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With Tattoos and Sake, Andaz Hotels Bring Back the Salon

SAN DIEGO (TheStreet) -- The setting: upscale, trendy. Think dark velvet couches and chairs, dim lighting, a boutique hotel in San Diego's Gaslamp District.

The crowd: definitely hipsters. Of all ages.

The event: On this evening it's a Napa Valley Winery representative standing before a crowd of perhaps 30 people, explaining the colorful history of the winery and its unique product as people enjoy samples and listen quietly.

The gathering was hosted by the Andaz Hotel. And it was just the latest in a series of unique events the chain began offering at its locations around the world in 2011. Known as the Andaz Salon series, it takes cues directly from the salons held in France during the 17th and 18th centuries that were dynamic gatherings of society's leaders, artists and politicians.

Andaz, a chain of nine boutique hotels with locations from San Diego to New York City to Shanghai and Amsterdam, prides itself not only on providing great places to stay, but on showcasing the creative, the artistic and the up and coming.

"We wanted to create these unique events -- whether it's a farmers market or showcasing an artist or a conversation with fashion designer -- that bring hotel guests and locals together," says Andaz's Tristan Dowell, regional vice president of global sales for the Americas.

The hope is also that the events help Andaz's guests depart from a destination feeling more like a local than a visitor.

"Our ultimate goal with the brand is to enhance the guest experience and provide an engaging experience," Dowell says.

Andaz has hosted a range of salon events. Past events have included a farmers market at the Andaz Wall Street location featuring farmers from the Hudson Valley, and the chef from Andaz London taking a salon audience shopping at a local market, then returning to the hotel to host a cooking demonstration.

Many of the events are free, but some cost as much as $200 or $250, Dowell says. The number of people in attendance typically ranges from a handful to 30 or 40.

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