green foliage, sunny beaches, still wallpaper effects and celebratory party effects.

W South Beach General Manager Rick Ueno said the new technology combines the art of storytelling, visual and audio effects and technical precision capable of transforming the ballroom’s blank canvas into any setting, allowing guests to embark on a captivating journey, likened to L’Atelier des Lumières in Paris.

“For a decade, we’ve been the social center of Miami’s major cultural events – Art Basel, Miami Swim Week and others – so it was time to up the ante and transform the way events and meetings are conducted on the beach,” Ueno said. 

Inside the Tech Toolbox

W South Beach

Within the hotel’s flexible ballroom space, which is divisible by two and able to hold up to 250 people, customizable LED lighting is built into 12 ceiling coves and six wall arches, creating an energy efficient system that bypasses traditional venue-specific limitations to make the projection mapping come to life.

Built into the ceiling are tour presentation projectors that can be used simultaneously with environment projectors, while 24 built-in microphones (12 for each room) are affixed to the ceiling, providing state-of-the-art speech reinforcement and recording that allows for seamless presentations.

Additionally, 32 audio speakers (16 for each room) offer a discrete design, premium aesthetics and high performance. Each of the 52 pin spots (26 for each room) feature an adjustable 6-foot radius beam that can be easily controlled and programmed to provide an elevated performance for the projection mapping.

The hotel also offers three renovated studios equipped with 75-inch LCD monitors, wireless internet and HDMI connectivity, Ensenio Hotel TV channel for leisure viewing and dimmable soft white LED and recess lighting. Capable of holding up to 60 people each, the three studios can be combined into one larger space as needed.

According to Ahmed Elkaswani, director, event planning and operations at W South Beach, more than 50% of the hotel’s group meetings and social events have used the technology since its inception, and planners have responded enthusiastically to its ease of use, as the system only requires an AV technician to operate and follow the event timeline.

W South Beach

“Our system was designed to be easily controlled from the touch of a button - similar to how you would use an application to control the lights in your own home or office,” Elkaswani explained. “[Planners] also love the customization—our state-of-the-art LED technology can be customized to adapt to any RBG (red, blue, green) color code and display a wide variety of backdrops.”

He continued, “Additionally, with the built-in technology, there are no complicated setups – the ballroom is ready to perform. It reduces additional costs such as extra time for setup and labor fees for the client. Built-in technology provides a clean event surface, providing our client additional function space to invite more guests. Companies are looking for ways to impress and engage their audience and this new technology creates a memorable experience for attendees. Reactions have been priceless. I wish I could record everyone’s reaction when they experience our ballroom for the first time.”

W South Beach features a total of 14,892 sq. ft. of meeting and event spaces, including seven event rooms and three breakout.

Deeper Dive Into the Property

Opened in 2009 with some of the largest guest rooms on South Beach, complete with balconies and expansive ocean views, the W South Beach has played host to countless events for global brands and travelers from around the world, according to hotel officials.

W South Beach

In November 2020, a $30 million renovation updated the hotel’s 357 guest suites, and Away Spa, while its two destination swimming pools, WET and Mini WET, were refinished with refreshed poolside cabanas.

This transformation also introduced a new guest experience designed to inspire the essence of Miami via curated programming. Offerings include weekly cigar tastings with Ueno, cocktail and cooking workshops, live music, fitness offerings by NYC celebrity gym DOGPOUND and Ahana Yoga wellness workshops covering chakra balancing and activation, breathwork, ayurveda, sound healing and new/full moon ceremonies. The hotel also features South Beach’s only rooftop basketball court and tennis court, SWISH & SWING.

W South Beach is also home to RWSB (Restaurant W South Beach), run by Italian Chef Vincenzo Borriello. The indoor-outdoor restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily and offers an array of classic dishes featuring local produce, fresh fish and signature pastas. Off the hotel’s lobby, MR CHOW offers authentic Beijing cuisine in an opulent setting.

As the hotel’s outdoor craft cocktail outpost, IRMA’s was given a new look in 2017 with reclaimed materials by Hurricane Irma, while the LIVING ROOM BAR offers an extensive mixology program.

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