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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Designer destination: Carmel, Ind.

By Mark Lee

Tell me about the main meeting sites.
– There are just over 3,000 guest rooms in the Carmel area, most in name-brand hotels with little meeting space. The city’s main meeting hotel is also one of its newest, the 263-room Renaissance Indianapolis North Hotel, near the Arts and Design District with 14,500 square feet of meeting space.

– A clubhouse next to a Pete Dye-designed golf course will draw crowds to events at the Bridgewater Club. A screened-in porch and lawns overlook man-made lakes; a banquet room, private dining and meeting rooms are also available.

– Local catering firm Ritz Charles handles catering for meeting venues throughout Carmel, including its own venue, which has five meeting rooms for up to 1,200 people.

Tell me about some offbeat sites for off-site events.
– A 1940s Colonial-style that was moved down a hill, across a bridge, through a cornfield and across a road, has become the Mansion at Oak Hill, and its 10,000-square-foot addition meets the needs of larger gatherings.

– A banquet room and meeting rooms are part of the mix at Monon Community Center, located in a 161-acre park. Four miles of trails, great for meeting breaks, is a bonus.

– At Coxhall Gardens, the Centerpiece, which includes an amphitheater, a gazebo, gardens and restrooms, can be booked from April through October.

For a true taste of Carmel…

– Bub’s Burgers and Ice Cream popped up just shy of 10 years ago in a clapboard house on the Monon Trail. Its hand-patted Big Ugly Burgers are delivered on custom buns baked by a local bakery.

– The prim librarian is gone, but the books and bookshelves remain in Carmel’s 1913 Carnegie Library, now Woody’s Library Restaurant. The menu is like an adventure novel, with spices and sauces that take pot roast and other traditional dishes to a different place. Woody’s downstairs bar draws lots of locals; a deck that overlooks Main Street makes a good perch when the weather’s nice.
– The menu is Irish and American at Dooley O’Toole’s. Fried biscuits and breaded tenderloin, anyone?

Tell me about some extra-special CVB services.
The CVB can plan a parade, line up a local speaker and even plan a conference from start to finish. For one government group that was not allowed to handle money, the bureau stepped in, set up a website and managed conference finances.