Tag Archives: Missoula meetings

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

A TASTE OF WESTERN MONTANA’S GLACIER COUNTRY

As you drive through Western Montana’s wide open spaces you will see elk and deer along with cattle and bison herds roaming the landscape. Along with these ranches, Western Montanan’s Glacier Country has an amazing growing culture producing some of the finest crops such as sweet cherries, sugar beets, morel mushrooms and wild huckleberries, and sets the stage for why Montana’s culinary scene is so spectacular. In fact, the phrase farm-to-table describes Montana perfectly. So whether your group is here on a culinary tour or your meeting is set to take place in Western Montana, be prepared. With all of this mouth-watering goodness, your tummies are in for a real treat.

With the abundance of amazing farmers markets for fresh ingredients and well-supported agriculture operations in communities as well as farm-to-table school programs, it’s likely no surprise that Montana was recently ranked the seventh best state in the nation for its commitment to healthy, locally grown and produced food.

And when you add in some of the top chefs in the country, diners will find a winning culinary combination. For instance, Montana’s own Executive Chef Andy Blanton of Café Kandahar in Whitefish has not only been nominated for the prestigious James Beard Award on several occasions, but has also had the honor to cook as a guest chef at the storied James Beard House restaurant in New York City.

Food is such a sensory experience and whether your group is in Western Montana for a corporate meeting or conference or touring the region as part of a larger itinerary, people want to experience the local flavor of the state and region. Many of our restaurants, hotels and resorts pride themselves on sourcing fresh, locally grown, in-season fare throughout Montana and Glacier Country.

Beef tenderloin tartare appetizer and a glass of wine from Plonk Wine Bar in Missoula. Delicious.

Beef tenderloin tartare appetizer and a glass of wine from Plonk Wine Bar in Missoula. Delicious.

Recent conference attendees enjoyed a hearty breakfast at Holiday Inn Downtown at the Park Missoula. My favorite—the fresh fruit parfait in the mason jar and—and the Montana placemat. Nice touch.

Recent conference attendees enjoyed a hearty breakfast at Holiday Inn Downtown at the Park Missoula. My favorite—the fresh fruit parfait in the mason jar and—and the Montana placemat. Nice touch.

Braised bison short ribs with garlic roasted baby carrots and saffron risotto finished with a root beer demi glaze from Blue Canyon Kitchen & Tavern. Blue Canyon has locations in Missoula and Kalispell next to the Hilton Garden Inn.

Braised bison short ribs with garlic roasted baby carrots and saffron risotto finished with a root beer demi glaze from Blue Canyon Kitchen & Tavern. Blue Canyon has locations in Missoula and Kalispell next to the Hilton Garden Inn.

Loula’s in Whitefish has amazing pie. Just so you know this huckleberry-blackberry pie is available for breakfast.

Loula’s in Whitefish has amazing pie. Just so you know this huckleberry-blackberry pie is available for breakfast.

The elk meatballs are a must at The Boat Club Lounge and Restaurant located at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake in Whitefish.

The elk meatballs are a must at The Boat Club Lounge and Restaurant located at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake in Whitefish.

Casey’s rooftop Skybar in Whitefish offers great atmosphere along with amazing signature cocktails like their Huckleberry Margarita.

Casey’s rooftop Skybar in Whitefish offers great atmosphere along with amazing signature cocktails like their Huckleberry Margarita.

For those looking for an authentic western culinary experience, Western Montana has several guest ranches that can offer a chuckwagon lunch or dinner.

Artemis Acres Paint Horse Guest Ranch in Kalispell serves a delicious burger.  After the meal, I suggest a horseback trail overlooking the Flathead Valley.

Artemis Acres Paint Horse Guest Ranch in Kalispell serves a delicious burger. After the meal, I suggest a horseback trail overlooking the Flathead Valley.

Bar W Guest Ranch in Whitefish also offers chuckwagon options to groups, but take a look at this hearty breakfast cooked up fresh for guests.

Bar W Guest Ranch in Whitefish also offers chuckwagon options to groups, but take a look at this hearty breakfast cooked up fresh for guests.

