IT’S HARD TO OPEN A MAGAZINE OR A NEWSPAPER LATELY WITHOUT SEEING A STORY ABOUT GRAND RAPIDS being a top destination city. For meeting planners eyeing Michigan’s second-largest city, the Amway Hotel Collection stands out for its unique spaces, proximity to the city’s convention center and expert staff.
"When seeking to book an event or meeting within one of our properties, we truly want to make it a seamless experience," says Ron Brondyke, the collection’s vice president and corporate director of sales.
The collection offers three distinct hotels-the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Courtyard Grand Rapids Downtown and the JW Marriott Grand Rapids-which are connected to each other by an enclosed climate-controlled walkway, and the on-site DeVos Place Convention Center. Combined, the hotels and convention center offer 327,000 square feet of meeting space (DeVos Place alone has 250,000 square feet, plus DeVos Performance Hall, a 2,400-seat, world-class performance venue). The collection features 11 restaurants and lounges, and all three hotels are situated along the majestic Grand River, offering beautiful views of the city.
The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel boasts 682 rooms and 47,120 square feet of flexible meeting space, including 42 meeting rooms. Reception areas range from elegant and ornate ballrooms on the hotel’s historic Pantlind side to newly renovated conference areas in its newer wing, situated in contemporary glass towers. The Amway Grand Plaza plans to unveil a 297-room upgrade to 22 floors of the modern glass tower within the historic property. The new design provides hotel guests with a residential, sophisticated guest room intended to make 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. All workstations will provide full connectivity. The renovations are slated to be unveiled in November.
Among the hotel’s restaurants are Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Cygnus 27, an upscale eatery on the 27th floor of the glass tower wing. A private group can collaborate with the chef for a custom menu and take in Cygnus’ alluring atmosphere while enjoying sweeping views of the city.
The JW Marriott Grand Rapids offers 337 rooms and more than 20,000 square feet of meeting space. There are two executive boardrooms, a 1,000- seat ballroom and the regionally focused cuisine of restaurant six.one.six. The restaurant includes Mixology, a sleek lounge offering unusual concoctions by award-winning bartender Kellie Rowland, who is known for whipping up inspired cocktails tailored to events. Adjacent to six.one.six is jdek, an outdoor patio with cabanas that allow for relaxing by the river with friends and colleagues.
Finally, the Courtyard Grand Rapids Downtown has 214 rooms and seven meeting rooms, with youthfully modern décor and work areas, and The Bistro, a newly renovated spacious café with an airy and bright private room perfect for meetings.
All three hotels have amenities such as fitness facilities, indoor pools, 24-hour room service, and in-hotel shopping and spa options. Joyce Miller, Amway Hotel Collections’ director of conventions, says she and her team will walk clients through each of the three properties to determine the best fit for their event. And if a group really wants to spread out, nearby Van Andel Arena has capacity for 12,000.
"We offer options at every price point, and with the square footage between all three hotels, a group can pretty much own the entire city," says Chad LeRoux, Amway Hotel Corporation’s director of marketing. "We can do big groups, really big groups and small groups."
Finally, a planner looking to offer a memorable experience might try the Brew and Renew spa treatment. Grand Rapids is Beer City USA, after all, and both the JW Marriott Grand Rapids and the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel offer group spa treatments featuring local beers.
In fact, food and drink are key to the Amway Hotel Collection’s appeal. Amway’s Corporate Executive Chef Josef Huber goes the extra mile to ensure his dishes are authentic and appealing. He once went on an eight-month vegan diet to fully explore how to best provide meals that make the vegan dining experience more than just greens on a plate.
"We recently hosted a company event for Wolverine World Wide and they wanted to feature an El Salvadorian menu," Huber says. "So, we brought in a chef from El Salvador and in the days leading up to the event, our kitchen assisted him in procuring the menu items he required."