Tag Archives: Missoula meetings

THE FREE PERKS OF MEETING IN MONTANA

Everyone loves the word FREE, but we’ve all been conditioned to assume it’s “too good to be true.” If you’re choosing to hold your meeting or convention in Western Montana’s Glacier Country, let me show you how we do FREE and how it can help the bottom line for both meeting planners and attendees.

Let’s begin with hotel shuttles from either of our Western Montana airports. Missoula International Airport (MSO) is a short 7-minute drive to downtown Missoula. Glacier Park International (FCA), located in Kalispell, is a 15-minute drive to both Whitefish and downtown Kalispell. All of our larger branded conference hotels in Missoula, Kalispell and Whitefish offer free shuttles to and from the airport. If you’re traveling into our region on Amtrak’s Empire Builder, shuttles from Whitefish properties are available to pick up and drop off at the depot in Whitefish as well.

Missoula International Airport. Photo: Missoula Airport.

Whether you’re driving in for a regional meeting or renting a car from the airport for a pre or post-conference sightseeing adventure in Western Montana, parking is always free at our lodging properties. While most of our hotels do not offer valet parking due to the easy parking-lot-to-lobby access, The Lodge at Whitefish Lake—the only 4 diamond hotel property in Western Montana—does offer free valet service.

Wi-Fi is a necessity for conference attendees, and charging for it does not fit into our western hospitality philosophy here in Montana’s Glacier Country. All of our conference hotels offer free Wi-Fi in guest rooms and conference spaces. When utilizing AV services, meeting planners will find that conference hotels in Western Montana offer very affordable rates on everything from projector packages to Polycom needs.

State-of-the-art AV services. Photo: SpringHill Suites Kalispell.

Staying healthy, focused and connected is critical while attending any meeting. Access to business centers, fitness centers, pools and hot tubs is never an additional charge in Western Montana conference hotels. So pack those running shoes and that swimsuit without fear of having to pay extra.

Bring those workout clothes.

Bring those swimsuits.

There’s no sales tax in the state of Montana, so we encourage attendees to leave a little space in their suitcases for lots of made-in-Montana items. Meeting clients will only see a service charge on a final BEO, not on guest rooms or other meeting services.

Utilize the great outdoor space found in Montana. Photo: Holiday Inn Downtown Missoula.

Bonus: At just 7%, Montana’s lodging tax is half of some neighboring states (10% in Whitefish, which includes their 3% resort tax). Look to Western Montana’s shoulder seasons (spring and fall)—specifically the months of March, April, May, October, and November—for the best availability and rates on guest rooms and conference space.

Spring in Montana is a great time to meet.

For more information on meeting facilities in Western Montana, visit our Glacier Country meetings website. Or, if you need help locating the perfect venue for your meeting in Western Montana, drop me a line; I’m always here to help.

Meet in Montana,
DP

TRANSPORTATION: GETTING TO MONTANA IS EASIER THAN YOU THINK

Montana: when you think of this beautiful place, chances are majestic mountains, big blue skies, wildflower-filled meadows, miles of hiking trails and crystal clear rivers and streams come to mind. But you’re also probably wondering, “Is it easy to travel to Montana?” The answer: yes this heavenly place is closer than you think.

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A couple enjoys fishing in Western Montana.

Located in Western Montana, Glacier Country is a vast place and is an ideal option for a scenic meeting or convention and group tours. Western Montana’s Glacier Country is also home to two major international airports, a well-maintained highway system and a passenger train to get you and your clients here with ease.

A 7-minute drive from downtown Missoula, Missoula International Airport (MSO) offers easy access to the southern tier of Western Montana’s Glacier Country. Direct flights arrive daily from Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Dallas/Fort Worth, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Phoenix/Mesa, Salt Lake City, Portland and Seattle, with seasonal flights arriving from Atlanta, Chicago and San Francisco. This airport services Delta/SkyWest, United, Alaska/Horizon Air and Allegiant Air.

Situated in the northern tier of the region is Glacier Park International Airport (FCA). Located 15 minutes from Whitefish and Kalispell, this beautiful airport is the gateway to Glacier National Park and the Canadian Rockies and  has daily flights from Salt Lake City, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Denver, Seattle and Las Vegas, with seasonal flights from Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, Portland and Oakland. Airlines flying into this airport are Delta/SkyWest, Alaska/Horizon Air, United and Allegiant Air.

b2b-map

Map outlining all the flight options for both international airports.

If your group is interested in traveling to Western Montana by train, then Amtrak’s Empire Builder is the answer. Amtrak’s Empire Builder travels through the Hi-Line of Montana and the northern tier of Glacier Country, where it makes stops in several communities, including Cut Bank, Browning, East Glacier Park, Essex, West Glacier, Whitefish and Libby. This train is an amazing way to travel past Glacier National Park, the Rocky Mountains and all the stunning terrain in between. Amtrak operates daily from Seattle and Portland, as well as Minneapolis and Chicago. This is a great option for large groups wanting to see the beauty of Western Montana’s Glacier Country in a relaxing and comfortable setting.

Amtrak’s Empire Builder traveling through Western Montana. Photo: Amtrak

Amtrak’s Empire Builder traveling through Western Montana. Photo: Amtrak

Highlights along Amtrak’s journey through Western Montana’s Glacier Country.

Highlights along Amtrak’s journey through Western Montana’s Glacier Country.

If traveling by air or rail isn’t what you are looking for, and you prefer driving to Western Montana, then you’re in luck. Driving in Montana is easy with a well-maintained highway system that’s anchored by Interstate Highway 90 running east and west and U.S. Highway 93 running north and south. The beauty of driving on our highways and roads are that you will always have breathtaking scenery and heart-stopping views, with charming small towns sprinkled along your route.

