Meet, Greet, Eat and Sleep: A snapshot of the region’s convention- and business-friendly event venues
The Grand Traverse region offers a broad menu of convention, meeting and retreat options to match business needs in all shapes and sizes. Here’s a snapshot of what’s notable and what’s new at the region’s top venues:
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Black Star Farms sits on 160 rolling acres of orchards, vineyards and trails off M-22 south of Suttons Bay. Some of their largest events have reached 185 for a wedding; corporate meetings are capped at the 130-150 range. Meeting facilities include the 2,065-square-foot Aquarius Room, the 2,200-square-foot Pegasus Barn, and the 750-square-foot Arcturos Room as well as 10 guest rooms, the Hearth & Vine Café, Pegasus hospitality lounge and wine tasting room. According to Director of Marketing Sherri Campbell Fenton, Black Star Farms can provide a unique meeting experience, combining full conference services, on-site catering and special amenities, whether it be for 10 board members or 150 team members.
What’s notable: Black Star Farms was named the #1 Intimate Venue by Michigan Meetings and Events 2017.
What’s new: New for 2018 are unique team building opportunities using the farm’s trail system, culinary classes and “blind wine tasting” team challenges. A new chef is on board; cooking classes and demonstrations will be added to their offerings.
Cambria Hotel & Suites, Traverse City
Cambria Hotel & Suites is an intimate venue with flexible options for small- or medium-size meetings, presentations, planning retreats or board meetings as well as lodging with 80 guest suites. Facilities include the 728-square-foot Old Mission Room which can accommodate from 14 attendees in U-shape seating or 30 in crescent rounds; up to 40 in classroom seating or 60 theater-style. Small groups can also use the 336-square-foot board room, seating up to 14 with executive seating and access to Reflect Bistro’s full menu. Reflect Bistro seats 32 for full menu dining while daily happy hours and lounge seating for 50+ adds comfortable options for dining, networking and informal gathering. The lobby, lounge and banquet rooms can accommodate 60-75 for a strolling dinner with stations throughout the spaces.
What’s notable: TripAdvisor ranked Reflect Bistro Traverse City’s #1 restaurant. Awarded Hotel of the Year Award for the 7th consecutive year at the National Choice Convention.
Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville
Crystal Mountain, in the heart of Benzie County, is one of the Midwest’s top four-season resorts and conference centers. The resort features comprehensive meeting facilities at its Crystal Center, as well as three championship golf courses, 58 downhill ski runs, 25 kilometers of cross country ski trails, the Crystal Spa, the Michigan Legacy Art Park and accommodations numbering 250 guest rooms and suites. Meeting rooms include flexible spaces in the Crystal Center ranging from the 6,500-square-foot James Bay Hall that can accommodate seating for 130-460 or 43-60 exhibits, to smaller configurations like the 216-square-foot Cape Lookout room for up to 20 attendees, depending on seating. The Crystal Center also includes comprehensive audio-visual systems, complimentary wifi, a full business center and the Lake Harbor Lounge and lobby for informal gathering. Additional meeting facilities are available at the lodge with the 2,500-square-foot Mountain View Room for 30-240 attendees, the 1,500-square-foot Vista Room for 28-85 attendees and the outdoor Lodge Pavilion for cocktail hours, receptions and sit-down dining. Nearby, Michigan Legacy Art Park’s outdoor amphitheater offers a unique visual arts venue nestled in a hardwood forest.
What’s new: Crystal Mountain recently completed a two-year, $11-million renovation that included the new Inn at the Mountain next to the Crystal Center with 25 suites, rooftop terrace, Mountain Market and Bru Bar.
What’s notable: The family-owned resort is a five-time recipient of the prestigious Paragon Award from Corporate Meetings and Incentives magazine. Conde Nast Traveler named Crystal Mountain among 10 Best Ski Resorts for Families in the U.S. and Canada.
Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, Acme
The Grand Traverse Resort is one of the Midwest’s largest full-service, year-round resorts and conference destinations. Located six miles northeast of downtown Traverse City, the complex sits on 900 acres of rolling greens and Lake Michigan shoreline. There is 86,500 square feet of flexible meeting space that can be configured for groups as small as 12-15 in the Williamsburg or Executive boardrooms, to as large as 2,000 or more in Governors Hall or Exhibit Hall. The facility offers 34 different indoor meeting layouts as well as six outdoor venues. Additional amenities include about 600 guest rooms and condominiums, three championship golf courses, health club, spa, private beach club, five restaurants and lounges and a gallery of shops, as well as comprehensive meeting support, technology and off-site activities.
