A ballroom is an event basic. But ballrooms that are big and beautifully designed do events one better.

Exhibit A: The Broadway Ballroom at the New York Marriott Marquis. Newly renovated, not only can it can seat up to 2,000 guests but it also features a full-scale, built-in Broadway-theater quality stage and unique “21st century chandelier lighting with multiple LED lighting features,” explains Kathleen Duffy, director of public relations for Marriott's New York properties.

Ballrooms grow very big out west, and the Hilton Anaheim Hotel in Anaheim, Calif., boasts the largest hotel ballroom space in the area. Its Pacific Ballroom and California Ballroom are each a whopping 28,542 square feet, enabling them to accommodate 3,500 for receptions, 2,200 for banquets and 2,800 theater-style. They also work well for exhibits, holding 172 booths each.

SPECIALTY OF THE HOUSE

But great event hotels have more than just big ballrooms. Even hotels that are part of huge corporations offer some special spaces.

For instance, the Renaissance New York Hotel 57 debuted its new Rooftop Terrace in June, a space never before open to the public. Located on the 17th floor of the hotel, the Rooftop Terrace gives groups a perfect view of the iconic Chrysler Building at night.

Not only does Reno's Peppermill Resort Spa Casino boast “the largest free-span ballroom in northern Nevada” at nearly 63,000 square feet, notes weddings director Margie McCaffrey, but the property also offers the 17th floor Sierra venue — a two-story banquet room with sweeping views and a spiral staircase, “perfect for the bride's entrance,” she notes.

At the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows in Santa Monica, Calif., an 80-foot-tall fig tree makes for a piece of living decor. Legend has it that more than 100 years ago, an Australian sailor who couldn't pay for his drinks gave the fig sapling to the bartender in lieu of cash. The bartender turned the sapling over to the Jones family, who built the original Miramar as a family mansion in 1889. Today, the Moreton Bay fig tree serves as a focal point for receptions, dinners and galas.

Event guests find another of Mother Nature's inimitable photo ops at the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles. An oasis of serenity near bustling UCLA, the hotel features a huge lawn and its own lake, complete with three resident swans. The lake is a popular backdrop for weddings.

You can sit beneath a chandelier, or you can sit in the chandelier itself. That's true at the three-level Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas. The middle level, which accommodates up to 250 guests, is available for buyout and features its own entrance and exit. On a larger scale, the hotel's multilevel Boulevard Pool is also available for events; perched above the Strip, it offers unobstructed views of the busy scene below.

Want to make an even bigger splash? Then consider taking over the Oasis Water Park at the Arizona Grand Resort in Phoenix. The site of the Opening Night Party at The Special Event last year, the seven-acre attraction can host parties of up to 800 guests.

The complete version of this article appears in the November-December issue of Special Events. The magazine is free to ISES members; subscriptions can also be ordered here.