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Out-of-the-way meeting places.

Meeting planners seeking to leave behind the distractions of the city will find a number of options in Indiana. These include a variety of inns and conference centers located throughout state, many nestled within serene countrysides and quaint villages.

Creative ideas can easily flow at The Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster (219/836-1930), which is surrounded by lush woodland. Four meeting rooms accommodate 25 to 80 people. The dining facilities comfortably seat up to 440 and the theater holds 454.

Cultural amenities abound at the center, including concerts, ballet, theatrical productions and many individual performances. A gift shop and gallery sponsored by the Northern Indiana Arts Association also is on the premises.

Along the banks of the Little Calumet River in Porter, the Spring House Inn (219/929-4600) has two banquet rooms in its Banquet and Conference Center. Each offers a breathtaking view of the woods and river through floor-to-ceiling windows. The banquet center can accommodate up to 250 guests, or the room can be divided into two soundproof rooms, seating up to 100 guests each. In addition, two private boardrooms add to the facility's ability to serve groups of 18 to 400.

Sporting the air of an old English country manor, overnight accommodations are available in 50 oversized country-styled rooms, each with its own porch or deck. For relaxation, there is an indoor swimming pool, whirlpool and sauna. Nearby is the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, which offers year-round recreation--swimming, hiking, fishing and cross-country skiing.

On the edge of DePauw University in Greencastle is the Walden Inn (317/653-2761), which offers a regular Corporate Retreat Package. It includes break service, eating space, guest rooms, lunch and dinner.

Several rooms are available for different-sized groups. The Thoreau Boardroom accommodates 18 people around the board table to 30 people in rounds. The Emerson Ballroom accommodates 150 people, or it can be divided into two rooms. The Whitcomb Riley Library is an open area used for catering events, and there are three sofa rooms used for small private meetings for six to eight people.

The full-service catering staff comes from the inn's Different Drummer Restaurant, which seats 100 and serves Continental American cuisine. Just a block away from the inn is downtown Greencastle's courthouse square, with restaurants, tea room and antique and craft shops.

Governor Noble's Eating Place (317/776-6008) at Conner Prairie near Noblesville can provide an historical setting for meetings and company picnics. Conner Prairie, where 1836 Indiana life is recreated in the village of Prairietown, is one of the nation's top living-history museums. There are seven meeting rooms with accommodations available for banquets from 20 people to 300, and up to 450 people for meetings. If plans call for a company picnic, the establishment has a hillside to site the feast for up to 5,000 valued employees and their families.

Meals boast the finest in Hoosier cooking. The buffet-style lunch or dinner has roast sirloin of beef, baked ham, prairie chicken and other selections. Country-style service is also available for sit-down meals.

Located on Lake Monroe near Bloomington, the Fourwinds Resort & Marina (812/824-9904) offers 126 guest rooms and more than 5,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space. Easily accessible, it is located just 20 minutes from the Monroe Country Airport and one hour from the Indianapolis International Airport. The Fourwinds has 12 meeting rooms and can accommodate from 14 to 350. The Fourwinds also has tennis courts, an exercise room and a jogging and fitness trail.

Also at Lake Monroe is The Pointe Golf & Tennis Resort (812/824-4040), which can accommodate groups from 25 to 300 for retreats, seminars and company outings.

Lake Monroe and the Pointe's golf course can be seen from the 175 luxury condominiums that provide the overnight accommodations.

In addition to the 18-hole championship golf course, the 400-acre resort has lighted tennis courts, Olympic-sized swimming pool and bicycles.

The Columbus Inn (812/378-4289), a bed-and-breakfast inn located in downtown Columbus, has 29 guest rooms and three meeting rooms for gatherings of 30 to 150.

On the National Register of Historic Places, the inn provides complimentary self-service tea and cookies upon arrival and a full breakfast buffet. Morning, afternoon and English-style high tea are available at added cost. Local caterers can provide dinners and luncheons. Downtown Columbus offers a variety of dining, shopping and annual events such as the Ethnic Expo and musical festivals, and all around the area is the architecture for which the city is world-famous.

Those seeking a meeting in the rolling hills of Southern Indiana may want to look into the Dutchman Inn on U.S. 231 between Jasper and Huntingburg (812/683-2334). Up to 100 people may gather for meetings in its facilities.

The Country Dutchman restaurant is on the premises, and during breaks, attendees may choose to use the outdoor swimming pool or golf at nearby Sultan's Run. Also nearby is Holiday World, a family theme park.

The New Harmony Inn and Conference Center in New Harmony (812/682-4491) has banquet services and indoor and outdoor facilities for groups of up to 300. The break-out and individual conference rooms are wired for computer meetings and support. The facility also offers the latest in audio-visual equipment.

For overnight accommodations, there are 90 rooms, 18 with fireplaces, three with kitchenettes, and four with sleeping lofts. Corporate groups may take advantage of complimentary transportation to and from Evansville Regional Airport. Banquet services are offered by the Red Geranium Restaurant and the Bayou Grill Conference Center.

The New Harmony Inn is minutes away from numerous antique and craft shops, as well as historical exhibits and tours. One of the nation's best-known utopian communities was formed in New Harmony in the early 1800s. It was first settled by Father Rapp and the Harmonie Society and later by the Welsh-born social reformer Robert Owen, both of whom contributed to the area's historical significance.

Indiana State Parks offer six different sites which are ideal for corporate gatherings. Situated in the state's most picturesque surroundings, they offer the perfect getaway for retreats and meetings.

The Spring Mill Inn at Spring Mill State Park in Mitchell (812/849-4081) has facilities for groups of 20 to 200. It has more than 4,000 square feet of meeting space, complete food service and 75 guest rooms. One of its more popular rooms is the Lakeview Room, with a vaulted ceiling and glass panels overlooking a grove of trees. It can accommodate 200 people. The Elm Room and Oak Room accommodate 40 and 50 people, respectively. Group rates include meals, lodging and meeting space.

The catering staff offers a variety of meal packages including sit-down banquet style menus, buffets and a picnic menu. For entertainment and recreation, there are miles of trails, a reconstructed pioneer village, naturalist services offering guided cave tours and hikes, plus an indoor/outdoor pool. From June through August, the Spring Mill Theatre is also open.

Equally serene and beautiful accommodations are available at other state park inns, including the Clifty Inn at Clifty Falls State Park in Madison (812/265-4135), the Abe Martin Lodge at Brown County State Park in Nashville (812/988-4418), the Canyon Inn at McCormick's Creek State Park in Spencer (812/829-4881), Turkey Run Inn at Turkey Run State Park in Marshall (317/597-2211), and the Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon State Park in Angola (219/833-1077).
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Title Annotation:Indiana
Author:Prata, Kathleen
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Feb 1, 1993
Words:1228
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