Prevue could not have chosen a more suitable hotel than West Palm Beach’s The Ben for its Inspired Events Summit May 2 to 3. This Autograph Collection property is creative and refreshing—the ideal setting for a meeting whose mission was to get attendees to view their events through a new lens.
The Ben vibe starts right at the entrance, where a long line of bright green bicycles hint at the afternoons of fun that lie ahead. A funky electric-powered golf cart, emblazoned with one of the hotel’s many sayings—”Be guided by life’s sunshine”—stands at the ready to tour hotel guests around town. And then there’s the personal welcome by Michael, a transplanted New Yorker in his floral shirt and straw cowboy hat, who just might be one of the friendliest bellmen on the planet.
The Ben opened in February of 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic, and is managed by Concord Hospitality. Though brand-new ground-up construction with many modern, stylish touches, it also has a history (or perhaps, a story). It was named after the name of the 1892 Victorian home of Byrd Spillman Dewey, one of Florida’s most important authors of the pioneer era: “Ben Trovato.” Meaning “well invented” or “well found,” the name was derived from “Se non è vero, è ben trovato,” an Italian phrase that means “Even if it isn’t true, it’s a good story.”
The hotel lives up to that tongue-in-cheek phrase, with clever stories to be told throughout. There’s the sliding bookshelf in our guest room, which reveals a hidden window (opaque, or course) peeking into the back of the shower in the adjacent bathroom. Or sitting in the ballroom admiring the sweeping views of Palm Harbor Marina, one suddenly notices a phrase etched in script onto the window glass: “Live a story well told.” There are no crystal chandeliers here, but rather fabulous fixtures dripping with beads or abalone. And then there are the enormous reclining brass statues of Bruno, Byrd’s dog, everywhere—in the lobby, on the rooftop and on every floor—leaving one to believe that she really must have loved that big guy.
The guest rooms blend old-world and modern touches, an intermingling of cement ceilings and leather headboards with luscious high-end linens and bathroom amenities by LaBottega. Many rooms have balconies, others overlook the water from floor-to-ceiling windows.
The size of the 208-room Ben is ideal for small- to medium-sized meetings, with 8,000 sq. ft of meeting space, including a 3,500-sq.-ft. ballroom—Palm Beach’s only rooftop ballroom—overlooking the fabulous marina. The gem is the 1,900-sq.-ft. Studio, where we held our opening session and reception, an industrial-looking all-glass meeting room with garage-style doors that open up to the fresh air, creating an instant covered outdoor space.
For our session, the hotel added high-boys, stylish graphite-colored lounge-style sofas and club chairs, and modern cocktail tables. All it took were a few dozen butler-passed pomegranate mimosas and suddenly our attendees were swept away by the West Palm Beach groove as they listened to the keynote speaker. The space doubles as an art gallery, and our hotel partners even arranged for one of the artists, Carol Calicchio, to hang her brilliant florals during our event and then greet our attendees in person on the next day at our locally inspired marketplace.
The Ben has made a big dent in the social scene with its rooftop bar, which has unquestionably become the hot spot in West Palm. It’s the perfect mix of fun-loving friends dressed for a night out on the town and CPAs visiting for a convention still in their business attire, jackets slung over the backs of their chairs and sleeves rolled up.
On a typical sultry West Palm Beach day, the rooftop’s saltwater pool beckons and comfy poolside cabanas come with butler service. Or attendees not looking to lounge can head back to the entrance and grab one of those bicycles for an afternoon of exploration. Either way, it’s sure to be unforgettable, just like The Ben itself.