• Michigan M+E Best of 2019 Winners

    POSTED May 23, 2019

    Drumroll please … as we announce the winners and runners-up of the much-anticipated Michigan M+E Best of 2019 readers’ choice awards.

  • Michigan M+E Best of 2019 Winners

    POSTED May 23, 2019

    Drumroll please … as we announce the winners and runners-up of the much-anticipated Michigan M+E Best of 2019 readers’ choice awards.

  • Michigan M+E Best of 2019 Winners

    POSTED May 23, 2019

    Drumroll please … as we announce the winners and runners-up of the much-anticipated Michigan M+E Best of 2019 readers’ choice awards.

  • Michigan M+E Best of 2019 Winners

    POSTED May 23, 2019

    Drumroll please … as we announce the winners and runners-up of the much-anticipated Michigan M+E Best of 2019 readers’ choice awards.

  • Michigan M+E Best of 2019 Winners

    POSTED May 23, 2019

    Drumroll please … as we announce the winners and runners-up of the much-anticipated Michigan M+E Best of 2019 readers’ choice awards.

  • Michigan M+E Best of 2019 Winners

    POSTED May 23, 2019

    Drumroll please … as we announce the winners and runners-up of the much-anticipated Michigan M+E Best of 2019 readers’ choice awards.

  • Michigan M+E Best of 2019 Winners

    POSTED May 23, 2019

    Drumroll please … as we announce the winners and runners-up of the much-anticipated Michigan M+E Best of 2019 readers’ choice awards.

Best Audio-Visual/Visual Presentation Provider

Business managers who oversee corporate off-sites and company meetings often like to shake things up. And so do the folks at this Southfield-based group of planners and innovators, says Scott Schoeneberger, managing partner.

“A little bit of creativity can go a long way to assist. Technology, lighting, scenic and unique activations can completely transform an ordinary space into something entirely different,” he shares. “If you can’t find an unusual space that works for you, make one!”

As for brand activations, he says: “Make it hands-on, make it immersive, and your audience will want more of it.”

An interesting observation: “The headsdown time spent on our devices day after day is creating more of a demand for faceto-face interactions,” he adds. “We see more events including, and being designed around, moments that offer a mutual experience. From New Age ‘speed dating’ to unusual shared moments, immersion facilitates more human connection and interaction.”

Runners-up: Motown Digital; PSAV

Best Meeting/Event Planning Company outside Metro Detroit Area

Owner/founder Allison Beers says clients of her 11-year-old Traverse City full-service meeting and event management agency are focused on the overall experience of their events.

“Elevating the attendee experience with attentiongrabbing locations, fresh and new room ideas, locally sourced food and unique excursion offerings elevate the experience for the attendee to give them a lasting memorable impression of the event. We can’t wait for the next decade,” she says.

“We’re lucky to work with some truly fun and passionate people. We love when our clients can put their trust in us and fully focus on what they need to and leave the rest to us. We love when everything has wrapped and our clients are already talking about the next event!”

Runners-up: All Grand Events; A Day in May Events

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa


Best Convention Center (Non-University)

Runners-up: The Inn at St. Johns; Cobo Center

Best Golf Venue

Runners-up: The Inn at St. John’s; Crystal Mountain

Nestled among freshwater beaches and hardwood forests of northwest Michigan’s Acme near Traverse City, the resort is miles away from ordinary. Featuring nearly 600 guest rooms and 86,500 square feet of meeting space, the facility welcomes groups of up to 2,500. The 900-acre property is also home to three championship golf courses, the renowned Spa Grand Traverse, and Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner Aerie Restaurant & Lounge.

When Sales Director Ryan Buck thinks of meetings these days at the resort, fun comes to mind. “Meetings are becoming more experiential. Gone are the days of sitting in a room passively listening to speakers at a weeklong conference. Now, groups are planning hands-on meetings, unique team-building activities, and excursions to explore the Grand Traverse area.”

