Tag Archives: Winter Retreats

GUEST POST: 5 REASONS GROUSE MOUNTAIN LODGE IS YOUR NEXT CONFERENCE DESTINATION IN WESTERN MONTANA

It’s time! You’ve got a group looking to get away. You want to focus, grow and feel inspired—to recharge and reset. But you don’t want to do so just anywhere. You need a special place!

Whitefish, Montana, is one of the finest conference destinations in North America. Nestled at the edge of a picturesque lake, it’s a small town with authentic adventure vibes. Here, people live heartfelt lives, grateful each day to do so in such a healthy and beautiful place.

Grouse Mountain Lodge embodies this Montana spirit. We help your group tap into a strong sense of wellness here—they can soak up the mountain culture while they refine their team. Here are five reasons Grouse Mountain Lodge is your next conference destination.

1) Authentic Montana charm.
As the original lodge in Whitefish, we have been sharing the Montana way of life with our guests for decades. Every aspect of your experience at Grouse is authentic and warm; we treat our guests as if they are in our own home.

Grouse Mountain Lodge welcomes visitors year-round.

2) A meeting space for every occasion.
With 11,000 square feet of meeting space available in various combinations, from large corporate seminars to more intimate boardroom discussions, Grouse Mountain Lodge has the venue for almost any occasion.

Grouse Mountain Lodge offers 11,000 sq. feet of flexible meeting space.

The intimate Wine Room at Grouse Mountain Lodge.

3) Easy to get to.
Getting to Grouse Mountain Lodge is a breeze! You can travel here via air—there are many direct flights from major cities to Glacier Park International Airport, just 20 minutes away. Amtrak’s Empire Builder stops in the heart of downtown Whitefish, so traveling by train is another option. And regardless of your mode of transportation we offer a complimentary shuttle service to make your trip that much easier.

Welcome to Grouse Mountain Lodge.

4) Amazing food.
Because the Whitefish community is active and adventurous, there are some very creative chefs living and working here. We are passionate about food at Grouse, and it shows. From our famous breakfast to our rotating beer taps and special tasting events, we take food seriously at Grouse Mountain Lodge.

Logan’s Bar & Grill has a brand new menu.

Enjoy a sunrise breakfast on the patio.

5) Take the team outdoors.
Few towns can match Whitefish for the plethora of amazing outdoor activities. At Grouse Mountain Lodge, we know all the best places and are located directly next to two of Whitefish’s premier golf courses. Golfing, rafting, kayaking, hiking, skiing, boating and fly-fishing are all right here—let our team help you add some adventure to your next event!

Grouse Mountain Lodge overlooks the Whitefish Lake Golf Club (open to the public).

If you’re thinking about where to take your group next, look no further than Grouse Mountain Lodge. For more information on booking a conference, retreat or board meeting at Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish, contact me at kborgardt@pursuitcollection.com.

Krista Borgardt

About the author: Krista joined Pursuit’s Glacier Park Collection as the Regional Sales Manager overseeing group sales for a collection of timeless and iconic lodges around Glacier & Waterton National Parks including Grouse Mountain Lodge, Glacier Park Lodge, St. Mary Village, and Prince of Wales Hotel to name a few. One of the key things that drew her to join the team at Pursuit was their “Promise to Place” mission. The Pursuit team desires to work and play with people who value authentic interactions and a deeper knowledge of the world around us. To ensure that happens, the operation of their properties and experiences is guided by this “Promise to Place” which outlines their responsibilities to manage their impact on the environment, foster respect for people, and champion our communities.