On the sipping side of our culinary scene, one thing is for sure—we like beer in Montana. Microbreweries can be found in Western Montana’s towns and cities and are producing some of the best beers in the nation. Groups could easily sip their way through more than 20+ tasting rooms in Western Montana’s Glacier Country alone. For a little added group excitement and a workout, visit the breweries in downtown Missoula peddling a 15 passenger bike on Thirstgear or let Tap Room Tours plan the tasting itinerary. An added bonus: an excursion with Tap Room Tours allows your clients or groups to sit back and enjoy the views.

Samplers from Big Sky Brewing. Some favorites: Moose Drool, Trout Slayer and Powder Hound.

Samplers from Big Sky Brewing. Some favorites: Moose Drool, Trout Slayer and Powder Hound.

A brewery and spirits tour on Thirst Gear in Missoula.

A brewery and spirits tour on Thirst Gear in Missoula.

We hear it from visitors all of the time, “We knew the scenery would be stunning and we expected there would be an abundance of outdoor activities, but the culinary scene in Montana was incredible and such a pleasant surprise.”

Drop us a line here if you are in need of itinerary or dining suggestions in Western Montana’s Glacier Country.

Bon appétit,

DP

Guest Post: Top 5 Reasons To Have a Meeting in Missoula

As the Sales Manager for Destination Missoula, part of my job is to sell Missoula, Montana as a meeting destination. In my travels I meet with various meeting planners who have a diverse range of needs, from assistance with site selection to the creation of custom itineraries and everything in-between. For me, it’s important that I’m listening to the needs of the meeting planner to ensure that their attendees receive the best experience possible in Montana. As we discuss Missoula, one of the most common questions that I’m asked is, “What should my attendees do in their free time?”IMG_0347

While I may be bias, Missoula is a pretty incredible place with lots of fun and interesting things to do. And one of the best ways to experience a community–especially one as lively and distinct as Missoula–is to get the inside scoop from the locals. While Missoula has four distinct seasons and plentiful activities to go with each one, summer in Missoula is a favorite among locals. With long daylight hours that provide a variety of opportunities for meeting attendees to experience Montana’s second largest city, it can be difficult to focus on just one activity.

To help with the planning of your meeting or event, I’ve rounded up my top 5 summer activities in Missoula.

1. Fresh mountain air + locally roasted coffee = wake up and recharge.
There’s no better way to start the day than with crisp Montana air paired with spectacular views and locally roasted coffee. If your meeting attendees enjoy the outdoors, a great start to the day would be with a hike up the “M” Trail on Mount Sentinel. The trailhead is located within minutes of downtown and offers a hatchback trail system that guides hikers to Missoula’s iconic M and a stunning view of the valley. After a hike, end the morning at Black Coffee Roasting Co. and recharge over a freshly brewed cup of locally roasted coffee and toast.
Sidenote: their Vinyl blend coffee and avocado toast are my personal favorites.

Looking out over Missoula toward Mount Sentinel.

Looking out over Missoula toward Mount Sentinel.

2. Attend Out to Lunch and Downtown Tonight.
Missoula is dubbed as the “cultural center” of Montana, much in part to its vibrant downtown.  Centered in the heart of downtown and located along the banks of the Clark Fork River is Caras Park. Many of Missoula’s festivals and major events are held at Caras Park, including Out to Lunch  and Downtown Tonight. These mini music festivals take place weekly from June – August and provide a great opportunity to mingle with Missoula locals. On any given week, attendees can listen to talented Montana musicians while dining on an eclectic selection of local food vendors.

Taking in the view of Downtown Tonight at Caras Park.

Taking in the view of Downtown Tonight at Caras Park.

After getting a bite to eat and enjoying some tunes, end the event by grabbing a scoop of huckleberry ice cream from the Big Dipper Ice Cream truck and proceed to the viewing deck at Brennan’s Wave. Brennan’s Wave is a man-made whitewater wave where you can watch Missoula’s best try their hand at river surfing and kayaking. If your meeting attendees prefer to explore more of downtown Missoula, they can skip the ice cream truck and venture across the Higgins Avenue Bridge to Big Dipper’s flagship location.
Sidenote: Out to Lunch takes place from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Wednesdays and Downtown Tonight is held from 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. on Thursdays. 