See you soon,

NG

MONTANA TALKS MEETINGS AT IMEX AMERICA

In October, Western Montana’s Glacier Country along with our partners from Missoula, Kalispell and Whitefish had the privilege to exhibit at IMEX America—the largest trade show in the U.S. for meetings, corporate incentive travel, conventions and events—in Las Vegas, Nevada. We spent three days talking with meeting planners from around the world about opportunities to meet in Montana. Conversations spanned topics from airlift into Montana to types of meeting venues and activity offerings. For those meeting planners that did not attend IMEX or for those that didn’t make it by the Montana booth, here is a brief overview of what you will find if you host a meeting in Western Montana’s Glacier Country.

Western Montana ladies at IMEX America.

Western Montana ladies at IMEX America.

Corporate Incentive
At the top of many meeting planners lists were corporate incentive destination for their clients that offer sales incentive programs. Several had corporate clients that wanted experiential and activity-driven destinations as an alternative to the white sandy beaches that they had been going to for years. Montana guest ranches seemed to be a great fit for those planners, especially since Western Montana has properties that range from all-inclusive luxury ranches to rustic and authentic dude ranches to name a few, Flathead Lake Lodge, The Ranch at Rock Creek, The Resort at Paws Up and Triple Creek Ranch. Learn more about some of our guest ranch offerings here.

Howdy from Triple Creek Ranch.

Howdy from Triple Creek Ranch.

Association Meetings and Conventions
Planners at IMEX were pleasantly surprised to find that Western Montana has significant ballroom space at convention hotels located in our larger cities of Kalispell, Missoula and Whitefish. Missoula boasts the largest meeting space with 33,400 square feet at the University of Montana and 22,000 square feet at the largest convention hotel. Kalispell’s largest convention hotel offers 14,000 square feet of function space, while Whitefish has two convention hotels with roughly 11,000 square feet of space at both properties.

Beautiful ballroom space in Kalispell.

Beautiful ballroom space in Kalispell.

Board Retreats
When it comes to retreats, the lodging options in Montana are as unique and vast as the big blue sky. Choose from lakeside cabins, mountainside lodges, riverside hot springs resorts or quaint historic inns where you can hold your meeting in the morning and enjoy the great outdoors in the afternoon.

Historic Izaak Walton Inn near Glacier National Park.

Historic Izaak Walton Inn near Glacier National Park.

Team-building and Outdoor Adventure Opportunities
Montana offers unimaginable variety all four seasons of the year for team-building and outdoor adventures. One example is Whitefish Mountain Resort, where in the summer months Big Mountain provides opportunities for teamwork, team building and team bonding at the Aerial Adventure Park, an obstacle course that sits among the trees. Other options include group rafting trips that have meeting attendees paddling as a team as they maneuver the raft through the rapids on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River near Glacier National Park or the Alberton Gorge near Missoula. At Flathead Lake Lodge in Bigfork, team competitions take place with dummy steer roping, team roping, canoe racing and cocktail making.

Team-building fun at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Photo: Whitefish Mountain Resort

Team-building fun at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Photo: Whitefish Mountain Resort

Getting to Montana
With two airports serving both the northern tier—Glacier Park International (FCA)—and southern tier—Missoula International (MSO)—of Western Montana’s Glacier Country, getting here is easier than you think. Both airports have direct flights on major carriers including United, Delta, Alaska and Allegiant that arrive regularly from hub cities. Plus, it’s only 7 minutes from Missoula International Airport to downtown Missoula, while Whitefish and Kalispell are both located an easy 15 minutes from Glacier Park International Airport. Amtrak’s Empire Builder makes twice daily stops in Whitefish and other small communities in the northern tier of Glacier Country (read more about that here). And our well-maintained highway system, anchored by Interstate 90 and Highway 93, makes driving in Glacier Country easy.

Now that you’re pondering which clients would love Montana or which meeting would work best in Montana, remember that we are here to help make your next meeting a success under Montana’s big blue sky. And if you want more information about how to meet in Montana, sign up for our meeting planner newsletter here.

We look forward to having you meet in Montana,

DP

A MEETING PLANNER FAM TRIP THROUGH WESTERN MONTANA

We all know that the best—and quite frankly the only way—to really know if a destination is right for your next meeting, conference or corporate retreat is to experience it firsthand. With that in mind, last month Western Montana’s Glacier Country invited four professional meeting planners from around the U.S. to Montana for a familiarization (FAM) tour to visit our three anchor cities of Missoula, Kalispell and Whitefish, where we showcased meeting facilities, off-site venues, farm-to-fork offerings and authentic Montana experiences that seemed custom-made for meetings.

After flying into Missoula International Airport (MSO) the group took a scenic 30-minute drive to The Resort at Paws Up an authentic working cattle ranch and one of Western Montana’s luxury guest ranches. The ranch has varying accommodations from lavish guest homes to riverside glamping tents that include a camp butler who’s dedicated to your group’s needs. The glamping tents were a hit with the planners and we took a few minutes to relax around the fire along the Blackfoot River—one of Montana’s premiere blue-ribbon fly-fishing trout streams.

Relaxing around the campfire at Paws Up.

Relaxing around the campfire at Paws Up.

After the site tour we returned to Missoula, Montana’s second-largest city and cultural hub. We had a restful night’s sleep at the DoubleTree by Hilton (featuring 171 guest rooms and nearly 9,000 square feet of meeting space). The next day we met up with representatives from Destination Missoula—the official convention and visitors bureau—before visiting some of Missoula’s meeting and event spaces including Big Sky Brewery, The Wilma Theater, the Missoula Art Museum and one of downtown Missoula’s premiere restaurants, Plonk Wine Bar, where we dined in the elegant wine cellar. The Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown (featuring 200 guest rooms and 15,000 sq. feet of meeting space) is one of Missoula’s leading convention hotels and hosted us for the night before we departed for Bigfork the following morning.

Big Sky Brewery is the largest producer of craft beer in Montana.

Big Sky Brewery is the largest producer of craft beer in Montana.

The drive from Missoula to Bigfork north on Highway 93 happens to yield some of the most scenic vistas in Montana, including the National Bison Range and the Mission Mountain Range. With Montana’s fall colors on full display, the drive through the Jocko and Mission valleys was stunning.