REFLECTING ON 2019 IN WESTERN MONTANA’S GLACIER COUNTRY

As a new year approaches, it’s always fun to look back and reflect on the past year in Western Montana’s Glacier Country. We have had a wonderful year working with the travel trade and meeting planner professionals from around the world. It’s been a pleasure to help develop suggested itineraries for motorcoach tour operators wanting to showcase the history of Montana and find that perfect experiential addition that meets the needs of their groups. We have seen an increase in requests from international tour operators looking for unique lodging options for their clients and we can accommodate with a teepee stay, treehouse overnight, cabin in the woods, historic hotel, lakeside lodge, branded hotel and dude or luxury guest ranch experience. Meeting planners have visited looking for that perfect meeting space, offsite venue and activity that will resonate long after the meeting in Montana is over. It’s been a joy to hear them say, “This region is so beautiful, our attendees are going to love the authentic experiences found here.” We’ve held familiarization tours throughout the region, and when asked what surprised these business professionals the most about Western Montana—besides our stunning scenery and warm hospitality—it’s Montana’s amazing culinary scene that seems to rise to the top.

Reflecting back on a great 2019, we’d like to say thank you to all who shared in the fun.

Glacier National Park on a cool spring day from Apgar Village.

Meeting Planner FAM, with a quick stop at the Glacier National Park sign (it’s a must with first-time visitors).

Horseback riding at Bar W Guest Ranch in Whitefish.

Stunning dinner on the grounds at Conrad Mansion in Kalispell.

Touring Purple Mountain Lavender in Lakeside.

Exploring downtown Missoula and dinner in the wine cellar at Plonk.

Fall hiking in Glacier National Park is highly recommended. Pro Tip: Go guided with Glacier Guides.

Watching the sunset from downtown Whitefish with Whitefish Mountain Resort in the background.

RiverView Ranch offers a great place to retreat in Alberton.

Swan Mountain Llama Trekking is a fantastic group activity (aren’t they the cutest animals?).

The Ranch at Rock Creek’s Art in Nature program is a must during a stay.

Cheers to corporate retreats at The Resort at Paws Up.

Relaxing by the new pool at Triple Creek Ranch in Darby, after a horseback ride.

Enjoying a summer day at Flathead Lake Lodge.

Watching bison roam on the Blackfeet Nation with Glacier National Park in the background.

Biking the Route of the Hiawatha through retired train tunnels and over trestles.

Red bus fun in Glacier National Park.

Glacier Park Boat Company offers stunning lake tours in Glacier National Park.

Warning: if you come on a FAM tour to Western Montana you might go home with a new tattoo. (For those wondering, they’re not real.)

Thanks, 2019, for a beautiful year in Western Montana, and here’s to an amazing 2020. Drop me a line if you need assistance with an itinerary or a meeting venue in Western Montana’s Glacier Country—I am always here to help.

Debbie Picard

MEET WITH MONTANA AT IMEX AMERICA 2019

For the sixth year in a row, Montana will be attending and exhibiting at IMEX America this September in Las Vegas, Nevada. This year, the Montana booth will be bigger and better than ever as we welcome meeting planners to stop in at the MONTANA booth 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 resort for the board retreat, Montana has it all.

The perfect backdrop for a Montana dinner event.

We invite meeting planners attending IMEX America to make an appointment with our booth representatives from Western Montana’s Glacier Country—including the cities of Missoula and Whitefish—the new Sage LodgeBozeman Convention & Visitors Bureau, Big Sky Resort, Visit Helena including Helena Great Northern Hotel and The Ranch at Rock Creek 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 2019.

Liv Grubaugh – Big Sky Resort

Joining the Montana booth this year is Liv Grubaugh the National Sales Manager with Big Sky Resort. Liv will discuss with planners the inspiration that comes from alluring landscapes, fresh mountain air and unlimited outdoor adventure creating an authentic Montana meeting memory. Big Sky Resort offers a variety of lodging and venue options along with one-of-a-kind outdoor adventures. Winter is king at Big Sky Resort with ski-in ski-out properties offering 5,800 acres of skiing terrain. Summer offers more availability for meetings and retreats along with easy access to the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park only 40 miles away. Big Sky Resort is located an hour south of Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport with easy transfers.

