It comes as no surprise that a company that prides itself on meetings would plan one heck of a media site visit. Marriottâ€™s Convention & Resort Network, a collection of 62 Marriott hotels geared to meetings, went above and beyond to welcome me and a few other journalists to some of its top Southern California convention hotels: Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, Anaheim Marriott and JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE. Each hotel has its own distinct flavor, but each also has a heart for meetings. Here are a few of the wow moments I experienced at each property that can be replicated for your group. SAN DIEGO I spent my first night in SoCal at the 1,360-room Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, where Executive Chef Aron Schwartz impressed us with a five-course meal at the on-site Marina Kitchen Restaurant & Bar. On the menu was scallop ceviche, truffle corn risotto and Alaskan halibut baked in translucent parchment paper, with each course perfectly paired with a West Coast or international wine. Fun fact about the property: It employs 17 sommeliers. (It is in California wine country, after all.) The next morning kicked off with a yacht ride around San Diego Bay. The hotelâ€™s neighboring marina not only provides gorgeous waterfront views, it also has boats and yachts for rent for small groups. A breakfast bar and build-your-own mimosas were on board. After a relaxing morning, it was time for a walk-through of Marriott Marquis San Diego Marinaâ€™s meeting spaces. Host to the annual San Diego Comic-Con, the waterside hotel completed a $107 million transformation to its more than 280,000 square feet of meeting space in June. ANAHEIM It was a gorgeous two-hour Amtrak ride from San Diego to Anaheim, where I checked in to the 1,030-room Anaheim Marriott. After some R&R on the train, I reached Anaheim refreshed for a night out in a city with so much more to see than Disneyland. Our first stop was Unsung Brewing Co.â€™s superhero-themed tasting room that opened this summer. Across the street is Anaheim Packing House. Built in 1919, itâ€™s where local farmers used to unload trucks of oranges and wash and pack them before shipping them to the East Coast. Today, itâ€™s an artisanal market filled with cafes and kiosks, perfect for a dine-around evening. Grab a hand-rolled crepe at Crepe Coop; taste fresh Indian cuisine at ADYA; or sip outlandish drinks by Mini Monster. The next morning began with a catered breakfast in one of Anaheim Marriottâ€™s meeting spaces, followed by a walking tour of the hotel. Anaheim Marriott has a storage room filled with creative food displays and decor event profs can play with, including Lego-themed boardroom items like a table made from Lego blocks and fidgety toys. Situated beside the 1.6 million-sq.-ft. Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim Marriott has more than 100,000 square feet of meeting space and has hosted events for high-tech companies like Facebook, Google and the creators of Pokemon Go. LOS ANGELES Our final leg of the trip took us to the 878-room JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE, where I was welcomed with lunch at The Mixing Room. It began with a Liquid Intelligence tequila mixology demo thatâ€™s perfect for teambuilding. Executive Chef Eric Branger then whipped up lechon tacos, salt potatoes, mofongo and more before we took an in-depth tour of the JWâ€™s meeting spaces and amenities. With 100,000 square feet of meeting space and catering by Wolfgang Puck, the JW Marriott has hosted classic Los Angeles events such as the Emmy Awards this year. Itâ€™s also part of the L.A. LIVE sports and entertainment district, where the 20,000-seat Staples Center, the 7,100-seat Microsoft Theater and the 40,000-sq.-ft. Microsoft Square open-air plaza reside and are neighbored by Los Angeles Convention Center. The day came to an end at one of the cityâ€™s most historic locations: The Edison. Built as a power plant in 1910 and available for private events, The Edison is a â€™20s-themed bar where burlesque dancers or contortionists perform nightly. The thriving nightspot is so uniquely its own that Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando will open its own version of the bar by spring 2017. FYIâ€¦ All three of these hotels, plus 262 other Marriott-branded hotels across the United States, are participating in Marriottâ€™s Meetings Imagined sweepstakes, where planners have the chance to win $5,000 in meeting credits. Submit an RFP for a 2017 meeting to any participating location before Dec. 31, 2016, to enter the giveaway.
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