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Where to meet: a selection of Indiana conference centers.

FOR MEETINGS AND events that don't require a large convention center, one of Indiana's many conference centers might be the right choice. Across the state are numerous facilities suitable for a smaller meeting, a seminar, even an executive retreat. Many are linked to hotels; some are freestanding facilities.

Following is a sampling of Indiana's conference centers.

The Avalon Manor

3550 U.S. 30 E., Merrillville, 46342; 219/945-0888; theavalonmanor.com

Billing itself as northwest Indiana's largest meeting and banquet facility, the Avalon Manor encompasses more than 10,000 square feet of space for gatherings of up to 800 people. Its custom-sized rooms are designed for both business and social events, with full access to extensive audio-visual equipment, telephones computers and electrical connections.

The facility is well suited for trade shows, business luncheons, sales presentations and small meeting groups. All rooms feature a view of a natural pond. Food-service options include breakfast, breaks, business luncheons, evening cocktails, hors d' oeuvres and fine dining choices.

Caesars Conference Center

11999 Avenue of Emperors, Elizabeth, 47117; 877/462-7663; www.caesars.com/caesars/indiana

Caesars Conference Center has more than 24,000 square feet of flexible meeting and banquet space, with state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems. Options include an 840-square-foot boardroom with a built-in TV/VCR, drop-down screen, high-back executive chairs and a wet bar. Larger events may choose to use Caesars Colosseum, with 14,000 square feet that can accommodate a 600-seat banquet or 1,000-seat theater-style meeting. An on-site business center includes four workstations, fax, copiers, laptop ports and telephones. Full catering services are available.

After the conference there are plenty of entertainment options, including the Caesars casino, the Chariot Run links-style 18-hole golf course, and a heated indoor pool. Overnight accommodations include about 500 rooms and suites.

The Center at Purdue University Calumet

2300 173rd Street Hammond, 46323; 219/989-3136; www. centermeetings.com

This 5-year-old, standalone center is a dedicated conference facility with 9,200 square feet of meeting space divided into 11 rooms and a gallery The largest meeting/banquet room is 4,411 square feet and can accommodate 400 people theater-style or 250 at round tables for a banquet. Smaller rooms are available for meetings of 10 to 150 people.

The single-story building is situated in a quiet, wooded area adjacent to the grounds of Purdue University Calumet, a mile north of Interstate 80/94 in Hammond and 40 minutes from downtown Chicago. The Center is northwest Indiana's only university conference center.

"I think this is a very tranquil area," says general manager Ed Mamrila. "We call it intimate because when you're here there are not a lot of distractions. It's very conducive to handling business and training for success."

Crowne Plaza Hotel and Conference Center at Historic Union Station

123 W. Louisiana St., Indianapolis, 46225; 317/631-2221; www.crowneplaza.com/ind-downtown

Not only does this downtown Indianapolis state-of-the-art conference center boast more than 50,000 square feet of meeting space, but it also incorporates part of a railroad station listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Romanesque-revival style center can host flow-through events for up to 3,500 and sit-down dinners for up to 800.

Most notable is the 11,000-square-foot Grand Hall with its arches and columns, soaring stained-glass barrel ceiling and matching 20-foot stained glass wagon-wheel windows. Thirty additional meeting spaces range in size from 400 to 10,000 square feet. Twenty-six of the hotel's 273 guest rooms are authentic Pullman train car sleeping rooms.

"If you want something that no one else has, then we've got it," says Douglas Allison, Crowne Plaza's general manager. He notes that many of today's meeting planners are looking for unusual settings for their events in addition to top-notch quality and service.

Essenhaus Inn & Conference Center

240 U.S. 20, Middlebury, 46540; 574/825-9471; www.essenhaus.com

Located in the heart of northern Indiana's Amish Country this center has 4,000 square feet of meeting space and 89 guest rooms, h can accommodate groups of up to 400 and bills itself as a place where corporate clients can escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a quiet, rural setting.

"I think we offer more of a peaceful environment for our corporate guests," says Essenhaus Inn and Conference Center director Jeff Miller. "And we're famous for our food."