Mike Peterson – Sage Lodge

New to the Montana booth this year is Mike Peterson the Director of Sales and Marketing for Sage Lodge. Located on the banks of the Yellowstone River in Montana’s Paradise Valley, Sage Lodge offers the perfect surroundings for a Montana luxury resort. The resort offers the perfect meeting space for corporate retreats, board meetings along with additional outdoor space with sweeping views. Three small meeting rooms allow for breakouts. Onsite dining in The Fireside Room or The Grill offer the best of authentic Montana fare. Customize your event with spa treatments, fishing expeditions or fireside chats at this beautiful retreat location located 35 minutes from the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport.

Daryl Schliem – Visit Bozeman

Returning to 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 and busiest 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.

Andrea Opitz – Visit Helena.

New to the Montana booth this year is  Andrea Opitz the Executive Director of Visit Helena the Helena Tourism Alliance. Meet with Andrea and learn about the capital city of Montana, conveniently located between Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park for pre or post excursions. Discover the meeting spaces both historic and modern that Helena has to offer that will have attendees excited. Offsite venues and attractions including a boat ride at Gates of the Mountains Boat Tour on the Missouri River or travel through Helena’s Mansion District on The Last Chance Tour Train. From board retreats to citywide conferences, Helena has something for everyone.

Karena Bemis – Helena Great Northern Hotel

Joining in on the Helena appointments is Karena Bemis, Director of Sales at Great Northern Hotel in Helena one of Best Western’s Premier hotels. Let Karena explain how J.D. Power has ranked Best Western Premier number 1 in guest satisfaction for the upscale segment and how guests can expect an elevated experience when they walk through the doors of this magnificent hotel. Located just minutes from downtown Helena and all the attractions of Montana’s capital city. The hotels convention space can accommodate groups up to 500 attendees.

Troy Hedenskog – The Ranch at Rock Creek

The Montana booth is excited to have National Sales Manager, Troy Hedenskog join the team this year from The Ranch at Rock Creek. The all-inclusive luxury guest ranch has the distinction of being the worlds first Forbes 5 star guest ranch. The Ranch at Rock Creek combines hallmark corporate retreat ideas like luxury accommodations, all-inclusive amenities, Relais & Chateaux dining and customized group activities. The ranch offers 29 one-of-a-kind accommodations and elegant event space and 20 year-round activities on the 6,600-acre ranch. Missoula International Airport is 1.5 hours drive to The Ranch and round-trip transportation is provided.

Emily Rolston – Destination Missoula

Serving as the Group Sales Associate for Destination Missoula, Emily Rolston will be attending IMEX to talk about meetings in Missoula 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 or citywide events for up to 5,000 attendees. Plus, direct flights arrive into Montana’s second busiest airport, Missoula International Airport from 13 major U.S. markets.

Dan Hansen – Explore Whitefish

As the Marketing and Sales Manager for Explore Whitefish, Dan Hansen 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 more than 1,200 guest rooms and 46,000 square feet of meeting space, Whitefish is perfect for groups up to 300 attendees and citywide events of 2,500 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 Tourism

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 regional CVBs of Missoula and Whitefish along with other meeting venues in Western Montana outside of these two 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 2019, 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, Missoula and Whitefish, make an appointment with Western Montana’s Glacier Country. The Western Montana representatives will be sharing each 20-minutes appointment session throughout the show (think of it as a one-stop Western Montana appointment stop).

*Bozeman, Big Sky Resort, Sage Lodge, Helena and The Ranch at Rock Creek are taking separate appointments.

*If you can’t meet with us during the pre-scheduled appointment times at IMEX, feel free to stop by our booth A420 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

5 WESTERN MONTANA CONVENTION HOTELS FOR YOUR NEXT MEETING IN MONTANA

Western Montana’s Glacier Country has been gaining momentum with meeting planners looking for that unique destination experience to hold their next association meeting or convention. Our Montana-style warm western hospitality welcomes meeting planners and attendees with authentic experiences outside of the meeting rooms and customized options for inside the convention spaces.

