. Michigan's Wealth of Meeting Attractions | Successful Meetings

Michigan's Wealth of Meeting Attractions

This state boasts natural wonders, big-city excitement, and everything in between

Amway Grand Plaza riverview

From bustling urban centers to tranquil islands, Michigan offers a wealth of meeting offerings -- and they are only expanding.

A planner need look no further than the Cobo Center, in downtown Detroit. Following a $279 million renovation, this convention center now offers 723,000 square feet of exhibit hall space and 623,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space. But Cobo is not the only world-class convention center in the region -- nor the only one with recently expanded offerings.

The Suburban Collection Showplace, which added an adjacent 124-room Hyatt Place hotel in 2013, has announced that it will be expanding its facility, adding 90,658 square feet of exhibition and event space (including moveable walls allowing for separate meeting spaces). Once the expansion is complete, in fall of 2017, the center will offer 42 meeting rooms, more than 30,000 square feet of pre-function space, and a 306,000-square-foot multipurpose exhibit floor. Beyond the major convention centers, Detroit is in the midst of upgrading its hotel inventory (which currently includes over 5,000 rooms in the downtown area alone) as well. The new 136-room Aloft Detroit overlooking Grand Circus Park is the state's first Aloft property. A recent $30 million renovation has transformed the 70-floor Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, which offers 1,246 rooms and 52 suites, as well as 100,000 square feet of meeting space.

Across the street from the Cobo Center, the 367-room Crowne Plaza Detroit Downtown Riverfront Hotel is in the planning stages of adding a second tower, which could bring its room inventory up to about 800. It already offers an indoor pool, 24-hour business center, and 11,000 square feet of meeting space.


Grand Rapids
Northwest of Detroit, Grand Rapids provides a combination of big-city attractions and natural beauty. Whether seeing a live show on the Grand Rapids Music Trail or exploring the city's numerous art offerings (including a number of galleries, museums, and the massive 19-day ArtPrize event taking over the city's downtown at the end of this month), groups have plenty of activities options. The historically minded might want to make time to visit the newly remodeled and expanded Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, which now features new interactive exhibits and a learning center.

The city's got no shortage of rooms, including a number of new properties. Among them is the recently opened 142-room Hampton Inn & Suites Grand Rapids Downtown, which offers two meeting rooms, each illuminated with natural light and with a 49-person capacity. The newly opened Homewood Suites by Hilton Grand Rapids Downtown offers 110 spacious suites boasting a kitchen with full-sized refrigerator, stovetop burner, and utensils. The property also boasts a 24-hour business center, Wi-Fi, and even an on-site convenience store. The 144-room Hilton Garden Inn Grand Rapids Airport, the 132-room WoodSpring Suites, and 180-suite Drury Inn also recently opened their doors.

Groups looking for creative ways to give a teambuilding twist to their food and beverage may want to consider a stay at the 337-room JW Marriott Grand Rapids, which has introduced a number of new activities. These include pineapple sage picking, in which groups are guided through picking pineapple sage from the property's outdoor garden and muddling it with fresh fruit to create a cabana cocktail at the hotel's bar, jdek. For something more elaborate, there's JW Chef School, in which a group of up to 20 people join in a timed cooking competition in the JW Marriott's kitchen stadium, preparing a sushi course and entrée course before being judged. Meeting attendees can choose from two spa treatments inspired by local brewers Brewery Vivant and Founders Brewing Co.
Island of Excitement
Those looking to enjoy Michigan's natural wonders should head north, to Mackinac Island. A land mass of less than four square miles set in Lake Huron between the state's Upper and Lower Peninsulas, the island is more than 80 percent preserved as the Mackinac Island State Park -- and the rest feels preserved from an earlier era. No cars are allowed here, and the quaint shops and waterfront restaurants make this ideal for groups looking to get away from the daily bustle.

"Getting to Mackinac Island is part of the unique experience," says Ken Hayward, executive vice president and managing director for Grand Hotel, the stunning historic hotel that overlooks the island. He points out that the island is in close proximity to local airports (the Mackinac Island Airport also services charter planes), and a short ferry ride from either Mackinaw City or St. Ignace. "Once you are here, getting around by bicycle, walking, or horse-drawn carriage are the preferred modes of transportation because automobiles are banned on Mackinac Island."

Grand Hotel is perhaps the most prominent property on the island, with 390 guest rooms (including 30 uniquely designed rooms and suites, inspired by first ladies, historic figures, and others), as well as an expansive front garden and the longest front porch in the world (both are available for groups). Its meeting spaces are "grand" as well and infused with the hotel's 129-year history. It offers more than a dozen different spaces, each with a distinct design, including the 7,080-square-foot Theatre, 3,145-square-foot Brighton Pavilion, and 682-square-foot Pontiac Room.

"The natural beauty of Grand Hotel and its surroundings provides the perfect getaway for meetings of all sizes and truly provides a memorable location to get away from it all," says Hayward "Our guests value being able to take a step back in time."  



Questions or comments? Email [email protected]



This article appears in the September 2016 issue of Successful Meetings.

ESSENTIAL Tool Box
CONVENTION CENTERS & FACILITIES
Cobo Center (723,000 sf of exhibit space); Suburban Collection Showplace (214,000 sf of exhibit space); DeVos Place Convention Center (160,000 sf of exhibit space)


Room Tax:
Varies by city


READERS RECOMMEND

PINNACLE AWARDS GO TO:

 MotorCity Casino Hotel
 FireKeepers Casino Hotel
 Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Curio Collection


Island of Excitement
Those looking to enjoy Michigan's natural wonders should head north, to Mackinac Island. A land mass of less than four square miles set in Lake Huron between the state's Upper and Lower Peninsulas, the island is more than 80 percent preserved as the Mackinac Island State Park -- and the rest feels preserved from an earlier era. No cars are allowed here, and the quaint shops and waterfront restaurants make this ideal for groups looking to get away from the daily bustle.

"Getting to Mackinac Island is part of the unique experience," says Ken Hayward, executive vice president and managing director for Grand Hotel, the stunning historic hotel that overlooks the island. He points out that the island is in close proximity to local airports (the Mackinac Island Airport also services charter planes), and a short ferry ride from either Mackinaw City or St. Ignace. "Once you are here, getting around by bicycle, walking, or horse-drawn carriage are the preferred modes of transportation because automobiles are banned on Mackinac Island."

Grand Hotel is perhaps the most prominent property on the island, with 390 guest rooms (including 30 uniquely designed rooms and suites, inspired by first ladies, historic figures, and others), as well as an expansive front garden and the longest front porch in the world (both are available for groups). Its meeting spaces are "grand" as well and infused with the hotel's 129-year history. It offers more than a dozen different spaces, each with a distinct design, including the 7,080-square-foot Theatre, 3,145-square-foot Brighton Pavilion, and 682-square-foot Pontiac Room.

"The natural beauty of Grand Hotel and its surroundings provides the perfect getaway for meetings of all sizes and truly provides a memorable location to get away from it all," says Hayward "Our guests value being able to take a step back in time."  



Questions or comments? Email [email protected]



This article appears in the September 2016 issue of Successful Meetings.