Decor and atmosphere reflects the wholesomeness of the community and culture. In the lobby hangs a locally made quilt. Amish and Mennonite cooks and waiters staff the adjacent Das Dutchman Essenhaus restaurant. An onsite gift shop showcases local arts and crafts, as well as clothing and accessories. Walking trails surround the facility, which is smoke- and alcohol-free.

The Fountains Banquet & Conference Center

502 E. Carmel Drive, Carmel, 46032; 317/566-3400; www.crystalfs.com

Completed in March 2001, The Fountains is a stand-alone multipurpose banquet and conference center located in Carmel just minutes from Interstate 465 between Rangeline Road on the west and Keystone Avenue on the east.

The 18,500-square-foot ballroom can accommodate up to 1,000 for a sit-down dinner or be divided into four separate rooms. Six smaller classrooms are appropriate breakout and training rooms for 25 to 100 people.

The decor and furnishings of the one-story facility reflect a floral European style, with high ceilings and crystal chandeliers. The center has free parking at the door and full audio/visual capabilities.

Grant Street inn and Fountains Square Ballroom

310 N. Grant St. and 101 West Kirkwood Ave., Bloomington, 47408; 812/334-2353 for the inn or 800/328-4350 for the ballroom; www.grantstreetinn.com or www.fountainsquaremall.com

These properties, located three blocks apart in downtown Bloomington near the Indiana University campus, offer elegant turn-of-the-century settings.

The inn's meeting room accommodates sit-down dinners for 40 or open-air receptions for 70. It can also serve as a boardroom or lounge area for casual meetings while the wrap-around porch provides additional space in warmer months. Corporate clients have also booked the entire 24-room bed and breakfast for retreats.

The Fountain Square Ballroom overlooking Bloomington's courthouse square is available for larger events. This 2,037-square-foot historic ballroom with its mural ceiling offers an elegant banquet facility for events of up to 150 people. Glass elevators connect a parking garage to the ballroom, which is located inside the upscale Fountain Square Mall.

Holiday Inn Conference

2480 Jonathan Moore Pike, Columbus, 47201; 812/372-1541; www.holiday-inn.com/columbusin

Just 45 minutes from Indianapolis off Interstate 65, this facility attracts groups wanting to beat the crowds and higher costs associated with the city The 253-room property is decorated in Victorian-era style and has 20,000 square feet of total meeting space with 12,000 square feet of exhibit space and 16 meeting rooms. It can do banquets for 800, receptions for 1,000 and has a theater capacity of 1,000.

The inn's Holidome features 6,000 square feet of indoor recreation including a pool, whirlpool, putting green and saunas.

The inn completed the renovation of all hotel rooms in 2004, and features an on-site restaurant, room service and free high-speed wireless Internet in all guest rooms and public places.

"It's almost expected," general manager Gary Berquist says of the wireless Internet. "If you don't have it, you're just not competitive."

Indiana Memorial Union Biddle Hotel and Conference Center

900 E. Seventh St., Bloomington, 47405; 812/855-1808; www.imu.indiana.edu

Situated within Indiana University's union building, this facility includes a full-service, 186-room hotel and 50,000 square feet of professional meeting space. The conference center offers a 400-seat theater, 18 meeting rooms, grand hall and banquet rooms.

As one of the largest college unions in the county, the IMU offers guests a tremendous amount of activities and amenities. Within the building are six eateries, a bank, a UPS store, a hair salon, a bowling alley and, of course, the campus bookstore. Groups also can arrange to take advantage of cultural events scheduled on campus. These include museum tours, Broadway shows, opera and ballet.

Marten House Hotel & Lily Conference Center

1801 W 86th St., Indianapolis, 46260; 317/872-4111; www.martenhousehotel.com

Built in 1997, The Lilly Conference Center was made possible through a joint venture with the St. Vincent Hospital Foundation Board and Ruth A. Lilly, and is located on the northwest side of Indianapolis east of St. Vincent Hospital. The facility is popular for corporate training and continuing education events.