Our next stop on the FAM tour was Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge. Family owned and operated for over 65 years, the 2,000-acre resort sits on the east shore of Flathead Lake—the largest freshwater lake in the West—where it offers both horse and water recreation, as well as accommodations that vary from small cabins to rustic lodges and 5,000 square feet of meeting space. While the resort hosts families for week-long vacations from mid-June through Labor Day, it can be reserved for groups the months of May, early June, September and October making it the ultimate spring or fall retreat destination.

Lunch at Flathead Lake Lodge.

Lunch at Flathead Lake Lodge.

Next on the itinerary and a highlight for the planners was a visit to Glacier National Park. Upon entering the park, we stopped for a photo at the Glacier Park sign, then continued on to Lake McDonald Lodge were we embarked on a boat cruise with Glacier Park Boat Company aboard the DeSmet on Lake McDonald. It was a perfect afternoon in Glacier National Park.

Welcome to Glacier National Park, ladies.

Welcome to Glacier National Park, ladies.

Having some fun on the DeSmet on Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park.

Having some fun on the DeSmet on Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park.

Discover Kalispell—the Kalispell Convention & Visitors Bureau—welcomed the planners with an insightful historical tour on the Montana Trolley, a service that’s used to transport groups on specialty tours and to events throughout the Flathead Valley. The trolley dropped us at the Conrad Mansion—once the home to Kalispell’s founder, Charles Conrad—for a tour and delicious dinner served on the mansion lawn, the perfect setting for off-site receptions.

Montana Trolley ride to dinner.

Montana Trolley ride to dinner.

Beautiful dinner at the Conrad Mansion in Kalispell.

Beautiful dinner at the Conrad Mansion in Kalispell.

Our overnight accommodations were at the conveniently located Red Lion Kalispell in the heart of downtown Kalispell (featuring 170 guest rooms and 12,000 square feet of flexible meeting space). After spending the morning on site tours of additional meeting options in Kalispell, we headed to the north end of Flathead Lake and climbed aboard the Far West for an excursion on Flathead Lake. The Far West is available for leisure tours daily throughout the summer and can be chartered for special events for up to 150 passengers.

Cruising with Far West on Flathead Lake.

Cruising with Far West on Flathead Lake.

Our final destination was the charming mountain town of Whitefish where we were greeted by Explore Whitefish—the Whitefish Convention and Visitors Bureau. Our first night in Whitefish we had dinner in the elegant wine room at Grouse Mountain Lodge. The next morning we visited the newest boutique property in downtown Whitefish—The Firebrand Hotel (featuring 86 guest rooms, a small meeting room and board room). The rest of the day was spent shopping on Central Avenue, looking at the team-building activity options at Whitefish Mountain Resort and lodging options on Big Mountain—including the option to buy out the mountainside Kandahar Lodge for groups of 10 to 50 in the spring and fall months.

The cozy mountainside Kandahar Lodge.

The cozy mountainside Kandahar Lodge.

Our final evening was spent sipping spirits at Whitefish’s newest distillery, Whitefish Handcrafted Spirits—perfect for receptions or cocktail hour—and dining at one of the local favorites, Ciao Mambo before heading to The Lodge at Whitefish Lake (featuring 101 guest rooms and 10,000+ square feet of meeting space) on the shore of Whitefish Lake for a restful night’s sleep.

Good morning from The Lodge at Whitefish Lake.

After a delightful breakfast, the planners departed Glacier Park International (FCA) (a 15-minute drive from downtown Whitefish) for home.

It was an action-packed week full of great food, fantastic venues, fun activities and lots of learning about Western Montana’s meeting options.

If you would like more information about Western Montana’s Glacier Country as a meetings destination (feel free to check out our week at #MeetInMontana on instagram and twitter) or are interested in participating in the next meeting planner FAM highlighting our three anchor cities of Missoula, Kalispell and Whitefish, drop me an email here.

Meet me in Montana,

DP

MEET WITH MONTANA AT IMEX AMERICA

For the third year in a row, Montana will be attending and exhibiting at IMEX America October 18 – 20, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. This year, the Montana booth will be bigger and better than ever as we welcome meeting planners to stop in booth 812 and learn more about Montana as a meeting destination. Whether you are looking for the perfect luxury guest ranch for a corporate incentive group, a large branded hotel with a ballroom and breakouts for the association conference or the mountainside hot springs resort for the board retreat, Montana has it all.

The perfect backdrop for a Montana dinner event.

The perfect backdrop for a Montana dinner event.

We invite meeting planners attending IMEX America to make an appointment with our booth representatives from Bozeman, Great Falls and Western Montana’s Glacier Country—including the cities of Kalispell, Missoula and Whitefish—to learn about the variety of meeting offerings in Montana. Without further ado, please meet the meetings experts from Montana that will be attending IMEX America.

Daryl Schliem, Bozeman CVB

Daryl Schliem, Bozeman CVB

Joining the Montana booth this year is Daryl Schliem, the President and CEO of the Bozeman Convention & Visitors Bureau. The hospitality options and outdoor activities that attract meeting planners to the Bozeman area include an abundance of recreation, resorts, shopping, museums, breweries and its close proximity to Yellowstone National Park. In town, you’ll find plenty of local flavor in Bozeman’s historic downtown shops, restaurants and galleries. From a casual boardroom meeting to the formal ballroom soirée, Bozeman has plenty of meeting and function space as well as over 2,500 guest rooms. Boasting the largest airport in Montana, Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport offers many direct flights to major cities in the U.S., making Bozeman the perfect mountain meeting setting, providing everything a group needs to get business done by day along with an exhilarating Montana experience waiting just outside the conference room door.

Rebecca Engum, Great Falls CVB

Rebecca Engum, Great Falls CVB

Rebecca Engum is the Executive Director at the Great Falls Convention & Visitors Bureau and will be joining the Montana booth to discuss the alluring landscapes, rugged independence and genuine experiences that create authentic Montana meeting memories in Great Falls. Offering top-notch meeting space along whttp://rebecca@visitgreatfalls.orgith quality accommodations, Great Falls—the third largest city in Montana—has additional highlights that include the C.M. Russell Museum, Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, fine dining and one-of-a-kind outdoor adventures. With nearly 2,200 guest rooms available and more than 120,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space, Great Falls can accommodate groups of more than 2,000 attendees and citywide events of up to 5,000 attendees.