Some planners might be 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 of the three cities, with 33,400 square feet at the University of Montana and 22,000 square feet at its 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 between the two.

However, it’s no surprise that the draw to meet in Montana often times falls outside of the conference room walls. When asked, here is what a few sales directors from our convention hotels had to say about what sets them apart in Western Montana’s Glacier Country and how they can help provide a memorable meeting or convention for your clients and attendees.

Glacier National Park as the backdrop.

Shopping in downtown Whitefish. Photo: Pursuit, Glacier Park Collection

Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown
“Location, location, location. The Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown offers easy access to everything that is uniquely Missoula. Whether it’s tubing and fishing on the Clark Fork River, Out to Lunch or Downtown ToNight in Caras Park or the Clark Fork Markets held on Saturday’s throughout the warmer months, the Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown is located in the heart of it all.” ~Dan Young, Sales Manager 

Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown. Photo: Holiday Inn

DoubleTree by Hilton –  Missoula-Edgewater
“After updating our ballroom space at the DoubleTree, we are now in the process of renovating our guest rooms. Our beautiful hotel sits along the shore of the Clark Fork River that runs through downtown Missoula with breathtaking views. Our updated private dining room space looks out over the river and seats up to 25 people—an excellent option for a VIP dinner. In the warmer months, our beautiful renovated deck provides the best views in town and seats about 50 people and can be rented out for a cocktail hour or special event. We have found it is definitely a ‘WOW’ for all guests.” ~Lydia Bryan, Director of Sales & Marketing

Reserve the deck for a cocktail hour. Photo: DoubleTree by Hilton

Private dining room overlooking the Clark Fork River. Photo: DoubleTree by Hilton

Red Lion Hotel Kalispell
“The Red Lion works closely with Discover Kalispell, our local CVB and our local community. We also help plan team-building and group events all around the Flathead Valley. We want our meeting attendees to get the most out of visiting Kalispell and leave knowing their event at the Red Lion was a huge success. I would say one of our best features is our location in the heart of historic downtown Kalispell. We are within walking distance of local shopping, great local food for dine-arounds, craft breweries and wonderful local history. If you want an affordable, true Montana experience without sacrificing comfort or style, the Red Lion is the spot.” ~Heidi Gilmond, Director of Sales

Evening hues at the Red Lion Hotel Kalispell. Photo: Red Lion Hotel Kalispell

Relax at the indoor pool. Photo: Red Lion Hotel Kalispell

The Lodge at Whitefish Lake
“As the only four diamond resort hotel in Montana, The Lodge at Whitefish Lake often encourage and package in or pre-sell services like cruises on Whitefish Lake on our unique watercraft, Lady of the Lake, along with spa treatments for VIPs or sometimes for all attendees. This has been particularly popular with incentive groups. Planners really seem to appreciate having these activities prearranged before they get to Whitefish, and it creates a more relaxed experience for attendees once they are on the property.”  ~Edna White, Sales & Marketing Director

Cruise Whitefish Lake aboard Lady of the Lake. Photo: The Lodge at Whitefish Lake

Spa treatments, yes please. Photo: The Lodge at Whitefish Lake

Grouse Mountain Lodge
Grouse Mountain Lodge is an ideal choice for groups due to our expertise with local attractions and additional accommodations. We strive to make the planning process as easy as possible. What truly sets us apart is our pre- and post-meeting specialties. We make visiting Whitefish and Montana a truly unforgettable experience. We help attendees plan their Glacier National Park vacations before or after their conferences. Our year-round call staff helps attendees work out logistics such as additional lodging outside or inside the park, transportation needs and suggestions for the best hiking trails and fishing spots.” ~Corinna Ceballos, Regional Sales Manager

With two major international airports—Missoula (MSO) and Glacier Park (FCA)—serviced by Allegiant Air, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines and United Airlines, with 13 direct flight options, there are plenty of routes to provide smooth travel plans for meeting attendees visiting Western Montana. Historically, spring and fall have been the prime meeting and conference seasons, which fits perfectly with Western Montana’s shoulder seasons offering great rates and plenty of availability.

