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Oct 14

Your Group Can Meet (and Rock) in Allen

Posted on October 14, 2015 at 3:41 PM by Chelsey Aprill

Tough crowd? Give your group the rock star treatment in Allen. With innovative catering options and world-class entertainment, they’ll be begging for an encore.

Just ask the dozens of meeting and event planning pros who joined us for a night of jamming with Lenny Kravitz on Sep. 16. Guests gaped as they stepped into the Courtyard Marriott at The Village at Allen for a pre-concert cocktail hour, wowed by the hotel’s soaring ceilings and flickering fireplace.

“I can’t believe this is a Courtyard,” said Henry Richards, a global accounts manager with ConferenceDirect, surveying the well-appointed breakout space between the ballrooms and namesake patio.

Guests nibbled on thoughtfully-crafted cocktail fare, from rosemary-speared Gorgonzola to corn fritter and BBQ brisket sliders. A bartender mixed signature drinks, including the blackberry-infused “American Girl.” (A fitting precursor, noted one planner, to Kravitz’s “American Woman.”)

Flash bulbs blinked from the corner photo booth as guests lined up for a concert souvenir. 
“This is a great setup, especially with the proximity to the hotel,” noted Colin Clayton, a meeting and events planner with Cadent Medical Communications, as the group made the short trek next door to Allen Event Center.

The iconic rotunda sparkled as the sun slipped below the horizon. Ushers swiftly scanned tickets and inspected bags, then pointed guests toward the elevator that would whisk them to their private suite.

It wasn’t long before the room was buzzing with laughter and conversation. Steaming trays of fajitas, prepared by Allen Event Center’s Executive Chef John Orshonsky, kept guests happily fed while waiting for the lights to dim. Bottles of beer and wine chilled on ice. Guests sprawled across the suite, pulling up a stool at the counter overlooking the arena or sinking into plush leather chairs with a plate of chips and guacamole.

“I didn’t realize Allen had something like this,” remarked Dawn Wilks, who handles bookings for news and film crews as a global accounts manager at HelmsBriscoe. “And I live just a few miles from here!”

A roar of applause rippled through the arena as Kravitz took the stage. The familiar strumming of “American Woman” brought the crowd to its feet. Despite its 7,000 seats, the arena took on an intimate quality as Kravitz stepped off the stage for a stroll through the crowd. Stunned fans snapped selfies with the rock star. Guests in the suite exchanged grins. This is pretty cool.

“I never knew Allen had so much to offer,” yelled Dr. Turner Joy, a motivational speaker from Maryland, over the thunderous applause for “Fly Away,” Kravitz’s closing song. “I’m so surprised – and impressed.”

“Before this [event], I really didn’t think of Allen,” remarked Karla Andrews, a meeting planner for American Express. “I will now.”