Dawn Jackson, Discover Kalispell – Kalispell CVB

Dawn Jackson, Discover Kalispell – Kalispell CVB

Representing Discover Kalispell in the Montana booth again this year is Group Sales Manager, Dawn Jackson. As the gateway to Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake, Kalispell is in the middle of Montana’s most iconic natural places and the ideal environment to increase conference attendance and utilize the city’s venues and modern amenities to conduct effective business. With the addition of a new hotel in 2016, Kalispell offers 1,800 guest rooms and 56,000 square feet of meeting space for citywide groups of up to 4,000 attendees. Kalispell’s community is filled with unique shopping, cultural offerings, fine restaurants, wonderful events and welcoming smiles. Kalispell’s international airport, Glacier Park International, offers year-round direct flights to five major markets and additional seasonal directs to another five markets making access to Kalispell incredibly easy.

Mary Holmes, Destination Missoula – Missoula CVB

Mary Holmes, Destination Missoula – Missoula CVB

Serving as the Director of Sales and Services for Destination Missoula, Mary Holmes will be back to talk about meetings in Missoula again this year. Missoula is the second largest city and cultural hub of Montana as it provides the perfect blend of business and pleasure for meeting attendees with outdoor adventure, abundant nightlife, unexpected sophistication and a thriving food scene. Whether the meeting is an intimate corporate retreat or a large association conference, Missoula has something for everyone. With nearly 170,000 square feet of meeting space and 3,400 guest rooms at hotels for every budget level, Missoula is a great destination for meetings up to 2,000 attendees or citywide events for up to 5,000 attendees. Plus, direct flights arrive into Missoula International Airport from 12 major U.S. markets.

Jessica Downing, Explore Whitefish – Whitefish CVB

Jessica Downing, Explore Whitefish – Whitefish CVB

As the Marketing Coordinator for Explore Whitefish, Jessica Downing focuses on group travel and will be joining the Montana booth this year. Whitefish creates lasting impressions and earns rave reviews for meetings, events and corporate retreats. With the addition of two new hotels in 2016 and more than 700 guest rooms and 46,000 square feet of meeting space, Whitefish is perfect for groups up to 300 attendees and citywide events of 1,500 attendees. Plus, Whitefish has a unique combination of breathtaking scenery, year-round recreational pursuits and a vibrant town that offers diverse accommodations and outstanding hospitality. An added bonus: getting to Whitefish is easy. Amtrak’s Empire Builder makes daily stops in Whitefish from both Seattle/Portland and Chicago, while direct flights arrive regularly into nearby Glacier Park International Airport.

Debbie Picard, Western Montana’s Glacier Country

Debbie Picard, Western Montana’s Glacier Country

The final member of the Montana booth at IMEX America will be Debbie Picard, Tourism Sales Manager for Western Montana’s Glacier Country. Debbie works closely with the three regional CVBs of Missoula, Kalispell and Whitefish along with other meeting venues in Western Montana outside of these three hub cities. Within the western region of Montana is an array of properties that are well-equipped to host meetings and conventions of various sizes, including small events, incentive travel, corporate retreats and large conferences. These properties include luxury guest ranches, hot springs resorts and mountainside lodges. And when you combine these meetings offerings with two international airports, shoulder season prices and team-building activities, it’s easy to see why meeting planners are taking a look at Western Montana as a meetings destination.

If you’re coming to IMEX America 2016, let us know. We’d love to meet with you and talk meetings in Montana.

A few things to keep in mind for IMEX:

*To meet with Montana’s Glacier Country, and the CVB’s in Kalispell, Missoula and Whitefish, make an appointment with Western Montana’s Glacier Country. The four Western Montana representatives will be sharing each 20-minute appointment session throughout the show (think of it as a one-stop Western Montana appointment stop).

*Bozeman and Great Falls are taking separate appointments.

*If you can’t meet with us during the pre-scheduled appointment times at IMEX, feel free to stop by booth 812 anyway. We welcome drop-ins and will be hosting daily giveaways.

And if you’re a meeting planner not attending IMEX America, we’d still love to help you plan your Montana meeting. All of the contacts listed above are happy to help you find the perfect fit for your meeting needs.

For more information on meeting facilities in Western Montana, visit our Glacier Country meetings website. Or, if you need help locating the perfect destination for your meeting in Montana, drop me a line; I’m always here to help.

Meet in Montana,

DP

ADDING THE ULTIMATE OUTDOOR ADVENTURE TO A MEETING IN MONTANA

Meeting planners often contemplate how to boost attendance at their next association meeting or add an element of intrigue to an upcoming corporate retreat, while attendees look forward to visiting a destination that they’ve never been to or taking part in an exciting outdoor experience or activity that is part of the conference program. The anticipation of these activities builds excitement and can revive and rejuvenate attendees after days of early wake-up calls and spending long hours sitting indoors with back-to-back sessions. As a bonus, it allows them to see and enjoy the surrounding landscape the host community has to offer. And if there’s one thing Montana can deliver, it’s an ultimate outdoor adventure.

Adding an outdoor adventure to your next meeting agenda in Western Montana’s Glacier Country is easy when you utilize Montana’s most notable and stunning adventure assets–rivers, mountains and lakes—along with the services of professional guides and outfitters. Whether the group wants to take a trail ride by horseback near Kalispell (read more about meetings in Kalispell here) or a mountain biking excursion in Whitefish, float the Alberton Gorge near Missoula (learn more about meeting in Missoula here) or take a guided hike through Glacier National Park, Western Montana has professional, experienced and well-equipped guides to make group adventures easy, safe, educational and a whole lot of fun.