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

Meet in Montana,

DP

THE 5 1/2 FREE THINGS YOU’LL RECEIVE WHEN YOU MEET IN WESTERN 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 us show you how we do FREE and how it can help the bottom line for both meeting planners and conference attendees.

1. 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 as some Kalispell properties.

Missoula International Airport. Photo: Missoula Airport.

2. 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.

Schedule a horse-drawn wagon ride with Bar W in Whitefish for a conference outing or pre/post vacation activity.

3. 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 either FREE or minimal cost in 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.

4. 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 and resorts. So pack those running shoes and that swimsuit without fear of having to pay extra, it’s FREE.

Bring those workout clothes. Photo: Lodge at Whitefish Lake.

Bring those swimsuits. Photo: Lodge at Whitefish Lake.

5. Montana is one of only five states where there is no state wide sales tax, so we encourage attendees to leave a little space in their suitcases for lots of made-in-Montana items. Meeting planner 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.

An outdoor dinner at the Conrad Mansion in Kalispell.

1/2. 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 and visit Glacier National Park as a pre or post conference vacation.

Another thing that is FREE, our services! 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

MEET WITH MONTANA AT IMEX AMERICA 2018

For the fifth year in a row, Montana will be attending and exhibiting at IMEX America October 9 – 11, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. This year, the Montana booth will be bigger and better than ever as we welcome meeting planners to stop in at the MONTANA booth get your photo taken with a real live Montana Cowboy 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.

We invite meeting planners attending IMEX America to make an appointment with our booth representatives from Bozeman, Big Sky 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 2018.

Daryl Schliem, Visit Bozeman – Bozeman CVB

Returning to 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 and busiest 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.

Candace Carr Strauss, Visit Big Sky – Big Sky Chamber of Commerce

Joining the Montana booth this year is Candace Carr Strauss the CEO of Visit Big Sky, the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce. Candace will discuss with planners the inspiration that comes from alluring landscapes, fresh mountain air and unlimited outdoor adventure creating an authentic Montana meeting memory. Big Sky offers a variety of lodging and venue options from family friendly hotels to 5-star luxury penthouses and private homes to fine dining and one-of-a-kind outdoor adventures. Winter is king in Big Sky with ski-in ski-out properties at Big Sky Resort offering 5,800 acres of skiing terrain. Summer offers more availability for meetings and retreats along with easy access to the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park only 40 miles away. Big Sky is located an hour south of Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport with easy transfers.

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 two new hotels opening in 2018, Kalispell offers over 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.

Mimi Hall Gustafson, Destination Missoula – Missoula CVB

Serving as the Director of Sales and Services for Destination Missoula, Mimi Hall Gustafson will be returning to IMEX to talk about meetings in Missoula 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 Montana’s second busiest airport, Missoula International Airport from 13 major U.S. markets.

Dan Hansen, Explore Whitefish – Whitefish CVB

As the Marketing and Sales Coordinator for Explore Whitefish, Dan Hansen 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 more than 1,200 guest rooms and 46,000 square feet of meeting space, Whitefish is perfect for groups up to 300 attendees and citywide events of 2,500 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 Tourism

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 2018, 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, Kalispell, Missoula and Whitefish, make an appointment with Western Montana’s Glacier Country. The four Western Montana representatives will be sharing each 20-minutes appointment session throughout the show (think of it as a one-stop Western Montana appointment stop).

*Bozeman and Big Sky are taking separate appointments.

