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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Holland in America

Like other cities along the Great Lakes, Holland, Michigan, offers visitors everything from beachcombing to boating. But it also brings a degree of Old World charm that is unique to the region. Replicating eye-catching features of its European namesake, Holland entertains with traditional dancers, Dutch-costumed greeters and attractions ranging from tulip gardens to a wooden shoe factory.

Along with attractive meeting venues, Holland offers meeting attendees and their families an assortment of specialty shops, eateries and historical attractions. Settled by Dutch immigrants in 1847, the original community of fewer than 100 has now reached a population of 33,000.

Located midway between Chicago and Detroit, each only about three hours distant, the city offers easy access by auto or air. And visitors often find it an intriguing destination.

“We’ve found that meeting planners enjoy the level of participation they get,” said Wendy Link, sales director for the Holland Area Visitors Bureau. “People want to come here, and they often bring spouses and families.”

She said that first-time visitors tend to be surprised by the vibrant, small-town character of the area.

“It’s a small town like rarely exists anymore,” she said. “There’s a variety of shops and galleries, and most of the restaurants are locally owned. You can’t find many of these anywhere else.”

Her personal view seems to echo those of first-timers.

“I love everything about this place, from the beautiful beaches and sunsets to the Dutch element,” Link said. “You have to like the red brick buildings and cobblestone sidewalks.”

And Holland is not just a summer place. During the winter, the downtown streets and sidewalks are heated.

“There’s no ice and snow to contend with, which is great in this part of the country,” she said.

Holland is also located within a short drive of other appealing destinations. A series of beach towns can be found nearby, and Grand Rapids, with its population of nearly 200,000, is just 30 minutes away.

“You have our quaint town located not far from bigger-city attractions,” Link said. “It’s the best of both worlds.”

Event Space

The Holland Civic Center, located in the downtown area, is the city’s primary event facility. With 9,700 square feet of meeting space, the center’s auditorium accommodates up to 1,800 people or nearly 2,400 with the use of retractable bleachers. It also seats 800 for banquets. A second 1,760-square-foot meeting hall seats 180 for meetings or 130 banquet-style.

At Windmill Island Gardens, which features Dutch architecture, a greenhouse and a 250-year-old working mill imported from the Netherlands, a pavilion seats 300 people for dinner meetings. And the Holland Area Arts Council accommodates up to 150 for receptions or dinners.