Ready to ride. (Photo credit: Triple Creek Ranch)

Ready to ride. (Photo credit: Triple Creek Ranch)

Rivers:
Glacier Country is home to some famous rivers­­–the Blackfoot, Bitterroot, Clark Fork and Flathead to name just a few–for both water recreation and fishing. From calm scenic floats to an exhilarating spring whitewater adventure, Montana’s rivers can accommodate. A unique feature added to the Clark Fork River—that runs through the city of Missoula—is a man-made whitewater play area called Brennan’s Wave, for adventurers to try their hand at kayaking or wave surfing on a river.

Brennan’s Wave in downtown Missoula.

Brennan’s Wave in downtown Missoula.

Guided river raft trip. (Photo credit: Glacier Guides, Inc. and Montana Raft Company)

Guided river raft trip. (Photo credit: Glacier Guides, Inc. and Montana Raft Company)

Fly-fishing on blue-ribbon trout streams and rivers in Montana was made famous by the movie A River Runs Through It. For groups looking to learn how to fly-fish or even those with experience, hiring a guide that knows the prime fishing holes and the right fly to use on any given day, can make the adventure a true success.

Guided fly-fishing lessons on the Bitterroot River.

Guided fly-fishing lessons on the Bitterroot River.

Mountains:
Western Montana is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, which does have its benefits when it comes to winter recreation. Winter snow brings ample accumulations to Glacier County’s six downhill ski and snowboard destinations, along with scenic cross-country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities. For groups that are ultra-adventurous, enlist a guide for a snowmobiling or dog sledding adventure. Plan a winter experience for your meeting attendees with a guided adventure into Glacier National Park with Glacier Adventure Guides.

Snowshoeing in Glacier National Park

Snowshoeing in Glacier National Park.

From late spring through late fall, easily accessible trail systems abound in Western Montana for exceptional mountain biking. There are multiple mountain bike rental facilities and guide services that can have the bikes ready and waiting for groups to arrive, jump on and hit the trails.

Biking one of the many trails in Glacier County.

Biking one of the many trails in Glacier County.

Western Montana is known as a hiker’s paradise. From renowned trails in the Bitterroot Valley to over 700 miles of hiking trails in Glacier National Park, it’s best to use a guide’s expertise to determine your groups ability and to make sure the hike is enjoyed by all participants. In addition, for groups planning a hike in Glacier National Park, Glacier Guides (the concessioner for all hikes in the park) can plan a customized excursion just for your group of meeting attendees.

Hiking in the Bitterroot National Forest.

Hiking in the Bitterroot National Forest.

Oftentimes groups come to Montana and want to “cowboy or cowgirl up” on horseback to explore the region. Western Montana has numerous options for both the novice and experienced riders when it comes to enjoying the area on horseback. Plus, some of the best views of the region come from riding the ridgelines.

Trail ride in the Salish Mountains outside of Kalispell.

Trail ride in the Salish Mountains outside of Kalispell.

Lakes:
Like the incredible rivers in Western Montana’s Glacier Country, the lakes are pretty spectacular as well, offering year-round recreation. Some of the most notable lakes are Lake Como, Lake Koocanusa, Seeley Lake, Whitefish Lake, Lake McDonald and Flathead Lake–the largest freshwater lake in the West.

It’s easy to book a sailing trip or charter a larger boat for a lunch or dinner cruise on Flathead Lake. Groups can opt for a wooden boat excursion on Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park or enlist a guide for a group lesson on stand-up paddle boards on Whitefish Lake.

Sunset cruise on Flathead Lake.

Dinner cruise on Flathead Lake. (Photo credit: Far West Boat Tours)

Wood boat excursion on Lake McDonald. (Photo credit: Glacier Park Boat Company)

Wood boat excursion on Lake McDonald. (Photo credit: Glacier Park Boat Company)

Kayaking and canoeing can be done on both lakes and rivers in Western Montana.  Some sections of rivers provide calm and uncrowded paddling while other parts require excellent paddling skills. Hiring a guide that knows the waterways well is always in the group’s best interest.

*Not only do professional guides and outfitters know the rules and regulations for the mountains, tribal lands, wilderness areas and waterways in Montana, they can assist with the right permits, licenses and equipment needed to make your meeting excursions trouble free and memorable.

For more information on meeting facilities in Western Montana, visit our Glacier Country meetings website. Or, if you’re looking for more information on adding an outdoor adventure to your Western Montana meeting, drop me a line; I’m always here to help.

Meet in Montana,

DP

Easy Ways to Add a Montana Theme to Your Meeting

You’re planning a meeting in Montana. And chances are, the location is one of the primary reasons you selected Montana for your meeting destination. Your primary goal: to have a well-attended, educational, productive event. Your secondary goal: to make it a fantastic meeting that attendees will remember. One way to make your meeting stand out is to complement it with a Montana theme. Here in Montana, the theme possibilities are as vast as our big blue sky. To help narrow down your options, we’ve rounded up a few suggestions to help make your Montana meeting perfect.

Finding the Venue
Western Montana’s Glacier Country has a variety of meeting venues (you can read more about some of our off-site venues here), from mountainside lodges to flagship hotels and riverside retreats. However, there are some venues that practically shout Montana. For mountain-themed lodging and venue options, we recommend Grouse Mountain Lodge, The Resort at Paws Up, The Lodge at Whitefish Lake, Hilton Garden Inn (with locations in both Kalispell and Missoula), Glacier Park Lodge, Flathead Lake Lodge and Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort.

The Lodge at Whitefish Lake.

The lobby of the Lodge at Whitefish Lake is a beautiful depiction of luxury Montana.

An outdoor dinner at Z5 Guest Ranch.

An outdoor dinner at Z5 Guest Ranch.

Keep in mind that nearly any venue in Glacier Country can work with you to add Montana touches to your meeting.

Capturing the Montana Look + Feel
While some venues are designed with Montana’s mountains and wildlife in mind, there are many ways to add a Montana look and feel to your meeting. Oftentimes when planning an event, the region’s landscape provides perfect inspiration. Topping our list: meadows of wildflowers, fields of wheat and barley, the teal-colored waters of the Middle Fork of the Flathead River, wide-open spaces, wildlife, backcountry roads and brilliant colors.