3. Rivers, rivers and rivers.
Located at the confluence of three rivers (Bitterroot, Blackfoot and Clark Fork), it’s no surprise that Missoula has world-class water focused recreation. One of the most Missoula-centric activities is to float the Clark Fork River through downtown. Enjoying the river can be as easy as grabbing an inner tube and hopping on in. There are also guided options available and you can work with one of our many outfitters to book an exhilarating whitewater rafting trip, scenic float or guided fly-fishing trip. Most Missoula outfitters offer both full and half-day guided trips.

Playing on the water at Brennan's Wave.

Playing on the water at Brennan’s Wave.

And if your meeting attendees don’t have enough time to recreate on the river, they can still enjoy breathtaking river views at Finn & Porter (located inside the DoubleTree Hotel). Sit outside on their deck or at an indoor table for views of the Clark Fork River and Mount Sentinel. Chances are you’ll also see a fly-fisherman trying his luck from the shore.
Sidenote: Finn & Porter’s location, happy hour specials and extensive wine selection make it one of my favorite after work spots.  

4. Discover one of Missoula’s stories.
I’m a person who loves anything with a story to be told, which makes it hard to resist a good antique store or historic tour. Missoula has a rich history which encompasses the end of Glacial Lake Missoula; the Salish, Pend d’Oreille and Kootenai tribes; a visit from Lewis and Clark in 1805; and its first European settlers in 1860. Traces of this history can be found throughout Missoula and the surrounding area, while downtown is decorated with historic landmarks and buildings, making it a great place to spend an afternoon.

Start the afternoon at Caffé Dolce for lunch and an espresso before proceeding across the Clark Fork River into the heart of downtown. The Missoula Downtown Association has created a fantastic self-guided historic walking tour of downtown, making it easy for meeting attendees to explore downtown on their own and see some of the treasured historic architecture that remains in Missoula. An easy enhancement to the tour is a stop at the Montana Antique Mall, located at 331 Railroad Street W. inside the Montana Hotel. The mall offers four floors of antique retail space and is the largest antique mall in Montana.
Sidenote: Self-guided tour maps are available at the Missoula Visitor Information Center, located at 101 E. Main Street or download a copy of the historic walking tour here.

5. Remarkable outdoor markets.
If your meeting will have attendees in Missoula on a Saturday morning between May and October, they are well-advised to visit one (or all) of Missoula’s award-winning markets. Missoula has three Saturday morning markets to choose from–the Missoula Farmers Market, the Clark Fork Farmers Market and the Missoula People’s Market, with each having their own distinct offerings.

Perusing one of the local farmers markets.

Perusing one of the local farmers markets.

Start off at the Clark Fork Market (located along the river under the Higgins Ave. Bridge) and grab a snack from one of the many food vendors before checking out locally grown produce, fresh baked bread, cheese and more. Proceed north on Higgins Ave. to the Missoula People’s Market to peruse hand-crafted goods, including jewelry and clothing. Finish your market experience by continuing north on Higgins to Missoula’s original market–the Missoula Farmers Market. Grab a pastry from one of the bakery carts and check out more fresh produce, including huckleberries and flowers. My advice: get an early start. The Farmers Markets are held from 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., while the People’s Market takes place from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

For more information on planning your meeting in Missoula, visit www.meetings.glaciermt.com or www.missoulameetings.com.

See you in Missoula,
Mary Holmes

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10 Reasons to Have Your Meeting at the University of Montana

It’s no secret that Missoula is a special place. Located at the convergence of five valleys and with three blue-ribbon trout streams nearby, the Missoula Valley has been a gathering place for groups of people for years. It’s also home to one of the best locations for meetings in Western Montana — the University of Montana. With more than 37,000 square feet of meeting space, over 42,000 square feet of indoor event space and on-site resident halls, it’s a unique setting for all types of meetings, from youth and sporting camps to business gatherings.