What’s new: Lobby renovations are currently underway.
What’s notable: Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is ranked as a top 50 travel destination by Conde Nast Traveler. Pure Michigan’s Governor’s Conference on Tourism, the state’s largest gathering of tourism professionals, will be held here in spring 2019. More than 1,000 are expected to attend. Past high profile groups have included Detroit Red Wings, Center for Automotive Research, Farm Bureau Insurance and Special Olympics Michigan.
Great Wolf Lodge, Traverse City
Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City offers full-service conference facilities as well as a family-friendly destination. Meeting space totals 10,771 square feet with 10 separate and configurable meeting rooms, usually accommodating groups up to 300. The largest conference room is 4,042 square feet. Additional amenities include 280 guest rooms, five onsite restaurants, a spa, shops and indoor water park.
What’s new: The conference center features all new A/V equipment as well as recently installed new carpet. Great Wolf Candy opened in December, adding a third retailer to the Great Wolf Lodge shops.
What’s notable: Great Wolf Lodge was the headquarter hotel for The Great Race in 2017, marking the largest booking for the year with approximately 500 people and 200 cars. Annually, the largest repeat group is approximately 250 people for three days.
The Homestead, Glen Arbor
Adjacent to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, The Homestead stretches across 500 wooded acres of Leelanau County property and sandy Lake Michigan shoreline. Meeting spaces are available in several distinct locations within the Homestead property, each offering added flexibility and amenities. Sites include the Mountain Flowers Lodge on Bay Mountain with outdoor terraces and ample space for large group gatherings. Camp Firefly is reminiscent of a 19th century retreat, including a fire pit and covered porch along with modern technology and meeting spaces. The Inn is the original Homestead beachfront inn, completely renovated to accommodate business gatherings with guest rooms, suites and two conference rooms. Stony Brook Lodge offers a private retreat for groups up to 40, with private lobby, pool, fire pit, two conference rooms, social spaces and one and two-bedroom guest suites. The Welcome Center is centrally located with upgraded technology and flexible meeting spaces that can be configured for small- to medium-size groups.
What’s new: The Homestead recently updated all its meeting facilities, with special attention to creating spaces that addressed evolving business needs, productivity, team building and interests of millennials.
Hotel Indigo, Traverse City
One of Traverse City’s newest meeting venues is Hotel Indigo, a boutique hotel adjacent to West Grand Traverse Bay in downtown Traverse City’s Warehouse District. Meeting spaces total 5,500 square feet with two meeting rooms. Largest meeting room measures 2,124 square feet with capacity up to 170. Smallest space is 464 square feet. Hotel Indigo’s expansive rooftop bar offers stunning views of water and sunsets, and extends reception options during warmer weather. Additional features include 100 guest rooms and seven suites, full service restaurant and bar, fitness studio, wifi, and a secured, heated parking garage.
What’s notable: Hotel Indigo opened in May 2016. The decor pays homage to the region’s lumbering past and northern culture through design details, artwork and photography.
Leland Lodge, Leland
The Leland Lodge overlooks the scenic, historic village of Leland with meeting facilities that are reminiscent of a rustic ‘up north’ lodge. Well suited for small to medium sized groups, the hotel offers two venue options as well as 18 lodge rooms, three cottages, a restaurant and expansive outdoor deck. The Leland Room can host meetings and conferences for up to 180 participants, with additional space available at an adjoining scenic courtyard. The Wine Cellar offers a smaller and more rustic setting for groups up to 40. In addition to onsite services, Lodge staff often arrange off-site excursions to wineries, charter fishing, golf, skiing or game nights to augment business agendas and retreats.
What’s notable: The Leland Lodge has been a Leelanau County mainstay for decades. The facility was completely updated in 2013 with new ownership.
Park Place Hotel, Traverse City
Overlooking Grand Traverse Bay, the Park Place Hotel is the only hotel and conference center located in the heart of downtown Traverse City. Meeting space is currently available for groups of 10 to 250, with flexible configurations in the three Lakes Rooms and two Courtyard Rooms and as well as intimate meeting space in the Minerva and executive board rooms. The Top of the Park offers panoramic views as well as seating for 25-125. When the new Park Place conference center opens in June, meeting space will more than double to over 12,000 square feet. Additional amenities include 140 rooms and suites, Minerva’s Restaurant and Bar, the Beacon Lounge and ample parking.
