The family-focused, Wisconsin-based Great Wolf Lodge opened its first resort in Wisconsin Dells in 1997. Over the next two decades, it slowly expanded with more properties around the Midwest, moving into the Northeast, South, West and Canada. And this summer, the greater Chicago area will get its first resort from the brand.

Great Wolf Lodge Illinois, slated to open July 1 in Gurnee, will include the hallmark giant waterpark, family-friendly dining options and woodsy décor. The property will also have 7,800 square feet of meeting space, 414 guest rooms (including 14 suite styles) and a separate entrance for meeting guests to avoid the waterpark. It’s the result of a $40 million makeover to the former Key Lime Cove property.

Though the waterpark plays second fiddle to meeting groups looking to get business done at the resort, it has a nice perk: Guests have access to the waterpark at 1 p.m. on the day of check-in, so they can arrive early or with families in tow to take advantage of the fun facilities.

Meeting planners can also get creative with events at Great Wolf Lodge. They can use the 38,000-square-foot adventure park for teambuilding, or rent it out for “waterpark after dark” cocktail hour.

“How often can you have a cocktail party with these elements available to you?” says General Manager Emilio Fabico, noting the Illinois property will also have a lazy river, the funnel-like Whitewater Whirl waterslides and the Wolf Rider, for daring guests only.

Another attraction of Great Wolf Lodge Illinois is the brand’s newly revamped F&B program, which includes the farm-to-fork restaurant Barnwood. Guests will find fresh dishes made with locally sourced ingredients alongside a craft cocktail menu, also available to meeting groups.

The property is holding a job fair for nearly 600 positions at College of Lake County in Grayslake this week through May 18 (details), and is accepting reservations starting July 1, 2018.

The PCMA Education Foundation Leadership Committee has elected its 2019 Board of Trustees. Officers and trustees will take office immediately following PCMA’s annual meeting at the 63rd Convening Leaders in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in January 2019.

Convening Leaders 2019 will take place Jan. 6 - 9 in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 

The calendar might still say 2018, but meeting professionals know it’s time to start planning for 2019 events. One of the biggest decisions always lies in where to host destination conferences. The best way to help narrow down a city? Take inspiration from the best of 2018.

 

This is the fourth year in a row that I’ve helped with the Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference and the 12th that I’ve attended. Nothing beats meeting face-to face, seeing friends and colleagues from around the state and beyond, and experiencing great Colorado destinations like Vail.