Easy touches include mason jars with burlap ribbons, sunflower centerpieces, wildflower bouquets, hay bales, bandannas (great for decorating and can be used as a welcome piece at your kick-off reception) and lanterns. And if you’re doing an outdoor event (like a hayride), be sure to have cozy western style blankets available for attendees.

An elegant, Montana-themed place setting.

An elegant, Montana-themed place setting.

Tasting Montana
Food and drinks can make or break an event. And since you’re already holding your meeting in Montana, we’re pleased to tell you that our culinary scene (you can read more about it here) is one of the best in the West. From locally raised bison, beef and yak to a thriving farm-to-table scene, many of our chefs, venues and hoteliers put an emphasis on Montana grown cuisine.

Topping our list of Montana-inspired food: braised bison short ribs, elk meatballs, lamb lollipops, bison steaks, juicy burgers and fresh huckleberry pie. Many guest ranches and off-site venues also offer chuckwagon dinners as a way to taste Montana.

Many of our guest ranches offer chuckwagon dinners.

Relaxing at a chuckwagon dinner.

Another way to welcome your meeting attendees is with a bottle (or two) of local beer. If your meeting is in Missoula, we recommend Cold Smoke Scotch Ale from Kettlehouse Brewing Company. And if you’re hosting your event in Kalispell or Whitefish, try Going to the Sun IPA from Great Northern Brewing Company. To create a Montana welcome basket, we suggest local products like chocolates from The Sweet Palace, honey from Glacier County Honey Co. and tea from Butterfly Herbs.

Beer from Kettlehouse Brewing Company in Missoula.

Beer from Kettlehouse Brewing Company in Missoula.

The perfect welcome: a Montana sugar cookie from Bernice's Bakery in Missoula.

The perfect welcome: a Montana sugar cookie from Bernice’s Bakery in Missoula.

Creating the Montana Atmosphere 
This region of Montana is home to incredible singers, songwriters and performers, with talent that includes full bands to American Indian drummers and dancers and cowboy poets to solo acts who can provide the perfect background ambiance for your event.

Live music, Montana style.

Live music, Montana style.

For kick-up-your-heels fun, we recommend Tom Catmull’s Radio Static and The Lil’ Smokies. To incorporate Montana’s rich cultural history into your meeting, book a performance from Blackfeet singer-songwriter (and Montana’s Troubadour) Jack Gladstone. And for Montana-inspired songs and incredible guitar playing, we recommend John Floridis.

Montana Team Building
If your meeting includes team building sessions, there are plenty of ways to incorporate a Montana theme into those activities. Try Walk in the Treetops at Whitefish Mountain Resort and have attendees work with a partner as they navigate the boardwalk above the forest floor or set out on a whitewater rafting adventures on the Clark Fork River with Montana River Guides. Additional suggestions include a pedal pub tour in Missoula with Thirst Gear (everyone has to peddle to move the bike), the ropes course at The Ranch at Rock Creek or team roping at one of our guest ranches.

Navigating the ropes course at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

Navigating the ropes course at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

A memento from a steak fry at Flathead Lake Lodge.

A memento from a steak fry at Flathead Lake Lodge.

For more information about meetings in Montana or for additional suggestions on ways to add a Montana theme to your meeting, drop us a line here. Also, feel free to check out our meeting planner video as it incorporates many Montana themes into various venues.

xo,
TT

Tia Troy
About the author: Tia is the Public Relations + Communication Manager for Glacier Country Tourism. She loves planning a good party or event, especially when Montana is involved. Your can read more of her blog posts at glaciermt.com/blog or follow her on twitter at @MontanaTia.

TOP WINTER MEETING RETREATS IN WESTERN MONTANA’S GLACIER COUNTRY

Awe, winter: the time of year when Western Montana’s Glacier Country offers crisp refreshing air and the opportunity for great winter recreation. Why not combine that with some amazing corporate retreat locations and meeting venues that provide warmth and relaxation, along with some inspiration in the colder months? Pack up your best sweaters, throw in your mittens, hats and wool socks—along with your favorite pair of boots—and let us help spice up that winter board meeting or plan that exceptional corporate retreat in Western Montana.

Scenic Montana highway drive in winter

Scenic Montana highway drive in winter

About an hour northwest of Missoula and surrounded by lush forest lands is a quaint retreat that sits on the banks of the Clark Fork River. Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort, located just outside of Paradise—yes you read that right, Paradise, Montana—is a little slice of heaven. Choose to stay in the beautiful 15-room Glacier Lodge or one of the resort cabins that range from standard accommodations to deluxe riverside suites with luxury bedding, leather furniture, kitchen amenities and beautiful views of the Clark Fork River. Meetings can be held in Quinn’s new 9,000 square foot Paradise Hall event space on the banks of the Clark Fork River and can host up to 300 attendees. Catering options include their outstanding on-site restaurant Harwood House Restaurant. After your meeting, relax in Quinn’s six hot spring pools: two for swimming and four for soaking. The natural mineral water—high in calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium and iron—is chemical-free and flows continuously, offering excellent health benefits.

Quinn’s natural mineral hot springs

Quinn’s natural mineral hot springs

Harwood House Restaurant at Quinn’s

Harwood House Restaurant at Quinn’s

Double Arrow Resort, located in Seeley Lake and surrounded by the Mission and Swan mountains, is a meeting destination that is great year-round, with winter offering a little something extra special. Outdoor winter recreation abounds for visitors, whether your group is interested in snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or ice fishing. Your meeting can take place in the Blackfoot Conference Center or the Great Hall in the historic Double Arrow Lodge. Finish the retreat with a winter sleigh ride and then cozy up to the large stone fireplace with a hot toddy of choice. Lodging choices range from cozy rooms in the historic main lodge (built in 1929) to log cabins and houses.

Horse-drawn sleigh rides at Double Arrow Resort

Horse-drawn sleigh rides at Double Arrow Resort

Hot beverages by the fire in the historic lodge

Hot beverages by the fire in the historic lodge

Another great winter destination is Mountain Lake Lodge. This impressive lodge overlooks  magnificent Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the West, and is located only 5 miles from one of the 100 best small art towns in the U.S.—Bigfork. The 30 well-appointed suites at the lodge offer cozy fireplaces and signature bedding in each room, with meeting space in the Fireplace Room or Jest Gallery. Leave time in your schedule to visit the picturesque community of Bigfork that’s home to world-class art galleries, fine dining and live theater.