Those can include a “kayak and brew” tour, a “dinner in the vines” event or the new Orvis Fly Fishing School, which is great for team-building.

The award-winning resort showcased its $1 million remodel of Governors’ Hall, the largest meeting space in northern Michigan at more than 19,000 square feet, during the big annual state tourism conference in March. The hall features updates to technology and décor and also offers a new meeting planner office. The facility also renovated its Executive Boardroom and the award-winning Spa Grand Traverse.

“We’ll be introducing the new Jack’s Taproom (formerly Jack’s Sports Bar) and making updates to other meeting spaces,” Buck says. Thinking of checking this facility out? Remember this: There are few places where you can enjoy the beach one minute, championship golf the next, and still have meeting space for up to 2,500!

Best Distillery

Claire Moen, director of marketing, is excited that the company’s hometown Traverse City location has been refurbished and now offers an event space. “We can host anything from business meetings to showers,” she says. “Because we are a craft distillery and make everything from grain to bottle ourselves, we offer tastings of our products, create craft cocktails using our spirits and offer tours at our production site. We want to immerse the public into the world of craft distilling and the events held with us give people a taste of what we do every day.”

Not to mention they give attendees something to write home about. These days, Moen says, people are more interested in the quality of the spirit they’re drinking over the quantity for the price. “Today, consumers are more educated about the spirits industry since the microdistilling industry took off about 10 years ago.”

What’s hot now? A gin that’s been aging for two years in barrels that once aged maple syrup, a straight wheat whiskey and a cherry smoked whiskey

Runners-up: Iron Fish Distillery; Two James Spirits

Best Caterer in Metro Detroit Area (On- or Off-Site)

With its fresh, innovative and high-quality culinary creations, it’s no wonder clients big and small contact this Troy-based catering guru to deliver exceptional goods.

Its expertise includes cocktail parties and strolling dinners, or chef-plated meals at the location of your choosing. Its sales team ensures personalized attention and ease throughout the planning process.

Corporate gatherings include high-end cuisine and customer service for such clientele as the Grand Prix, The Parade Co., Ally Challenge, Jazz Fest and more.

For something more casual, they suggest treating your team to anything from box lunches for a small conference to a casual buffet for board meetings and employee appreciation gatherings.

Andiamo also offers food station-themed events for seminars and networking. Eight banquet centers throughout metro Detroit also are available, plus another in the Romulus airport.

Runners-up: Forte Belanger; Holiday Market Catering

Zingerman's Catering & Events

Best Caterer outside Metro Detroit Area (On- or Off-Site)

In today’s world of fast, fast, fast, this Ann Arbor company observes that nearly everything is happening on a shorter and shorter time line.

“We are getting clients with less turnaround time more than ever before and we, as event professionals, have to change our systems and mind-set to accommodate short notice requests and still provide incredible service and results,” says Event Manager Terra Brock.

It always comes down to service, though, doesn’t it? Those who believe that also tend to be award winners. “Everyone who is hired at Zingerman’s receives a training ‘passport’ that requires them to take classes on our great food, how our business operates, and giving memorable service,” says Brock. “We teach them service recipes to use to give every client for every event (and each one of their guests) the best service we can,” she adds.

They’ve been known to pass Smørrebrød (Scandinavian small-bite, open-faced sandwiches) at events where attendees are from Denmark. Name your desire, Zingerman’s probably can fulfill it.

Runners-up: Black Star Farms; Bavarian Inn Restaurant

Best Convention & Visitors Bureau (In Town/Area Less than 50,000 In Population)

This CVB is a go-to organization for thousands upon thousands of visitors annually to popular Mackinac Island. What puts the organization in the spotlight more than anything is its ability to stay on top of new island goings-on, which isn’t an easy task!

Each day, a funnel of new information pours into its charming office, located just off the ferry docks. Executive Director Tim Hygh reports that Grand Hotel added four Cupola Suites, bringing the hotel’s guest room total to 397. Bicycle Street Inn & Waterfront Collection added 29 rooms.

