After 36 years as director of the CVB, Peter Fitzsimons is retiring. By Shelley Levitt

In 1985, Peter Fitzsimons, a former hotel general manager, became the executive director of the newly formed Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau. He never left. In June, the 73-year-old Detroit native announced that he’d be stepping down from the role at the end of the year. 

MIM+E: When did you begin your career in hospitality?

PF: I started in 1968 as a busboy at Holiday Inn Traverse City. From there I moved on to bellman. After a couple of years in the Army, I was hired back as night auditor, then as a front-desk supervisor, and on through roles in sales, accounting, purchasing, and food and beverage. Finally, after 13 years, I became general manager of the new Petoskey Holiday Inn.

MIM+E: In 1985, after being on the steering committee to form a Petoskey convention and visitors bureau, you assumed the role of executive director. You’ve had a lot of job opportunities over the years that you turned down to stay. Why?

PF: Petoskey is one of the most beautiful places in the country. I believe that in my heart, and millions of people that have visited here will attest to that. It has small-town values, and it’s a perfect place to live and a perfect place to promote. 

MIM+E: What makes the area appealing to visitors, including meeting planners?

PF: I’ve been answering the question “What’s so great about us?” for 36 years, and the number one answer is always the area’s natural beauty, the fresh pollen-free air, the water.

Along with that, we have some of the best facilities and state-of-the-art equipment and connectivity that you’ll find anywhere. Plus, meeting planners know they’re going to be well taken care of here. When it comes to amenities and team-building activities, we have 17 championship golf courses, over a dozen wineries, several breweries and distilleries, ziplining, kayaking and miles of continuous biking and hiking trails.

If attendees and their families stay on after the meeting, they can enjoy fine dining and great shopping in the Historic Gaslight District, including independent shops you won’t find anywhere else. Harbor City has 11 art galleries and some of the best chocolate chunk cookies you’ll ever taste at Tom’s Mom’s Cookies. 

MIM+E: What are you going to do once you retire?

PF: I’m a member of a couple of golf clubs and a yacht club, and they have activities going on all the time. I like to fish. And, I’m looking forward to going to more cool events, like the Boyne Falls Polish Festival, Harbor Springs Brew Festival and Art in the Park in downtown Petoskey. Whatever I do, I’ll always be a steadfast promoter of Petoskey. 

 

 

MACVB Annual Educational Conference finally reaches the shores of Mackinac Island.

As I rode in the carriage from the Shepler’s Ferry terminal to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, my mind wandered to a scene from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” In said scene, King Arthur and his sidekick, Patsy, approach a castle while galloping and banging coconuts together. After a few moments passed and my mind wandered back to the tree-lined streets of the island, I realized it was the clippety-clop of the draft horses pulling our carriage that brought on my thoughts of Python.

 

When Mary Chris Hotchkiss attended an event near Petoskey in March 2022, she was enchanted.

“I remember thinking as I was leaving that someday this would be a great place to work,” she says.

Someday is here. Hotchkiss was recently named new group sales director for the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau.

 

In just a few weeks, the Michigan Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus (MACVB) convenes on Mackinac Island for its annual educational conference—a much-anticipated event for an organization that is all about meetings and gatherings.

MACVB Executive Director Larissa Draves says being able to meet in person to learn, share, and network is invaluable. The annual conference was held in person in 2021, though had to be virtual in 2020 at the height of the pandemic.