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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

2020 has been a challenging year for hotels, with fewer overnight guests, capacity restrictions on bars and restaurants, and the events business on hold. But many properties have become quite creative in developing ways to bring visitors through their doors. That includes using space in totally new ways and partnering with local businesses. Many of these ingenious pop-ups are providing guests with a fantastic extra amenity while also helping hotels become more fully integrated into their local communities, a benefit that will last beyond the pandemic. Here are a few interesting pop ups to check out at hotels this fall.

RELATED: 7 cool hotels for working remotely during COVID

DINING OUT

Several hotels have been lending kitchens, outdoor spaces and other areas to area food purveyors.

A pop-up food hall

Earlier this year, Hotel Revival, a Joie de Vivre Hotel in Baltimore opened a “Pop-Up & Pick-Up” space for small businesses displaced from local food halls when the pandemic hit. Those included Rum Cake Kitchen (for rum cake, natch) and Sporty Dog (for hot dogs). Fuisine, a brick and mortar restaurant that was set to open just as COVID hit, ended up using the hotel’s kitchen to cook its food for pick-up and delivery. An added bonus—Fuisine built pre-opening buzz for the actual restaurant, which opened in September.

A rooftop Italian spot

Indoor dining has been limited or off the menu for vast swaths of the country, including California. That’s why The Kimpton La Peer in West Hollywood invited Olivetta, a buzzy new neighborhood eatery, to use its rooftop and poolside patio to serve up pastas, pizza and seafood. Kitchen space is shared with chefs cooking for the hotel’s house restaurant and tables are being snatched up well in advance.

A drive-up oyster bar

This fall, the Hyatt Regency Baltimore is lending out its commercial kitchen free of charge to Union Oyster, the city’s first Black female-owned oyster bar. The physical restaurant had to close in July after a year in business. Now, thanks to the Hyatt’s lack of “shellfishness,” Union Oyster is back at it. Staffers are dishing out oyster tacos and barbecue-style bivalves to customers “driving through” the hotel’s valet loop.

FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE

Hotels have also created socially distanced spaces for new forms of entertainment, including film screenings.

A drive-in movie theater

Back in April, The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess converted one of its large parking lots into a drive-in movie theater. Since then, the venue has been screening films in a traditional drive-in format. Movie buffs watch movies on a 40-foot screen, and audio is transmitted by FM into car radios. The drive-in is also rented out by private groups, at $6,500 at pop. That covers 200 cars, a movie and, of course, theater-style concessions. On the schedule for October… scary movies!

A rooftop cinema

Andaz West Hollywood, located on the famed Sunset Strip, has transformed the third level of its open-air parking garage into a drive-in as well. But that “theater” is being used both for movie screenings and live comedy shows. In both cases, the audience listens to the shows through their car radios, and can “clap” or “laugh” by flashing headlights. Audience members can order small bites, vegan nibbles (this is California), tacos and cocktails via an app, and then go to the concession stand to pick orders up.

A private sports screening room

The Shangri-La Hotel Toronto is offering sports aficionados the next best thing to watching professional sports from a luxury suite in an arena. Fans can cheer on their favorite teams from the opulence of a comfy private screening room, complete with cushy leather seats and a 225-inch screen with surround sound. With social distancing in mind, the hotel’s customizable package allows for a maximum of 15 people to safely watch the game while enjoying five-star hospitality. Hungry fans get to satisfy their cravings with gourmet nibbles like prime beef sliders, Korean fried chicken, lobster mac and cheese croquettes and pork belly bao.

IMBIBING IN SELF-CARE

Hotels recognize that we need to spoil ourselves a little, now more than ever. But with salons, spas and studios closed, accomplishing that has been harder than ever. Enter the pop-up.

An outdoor beauty salon

When California beauty salons and barber shops couldn’t open during the pandemic, it was Andaz West Hollywood that again came to the rescue. The hotel loaned its outdoor terrace to Barcode, a popular local barber shop. The space can house up to five barber chairs. Summer business was so brisk that Barcode’s owner had to bring on more barbers.

Yoga in a private pod

No, those people performing downward dog poses in the translucent plastic bubbles placed outside Toronto’s Hotel X this summer weren’t part of a performance art experience. They are doing socially-distanced yoga IRL. Fifty private clear geodesic domes, equipped with heaters for hot yoga, were set up on the patio of the hotel during June and July, coordinated by a pop-up developed by LMNTS Outdoor Studio. There were about six classes a day, led by instructors from partner studios, including 10XTO, the hotel’s fitness center. That facility, by the way, just happened to see a spike in membership applications after the pop-up plopped down.

Tagged: Arizona, California, Los Angeles

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Laura Powell

Laura Powell

Laura is a 20-year veteran travel journalist. She was CNN's first travel reporter, and has written for publications ranging from Alaska Airlines Magazine to The Washington Post. Find her at the www.dailysuitcase.com or on Twitter: @dailysuitcase

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