New tours and demonstrations at Fort Mackinac include a “Women of the Fort” walking tour. A redesign of hole No. 2 on The Jewel golf course includes a creek now running across the fairway, adding to the beauty and challenge of the hole. The Island House Hotel opens with a fresh look in all of its rooms. And the new Mackinac Island Botanical Trail is officially open. And there’s more to come!

Runners-up: Frankenmuth Chamber of Commerce and CVB; Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau

Best Band

Traverse City’s female-fronted, multi-instrumentalist power trio—Sav Buist, Katie Larson and Michael Dause—have been called “the most emotionally compelling songwriters of our time” by NPR. Their music is edgy, indie folk rock. They’ve been described as “defiant, powerful and undaunted.”

Last year, they enjoyed the chance to work on a studio album with John Congleton, one of their bucket list producers. More recently, they hooked up with another must-work-with producer, Tucker Martine. They also released their live album at four Michigan shows in April. They recently returned from their first U.K. tour.

“Music is kind of an amazing thing because it tends to unite,” says Buist. “The whole experience, every person we shake hands with, adds up to the collective whole of why we love what we do.” Keep an eye—or ear— out for this trio!

Runners-up: Killer Flamingos; Three Men and a Tenor

Best Casino

Treat your clients to not only one of the best spots for trying your luck at gambling, but also one that offers headline music and concerts, from live music (Motown is always great) at AXIS Lounge to a virtual golf experience at Topgolf Swing Suite that’s fun for golfers and nongolfers alike.

The $800 million facility features some 100,000 square feet of casino space, 400 hotel rooms, about 30,000 square feet of meeting and event space, and can accommodate events up to 1,200 people.

Feeling lucky? Head to one of its nearly 3,500 slot and video poker machines or get comfortable at a table game. From sizzling hands of Ultimate Texas Hold ‘em and High Tie blackjack to traditional favorites like roulette, it’s a good bet one of the 150 table games is sure to lure.

Hungry? Patrons will find everything from classic burgers to bigtime steaks at this winning casino. Good luck!

Runners-up: Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort; Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel

Emerald City Designs


Best Décor Provider

Runners-up: Art Craft Display; Event Source

Best Meeting/Event Planning Company in Metro Detroit Area

Runners-up: Special D Events; Top That! Event

Creating texture and movement are two ways to turn heads these days when it comes to floral arrangements, says Emerald City Designs owner David C. McKnight. The trend is organic-feeling, moody colors and not the ordinary.

“We’re starting to bring more color in,” McKnight says, “whereas previous years have been all about white. While white floral and greenery is still very much on trend, we’re mixing in muted jewel tones.”

The studio is also seeing a lot less shabby chic and more of what he calls city chic. “We’re mixing all metals, including rose gold and copper, and lots of greenery.”

It’s never a dull moment at one of Emerald City Designs’ events. And if you’re outside, expect the most fun diversions, such as wish lanterns to set off into the sky once the sun goes down.

Regarding food, McKnight offers this: “As planners, we love to recommend interesting late-night snacks besides the traditional sliders/ pizza. How about a churro station?”

The Farmington Hills firm is a full-service design and rental studio for any floral, rental, stationery or planning and coordinating needs. Event specialists design, deliver, install and pick up rental items with efficiency and ease.

Best College/University Venue

Kristina Reitler, CMP, CTA, director of sales for Spartan Hospitality Group in East Lansing, reports that over the next few years guest rooms are being refreshed and renewed with new, brighter wall coverings and soft goods.

This award-winning facility knows of what it speaks, after all, Kellogg Center is the on-campus learning lab for The School of Hospitality Business. “Our guests truly appreciate connecting with our student team members,” Reitler says. With some 20 different meeting spaces, including a 300-seat auditorium, the center is Michigan State University’s on-campus hotel, with close proximity to greater Lansing’s cultural, educational and athletic events.