What’s new: The Park Place is slated to open its new conference center, indoor pool and fitness room, in June 2018. The conference center, which is under construction where the former Park Place dome stood, will include the 7,550-square-foot Grandview room that will accommodate up to 800 attendees as well as flexible configurations of nine spaces that can host groups as small as 16 around a conference table up to a 400-person reception.
Shanty Creek Resorts, Bellaire
Shanty Creek Resorts spans 4,500 acres among three distinct villages in the wooded hills of Antrim County. Meeting and event spaces are available at The Lakeview Hotel & Conference Center and The Lodge at Cedar River Village. Located at separate lodging facilities, both offer meeting and guest rooms under one roof with outdoor event space options onsite. Combined, the Shanty Creek facilities offer 36,000 square feet of event space, 22 meeting rooms and 400 lodging accommodations as well as three restaurants, four golf courses, two ski mountains, 30 kilometers of cross country ski trails and related outdoor options. 2017 was a record-breaking year for meetings and events at Shanty Creek Resorts, which included hosting one of its largest conferences last fall for 500.
What’s notable: Named “Best Wintertime Venue” by the readers of Michigan Meetings + Events, and runner-up for “Best Summertime Venue” and “Best Service.”
The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, Traverse City
The Village at Grand Traverse Commons represents one of the largest historic preservation and adaptive reuse redevelopments in the country with the unique renovation of dozens of historic buildings formerly known as the Traverse City State Hospital. There are currently three venues available for meetings and events. They include the Cathedral Barn, Kirkbride Hall and the Kirkbride Suite.
• The Cathedral Barn at Historic Barns Park is a unique venue, reflecting the heritage of the former State Hospital’s fully functioning farm and its former barns that were vital to feeding the patients and staff in its former days. Renovated to retain its high, rounded ceilings, the 3,535-square-foot event space is distinctive but flexible to accommodate a variety of meeting needs, presentations and technological needs. Its floor space can accommodate 200 attendees at a seated event or 300 for a standing reception. A prep kitchen is on site. The Historic Barns share 56 acres with the Botanic Gardens, offering additional room to roam outdoors, while the Village shops, dining and amenities are nearby.
• Kirkbride Hall reflects its heritage as the original 1885 Chapel at the State Hospital, now renovated into a beautiful 2,600-square-foot meeting space with 30-foot ceilings and vintage stained glass windows. Facilities also include a kitchen, a ready room and adjacent spaces. Kirkbride Hall can accommodate seated receptions up to 175 guests or a theater-style gathering up to 220 guests.
• The Kirkbride Suite is a dramatic, 2,700-square-foot, two-level retreat located on the upper levels of Kirkbride Hall, the state hospital’s former chapel built in 1885. The suite can be rented in tandem with a meeting or event at the Barns or Kirkbride Hall, or it can be utilized by itself as a small retreat or planning venue. It includes a full kitchen, dining and living room space along with three large bedrooms and expansive loft to sleep up to ten.
What’s notable: The Village at the Grand Traverse Commons and the Minervini Group have won numerous awards for the group’s ongoing historic preservation work, including the Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation.
City Opera House, Traverse City
The historic City Opera House is located in the heart of downtown Traverse City with facilities that can accommodate meetings from 10 to 680. Meeting spaces include the 2,800-square-foot auditorium with theater seating capacity for 680 (including 340 in the balcony) or table capacity for 176. The 1,450-square-foot second floor Towsley Lobby can accommodate 150 theater seats or 64 in table seating. The third floor Overture Room can host 32 attendees. Amenities include catering and bar service, flat screen for presentations, lighting and house manager.
What’s notable: Hagerty Insurance, National Writers Series, TC New Tech, Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District and Traverse Symphony Orchestra are among local business to use City Opera House facilities.
Northwestern Michigan College Hagerty Center, Traverse City
The Hagerty Center features a state-of-the-art conference and banquet facility located on Northwestern Michigan College’s Maritime Campus. Space is flexible featuring the 7,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom with space that can be divided into four separate meeting spaces or combined configurations. The Hagerty Center can accommodate up to 340 guests for a seated event or 400 for a stand-up reception.
What’s new: The facility received fresh carpet in early 2018.