10 Reasons to Consider Hosting Your Meeting at The University of Montana

1) Its location in Missoula, Montana.
Surrounded by our best asset, our great outdoors, Missoula is made only better by having the University of Montana at its center. Missoula is a beautiful city that perfectly combines an urban feel with the scenic beauty of Montana.
Sidenote: This was recently recognized when the University of Montana was named one of “The 25 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America” by Thrillist.com.

The view of Missoula from the M Trail is spectacular.  Located right outside the UM conference center.

Hiking the “M” Trail – the view is spectacular.

2) Affordable and unique.
While the University of Montana at its center is an educational facility, a core component of their mission statement is to be part of the community and provide services to the public at a fair market price. For the meeting planner, this means high quality facilities with abundant amenities for a very reasonable rate.

3) Open and available year-round.
Planning a meeting, conference or special event at a university is a new idea to many people. While they are mostly thought of as educational institutions, colleges and universities welcome groups to book events year-round. The University of Montana’s conference facility has a dedicated floor in the University Center building for events. In fact, most of the other meeting rooms and facilities across campus are available 12 months a year.

The UM Native American Center is a favorite location for receptions and educational tours.

4) Ideal for both small and large groups.
With a variety of locations for meetings, the university can accommodate up to 500 at the University Center (UC) or from 3,000 to 5,000 campus-wide.

5) Inclusive guest experience.
Missoula’s University of Montana pays special attention to accessibility for all meeting attendees by providing building access door openers, communication access services, convenient ADA parking, clear transportation corridors and routes free of snow during the winter season. They are dedicated to making all visitors to campus feel welcome and safe.

6) Sustainability programs.
Sustainability programs for the university are the norm and are a key part of their mission statement. The UM farm-to-college program brings fresh, locally grown food to campus through direct relationships with resident farmers, ranchers and businesses. This particular program is unique because similar plans across the nation vary in their definition of “local,” but UM focuses on Montana-sourced products. This in-state concentration allows the university to work directly with Montana businesses to measure the impact of their program on the state’s economy, all while providing delicious food that offers a real taste of Big Sky Country for meeting attendees.

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Fresh food being raised for onsite food services.

7) Farm-to-college program leads the nation.
The University of Montana’s dining and culinary services program is nationally recognized as one of the best in the country. Professional catering staff will serve high quality, delicious cuisine and healthy sustainable choices to your participants at banquets, buffets, receptions, classroom breaks and themed events. Custom designed with fresh offerings and home-baked desserts, chefs prepare a variety of selections to meet the various needs of your group.

Catering Food and Wine 167

Culinary dishes are both fresh and beautiful.

8) Team building.
The University of Montana’s campus has easily accessible venues and activities that can be used for building a stronger and more engaged group. With activities based on trust, teamwork and respect, your team can engage in recreation like rock climbing, swimming, court-based sports, games, rafting and more. All of these can be done on or near campus.
Insider note: The Clark Fork River runs on the north side of campus and is a great place for meeting attendees to learn to paddleboard, surf or kayak the rapids at Brennan’s Wave in downtown Missoula, just a short walk from campus. 

9) All-inclusive services and attractions.
While many university campuses have great amenities, there’s something extra special about the University of Montana. It is the official State Arboretum for Montana and is home to native plant gardens, tropical gardens inside the conference center, art galleries and the not-to-be-missed Native American Star Gazing Center. An added bonus: guests have access to the many recreational facilities and they can even rent outdoor recreational equipment on campus.

The beautiful gardens across campus are home to native plants and trees.

The beautiful gardens across campus are home to native plants and trees.

10) Customized transportation.
Parking garages and lots are located all over campus and can be made dedicated parking for visiting groups. Transportation services can even set aside spots for recreational vehicles if attendees prefer to stay in their RVs. The University of Montana has their own bus system that runs direct routes from campus as far west as Russell Street, north to Broadway Street and south to South Avenue East. When not in use for student transit, this system can be used to transport attendees to and from hotels. If that doesn’t quite meet your needs, their conference staff works with other private and public transit companies to ensure your meeting participants can get to and from where ever they need, whether event related or to explore Missoula on their own.

For more information on planning your meeting or convention at the University of Montana, learn more on our meetings and convention site.

Montana awaits you,
RF