PowerPoint goes poolside
By Julia Boorstin

(FORTUNE Magazine) – THE POOL CABANAS AT high-end hotels have long been rented out by lithe young stars (no paparazzi!) and reclusive moguls. But lately they've attracted a new clientele: businesspeople.

Recently the Viceroy in Santa Monica, a Kor hotel, added PowerPoint-ready, 26-inch-LCD-screen televisions to its black-and-white cabanas. Now the chic spaces can accommodate up to 25 suits. Guests can book the Viceroy's cabanas--starting at $250 per half day--for everything from a daylong meeting with a formal lunch to breakout sessions from conferences held inside the hotel. The Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills, the Garden of Ono attached to the Gansevoort Hotel in Manhattan, and Skybar in Miami have also rented cabanas for meetings.

"The setting loosens businessmen up," says Viceroy Hotel general manager Vincent Piro. "Guests tell me that being surrounded by the beauty of the outdoors puts their mind at ease and allows them to think more creatively." The cabanas have attracted companies from American Express to Nickelodeon as well as a handful of drug companies that refused to be named because they didn't want their meetings to seem too "luxe." Ezra Strausberg, head of a Los Angeles--based ad agency, holds client meetings and interoffice brainstorms in the cabanas. "People at my meetings are always more creative when they're outside the box of an office." But those lithe young stars can be a bit of a distraction. -- Julia Boorstin

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