Looking for a destination that’s both easy to get to and a pleasure to visit? Plymouth and Livonia have you covered.

The cities are an easy drive to downtown Detroit, Metro Airport and the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, a top exposition, conference and banquet center. They’re also home to 14 hotels offering 1,984 rooms. And then there’s downtown Plymouth.

“While there are many great downtowns, there are very few that have a park in the center where there are events and people gather to relax, have fun and participate in activities all year long,” says Tony Bruscato, director of the Plymouth Downtown Development Authority. “With Kellogg Park, the Norman Rockwell downtown, the many activities held in downtown Plymouth as well as the dozens of restaurants and retail establishments—all within walking distance for most—Plymouth is a hot spot in western Wayne county, if not the state of Michigan.”

Memorable Meeting Spaces

One of the area’s most unique venues (and frequent Best of Michigan winner) is the Inn at St. John’s, a former seminary in Plymouth with 22 meeting rooms, two restaurants and 27 holes of golf. The inn hosts more than 1,000 events a year.

“The unique beauty and expansive grounds help to create a feeling of being away from the hustle and bustle of the city, without leaving the city limits,” says Tawnya Johnson, St. John’s director of sales and marketing. Fox Hills Golf and Banquet Center, another noteworthy Plymouth venue, actually offers planners three different venues to choose from: the Golden Fox Clubhouse, which offers a traditional country club feel; the warm and rustic Fox Classic Log Cabin, built in 1927; or the outdoor Summerhouse on the Lakes, which overlooks the golf courses. Julia Grelak, Fox Hills’ director of sales and marketing, says that planners can book a variety of teambuilding opportunities while hosting an event on the property, including a game of golf on one of Fox Hills’ three courses or a game of volleyball, horseshoes or foot golf.

The Meeting House Grand Ballroom is a striking single-event facility in Plymouth, complete with Czechoslovakian chandeliers, high ceilings and hardwood floors. Although best known for hosting wedding receptions, it also hosts corporate events such as fundraisers and holiday parties. The venue can accommodate 150 to 300 people, says Tracy Osann, one of the Meeting House’s managers. 

Large and in Charge

For planners in need of a lot of space, the recently renovated Laurel Manor Banquet & Conference Center in Livonia can accommodate a sit-down dinner for up to 1,600 or a business meeting for up to 2,300 theater-style. Part of the family-run venue’s draw is its fabulous food.

“If we could have Smell-O-Vision on our website, everyone would be here,” jokes Deirdre Stemmelen, Laurel Manor’s general sales manager. “Everything is homemade here on-site every day, from our Italian bread started at 4:30 a.m. every morning to our soups, sauces and freshly cut meats. The Del Signore family prides themselves on the fact that this is the first thing that guests remember about their experience with us.”

Burton Manor Banquet and Conference Center is another spacious Livonia facility, featuring eight banquet/meeting rooms that can be configured to any size group from 50 to 2,000 people. The staff at Burton Manor goes out of its way to fulfill each client’s needs.

“One of our food and beverage trade shows had Elsie the Cow,” recalls Kim Weak, Burton Manor’s accounting manager. “And yes, we made it happen.”

Connecting with Your Audience

Planning a tech-savvy event? The VisTaTech Center at Livonia’s Schoolcraft College is capable of holding satellite teleconferences, webcast webinars, audio conferences and interactive video conferences. Meeting spaces include a 7,471-squarefoot area that can seat 400-600 people, a theater with an attached speaker room that can accommodate up to 270 people and nine breakout rooms, including an executive boardroom, that range from 600-1,827 square feet. Two computer labs are also available, each equipped with 24 desktop computers perfect for software training or product demonstrations.

“We are a corporate training and meeting center; we do not host weddings or showers,” says Brenda Durling, manager of conference and event services at VisTaTech. “An educational arena [like Schoolcraft College] reinforces the training and learning element.”

When it comes time to recharge, Schoolcraft College’s highly acclaimed culinary arts program has trained many of VisTaTech’s catering staff and chefs, guaranteeing guests are served an excellent meal.

Hotels Worth Checking Into

Great food is a key perk to hosting an event at the Detroit Marriott Livonia, too, which is home to eight meeting rooms with more than 6,000 square feet of meeting space.

“All of our food is catered through Sweet Lorraine’s restaurant, which, before it was fashionable, has long been known for its use of organic and locally grown produce,” says Danielle Bastianelli, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. “Therefore, everything is fresh, bright and colorful.”

For planners whose budget can’t cover a catered lunch, the hotel’s attachment to Laurel Park Place Mall means guests can grab lunch at one of its restaurants. 

The Holiday Inn Detroit-Livonia is able to accommodate up to 1,000 guests when utilizing all of its available meeting space—including a conference center with 15,000 square feet of flexible meeting and banquet space.

“One time we had an association sell out the entire hotel,” says Jill Holmes, Holiday Inn Detroit-Livonia’s catering sales manager. “They needed a dozen hospitality rooms, so we removed furniture from some of our first floor guest rooms and the guests converted them into themed rooms: a ’50s diner, a futuristic experience with a floor-to ceiling rocket, a trip back to the ’80s, just to name a few.”

The Comfort Inn in Plymouth recently underwent a $3 million renovation and can host approximately 100 people in its large meeting room and 25 people in its small one. Lois Offerman, the hotel’s sales manager, says there’s plenty of parking—so much so that the property once used its parking lot for a group’s car show.

With so many diverse venues to choose from in the Plymouth/Livonia area, planners are sure to find a location for their next event that will leave a lasting impression on all who attend.

These interviews are part of a series that highlights new hires within the industry. Have you recently started a new role or do you know someone who has? Submit your ideas to brittany.trevick@tigeroak.com.

Brent Hockenberry was recently hired as executive chef for the Omaha Marriott Downtown.

1. What are you looking forward to the most in your new role as executive chef for the Omaha Marriott Downtown?

 

We’ve Got Our Finalists

Thousands of you voted, and those votes have been tallied: We have our MIME Best of Awards finalists.

But you know the drill: We can tell you who the finalists are in each category, but the winners won’t be revealed until our Best of Michigan awards party on May 18.

We rolled out some new categories this year (welcome, Best Distillery, Best Convention Center and Best Renovation), and we saw some shake-ups in existing categories.

 

Finding a venue is one of the first decisions a meeting planner makes. Its size and location can make a big impact on meeting attendance. The Sheraton Tysons Hotel—managed by Crescent Hotels & Resorts—located outside of Washington, DC, is helping planners choose by offering a package for planners booking through 2020.