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Traverse City: An Ideal Meetings Locale

By Kim Corcoran

What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of Traverse City? Beautiful. Fun. Adventure. Perfect? That last one might seem hard to attain, but when it comes to a destination for meetings, Traverse City is second to none. It really has it all—world-class conference facilities, outdoor activities to connect your attendees, farm-to-table cuisine and breweries and wineries to tempt every palate.

Let’s Get Outdoors
We’re hearing from more and more meeting planners that their attendees want to get outside and get moving during their meetings. Whether it’s a morning yoga session, an afternoon break outside or a walking meeting, attendees enjoy movement and fresh air. Fortunately, Traverse City offers a plethora of alfresco options. Traverse City Tourism is your first resource for finding the perfect venue for your next northern Michigan meeting. PR/marketing director Jillian Manning says, “We are always encouraging meeting planners and attendees to enjoy Traverse City’s greatest asset—our stunning natural setting. Whether that’s taking a hike at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, getting out on the water on a Tall Ship cruise or doing sunrise yoga  in a vineyard, we believe in achieving peace of mind, body and spirit, even when you’re attending a conference.”

World-Class Facilities
Traverse City is home to not only natural beauty, but some of the top hotels, resorts and meeting venues in the state. The largest meeting destination in the region is the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. With over 500 guest rooms and 86,500 square feet of meeting space, this gem, located in nearby Acme, can welcome groups of up to 2,500. Nestled on 900 acres of outdoor wonderland, the property boasts 54 holes of championship golf, a full-service spa, a beachfront perfect for bonfires and activities, and upscale dining and shopping. For more than 30 years, Governor’s Hall at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa has been a premier meeting space in northern Michigan. Now featuring 25,000 square feet of remodeled space, it has a vibrant “lake effect” design theme, a state-of-the-art Crestron sound system, new air walls and digital signage.

Heading into downtown Traverse City, there is plenty to get excited about. A much anticipated new conference center is a game-changer for the city center. With 140 guest rooms and 15,000 square feet of meeting space, the historic Park Place Hotel has a fresh conference center that can accommodate events of all sizes, from a board meeting of 10 to a conference for 400. Many of the meeting spaces include breathtaking views of the city and Grand Traverse Bay. What makes it most appealing is the location—just steps from the front door are the top restaurants, breweries and boutique shopping that make Traverse City so enticing.

Standing among revamped lumberyards, sawmills and canneries, Hotel Indigo reflects the new life and vibrant spirit of Traverse City’s waterfront Warehouse District neighborhood. It’s a hotel that celebrates the great outdoors, but with an urban edge. Meeting attendees get the best of both worlds with downtown shopping and nightlife, plus walkable access to beautiful beaches. Accommodating meetings of up to 150, a stay at Hotel Indigo would not be complete without an event at its sawmill-inspired rooftop bar, with views of West Grand Traverse Bay. Margaret Morse, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing, sums up the experience at Hotel Indigo: “We’re proud to be a part of this vibrant, wonderful neighborhood and are all about helping our guests experience all there is to do, see, taste and explore.”

Just a couple of miles from downtown Traverse City, you’ll find Great Wolf Lodge and Conference Center. This stunning conference facility offers almost 11,000 square feet of versatile space, including 11 breakout rooms. Groups of up to 250 will find comfort and fun at the year-round venue. “We offer something for everyone, whether it’s from the obvious family-oriented program to larger association and professional meetings. Our groups receive dedicated top-notch service and are often the big fish in a small pond, without competition from other groups at the same time as their program. Our product is weather-proof and all under one roof for any group’s team-building opportunity,” says Taryn Miracle, director of sales and marketing. Just a stone’s throw away, meeting attendees often enjoy visiting The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, one of the largest historic preservation and adaptive reuse redevelopments in the country. The Village houses unique shopping, dining, wineries and local businesses in historic buildings formerly known as the Traverse City State Hospital.

Let’s Drink to That 
Thanks to the wonders of the 45th parallel, the latitude our destination shares with Italy’s Piedmont region and Bordeaux in France, the Traverse City area is prime for growing grapes and producing award-winning wines. Ranging from crisp whites to complex reds, Traverse City winemakers are limited only by their imaginations. But then there’s the aesthetic, too. From traditional European ambience to minimalist modern, the tasting rooms themselves are gorgeous, sitting on bluffs with the best views of the region. As you might imagine, the wineries are a perfect backdrop for meetings and off-site events.

One of Traverse City’s top choices for a meeting or team-building event is Black Star Farms, located on the Leelanau Peninsula. “We are a small inn with many luxurious yet charming venues, including a banquet room, board room with large bar, Centennial barn, outdoor patio spaces, vineyard event space, lounge/library, firepits and tasting room. All these amenities are located on a 160-acre family estate amid a hillside of vines overlooking our equestrian facility. It is truly magical,” says proprietor Sherri Campbell Fenton. “Our property is very elegant yet carries a casual farm feel.”

Moving over to Old Mission Peninsula, we find another favorite event venue. Chateau Chantal is a stunning Traverse City wine country destination, providing an enchanting experience with Michigan-grown wines for every taste, breathtaking 360-degree water views and an authentic family heritage focused on hospitality. Attendees can enjoy a seven course, wine-paired dinner, a cellar tour with the winemakers or a VIP tasting experience.

Here’s to the Experience
Planners and attendees are looking for more than four walls and a ballroom for their next conference or event. They want to get out and experience the local landscape, the home-grown flavors and connect to the community. Whether groups are curious to climb the Sleeping Bear Dunes or taste the tart cherries, Traverse City and its local hospitality professionals are ready and waiting.