Wisconsin’s vast natural beauty and location in the Great Lakes region make it an excellent location for resorts that cater not only to tourists, but to meeting planners as well. Here are a few resorts that showcase what makes Wisconsin a top-notch destination.
The Abbey Resort is the only resort right on the shores of Lake Geneva. It was built in an area where industry magnates of the 1920s and 1930s built beautiful mansions. The area still “has the beauty and image of being a playground for the elite, even though it really is accessible to everyone today,” said Dan Dolan, director of sales and marketing for the resort.
The resort was designed in the early 1960s to take advantage of the water. Its meeting and event spaces all offer beautiful views of the outdoors.
“Hotels like ourselves have adapted over the years to deliver experiences that drive toward the object of the event,” said Dolan. The Abbey Resort’s activities department has a catalog of team-building exercises that can aid meeting planners meet their objectives as well as create memorable experiences for attendees.
One event breaks groups into teams and provides them with cardboard, bubble wrap and duct tape. Their job is to design and build a boat that floats in one hour’s time. Groups can also take a historic cruise boat out on the lake, where they can have cocktails and appetizers provided by the resort or take a guided tour along the 21-mile lakeshore trail.
The resort has 330 guest rooms contained in seven interconnected low-rise buildings and 40,000 square feet of inside event space. The resort can accommodate groups of as many as 650, but the ideal size is between 75 and 200 people, Dolan said.
Wilderness Hotel and Golf Resort
Wilderness Hotel and Golf Resort in Wisconsin Dells is a major destination for both families and meeting planners. The resort has the meeting facilities to handle large conferences and entertainment options enough to appeal to kids of all ages.
Covering 600 acres, the resort boasts 12 football fields’ worth of water parks, a golf course, zip lines, outdoor and indoor miniature golf and go-karts, said Shannon Timmerman, director of sales for the property.
“Sometimes being a water park resort scares people,” she said. “When it comes to meetings, they are thinking we are just a water park resort. Our conference center is separated enough from the water park where you wouldn’t know you were at a water park resort unless you went over by the water park. It is still a professional setting. You won’t see children running around in the conference center with bathing suits on.”
But proximity works in meeting planners’ favor, allowing them to incorporate teambuilding activities into their meeting schedule.
The resort offers teambuilding opportunities from guided hikes, meditation and yoga to a pizza cook-off or a wilderness race that incorporates the property’s ropes course, laser tag, laser maze and go-karts.
There’s also an escape room on-site that can handle up to 180 people. The resort has 1,163 guest rooms and a spa on-site.
Stone Harbor Resort
The biggest selling points for the Stone Harbor Resort in Sturgeon Bay are its location on the water and that its lodging, dining and pub are all under one roof.
The resort has indoor and outdoor pools, making it a great place to bring families. It is within walking distance of downtown Sturgeon Bay with its theater, shops and museums.
“It’s kind of a hidden secret,” said Nancy Bertz, general manager of the resort. Sturgeon Bay has so much to offer.” Being right on the waterfront, meeting planners can make use of the Door County Maritime Museum, the Coast Guard Station Sturgeon Bay and various businesses that give group tours of the area. Guests attending meetings at the resort can walk just a short distance to rent recreational boats, jet skis and kayaks.
Stone Harbor can host groups of up to 350 in its large conference center ballroom. The space can be divided into six smaller breakout rooms, if necessary. The resort also has a couple of different executive boardrooms that can hold smaller gatherings.
“We do have a lot of corporate business,” Bertz said. “We have a lot of boating and marina business because we are on the water.”
The resort offers catering on-site and also features a full-service restaurant, a pub and live entertainment. The area is also known for its world-class golf courses and wineries.
The Metropolis Resort in Eau Claire encourages its meeting attendees to get out and make good use of its Action City Family Fun Center and Trampoline Park.
“When we have meetings come through our doors, we encourage them to have their meeting and then come out and play,” said Samantha Holtz, sales and event manager at Metropolis Resort. Attendees can compete in axe throwing or race each other in go-karts. Laser tag and the laser maze are great group activities, and the trampoline park allows groups to embrace their inner middle schooler and join in a trampoline version of dodgeball.
Mini bumper cars, a rock-climbing wall, a zip line and an 18-hole mini golf course round out the entertainment options available at the resort.
The resort has 10,000 square feet of meeting space and 11 different breakout spaces to host galas, meetings and receptions. The property can host groups of up to 320 people. It has 107 guest rooms and a locker room that sleeps up to 21 people in lofted bunk beds. The room, which is great for corporate retreats, includes arcade games.
The resort has in-house catering and the latest conference technologies. If the resort’s brand of entertainment is not enough for attendees, the mall is five minutes away with restaurants and breweries.
Blue Harbor Resort and Conference Center
The Blue Harbor Resort and Conference Center is just steps away from Lake Michigan. All of its 178 hotel rooms, condominiums and conference spaces have waterfront views.
“We take advantage of that,” said Garrett Mersberger, director of sales and marketing for the resort. “Not a lot of resorts have a lake as their background.”
Located in Sheboygan, a town of 50,000, the area is known for its golf, fishing and watersports. Groups that host meetings at the resort can organize Segway tours, learn how to surf or kite surf on Lake Michigan.
“We are the freshwater capital of the world for surfing,” he said.
Like many Wisconsin resorts, Blue Harbor has a water park and an indoor miniature golf course attached to it that can be incorporated into a group’s scheduled activities. The resort also can organize golf outings at Golf at Pine Hills Country Club.
The conference center can host fairly large groups. Its largest space, the Grand Ballroom, has 9,882 square feet of space and can host 544 people banquet style and 1,250 reception style. The Lakeside Terrace holds 100 people banquet style and 450 reception style.
Teambuilding is huge at Blue Harbor, with instructor-led activities like the Beach Battle, where teams compete in exciting beach games, or the Great Race, where groups solve clues while scouring Sheboygan for treasure.