Grand Traverse Resort Unveils Its Million Dollar Space
By Ross Boissoneau | Dec. 6, 2018
Northern Michigan’s largest meeting space just got a $1 million facelift. Governors' Hall at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, the massive venue built to accommodate the 1987 National Governors Conference, reopens for business today following a complete renovation. Director of Sales Ryan Buck says updating the resort’s flagship meeting space and the area surrounding it is a game-changer. “We’re excited about the renovation. It was fine the way it was,” he says, but considering the competition, it was time for a complete facelift.
When it was built, the 19,320 square-foot space was an anomaly; it was a bigger space than anything north of Grand Rapids, and many wondered if it would ever get enough utilization. But business has steadily grown over the years (including hosting the National Governors Conference a second time in 2007).
Today, there’s more demand for event space – large and small – in and around Traverse City, as evidenced by the recently completed Park Place Conference Center, Ecco, and Corner Loft downtown, the Historic Barns at the Grand Traverse Commons, and large event spaces at hotels like Hotel Indigo and Great Wolf Lodge, among others.
Buck says the Governors' Hall renovation covers virtually every facet of the space: wall coverings, carpeting, lighting (all LED), sound system, ceiling tiles, chairs, window coverings, even the airwalls. The renovation extends outside the bounds of the room itself to the prefunction area, with digital signage and a small office for meeting planning constructed in the space where the escalator used to be (the escalator was a headache as it often did not work, and ultimately was removed when the parts to repair it were no longer available).
A quick primer on the space:
-- total square footage of the hall and prefunction area is 24,696 square feet
-- it can accommodate 1,200 people classroom style, 1,500 for banquets, and 2,250 theatre style
-- two U.S. Presidents have attended meetings in Governors' Hall: Bill Clinton and George W. Bush
Among the groups and associations which have used the hall are the Center for Automotive Research, which has been coming to the resort for 28 years; Special Olympics (over 20 years); Michigan AAA (33 years); and Greater Michigan Ford Dealers, whose meetings predate Governors’ Hall at 35 years.
Buck says one indication of its appeal is the fact that HOSA – Health Occupations Students of America, a group of 2,600-plus medical students – moved from Grand Traverse Resort and Spa to another facility because it outgrew the resort. Now the group is returning. “It made the decision to limit its size and rebook for 2020,” says Buck, something he’s never heard of before.
“It’s going to get new eyes on us. It’s a big deal from a marketing standpoint,” he says, noting that more and more groups are discovering Traverse City as a destination. “The area’s accolades … it’s really cool. We have a great reputation, and it’s hassle-free, economical and safe,” says Buck.
Not every group that uses the space is so traditional, however: Earlier this year the venue hosted a Holstein convention. “We had 20-25 head of cattle in the employee parking lot, and held a live auction in Governors’ Hall,” recalls Buck. The resort’s engineering staff was able to create a custom watering system to provide the 10,000-plus gallons of water the cattle needed. Buck thought he’d seen it all. “I never thought I’d have to deal with what to do with cow excrement.”