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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

From Campus to Cabins in Lafayette-West Lafayette

College towns have a certain vibe, and Lafayette-West Lafayette is no exception.

Purdue University brings energy and diversity to this Indiana destination, which is located just two hours south of Chicago and an hour north of Indianapolis. More than 37,000 students from all 50 states and 130 countries ensure that there are plenty of ethnic restaurants, athletic events and a vibrant downtown. On campus, the France A. Córdova Recreational Sports Center is the perfect spot for team-building events.

There’s no large convention center in Lafayette or West Lafayette, but these twin cities offer a variety of hotels, meeting services, activity options and unusual venues that will be attractive to many small-meeting planners.

Hotels and Retreat Centers

Three main hotels, plus the Purdue Union Club Hotel, provide a full range of services that include in-house catering. Four Points by Sheraton West Lafayette features 171 rooms, 11,500 square feet of flexible meeting space and banquet capacity for up to 800 people. The space includes a new 6,724-square-foot grand ballroom that seats up to 500 banquet style or 800 theater style, 14 meeting rooms and an executive boardroom that seats 10 people.

Opened last fall, the Courtyard by Marriott Conference Center is the $5 million expansion of the Courtyard by Marriott Lafayette. The center provides in-house catering for up to 675 people and more than 12,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, including a 5,400-square-foot outdoor courtyard tailored for receptions and cocktail parties.

“The conference center’s 3,700-square-foot grand ballroom has garage doors at the rear, and deliveries can literally be driven inside,” said Ashley Gregory, director of sales at Visit Lafayette-West Lafayette. “People can unload trade supplies right inside the building, so weather isn’t a factor.”

Holiday Inn Lafayette-City Centre, just steps from downtown Lafayette, offers more than 7,471 square feet of flexible meeting space for groups of 30 to 300 and 147 guest rooms. The mezzanine lobby’s second-floor area makes the perfect spot for registration, buffets or a cocktail reception, and accommodates approximately 30 tall tables.

Purdue Conferences, located in the heart of the Purdue University campus, offers an array of spaces for groups of 10 to 7,500 people. Year-round, facilities include 24 dedicated meeting rooms and eight dining rooms with seating for 10 to 900 guests. Several of those dining rooms are wood paneled and beautifully decorated. The full-service Purdue Union Club Hotel, with 192 guest rooms, lies adjacent to the Stewart Center conference facility on campus. Classrooms may become available during the summer months, and 7,500 residence hall beds are available in June and July.

For outdoorsy venues, Ross Camp offers an A-frame lodge with capacity for 100 and sleeping quarters for 68, a meeting area, and a commercial kitchen and dining hall that serves up to 300 guests. Just north of the city, the Camp Tecumseh YMCA Outdoor Center offers four meeting rooms with 6,000 total square feet of space that includes a dining room area, as well as sleeping rooms for 68 people.

“Many groups head to Camp Tecumseh in the spring and fall seasons for team building because they have an indoor and outdoor rock-climbing wall, archery, shooting, canoeing, horseback and more,” said Gregory. “They’ll customize programming for groups based on the camp’s wide variety of activities.”

Historic Venues

The re-created Farm at Prophetstown is a prairie oasis near the city. Groups enjoy the resident farm animals and tour the farm’s replicated Sears and Roebuck catalog home. The house accommodates up to 40 guests for meals, including breakfasts where the farm serves its own processed bacon and pasture-raised meats, when available. In warmer months, dining extends onto the front porch and into the yard. Tents can be rented to accommodate up to 300 guests. Farm-to-table dinners featuring five courses are quite popular. A wide range of events in the barn can include such gatherings as meetings, dances and locally catered dinners for up to 120 people. In spring, a tractor-drawn trolley navigates fields of wildflowers, and in the fall, hayrides celebrate the prairie.

“Prophetstown State Park has a native American village on-site, paved hiking trails and customized programming with topics such as plants and wildlife, the Native American lifestyle and farming in the 1920s,” said Gregory. “We can organize a nature scavenger hunt for team building, and there’s a shelter with a full kitchen that accommodates from 50 to 70 people, plus additional shelters for overflow.”

Seven miles north of Lafayette, Tippecanoe Battlefield and Museum tours last about an hour and recount the battle that took place in 1811. Shots fired here were considered the first in the War of 1812. On display are 51 long guns and rifles that were manufactured between the early 19th century and the onset of World War II. The museum store sells reproductions of historic goods, collectibles and clothing, as well as a large selection of books on 1800s Indiana, the military and culture.

Just 25 minutes northeast of Lafayette, the charming town of Delphi boasts the state’s only remaining portion of the Wabash and Erie Canal, which originally stretched from New York to Indiana. Adjacent to the canal, the Wabash and Erie Canal Interpretive Center commemorates the era with informative displays, a pioneer village and living-history volunteers who can be scheduled for groups. In summer, a replicated boat takes visitors on a narrated, two-mile round trip. The museum’s banquet room holds approximately 300 people, and its bay windows frame boats traveling on the canal. An approved caterer serves meals that replicate what people ate while traveling the canal in the 1800s, such as beef stew with cornbread. A number of festivals take place here throughout the year.

Nearby, Delphi’s charming downtown has many renovated buildings and supports antique shops, the mid-1800s Carroll County Courthouse and the recently restored Opera House. According to Gregory, the Opera House lobby makes a nice reception area before attending a concert or event. For smaller events, the Garden Gate Tea House serves lunch or high tea.