Runners-up: The Michigan League, U-M; Michigan Union, U-M

Best Transportation Company

You may not know this, but Metro Cars’ corporate brands include companies in not only Grand Rapids and Detroit, but also Sacramento, California and Reno, Nevada, reports Paula Mikola, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Taylor company.

Of note for those who like to make their luxury car reservations super easy: The company now has an app, and reservations have never been simpler. With the Metro Cars app, you can book/ cancel reservations, view and email receipts, view your driver’s information, and receive text and email alerts when they are on their way.

As for reliability, Metro Cars has been led since 1990 by some of the most talented transportation experts in the country. Large-scale transportation operations feature a combined corporate-wide fleet of nearly 350 professionally maintained, chauffeur-driven vehicles, including sedans, stretch limousines and limousine coaches, executive vans, shuttles and luxury motor coaches. All chauffeurs are uniformed, securityscreened and drug-tested.

Runners-up: Blue Lakes Charters Bus Rental; Dean Transportation

Best Florist in Metro Detroit Area

This St. Clair Shores-based flower shop opened in 1937. Today, it also offers prop rentals, linens and other design elements to fully service clients. The company recently expanded with a fifth location in downtown Rochester.

Oh, the pressure of it all! With the rise of social media comes the challenge of creating the perfect event, says Elizabeth Viviano, a fourth-generation Viviano family member and product development/marketing assistant. But with that social media competition, she says, “Let’s us do what we do best.”

Viviano is seeing more natural, asymmetrical, and garden-looking elements and designs, from arches to bouquets. “Gold and copper accents are also popular, and clients are even choosing to mix metallics to create a more unique look.

“We love to see the smile on our clients’ faces [when they first see their floral arrangements] or when they first walk in to their decorated venue,” Viviano says.

Runners-up: Emerald City Designs; Blossoms

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Best Meeting/Event Venue outside Metro Detroit Area (Non-Hotel)

Among the world’s most significant botanic and sculpture experiences, the 24-year-old Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids is one of the top 30 most visited museums in the United States.

The 158-acre main campus features Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory, one of the nation’s largest interactive children’s gardens and a 1,900-seat outdoor amphitheater.

Team-building activities include scavenger hunts, art projects or cooking programs, says Stacie Niedzwiecki, director of hospitality.

Venues range from 10 banquet rooms, six classrooms, a farmhouse with a barn, Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory, a garden parlor and additional greenhouses and gardens. “We customize events using our locations to complement our clients’ themes and needs,” she explains.

Fun times: art-lover dinners in a museum atmosphere, bloody mary bars, barbecue fare from the new smoker, Cocktails in the Conservatory, Cocktails with the Curator and more.

A new $5 million catering kitchen, which opened last year, and the Padnos Rooftop Sculpture Garden, which opened in May, was part of a $115 million expansion project. “We are always growing, always beautiful and always new,” Niedzwiecki says.

Runners-up: Traverse City Opera House; Black Star Farms

Best Meeting/Event Venue in Metro Detroit Area (Non-Hotel)

“Our venues can bring the wow factor to your group from the moment you enter each of our attractions,” says Senior Director-Sales Amy Cox, whether it’s entering Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and seeing the massive DC-3 plane just ahead as you walk through a reimagined Independence Hall, or stepping aboard one of our historic steam locomotives to get from cocktail hour to dinner in Greenfield Village.”

Cox says the Dearborn facility is more than just a unique location, it’s an immersive experience. “Our attractions provide settings for inspiration,” she explains. “Attendees can climb aboard the Rosa Parks bus, see the vehicles that changed the way we view mobility, and walk amongst the homes of the innovators of our past.”

Event attendees discover that staff here goes above and beyond with exemplary service and culinary creations. “For us, it’s more than what puts a smile on our clients’ faces,” Cox says, “It’s what takes their breath away.”

