A buyer's market and plenty of new construction in the Midwest means better value for groups.
After the boom year of 2007, when room rates and facilities construction knew no bounds, the economic downturn has been a shock, but supply should soon bring more reasonable prices for groups in Midwest cities.
In Chicago, some 7,200 guest rooms are scheduled to be completed by 2011. Two new hotels scheduled to open are the InterContinental Chicago O'Hare in Rosemont and theWit, a Doubletree hotel in downtown Chicago.
A 35-minute drive from Chicago in Tinley Park, the Tinley Park Convention Center will almost double in size to 42,000 square feet of exhibit space and 21,500 square feet of meeting space. The attached Holiday Inn will expand to a total of 270 guest rooms.
The Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis will double in size by 2010 and be connected to the new Lucas Oil Stadium. The stadium with its retractable ceiling is group-ready, and the expanded center and stadium will have a total of 749,000 square feet of exhibit space and 12 meeting rooms. A 31,000-square-foot plaza can host receptions. A JW Marriott hotel will complete the picture.
In 2007, Cleveland announced a new, 1 million-square-foot convention center, the Medical Mart, to be built in conjunction with Merchandise Mart Properties, but the project seems interminably stuck in site selection. Plans are still under way, and authorities say a center should be built by 2011.
Lawmakers in Lansing, Mich., have passed legislation to create a convention authority to purchase Cobo Center from financially strapped Detroit. The plan then is for the authority to use a combination of bonds and taxes to pay for Cobo's expansion and operation.
The 800-room Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago has completed a $1.8 million renovation that included its 43,000 square feet of function space.
The 470-room Hyatt Regency Woodfield-Schaumburg has completed a $32 million restoration of guest rooms and more than 30,000 square feet of meeting space, as well as ballrooms, outdoor spaces, and exhibit areas. The hotel's new “No penalties, no worries” program offers to waivefees or even cancellation penalties for meetings with room blocks booked before July 1, 2009.
Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile celebrated its 30-year anniversary with a $36 million propertywide renovation that added 10,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 4,000-square-foot ballroom.
At press time, theWit hotel, with 298 rooms in downtown Chicago, was scheduled for a late May 2009 opening. It includes nine meeting rooms.
The InterContinental Chicago O'Hare, in Rosemont, opened in September 2008 with 556 guest rooms. It features two ballrooms, boardroom space on every floor, and a cluster of six meeting rooms near the lobby.
The Marriott Bloomington-Normal Hotel & Conference Center is well on its way to completion, expected to open by September 2009 with 229 rooms, as well as? a pool, restaurant, and fitness center. The attached conference facility has more than 23,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space and is connected to the Normal Theater, which will also be available for group events.
InterContinental Hotels Group has converted a property to a 160-room Crowne Plaza in the Bloomington-Normal business district. It has more than 9,000 square feet of meeting space.
Jumer's Casino & Hotel in Rock Island opened in December 2008, offering 205 guest rooms, 11 suites, and four meeting rooms totaling 7,400 square feet of indoor meeting space.
French Lick Resort comprises French Lick Springs and West Baden Springs hotels. It has undergone a $500 million renovation that restored the hotels and added the French Lick Casino. Also renovated are three golf courses and a conference center.
Hyatt Hotels & Resorts in October 2008 opened Hyatt Place South Bend/Mishawaka near the University of Notre Dame. The hotel has 121 guest rooms and 1,250 square feet of meeting space.
The 85-room Hotel Indigo Columbus Downtown opened last February in Columbus. It has a meeting room that can accommodate up to 120 guests, and a boardroom for smaller meetings.
The Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center held a ribbon-cutting in January in Davenport, near the Isle Casino and Hotel (on the Iowa/Illinois border). The center has 24,000 square feet of meeting space, with a ballroom that accommodates 1,500 theater-style, as well as smaller meeting rooms.
Greektown Casino in Detroit has opened its new high-limit gaming rooms. The 400-room Greektown Casino-Hotel opened in February with 10,000 square feet of meeting space.
The 453-room Westin Book Cadillac Hotel opened in downtown Detroit last October. The Venetian Ballroom features 1,500-pound, blown-glass chandeliers. The Italian Garden and Crystal ballrooms can accommodate up to 1,000 guests. There are eight smaller meeting rooms, as well.
Cafe Zinc, the Table, and Oxygen are some special venues in Midland's new 131-room H Hotel, the former Ashman Court Hotel and now a Dolce meetings property. The H has completed a $25 million upgrade, adding 6,000 square feet of meeting rooms and the H grand ballroom, which seats up to 300.
The obelisk-shaped, art deco-era Foshay Tower, modeled after the Washington Monument, reopened in August 2008 after a major makeover as W Minneapolis-The Foshay. It offers 229 guest rooms and 6,700 square feet of meeting space.
Hilton Cincinnati Airport, near Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport just across the state line from Cincinnati in Florence, Ky., recently completed a $2 million renovation of its 306 rooms and 10,000 square feet of meeting space.
Ask the CVB
Bloomington-Normal Area CVB
Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau
Rosemont Convention Bureau
Woodfield Chicago Northwest Convention Bureau
Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Authority
Detroit Metro CVB
Greater Minneapolis CVA
Saint Paul CVB
CVB of Greater Cleveland
Greater Cincinnati CVB
Formerly a private club, the Rock Island Arsenal Golf Club is now available to the public for meetings and events on Arsenal Island — right in the middle of the Mississippi River between Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Ill. The clubhouse was built in 1906 and has the feel of a Southern plantation home with open-air verandas and elegant dining rooms overlooking the golf course. The clubhouse has banquet rooms that can accommodate up to 250 people. In addition, golf club patrons can now use the historic Quarters One facility and grounds. Built in the 1870s, it boasts a spacious central hall with a dining room, library, and screened veranda. Quarters One can host up to 100 people, and the grounds can accommodate up to 400. (309) 793-1601, www.riagolfclub.com
After your group pays proper homage to a life-sized statue of Zeus at the New Parthenon Restaurant in Detroit's Greektown, the saganaki (flaming cheese) will kick off your Greek dinner with enough excitement to last the evening. The huge restaurant has multiple levels and plenty of seating so groups can enjoy almost-private space. (313) 963-8888