Meeting in Hoosier Country

There are many offerings here, from big cities to the great outdoors

Indy Canal Skyline

The Hoosier State moves fast, and that's not just because it's home to the Indy 500. When it comes to meetings offerings, Indianapolis is seeing a fast expansion of its inventory, with nearly 3,000 downtown hotel rooms in the pipeline. Among the properties coming on line to this city are the dual-branded Hyatt House/Hyatt Place, with 315 guest rooms and 6,000 square feet of meeting space, expected to open next summer, just three blocks from the Indiana Convention Center.

Anchoring the new, $260 million, mixed-use redevelopment of a historic Coca-Cola bottling plant is the West Elm Hotel at Bottleworks. One of six hotels debuting under the retailer's hospitality brand, it offers more than 120 rooms overlooking the city skyline, with design touches -- including a grand staircase, 1930s-style tasting room, and Art Deco accents -- one would expect from such a stylish brand.

Speaking of unusual properties, last fall saw the opening of the boutique Ironworks Hotel Indy on the city's north side, offering 120 guest rooms as well as three small meeting and conference rooms, all infused with an elegant industrial aesthetic. Part of a mixed-use development, it also includes 15,000 square feet of street-level retail space and several dining options such as Blue Sushi Sake Grill and breakfast and lunch spot Rize.

The city is seeing a wealth of unique meeting venues as well. Indy's craft distillery, Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery, recently opened its 250-capacity The Tinker House Events warehouse. The Cabaret, which brings big-name Broadway stars (such as Alan Cumming, Jane Lynch, and Leslie Odom, Jr.) to the city, has celebrated its 10th anniversary by opening a new performance space, while the Phoenix Theatre will become part of the new 20,000-square-foot Performing Arts Collective.

Outside Indianapolis
There are plenty of Indiana gems outside the capital city as well. For example, the southern city of French Lick, known for its stunning scenery, historic mineral springs, and as the birthplace of basketball legend Larry Bird, is also home to French Lick Resort. This sprawling property includes the 443-room French Lick Springs hotel and 243-room West Baden Springs hotel, as well as a 105,000-square-foot Event Center with 27 meeting rooms (including the 22,600-square-foot Hoosier Ballroom). It is currently in the process of adding a 30,000-square-foot Exhibition Hall, expected to open in October, and is renovating its Billiard and Bowling Pavilion into an elegant new venue.

"For groups wanting something beyond a traditional meeting room setting, this will be a fantastic off-site option for a luncheon or meeting if you're looking to add an upscale touch," said Adina Cloud, the property's director of sales, in a statement.

Of course, it's not all business at the resort. Visitors can dine at its dozen or so fine-dining and casual restaurants, luxuriate in one of the spas at the French Lick Springs or West Baden Springs property, or play on one of its four golf courses.  

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This article appears in the April 2018 issue of Successful Meetings.