Runners-up: Fox Theatre; Detroit Zoo

Best Craft Brewery/Brewpub

It’s no wonder this family-friendly Bellaire company took top honors. It stays on top of things, especially trends. “Low-calorie requests seem to be popping up a lot recently. The health-conscious crowd has more beer options,” says Tony Hansen, head brewer at this northern Michigan facility

He says Brut IPAs are becoming pretty common and are “here to stay.” Short’s is currently finishing a project that involved installing three 280-barrel fermenters and completing the building around those tanks, as well as upgrading its break room, bathrooms and offices. “We’re also planning and getting ready to begin construction on a large warehouse,” Hansen says.

Those looking for something new should try the recently launched Juicy Brut, which is a hybridstyle beer with the juiciness of an NEIPA and the dryness of a Brut IPA. “We also have a cider called Mosa, which is a dry cider blended with orange juice to create our version of a cider mimosa.” Cheers! 

Runners-up: Founders Brewing Co.; Bell’s Brewery

Best Rooftop Venue

Oh, to have that perfect location! The 107-room Hotel Indigo in Traverse City certainly does. Its fabulous H&L Social rooftop bar is a prized venue overlooking scenic Grand Traverse Bay.

Long before happy hour upstairs, though, meeting planners often take advantage of the beautiful locale, situated smackdab in winery country and steps from the pristine shores and beaches of Lake Michigan. Not to mention all the cultural diversions near this chic bayside property.

Inside, there’s flexible meeting and event space with windows offering natural light and incredible views, complete with full-service catering and event support.

Margaret Morse, director of sales and marketing, reports they’re remodeling the restaurant, adding a private dining area/additional meeting space; installing audio-visual capabilities in the ballroom; redecorating the lobby; and adding artwork throughout the hotel.

Runners-up: Detroit Athletic Club; Sky Deck at Detroit Opera House

Best Convention & Visitors Bureau (in Town/Area More than 50,000 in Population)

This CVB faces a tough (yeah, right?) job promoting the small-town charm and urban energy that merge in this fun Lake Michigan region. Historic and modern, rustic and refined, the area is considered the Cherry Capital of the World, where a bountiful land paves the way for inventive culinary experts, craft brewers, winemakers and distillers with 40-plus wineries lining the vast rolling shoreline. 

The region also is a hot bleisure destination. “We’re seeing meetings that encourage families to attend have greater attendance, longer stays and create a more relaxed environment for participants,” says Tori Piersante, vice president of sales. Traverse City “is a perfect destination to accomplish that.” Whatever your needs, staff can arrange for team-building activities that include kayaking, biking or brew and wine tours and tastings, scavenger hunts and more. Tough job, right?

Runners-up: Detroit Metro CVB; Experience Grand Rapids

The Inn at St. John's


Best Hotel with Meeting/Event Space (Less than 200 Guest Rooms)

Runners-up: Inn at Black Star Farms; Hotel Indigo

Best Service (Meeting/Event Venue)

Runners-up: Crystal Mountain; Grand Hotel

When you think of a boutique hotel, you may be thinking “small,” but The Inn at St. John’s, with 118 guest rooms, in Plymouth offers one of the largest meeting and conference spaces in southeast Michigan, with 48,000 square feet.

That includes four breathtaking ballrooms, an executive boardroom and 17 additional meeting spaces. From 5ive Steakhouse to the lavish gardens to the pool and 27-hole golf course, this property also boasts a AAA Four Diamond rating that confirms service is St. Johns’ top priority.

When Tawnya Johnson, CHSP, director of sales and marketing, contemplates what’s new in the way of food offerings, she shares it often pertains to health. “We’re seeing more and more planners request healthy menu options and food options to promote wellness, focus, energy, etc.”

wellness, focus, energy, etc.” She’s proud of the just-completed full guest room renovations, including new carpet, furniture, wall coverings, drapery and artwork.

Once you’re there, it’s a given that you’ll want to come again.

Best Ski Resort

When you consider all of its delightful amenities, it’s easy to understand why skiers love Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville.