The contemporary-style, $4.5 million center houses a first-floor, multi-tiered auditorium with permanent seating for 220. The second floor has 12,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. For small groups the O'Connor Board room seats 12.

Two ballrooms, including one poolside, a restaurant, full-service catering and 163 overnight rooms are available at the adjacent Marten House Hotel.

Potawatomi Inn & Conference Center

Pokagon State Park, Angola; 877/768-2928: www. indianainns.com

Of Indiana's state park inns, the Potawatomi Inn, with its 138 overnight rooms and attached conference center, is the largest. The conference center has more than 11,000 square feet of meeting-room space, a ballroom with banquet capacity of 500 and eight breakout rooms to accommodate groups from 25 to 125.

The impressive stucco missionary-style resort sits within the 1,200-acre Pokagon State Park and is situated on the shore of Lake James. Midwest Living magazine twice ranked the resort among its "Top 25 Resorts in the Midwest."

Indoor amenities include a pool, whirlpool, fitness center, library, recreation room and a full-time activities coordinator to customize activities for groups. Outside activities include such experiences as horseback riding, biking and walking trails, boat tours and a toboggan run.

Purdue Conferences

128 Memorial Mall, Stewart Center room 116, West Lafayette, 47907; 765/4966205; www.conf.purdue.edu

Purdue's Stewart Center offers meeting planners 40,000 square feet of meeting space including 22 meeting rooms and two theaters. Attached is a 192-room hotel. But what makes Purdue Conferences unusual is that meeting planners arranging for groups ranging from 10 to 7,500 have access to virtually all of the campus's diverse meeting venues based on availability.

For example Purdue Memorial Union houses an additional 14,000 square feet of ballroom, meeting room and dining space. Elliott Hall of Music is a proscenium-seat theater for 6,000 and boasts advanced sound, lighting and presentation capabilities. Slayter Center is an outdoor theater with hillside seating for thousands. The Armory is a 40,000-square-foot building that can be used for exhibits, large-scale banquets and meetings. Capacity ranges from 10 to 7,500.

"Having a conference or meeting on our campus is a different experience than going to a resort or hotel," says Paul Horngren, director of Purdue's conference division. "What you'll find is the quality of service is as good as what you'll find elsewhere, but what you'll also get are all the amenities associated with Purdue University."

Swan Lake Resort & Conference Center

5203 Plymouth-LaPorte Trail, Plymouth, 46563; 574/935-5680; www.slresort.com

This 4-year-old conference center houses three suites that can accommodate groups from 50 to 500 and features state-of-the-art teaching technology. Combined, the suites expand into an elegant 10,640-square-foot ballroom for hosting events with up to 900 guests. In addition, the center has two smaller breakout rooms, with plans to add more this year.

Beautifully landscaped outdoor areas also serve as event venues and treat guest to expansive views of the manicured fairways of the Swan Lake West Course.

The resort has 92 overnight rooms and an on-site restaurant. Two championship golf courses, a nine-hole, par 3 short course, a five-hole executive course and a golf academy attract enthusiasts of varying skill levels.

University Place Conference Center & Hotel at IUPUI

850 W. Michigan St., Indianapolis, 46202; 317/274-3195; www.universityplace.iupui.edu

University Place at IUPUI claims to be the only Indiana facility to meet the strict membership criteria of the International Association of Conference Centers, and is specifically designed for multi-day conferences.

The center's 28 meeting rooms range from a 340-seat auditorium to breakout rooms. They are located in a two-story wing, separate from dining areas and the 278-room hotel in keeping with International Association of Conference Center's guidelines.

"We are designed to make sure the learning environment is efficient and not disturbed by the social environment," says Tom Cappucci, University Place's general manager, adding that the center is ideal for leadership-development meetings.

Other features of the center include soundproof walls, square rooms for maximum set-up flexibility, a mix of windowed and windowless rooms, climate and lighting controls, chairs rated for day-long comfort and tables with ample, non-glare writing surfaces.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Meeting & Conventions
Author:Lewers, Christine
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Article Type:Directory
Geographic Code:1U3IN
Date:Feb 1, 2005
Words:2086
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