Getting Down To Business … Out Of The Office

Some projects require a no-frills, all-business meeting to hash through the details and get to work. But what if your company or collaborative wants to plan a different kind of meeting, maybe even a retreat, to awaken the group’s synergy and spark some ingenuity? Or, what if you are organizing a seminar that requires a bigger, more inspiring space? Perhaps something beyond the typical conference room is in order. Check out these spaces in northern Michigan that are available to rent for your upcoming conferences, seminars, and summits.

Have It Your Way: Ecco

121 E. Front Street, Traverse City

(231) 714-4014

Contact: Madeline Begley

In the heart of downtown Traverse City, Ecco, a former roller rink, has been renovated as a unique “blank canvas” space that can be customized to suit the needs of any type of meeting or presentation – from a seminar to a networking mingle to an office holiday party. Managed by event planning company Events to Remember, the 5,500-square foot open floor plan on the lower level of the Front Row Center building on Front Street boasts columns and a 10-foot ceiling and can accommodate up to 319 people. Meeting organizers are welcome to contract their own caterers, who can make use of the onsite kitchenette, but there is a required vendor for selling and serving alcohol in the venue. Projector, microphone, and speakers are available for a rental fee. Though it’s preferable to have as much advance notice as possible, Ecco has booked events even as late as the day before when organizers are in a pinch to secure a space.

Room With Views: The Corner Loft

201 E. Front Street, Traverse City

(231) 883-9367

Contact: Marie Schwartz

The Corner Loft, overlooking the corner of Front and Cass streets in downtown TC with peak-a-boo views of West Bay, the second floor of this historic bank building can fit up to 130 guests. Though a list of preferred vendors is provided, organizers are not required to select from it. A catering kitchen – featuring a commercial refrigerator, dishwasher, and prep tables – is available. Included in the space rental fee are room setup and the assistance of an onsite facility manager who can help with operating the state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, including screens, handheld microphone and lapel microphone. The Corner Loft recommends calling as soon as possible if looking to book a rental during peak season; advance time for booking is less crucial in the early spring and winter months.

A Repurposed Bit Of History: Kirkbride Hall

Featuring stained-glass windows and 30-foot ceilings, Kirkbride Hall is a grand departure from the stereotypical windowless conference room. This 2,600-square foot venue – the former State Hospital’s original chapel – is situated in Building 50 at Village of Grand Traverse Commons, surrounded by 480 acres of trails, preserved parkland and historic arboretums. Meeting organizers have the flexibility to choose caterers from a list of preferred vendors or select their own and to request room setup to fit their needs, whether classroom style, boardroom, or U or crescent shape. Outdoor dining space is available in the warmer months. Kirkbride Hall will soon have its own audiovisual equipment but has an a/v partner in the meantime. If the meeting organizers wish to schedule a break in the action, the venue manager can assist in setting up tours and unique events at other locations at The Commons. As this brand-new space is gaining word-of-mouth momentum, it is recommended that bookings be made sooner rather than later, especially during peak season.

700 Cottageview Drive, Suite 200, Traverse City

(231) 941-1961

Contact: Meg Gutowksi

Bonding Overnight: Northport Bay Retreat and Spider Lake Retreat

Not a typical meeting space, the Northport Bay and Spider Lake Retreat sites – both at 22,000 square feet, rentable at the same rates and employing the same rules – allow team building in an overnight setting. Both spaces feature 16 double queen bedrooms, 19 bathrooms, a dining room that seats 64, a full kitchen, fitness center, laundry, Wi-Fi, a hot tub and private beachfront. These four-season corporate retreat venues offer a vacation-like feel and lots of privacy – attendees of meetings at these venues get the whole building for the duration of the rental period, as there is no staff onsite and the building will never be split for multiple meetings. Meeting organizers can contract with caterers or bring in their own food and alcohol. If a break in the action is needed, retreat-goers have access to a full basement rec room, including big screen TV and billiard and card tables, or, if they simply want some quiet they are treated to spectacular views of the bay from floor-to-ceiling walls. Those interested in renting the space are encouraged to book 10 to 11 months in advance, especially in peak season and particularly if booking for an entire weekend.

6512 N. West Bay Shore Dr., Northport

(231) 935-0111

Contact: Mike Anton

A Mainstay, Revisited: West Bay Beach, A Holiday Inn Resort

With its rebranding and $7 million renovation to every room within the hotel, from the lobby to the 179 rooms to the meeting space – including a green initiative in replacing the lighting with energy efficient LED bulbs – the West Bay Beach, where Front Street meets Grandview Parkway, is currently the only Midwest Holiday Inn franchise with a resort designation. Along with this renovation came two additional meeting rooms with panoramic views of West Grand Traverse Bay, bringing the total available meeting/banquet space to 6,000 square feet of indoor space and 4,000 square feet of outdoor terrace space. Event spaces for as few as 10 and as many as 200 can be reserved at different capacities, including conference, classroom and vendor table setups. A dedicated convention services manager is assigned to assist with any event. If team building is part of the agenda, boats, private cabanas and beach bonfires can be rented for that purpose. Microphone, DVD player, speakerphone, and projector rentals are available. For catered meetings, many menu options are available from the in-house service. Though peak season does get busy, there are lots of opportunities for booking throughout the year.

615 E. Front Street, Traverse City


Contact: Kelly Jo Bowman

Getting Down to Business: Space

Though Space is primarily a co-working venue on West Front Street, its conference room is available for hourly rental to those who simply need space for a board meeting or to host a video conference. High-definition equipment is available for a gathering of up to eight participants. If attendees get hungry, the Space Café sells treats and energy bars for $1 apiece and complimentary coffee is available; however, if the group may want something more substantial, Space staff will order requested food from a downtown shop and make sure it is available when the meeting convenes. Reservations are first come, first served, and typically there is at least one booking on every day. Check the online calendar for availability.

120 W. Front Street, Traverse City

(231) 944-4114

Contact: Nate Elkins

A Day (Or Night) Away: Pine Hollow

A venue for hosting workshops, strategic planning meetings and seminars – from a day-long seminar that hosts 100 or overnight meetings that can accommodate 24 in bedrooms named after freshwater bodies around the globe – Pine Hollow Institute is located in a 17,000-square foot home built of local stone and timber in Elk Rapids. Meetings and seminars can break to take advantage of hands-on experiences in the venue’s natural environment, make use of the indoor pool, or meander around the waterfalls, trails, and ponds on seven acres of wooded property along Lake Michigan shoreline. Other amenities include a barn kitchen, dining room, game room, media room, outdoor deck, locker room and library. Reserving this space involves a registration process, requiring telephone and in-person interviews.

(231) 632-2731

Contact: Dale Hull