With 1,000 hotels rooms located near Interstate 94 between Madison and Milwaukee, it’s not surprising that the southeastern Wisconsin towns of Waukesha and Pewaukee are popular with meeting planners. What is surprising is how much more than accessibility these communities have to offer.
“We pride ourselves on our service and hospitality and try to bring an intimate feel to meetings with programs like our Small Town Sampling,” said Tiffany Zamora, marketing manager, Waukesha and Pewaukee CVB. “This program has local businesses bring activities like cooking demonstrations and wine and cheese pairings to our meeting guests at their hotels.”
Groups that visit Waukesha’s historic downtown find that it is a showcase for restored 19th-century structures as well as a lively arts center filled with shops and galleries.
“In recent years, downtown has undergone a revitalization that includes the 2008 opening of the Clarke Hotel, a boutique property with 22 guest rooms, a 1,750-square-foot ballroom and three smaller meeting rooms,” Zamora said.
In Wisconsin’s lake country, the area also has abundant outdoor recreation, including muskie fishing, kayaking, waterskiing and boating on Pewaukee Lake.
Venues such as the octagonal Clausing Barn at Old World Wisconsin allow groups to experience the region’s German heritage. “This 576-acre living-history museum in the Kettle Moraine State Forest has nearly 60 historic structures from 19th-century Wisconsin settler life,” said Zamora.
Waukesha and Pewaukee primarily draw regional and statewide associations, as well as corporate groups; but the area is also becoming popular with sports tournaments, including nontraditional and emerging sports like chess, cheerleading and dance, and power lifting.
“In April, the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association held its national championships at the Center Court Sports Complex for 250 athletes,” Zamora said.
The 282-room Marriott Milwaukee West was the host hotel. The table tennis association held its banquet and awards reception in the 7,500-square-foot grand ballroom.
Two area hotels target small conferences or board meetings. The 119-room Radisson Hotel Milwaukee Pewaukee, off I-94, is an architectural salute to Wisconsin native Frank Lloyd Wright, putting his Prairie-style design to work in ways that make this seem less of a typical chain hotel. Small meetings will be drawn to two boardroom suites, 14-person boardrooms that each adjoin a king suite. The boardrooms have their own half-baths and wet bars; one of the suites has a wall of glass overlooking the lobby.
An executive learning center with four learning suites is part of the 40,000 square feet of meeting space at the 187-room Country Springs Hotel, Waterpark and Conference Center in Waukesha. Meeting attendees often bring their families along as the property has a 45,000-square-foot water park.
Trade shows, business seminars and product unveilings are held at the Waukesha County Exposition Center, which includes a 10,500-seat arena and 40,000 square feet of renovated meeting space, as well as extensive parking and expansive grounds for tented events.
“We are also known for the team-building programs at the Center for Organizational Advancement at Rogers Memorial Hospital,” said Zamora. Customized programs that tackle problem solving and interpersonal experiences are offered. There’s also an outdoor woodland ropes courses and a new indoor facility for up to 200 people.