Gem Travels: Shutterfest at Union Station, St. Louis

Back at the end of March, I took a short, but super sweet, trip to St. Louis, Missouri to speak on both identifying your worth and charging for it (so you can you know, feel valuable and actually get your life back when you start up a business) at Shutterfest – an unconventional, hands-on conference for photographers. Held at the extraordinary DoubleTree Union Station Hotel, it is truly more of an experience compared to any other conference I’ve ever been to.


While I’m no photographer, I could not possibly think of a more incredible venue to host this event at. From a castle like facade to impressive architecture, every way I turned there was another opportunity to snap a cool photo. The original Union Station was decommissioned in 1978 due to the popularity of air travel. Following revitalization, the facility reopened in 1985 as a unique, historical hotel destination with beautiful character.

My favorite element was the impressive ‘Headhouse’ Grand Hall as a lobby lounge area with its sweeping archways, gold leaf detailing, mosaics and art glass windows. In the evening, there’s an unbelievable 3D projected show set to music that takes place every hour on the 65-foot tall ceiling of the Grand Hall. Created especially for the hotel by Technomedia (notable for their collaborations with Cirque du Soleil), the animations include a variety of delighting visuals from flying birds and an aquarium scene to historical images. You can catch a glimpse of it in this video.


As much as I love fancy lobbies and fun features, the two biggest things for me when I travel are 1) a squeaky clean room and 2) a friendly staff. The Union Station Hotel by DoubleTree far exceeded my standard expectations in both areas. The room was spacious, modern, and had a relaxing atmosphere (a must since I was freaking out about my big speech). When we first checked in, you could tell it was a big day here. Despite the chaos of being fully booked, checking in 2,000+ photographers, and photo shoots literally going on everywhere, the hotel staff kept their cool. Everyone I spoke with was polite, friendly, helpful, and smiling. Upon checkin, we were literally given a warm welcome via delicious chocolate chip cookies that must have been fresh from the oven!



We weren’t left with much time to explore aside from a quick glimpse of the arch and a session at Southtown Yoga, so I’m not sure what else is in St. Louis. But, I can tell you, the beauty and originality of this hotel is reason enough to visit or host your event here! It’s been awhile since I’ve stayed at a DoubleTree, but this Hilton brand has definitely moved higher up on my radar since this trip.

I’m be showing you more pictures of the outside of the stunning building when I post later this week about my speech and what I wore! PS – I’m dying to get more travel content on the site, so if you’re a travel brand or you want to send me to fun destinations for any reason, hit me up at! =)


What I’m wearing:

Custom Jacket – Tidal Cool // Blouse – Target (Similar) // Earrings – Carolee // Denim – Kiki La Rue // Shoes – Aldo (Similar)

Photos (except for feature image) by Alexandra Barone

Photo By: DoubleTree/Hilton Hotels