Small Market Meetings

JUN 2017

The Newspaper for Smaller Cities, Facilities and Planners.

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June 2017 J une 2 0 1 7 7 All photos courtesy Visit South Bend Mishawaka South Bend sits on the St. Joseph River near the Michigan border. "What is potentially important to meeting planners is that 200 of our rooms are dou- bles," said hotel sales director Julie Egan. "So, we can accommodate a good mixture of del- egates. We have a ballroom that will accom- modate up to 350 people and four breakout rooms that will handle up to 30 each. Our covered atrium is a great space for meals or for breakout time." Egan said the Hilton Corporation is intro- ducing new smartphone apps and technology at her hotel. Guests can check in on their phones and use them to open the gates to the hotel parking garage. They can also go straight to their room and open the door, all on the app. Meanwhile, downtown South Bend is get- ting its first new hotels in decades, part of a hotel boom across the county. A 183-room Aloft Hotel is under construction and will be part of the major renovations underway at the former Chase Tower, the tallest building in town. The hotel will open this August. In early 2018, a new five-story Courtyard by Marriott will be completed across the street from the Century Center. The hotel will have 140 guest rooms. Both hotels will be conve- nient for meeting attendees. "Downtown is very walkable, safe and easy to get around in," said the Century Center's Nowak. "I think meeting planners and their folks will also love all the restaurants we have downtown." Neighboring Hotels Shine Several other hotels and conference centers will help meeting and event planners have successful gatherings. The University of Notre Dame has the Notre Dame Conference Center, which offers 40,000 square feet of space, 12 seminar rooms of varying sizes and a 375- seat auditorium. Also on campus is Morris Inn, with 150 guest rooms and suites. It has a ballroom with a capacity of 300. Across the street from Notre Dame is the campus of St. Mary's College, and both a Hilton Garden Inn and the Inn at St. Mary's are solid meeting and sleeping venues. "The Hilton is connected to the Gillespie Conference Center and can offer large spaces there, or we can section it off into smaller meeting rooms," said Hannah Marti, corpo- rate sales manager for both properties. The Inn at St. Mary's has a small meeting room available for use. "You can get everything from us. We're like a big package deal. We coordinate it all for you and take it off your hands so you can have a successful meeting." Planners can also arrange meetings and accommodations at the suburban Holiday Inn Mishawaka Conference Center. "We are the newest and only full-service hotel in Mishawaka," said Kristina Palmer, who does sales and marketing for the prop- erty. "We have 10,000 square feet of meeting space with 115 suites attached to it. It doesn't get any better than that." Free-Time Entertainment Notre Dame enjoys a strong sports heritage, and game days are legendary, with so much going on across the tree-lined campus. But whether there's a sporting event or not, groups can get to know the school on guided campus tours. "It's a very beautiful campus," said Dick Tucker, a Notre Dame tour guide. "There's a lot of history and interesting buildings, like the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Grotto and the Main Building, better known as the Golden Dome building. We take you through them and explain their significance. Also, Notre Dame Sports are big with alumni and fans nationwide, and most of the sports ven- ues, like Notre Dame Stadium and the Joyce Center, are open for tours." Speaking of sports, the world champion Chicago Cubs have a Class A minor league baseball affiliate in South Bend, which plays at the recently renovated Four Winds Field. "We love to host groups when they come see us," said Joe Hart, the team's president. "Groups are always looking for things to do, and there's nothing better in the summer than a night at the ballpark." South Bend is blessed with some impressive museums. The Studebaker National Museum pays tribute to the wagon- and automobile- manufacturing companies that date back to the mid-1800s in South Bend. Automobile

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