MEET - DeVos Place Convention Center
With more than 250,000 square feet of space over a 13-acre riverfront site, this venue can accommodate groups of any size. It's part of a larger convention campus, just 20 minutes from the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, that includes several hotels and the Van Andel Arena, home to the Grand Rapids Griffins hockey team.
SEE - Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
The second-most-popular tourist attraction in the state, this Grand Rapids park boasts vast outdoor gardens, stunning sculptures, and a variety of indoor and outdoor event spaces, whether you're looking to host an intimate gathering or a large-scale outdoor concert.
STAY - JW Marriott Grand Rapids
One of several hotels that are part of the convention campus, this 337-room property boasts 15,000 square feet of meeting space of its own. It recently launched the new program Cheers to the Accomplished, in which the group CEO and JW Marriott's general manager join attendees in a celebratory toast of prosecco at exactly 5:00 p.m.
Big things are happening in Michigan's biggest city. Detroit is seeing new openings of restaurants, hotels, and other attractions virtually nonstop. One of the biggest new developments on the horizon is The District Detroit, a new, mixed-use, sporting and entertainment area encompassing 50 blocks of businesses, parks, restaurants, and more. The District will connect the city's Downtown to its Midtown, creating one easily walkable area ideal for group outings and events. More than $1.2 billion is expected to be invested in the project, from both public and private sources, by 2020.
"Detroit is experiencing a transformation like no other time in its history," says Dave Beachnau, senior vice president of sales, marketing, and sports for Visit Detroit. "With new hotel product, restaurants, and world-class attractions, Detroit is the place to be. The entire region offers so many options for meetings of all sizes, whether it be downtown or in a suburban location, metro Detroit is the perfect fit for your next meeting."
The main feature of The District is the Little Caesars Arena, the new home of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings and NBA's Detroit Pistons, which opens this month with a series of Kid Rock performances. Beyond large-scale hockey, basketball, and entertainment events, the venue is also expected to provide a space for community activities, with on-site practice ice for amateur hockey players as well as an outdoor plaza for live entertainment.
It's easier than ever to get around the city. This spring, Detroit launched its new QLine streetcar, serving 12 locations on a 6.6-mile route through the city's Downtown and Midtown. The city also just launched its MoGo bike-share program, offering daily passes for $8 a day.
But some of the most significant developments in the city are happening in Detroit's expanding hotel inventory. This past May saw the opening of the 100-room Foundation Hotel in the city's historic Fire Department Headquarters (across the street from the Cobo Center). While the decor emphasizes modern luxury, it incorporates historic touches such as the firehouse's red arched doors and glazed-brick tiles to showcase the unique aspects of the property. It also offers a rooftop ballroom and the first-floor restaurant, the Apparatus Room.
For groups looking to get some golfing in between meetings, this month MGM Grand Detroit unveils its new Topgolf Swing Suite. The space features three simulators, lounge seating, HDTVs, and food-and-beverage service, creating a social and interactive atmosphere for networking or unwinding after a conference. This adds to the 400-room, 56-suite property's expansive offerings, including Wolfgang Puck Steak, the TAP at MGM Grand Detroit sports pub, and the luxurious IMMERSE spa.
Another new property in a historic building is the 106-room boutique hotel The Siren, set inside the Wurlitzer Building, following a $23 million transformation. It will include seven food-and-beverage outlets (including the eight-seat tasting counter from Garrett Lipar and a full-service, all-day restaurant) as well as a pair of retail shops.
The 130-room Shinola Hotel is expected to open next fall, featuring a mixed-use first floor (with retail, restaurants, and a living room area) and hotel rooms on its second through eighth floors, as well as meeting space. The property will offer dining options from Noho Hospitality and Chef Andrew Carmellini, and will be connected to an "activated alleyway" of additional retail.
Also expected to open next year: the debut property from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.'s new "eco-incubator" brand, Element Hotels, which will transform the Metropolitan Building into a mixed-use Element Detroit, with 110 rooms full of natural light as well as 2,000 square feet of meeting space, in addition to an outdoor patio. Home decor brand West Elm will also be opening a hotel in Detroit: The 120-room boutique property will be part of a mixed-use development that will include retail and housing space.
But not all the meetings action in Michigan is happening in Detroit. In the center of the state, FireKeepers Casino Hotel boasts nine meeting spaces totaling 20,642 square feet, with the largest event space at 17,500 square feet. When not conducting business, visitors have a huge number of entertainment, dining, and relaxation options. There are high-end retail spots, a pool and fitness center, and restaurants ranging from the new Smoke 'N Fire barbecue to the Mijem Buffet to the more formal Nibi.