Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, there is a complex of branded hotels and meeting venues at various price points that provide a ton of customized opportunities for corporate, association and youth organization planners.
The three hotels, totaling more than 1,100 rooms, are: Amway Grand Plaza, JW Marriott Grand Rapids and Downtown Courtyard by Marriott. Those are complemented with DeVos Place Convention Center and Van Andel Arena, and you can access all of them at 1100rooms.com.
Presently, the 682-room, four-diamond Amway Grand Plaza with 47,000 sf of meeting space is undergoing a comprehensive renovation to 300 rooms, scheduled to be completed in November.
The new design provides hotel guests with a residential, sophisticated guestroom where younger business travelers feel at home. The warm, rich design by Chicago-based Gooch Design Studio includes earth tones and soft fabrics, creating the soothing vibes of a luxury condo, with high-tech workstations for business travelers.
We corresponded with Joyce Miller, CMP, director of conventions, to learn more about the overall group experience. Answers have been slightly edited for clarity.
Prevue: What are the selling points for hosting a conference in Grand Rapids beside just the inherent value of the destination?
Joyce Miller: We have a safe, walkable downtown and a close working relationship between the convention bureau, downtown hotels and the convention center. It makes planning a lot easier. Also, many various festivals held downtown offer built-in entertainment for groups.
Prevue: How have past groups segmented their attendees and utilized all three properties?
Miller: Youth groups I have worked with will house their largest chapter at the Courtyard. This gives them kind of their own private venue. Others will put VIP board members at the JW, and then the majority of the group will stay and meet at the Amway Grand Plaza and flow into DeVos Place.
Some larger groups will host their general sessions and breakouts at Amway Grand Plaza because of the large number of meeting rooms, and then take a quick trip across the street or through the skywalk to the JW for group meals in their ballroom. The best part is the client still only pays one bill.
Prevue: What are a few special event options and group experiences on-and off-property?
Miller: We have so many. For volunteer opportunities, small groups can sign up for a shift making sack suppers at Kids Food Basket. There are hockey games and concerts at Van Andel Arena. We do brewery tours stopping at various Beer City USA breweries, and in winter, ice skating at Rosa Parks Circle. Also, Hotel Kitchen Catering offers various culinary options like our chef’s outdoor smoker BBQ picnic.