*If you can’t meet with us during the pre-scheduled appointment times at IMEX, feel free to stop by our booth 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

GUEST POST: MONTANA’S NOT-SO-OFF SEASON

5 Reasons to Schedule Your Next Meeting in Western Montana’s Glacier Country

Ah, the spring melt! One day the snow drifts are so high we are unsure if spring will ever arrive, and the next day we are sad to see it melting so fast, and we’re left wanting for more turns on the ski hill. The changing of the seasons is something we Montanans often take for granted. It’s one of those things that just sort of happens. When I moved to San Francisco in my mid-twenties, I was so excited to experience the city, even though I knew I would miss the mountains of my hometown, Missoula. To my surprise, it wasn’t the mountains I missed the most, but the four distinct seasons.

Spring sunset over Missoula

I will admit, for the individual traveler, a Montana  summer with warm nights and daylight hanging on until well after 10 p.m., and a winter with epic vertical and no lift lines are both too enticing. However, as a meeting planner and destination professional, I realize Montana’s “off” seasons or what we refer to as shoulder season (spring and fall) are not only spectacular, but perfectly aligned with the desired months for conferences and meetings.  Determined to avoid the travel-heavy summer months and the winter holiday chaos, annual meeting and conference planners often schedule events in spring, early summer and fall. As a self-described Treasure State expert and longtime resident, I’d argue there are no better times to host your event in Western Montana than during these seemingly “off” months. Here are five reasons why:

The Vistas Are Always There
Montana is beautiful year-round. Many locals will refer to this time of year as mud season. Sure, the need for a car wash is real, but the peaks of Glacier National Park are still spectacular and the sunsets on Whitefish Lake are still postcard perfect. Even an early fall thunderstorm rolling across Flathead Lake will take your breath away. The scenery never gets old and never disappoints—that, I  can guarantee. Often we hear that the panoramic views and clear mountain air serve as inspiration for quality discussions and out-of-the-box thinking. Clear skies or not, Montana seems to spark creativity and innovation.

A picture perfect day at Saint Mary Lake in Glacier National Park.

So Much to Do
My expertise is in Western Montana’s Glacier Country (as it’s called), so I will focus there. Imagine you have a half day to wow conference attendees with an array of activities. You’d love to consider Montana because, let’s face it, you’ve heard so many awesome things, but your conference is in late March. Surely, you think, that’s too early for Montana. Think again. Even in Western Montana, spring will start to show in late February. The days are getting longer and the nights are not as cold. This often results in bluebird days with spring emerging in town, but winter lingering in the mountains—a beautiful contrast. By late March, your list of potential activities could include hiking to the “M” overlooking Missoula, world-class spring skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort, fly-fishing on the Blackfoot River (think A River Runs Through It), snowmobiling to Garnet Ghost Town, wildlife viewing at the National Bison Range, or snowshoeing in Glacier National Park (local secret: Glacier National Park has no crowds in the spring, fall and winter, but these are some of the most magical times to visit). Where else can you find this many diverse outdoor activities in late March? Heck, if you are up for it, you could raft the whitewater of the Lochsa River (full wetsuits, of course).

Antelope roam the National Bison Range north of Missoula.

We’ve Got You Covered
Event planners live and die by their backup plans. Montanans are no different, as being prepared is a way of life. We’ll move that trail ride inside for an arena ride, if lightning threatens. Is snow forecasted during your rafting trip? We’ll gear you up or offer a lake cruise in a heated tour boat instead. It’s raining on the ski hill—let’s do a local distillery or creamery tour instead. We’re flexible folks and, while we love being outdoors, the indoor activity options are truly endless and truly Montana. Country jitterbug lessons, anyone?

Under Budget
Many venues that are too expensive or too booked “in season” may be discounted and available.  Imagine treating your attendees to a Montana dude ranch or luxury lodge. The discounts don’t end with accommodations. Many airlines have specials on flights to major Montana cities in the spring and fall.  Also, as the summer and winter crowds begin to dwindle, many of the area vendors will run specials just to stay competitive. Even the convention and visitor bureaus offer incentives for conferences and meetings during the shoulder seasons. Take advantage of these deals and your Montana meeting will be the one nobody forgets.

