by Alex Palmer | June 30, 2014
For planners seeking a Midwestern destination offering a rich balance of fun and practicality, Wisconsin is something of a one-stop spot.
"Whether meeting planners are looking for a family destination offering plenty of activities, an urban environment in one of our cities, or just the right facility at a good value to support the particular needs of an event, Wisconsin has it," says Wisconsin Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett. But Klett adds that it is the state's hospitality, customer service, and "sense of fun" that sets Wisconsin apart as a meeting destination. "When you bring a meeting to any destination in Wisconsin, our tourism industry works hard so you and your group have the best possible experience."

The state is seeing significant property renovations and new facilities, and this is especially true in the capital. In August, Madison's famous Edgewater Hotel is set to complete a $100-million renovation and expansion that will create a mixed-use property of 189 hotel rooms, condominiums, and retail space centered around a large public plaza. A waterfront bar, spa-wellness center, and casual and fine-dining restaurants will be among the offerings available in the refurbished property.

Nearby, the 40,000-square-foot Monona Terrace Convention Center is undergoing a renovation that will add a new interactive museum dedicated to architect and Wisconsin native Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed the convention center. Other upgrades include replacing 15,000 square yards of carpet throughout the building, replacing payphone stations with "plug and play workstations," and enhancing the space's artwork.

The Madison Concourse Hotel, Sheraton Madison Hotel, and Best Western Plus InnTowner & The Highland Club are also undergoing renovations to their rooms and interiors. Alliant Energy Center is undergoing a 290,000-square-foot expansion, replacing 11 barns with flexible new Holland Pavilions, allowing it to better accommodate some of the venue's biggest gatherings, including the World Dairy Expo and Midwest Horse Fair.

Julia Hertel, executive director of the Wisconsin Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus, points to a comment made by a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor who hosted an international symposium in the capital city.

"The [professor said the] city 'offers everything needed for a successful conference: first-class meeting places; excellent logistical support; a fun, exciting city most easily accessible from any of the possible conference venues; and a cheerful, welcoming community that will make any visitor feel right at home,'" says Hertel. "We believe this is a great description of Madison as well as the attributes of many Wisconsin destinations."