Included in its 102 acres of skiable expanse with a 375-foot drop are 58 downhill slopes (27 lighted for night skiing), glade runs and terrain areas, all served by six lifts and two magic carpets. Then there are 25 kilometers of trails for cross-country skiing, with 4 kilometers of those lighted for nighttime adventures.

Committed to energy and environmentally sustainable energy practices, the resort received the 2018 National Ski Areas Association Climate Change Impact Award. Its Crystal Spa ranks 22nd on Spas of America’s Top 100 list.

Recent upgrades are new screens in meeting rooms and new projectors for the Northwest Territories meeting/ banquet venue. The Inn at the Mountain original suites were renovated.

The new rooftop terrace, part of a 31,200-square-foot expansion to the inn, can accommodate 70-80 people. The Pavilion tent now has a concrete floor and a bigger footprint for functions of 250-300 people.

Runners-up: Boyne Resorts; Shanty Creek Resorts

Black Star Farms

Best Winery

It’s all about the guests’ requests, and these days more of them are asking for food stations at their events, reports Sherri Campbell Fenton, proprietor of the 160-acre vineyard estate in Suttons Bay. “We have also seen an increase in the number of requests for wine tasting stations. It makes for an interactive, fun, often educational and relaxed setting.”

One popular social and post-meeting offering is alfresco wine-paired vineyard dining. If the attendees aren’t staying at the luxury inn, they can bus in from nearby Traverse City.

Other interactive diversions are cooking classes, estate tours, hiking and snowshoeing on more than 3 miles of trails, or biking to other nearby sights or wineries.

The facility added new banquet chairs, mattresses, carpet, artwork, lighting in the barn and paint, while the tasting room is undergoing spring renovations. “With the addition of a banquet room, which accommodates 150 guests, coupled with the ability to easily convert a smaller event space into a board room, we’re welcoming more business groups,” Fenton says.

Runners-up: Chateau Chantal; Leelanau Wine Cellars

Best Photographer

Keeping an eye on her subject is one thing, but owner Abby Rosenbaum also keeps an eye on photography trends and best practices, which have served her Ann Arbor business well over the past few years.

“Trends in photography are constantly shifting,” she says. “Some years imagery seems to skew bright and airy, other times dark and moody. I always try to keep my work classic—keeping images subtly on-trend without going overboard. You don’t want your images to look dated in 20 years!”

When it comes to photographing weddings, she says: “Today’s brides want it all—bold, editorial images, photojournalistic captures, creative portraits and classic, wellexecuted family portraits. I see just about every kind of wedding out there—big, black-tie ballroom affairs, rustic barn weddings, intimate elopements and everything in between.”

She says lots of couples are embracing offbeat venues such as breweries, museums, distilleries and gallery spaces.  

Runners-up: Sarah Brown Photography; Lola Grace Photography

Best Florist outside Metro Detroit Area

Having trained at the prestigious Flower School New York and School of Floral Design, Paris under master designers, the Charlevoix-based staff’s experience and creativity are unsurpassed.

Using flowers in their most natural state, the team turns out combinations with a customized palette, color and texture, creating a distinctive design. Extra cool: Bloom sources flowers from only the finest growers, sourcing as many flowers as possible locally and domestically, including their own specialty cutting gardens.

Runners-up: Frankenmuth Florist; Wasserman’s Flowers

Best Entertainment Provider (DJs, Non-Band, Speakers, Other)

“Nothing is more important to us than listening to our clients’ wishes and delivering a remarkable experience,” says Kurt Colone, vice president of sales and entertainment for the Troy-based wedding and corporate event-production company that offers DJs, photography, HD videography and more.

“Our company consists of fun, gifted and experienced team members working with cutting-edge technology and driven by an authentic desire to make people happy. Plus, we’re not afraid of always surpassing our own standards.” If you’ve not used videography at an event in a while, give it another try. Videography has never looked better, he says. And the best part? People often don’t even know the cameras are rolling.

“We’re not a stamping plant, where everyone is going to get the same end result,” he says. “Our process is rare because we allow the customer to get as involved in the editing process as they want, which makes their photos and video truly special.”