Guest suites at Mountain Lake Lodge

Guest suites at Mountain Lake Lodge

Evening lights and décor in downtown Bigfork

Evening lights and décor in downtown Bigfork

Daytime shopping in Bigfork

Daytime shopping in Bigfork

Located in the charming mountain town of Whitefish, The Lodge at Whitefish Lake will greet your retreat attendees with a roaring fire in the stone fireplace as you pull up to the front entrance. Check into your lake view or mountainside rooms, all adorned with elegant furnishings. Once you and your meeting attendees have checked in, take a few minutes to prop your feet up in front of the cozy fireplace in your guest room and relax.  Meetings can be held in the 10,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and their banquet staff can accommodate any catering needs. Retreat amenities include a full-service day spa and indoor pool and hot tub. Attendees can also slip outside to the year-round lakeside hot tub. Only 15 minutes away at Whitefish Mountain Resort is world-class skiing and snowboarding with 3,000 acres of downhill terrain and 105 marked runs for a variety of skill levels. Be sure to carve out some time to dine and shop in downtown Whitefish, as well as  check out the town’s kick-up-your-heals nightlife.

Festive entrance to The Lodge at Whitefish Lake

Festive entrance to The Lodge at Whitefish Lake

Lakeside relaxation awaits

Lakeside relaxation awaits

For more information on the winter retreat meeting locations above or to explore other options, visit our Glacier Country Meetings website or drop me a line; I’m always here to help.

Meet in Montana,

DP

SELECTING THE PERFECT OFF-SITE VENUE FOR YOUR MONTANA MEETING

We all know that conferences and meetings are attended for many reasons: continuing education, training, sales and networking. And for most meetings, great convention centers or hotel meeting rooms are the right environment for hosting a well-organized meeting. However, a great off-site venue can shake things up a bit, add excitement to a meeting and inspire and engage attendees, all while providing an added value to the event. Plus, let’s face it: they can be a lot of FUN.

Western Montana’s Glacier Country has plenty of great venues away from the hotel that are ideal for an interactive lunch, a signature cocktail reception, unique dinner setting or a place to dance the night away.

MISSOULA
Z5 Ranch, located just 25 minutes north of Missoula in Arlee, offers an authentic Montana experience at a chuckwagon dinner set in the stunning Jocko Valley. Customize your after dinner entertainment with cowboy poetry, American Indian dancers and drummers, historic storytelling or music from local musicians.

Z5 Ranch offers an authentic Montana experience.

Z5 Ranch offers an authentic Montana experience.

In the heart of downtown Missoula and located on the shore of the Clark Fork River is a wonderful outdoor venue, Caras Park Pavilion. A year-round option, the permanent white canopy provides shelter or shade and canvas walls can be added in the colder months. The pavilion can accommodate groups from 100 to 3,000 for dinner events or outdoor music and festivities. There is ample room for attendees to mingle or walk to the river overlook and watch surfers and kayakers on Brennan’s Wave.

Caras Park Pavilion in downtown Missoula.

Caras Park Pavilion in downtown Missoula.

Honorable mentions: choose one of Missoula’s many craft breweries, distilleries or wineries as a fun venue for receptions and dinners. As an added bonus, many of the breweries can provide informational tours about their products and processes.

KALISPELL
Plan a cruise on the largest freshwater lake in the West on Far West Boat Tours. Take an excursion around Wild Horse Island State Park and look for bighorn sheep, wild mustangs and other native animals. Or after a long day of meetings hop on board for a dinner or sunset cruise to relax and mingle with colleagues. The ship has a fully licensed bar and multiple catering options are available for up to 150 passengers.

Sunset cruise on Flathead Lake.

Sunset cruise on Flathead Lake.

The Conrad Mansion Museum is a historic turn of the century property with beautiful gardens surrounding the one time home of the founder of Kalispell, Robert Conrad. The native stone fireplace and golden oak staircase is a wonderful backdrop for receptions or catered dinners for groups of 75. Consider utilizing the manicured lawn and grounds—including a beautiful gazebo—for a musical addition for a larger event.

Springtime at Conrad Mansion Museum.

Springtime at Conrad Mansion Museum.

Honorable mentions: Artemis Acres Paint Horse Ranch and Lonesome Dove Guest Ranch  are both available for fun afternoon horseback rides and BBQ lunches or dinners.

WHITEFISH
Centered in the heart of downtown Whitefish, Casey’s Pub and Grill  offers a great sophisticated venue for an evening reception or dinner event that lets attendees unwind after meetings. Casey’s blends beautiful architecture with its multi-level bar atmosphere. The second level lounge provides ample room for a band to play along with a dance floor, surrounded by sectional furniture for relaxing with friends and colleagues. Head upstairs to the rooftop skybar for breathtaking sunsets and spectacular views of Big Mountain and the surrounding area while sipping a signature cocktail.

Casey’s Skybar, with views of Whitefish.

Casey’s Skybar, with views of Whitefish.

Located just 15 minutes from downtown Whitefish, activities abound during the summer months at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Choose from 5 or 7 course zip lines, an aerial adventure park or a walk in the treetops. Groups can choose to participate in one activity or divide and conquer all aspects of the mountain. The base lodge is also available for meeting needs before setting out for an unbelievable experience on the mountain.

If it’s stunning views with dinner or a reception you are after, then the newly renovated Summit House at the top of Whitefish Mountain Resort is calling. In the warmer months, take an open air chairlift or a gondola ride to the top of Big Mountain and experience 360 degree views of Glacier National Park and the Flathead Valley below. It is sure to be an unforgettable event and experience for groups of up to 125 people. If your meeting schedule falls in the winter, take advantage of the group deals and discounts offered by Whitefish Mountain Resort for lift tickets, lessons, rentals and dining.

Stunning views from the Summit House.

