• Michigan Meetings + Events' Readers' Choice Best Of Awards - Place

    POSTED May 18, 2011

Michigan has plenty of wonderful locations to stage a meeting, event or group activity, so it should be no surprise that half of our Best of categories are devoted to them.

Without a doubt the champion is the Henry Ford, which has been a finalist and/or winner 19 times in 10 different categories, due to their incredible variety of meeting and event options that work for so many different kinds of functions and groups, plus a staff that has earned two Best Service awards.

They might need to add a new museum for all those awards, including this year’s wins for Best Meeting/Event Venue in Detroit Metro Area (no hotel) and Best Cultural Venue.

A finalist in 2010, the two-year-old Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel returns to win Best Casino and tie for Best Hotel with Meeting/Event Space (less than 200 rooms). Whether it’s the eco-friendly features (it’s Michigan’s only casino with a green roof), touches like golden amber granite countertops in the rooms or the varied meeting space, Turtle Creek is a good bet with voters.

The other tie for Best Hotel with Meeting/Event Space (less than 200 rooms) is the Inn at St. John’s, a multiple Best of nominee and winner. Plymouth Township Supervisor Richard Reaume visits the Inn for fund-raisers, business meetings and social gatherings.

"The Inn at St. John’s is a true gem," he says, calling the property "an oasis" (and it is) and worth an A-plus.

This is the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit’s second appearance as a winner since reopening in 2008, for Best Hotel with Meeting/Event Space (more than 200 rooms). If you attended our 2009 Best of Awards gala at the Book Cadillac, you know this is a venue that makes a statement. It’s impressive, memorable and elegant, and just earned a Four Diamond rating from AAA.

For Best College/University Venue, (with all apologies to U of M), the victor valiant was Michigan State University. Individually, venues like the Wharton Center, the Henry Center for Executive Development and the Kellogg Conference Center and Hotel have been nominated or won.

"I have both attended and also held seminars at the Kellogg Center," says Jack Barron, WSO-CSS, a risk control consultant for the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority. "I receive very good service, from planning an event through its conclusion. Meals are considerably above typical hotel food and we are treated as if we are the only ones using the facility that day."

Also above typical in the Lansing area: Troppo, our readers’ pick for Best Restaurant with Private Dining. When I took a FAM tour of Lansing recently, out of all the great places to eat, the CVB chose Troppo. The famous butternut squash soup is one reason to visit; the restaurant’s classy "supper club" vibe and private dining space are two more.

Northwestern Michigan University might be a runner-up to MSU, but two of its venues are winners this year. Judy Levin, a realtor with Coldwell Banker Schmidt, calls the Dennos Museum (Best Cultural Venue outside Metro Detroit), "An important part of Northern Michigan cultural events," including the Traverse City Film Festival. "Having this versatile building really makes a difference in our presentations," she notes.

The Hagerty Center (Best Meeting/Event Venue Outside Detroit Metro [no hotel]) gets kudos as well. "Nathan Glidden and his staff surpassed all expectations," says Valerie Thornburg, marketing coordinator of Corporate Title Agency, "including getting a special variance for allowing our party to take place on both floors, including the restaurant area. They hit the event out of the park for us."

Two other Northern Michigan venues were a hit with readers. The Grand Traverse Resort & Spa in Acme tied for Best Golf Venue in 2008 and now scores a hole-in-one, adding to the numerous honors bestowed upon the Bear, the Wolverine and Spruce Run.

Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa, runner-up to the Grand Traverse in 2010, reaches the summit for Best Resort. Overton attends conferences and seminars at Crystal Mountain and notes that, "The resort is beautiful and well-maintained."

Last but not least, the award for Best Unconventional Venue goes to the Detroit Zoo. It doesn’t need a lot of explanation. Where else can you choose between holding your event with polar bears and seals swimming overhead, butterflies landing on your shoulder or amphibians in an indoor rainforest?

THE WINNER IS: Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel

RUNNERS-UP: MGM Grand Detroit, Little River Casino Resort

>>College or University Venue
THE WINNER IS: Michigan State University

RUNNERS-UP: Northwestern Michigan University, Oakland University

>>Cultural Venue (within Metro Detroit)
THE WINNER IS: The Henry Ford

RUNNERS-UP: Detroit Institute of Arts, Meadow Brook Hall

>>Cultural Venue (outside Metro Detroit)
THE WINNER IS: Dennos Museum Center

RUNNERS-UP: Grand Rapids Art Museum, Wharton Center

>>Golf Venue
THE WINNER IS: Grand Traverse Resort & Spa

RUNNERS-UP: Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa, Eagle Eye Golf Club

>>Hotel with Meeting/Event Space (more than 200 rooms)
THE WINNER IS: Westin Book Cadillac Detroit

RUNNERS-UP: MotorCity Casino Hotel, the Henry

>>Hotel with Meeting/Event Space (less than 200 rooms) TIE
THE WINNER IS: The Inn at St. John’s
THE WINNER IS: Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel

RUNNERS-UP: Doubletree Bay City Riverfront, Cambria Suites (Traverse City)

>>Meeting/Event Venue (in Detroit Metro Area, no hotel)
THE WINNER IS: The Henry Ford

RUNNERS-UP: Meadow Brook Hall, Ford Field

Meeting/Event Venue (outside Detroit Metro Area, no hotel)
THE WINNER IS: Hagerty Conference Center

RUNNERS-UP: Lansing Center, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

THE WINNER IS: Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa

RUNNERS-UP: Grand Traverse Resort, Shanty Creek Resort

>>Restaurant with Private Dining

RUNNERS-UP: Aerie at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, Iridescence at the MotorCity Casino Hotel

>>Unconventional Venue
THE WINNER IS: Detroit Zoo

RUNNERS-UP: Planterra Conservatory, Tallship Manitou

Take note of these seven pros who are making their mark in the meetings and events industry. 

Mary Kerr, CTA, President & CEO 
Destination Ann Arbor
Lifetime Achievement 


Congratulations to the winners!

Best Meeting/Event Planning Company
Emerald City Designs 


Click here to view the photos from the night and here for the photo booth photos! Feel free to tag yourself and share on social media! #MIBestof