Runners-up: Black Tie Productions; 2Bays DJs

Best Event Rental Company

It’s hard to believe that this exhibit industry leader (offices in Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids) can get any better, but it is, thanks to its new state-of-the-art hybrid UV printer. In addition, a new flatbed digital cutter allows it to precisely cut and route materials up to 2 inches thick. Wood, plastic, metal and traditional printing materials can all be printed with four-color custom graphics and cut into custom shapes.

The company offers 100 percent recyclable signage and display pieces made from rigid corrugated cardboard. “The material is extremely strong and durable, plus it can be fully printed with four-color custom graphics,” says Jennifer Daley, HR manager/special projects.

“Displays, entrance units, sponsor boards, and specialized furniture, such as cocktail tables, can be completely custom printed. The best part is, these pieces can be shipped and stored flat, saving on shipping and labor costs. When it’s time to update their displays and signage, the cardboard pieces can simply be recycled.”

Runners-up: Emerald City Designs; Event Source

Stafford's Bay View Inn

Best Small Inn with Meeting/Event Space

The green scene is alive and well at the inn, says Angie Whitener, director of sales. “A lot of groups are taking our duty to Mother Earth seriously—and it’s refreshing. Gone are the days of bottled water, paper at meetings and overly lavish food displays. Now we are seeing water bottle filling stations, paper communication turned electronic and locally sourced food served for meetings and events.”

At her award-winning facility, guests and meeting attendees take advantage of outdoor offerings between meetings or as group activities. Options include everything from snowshoeing, snowmobiling and river rafting to winery tours to Lake Michigan fishing on a charter boat and Petoskey Stone hunts along the waterfront. She can set up team-building programs that involve a ropes course and “zip-line fun!”

Owner Stafford Smith first visited the inn in 1957. It’s the oldest summer hotel (1886) north of Grand Rapids. The Howard Room can accommodate 80-130 guests and includes a built-in dance floor.

Runners-up: The Inn on Ferry Street; Hotel Walloon

Best Event/Festival

The best part about the weeklong fest (this year, it’s June 29-July 6) that promotes one of Traverse City’s most notable crops besides the yummy cherries, of course, is the diverse activities offered to attendees. Whatever you’re into, the festival has an event for you. From live music concerts to gourmet meals to kids’ activities to air shows, it’s a hubbub of action-packed fun.

Festival media manager Susan Wilcox Olson says trends include “all things foodie!” In addition, the air shows are a must-see, she notes. “Then there’s Bay Side Entertainment on the shore side of West Grand Traverse Bay.”

Wilcox also shares an insider secret: if you happen to be at Hotel Indigo June 29-30 during the festival, check out the rooftop menu. During the air show, pull up a seat there and enjoy cherry-themed fare. “It’s one of the best views in town,” she says.

Runners-up: Grand Rapids Art Prize; Ann Arbor Art Fair

Best Hotel with Meeting/Event Space (More than 200 Guest Rooms)

This landmark, originally opened in 1916 as the Pantlind Hotel along the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids, boasts numerous bars and restaurants, a fullservice salon and 47,000 square feet of meeting space. It seems to always be improving upon itself.

Take the Rendezvous, the hotel’s recently renovated lobby bar. Here, you’ll find relaxing on-trend design elements, all in the name of exquisite.

These days, the crew is busy overseeing the exterior renovation of the iconic glass tower, scheduled to be complete in 2021. The two-year project will introduce floorto-ceiling windows and result in energy savings of 10-15 percent, reports General Manager Mike Donnelly.

The beloved AAA Four Diamond rooftop restaurant and lounge, Cygnus27, suspended operations for 12 months to undergo exciting interior renovations. If you’re there on Sunday, indulge in the expansive new brunch at The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck. Pastries and desserts made fresh daily at the hotel’s award- `winning bakeshop. What a way to start— or end—a meeting!

Runners-up: Grand Traverse Resort and Spa; Crystal Mountain

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