Stunning views from the Summit House.

To find the perfect fit for your meeting, we recommend reaching out to Montana’s local convention and visitor bureaus. Destination Missoula, Discover Kalispell and Explore Whitefish would love to help find just the right off-site venue for your next meeting. Or drop me a line; I’m always here to help.

Meet me in Montana,

DP

A MEETING PLANNER’S PERSPECTIVE ON WESTERN MONTANA

We all know that the best—and quite frankly the only way—to really know if a destination is right for your next meeting, conference or corporate retreat is to experience it firsthand.  Last May, Western Montana’s Glacier Country invited a select group of meeting planners from around the U.S. to come to Montana and see for themselves what our destination has to offer for meetings.

One of those planners was the CEO of Mampre Media International, L.L.C., Meetings and Incentive Travel, Virginia Mampre. With 40 years of experience in the meeting and incentive travel industry, Virginia has traveled the world as she has matched destinations with her clients and their programs, which range from 6 to 25,000 attendees.

While she has seen much of the world, this was Virginia’s first trip to Montana. Here’s what she thought about the week she spent in Big Sky Country…

Q. Having never been to Montana before, what were your initial thoughts?

A. I was captivated by the natural beauty of the area. We were able to see so much of it by traveling through many valleys and along lakes and waterways, which are truly spectacular in any season. However, seeing it framed by spring flowers was wonderful.

Sunset view of Flathead Lake

Sunset view of Flathead Lake

Q. What does Western Montana’s Glacier Country have to offer meetings and conventions?

A. There are quality hotel properties like The Lodge at Whitefish Lake, Kandahar Lodge and The Resort at Paws Up—to mention just a few—that are located in unique and beautiful settings. Many of them offer outdoor options to add to the meeting space. There are not only luxury lodging options, but quality lodging for various price points as well.

There is an abundance of indoor activities for groups, spousal programs, team building and individual challenges. I appreciated the fact that there are guides and outfitters for every imaginable sport or activity, including fly- fishing, horseback riding, skiing, hiking, dog sledding, bird watching and snowshoeing.

A horseback trail ride is one of many activity options in Western Montana.

A horseback trail ride is one of many activity options in Western Montana.

Q. What did you think of the culinary scene in Montana?

A. There are great culinary and spirit offerings that are locally made, regionally grown and presented in distinct environments throughout the region. I thoroughly enjoyed the delicious chef’s table experience at Blue Canyon Kitchen & Tavern. I couldn’t believe the amount of local breweries, fresh produce and huckleberries galore! (Now I know why the bears like them). The area is also known for its ice cream—like Big Dipper and Sweet Peaks—with such delicious and inimitable flavors.

Blue Canyon Kitchen & Tavern in Kalispell.

Blue Canyon Kitchen & Tavern in Kalispell.

Q. What was distinct about Montana’s Glacier Country that you appreciated?

A. For groups that like to get out and have one-of-a-kind experiences, a visit to see the glaciers in Glacier National Park is a must. While in-season, it would be fun to take the red bus tours on the Going-to-the Sun Road (the red buses date back to the 1920s.)  I adored the Ninepipes Lodge and Allentown Restaurant in Charlo. It had incredible views of the Mission Mountain Range and the pond behind the lodge mirrored the stunning mountains outside the restaurant. The whole area has such special qualities; it’s hard to pick just one or two things.

Views of the Mission Mountains from Ninepipes Lodge and Allentown Restaurant.

Views of the Mission Mountains from Ninepipes Lodge and Allentown Restaurant.

Q. What was your impression of the arts and culture scene in Montana’s Glacier Country region?

A. The arts and culture that we were shown was surprising to me and made such an impact. I was very impressed with the theater scene that is internationally noted due to the incredible work of the Missoula Children’s Theater. I enjoyed the re-furbished buildings, such as the old Carnegie Library that was converted into the Hockaday Museum of Art in Kalispell that housed unique collections of regional and international quality art. Another attraction that stood out to me was the noble old home of Charles Conrad, now the Conrad Mansion, that can be used for private functions in the grand style of the innovative and genteel class of the turn of the century.

Missoula Art Museum.

Missoula Art Museum.

Q. During your time in Montana, did you visit any special venues that piqued your interest?

A. As someone who has been planning MICE functions for many years, it’s always a delight to find distinct venues in regions like Montana’s Glacier Country. Events can be held in the beautiful Caras Park along the waterfront in Missoula, where attendees can watch kayakers and river surfers (or even surf themselves) in downtown.

Some of the refurbished barns with cowboy and native touches were impressive. We enjoyed a lavish chuckwagon BBQ complete with incredible singing cowboys and cowgirls, and the horseback ride that followed in Kalispell was fun.  And stargazing in the evenings from every vantage point was incredible.

Great Angus Hall (a refurbished barn) at The Resort at Paws Up.

Great Angus Hall (a refurbished barn) at The Resort at Paws Up.

Q. Where you surprised by the size of groups that can be accommodated in Glacier Country?

A. For educationally minded or very large groups, Missoula’s university and area colleges offer great venues. The University of Montana (located in Missoula) has a native inspired building that was top-of-the-line. The expansive ballroom space in Missoula was very well done and could accommodate citywide meetings, especially with the close proximity to nearby hotels for overflow needs.

Main Hall at the University of Montana.

Main Hall at the University of Montana.

Q. Did you experience anything in Montana’s Glacier Country that you haven’t seen anywhere else?

A. I was very impressed with the people in Western Montana. There is such a thing as western hospitality and it resides in Montana. I can’t say enough about how wonderful the people were everywhere we went.

Even the (stuffed) grizzly bears are friendly in Montana.

Even the (stuffed) grizzly bears are friendly in Montana.

If you are interested in reading a recap of the meeting planner FAM, click here.  For a visual recap, watch our Meet in Montana video.

If you would like more information about Western Montana’s Glacier Country as a meetings destination or are interested in participating in the next meeting planner FAM highlighting our three anchor cities of Missoula, Kalispell and Whitefish, shoot me an email.

Meet me in Montana,

DP