Unique, Local Events
Montana is no longer the well-kept secret it used to be. That’s great news for local and unique cultural events that can accompany your conference or meeting. If April is your month, attendees could participate in the International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula. September features the Dragon Boat races on Flathead Lake. How about a pow wow or rodeo in late May, or a concert at a local brewery or riverside amphitheater? As destination meetings struggle to stay relevant in our digital world, making an authentic connection with a place is essential to the success of your meeting and ensures your attendees will return year after year.

Glacier peaks watching over Flathead Lake.

Meetings Northwest and MNW Destinations
Do you need a sixth reason to plan your conference, meeting or event in Montana? Meetings Northwest and MNW Destinations is now here to help. We plan conferences all over the country, but we’ve added a full service Destination Management Company to our portfolio. We have offices in the Flathead Valley (covering Glacier National Park, Whitefish and Flathead Lake), Missoula and Bozeman (covering Yellowstone National Park and Big Sky). We specialize in helping companies and associations pull off the perfect Montana meeting.

For more information on Meetings Northwest or MNW Destinations contact Amy at alucke@meetingsnorthwest.com

Amy Lucke, Conference & Event Planning/Destination Management

About the author: Amy has been lucky to call Montana home for almost her entire life.  Growing up in Missoula fostered her love for hiking mountains and floating rivers.  Her best memories are summer days spent just north on Flathead Lake and one of the reasons she now calls the Flathead Valley home.

She simply loves sharing the secrets of Northwest Montana’s mountain towns, outdoor adventures and of course the magic of Glacier National Park.  She started in events as a recruiter and admissions representative for The University of Montana and has now worked for clients all over the country as an event planner with Meetings Northwest.  Her favorite events are the ones in her neck of the woods.

14 NONSTOP FLIGHTS TO WESTERN MONTANA’S GLACIER COUNTRY

Updated 9/3/19: With last weeks announcement by American Airlines that they will be offering a nonstop flight between New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and Kalispell’s Glacier Park International (FCA), getting to Montana has never been easier. With the increase in passenger demand for the treasure state and some of the larger airlines now offering direct-flight access into Western Montana as a travel destination from their main hubs, the time is right to visit and see for yourself why they call it Big Sky Country.

Fly direct from Dallas and Chicago to MSO and FCA along with direct from New York’s LaGuardia to FCA on American Airlines. Photo: American Airlines

Western Montana’s Glacier Country offers ease of accessibility via two bustling regional airports, Glacier Park International (FCA), located in Kalispell, and Missoula International (MSO), located in Missoula. Whether you are a meeting planner looking for a relatively undiscovered mountain destination or an association needing convention space near an international airport, we’ve got you covered in Missoula, Kalispell and Whitefish. For tour operators with clients who have Glacier National Park on their bucket list, cut your clients’ time on a motor coach and consider flying into one of our regional airports before jumping on a coach to see the sites.

A picture perfect day at Saint Mary Lake in Glacier National Park.

Historic red bus tours in Glacier National Park.

Six major airlines (United, Delta, Alaska, American, Allegiant and Frontier) provide service between these airports, with a combined 14 nonstop flights (some seasonal) to major cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, Oakland, Phoenix/Mesa, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Seattle, offering flight schedules that make planning your next conference or tour in Western Montana’s Glacier Country a breeze.

Enjoy western hospitality. Photo: Triple Creek Ranch

Choose from unique to conventional meeting spaces.

If attendees or clients are not located in one of these direct flight markets, not to worry; it’s a short flight from most hubs on these major airlines. To learn how simple it is to get to Western Montana, find out more.

Come see the Milky Way in big sky country.

For more information on meeting facilities in Western Montana, visit our Glacier Country meetings website. For more information on tour itinerary options, visit our Glacier Country tour operator’s website. If you need additional information, drop me a line; I’m always here to help.

See you in Montana,

DP

WINTER FUN IN WESTERN MONTANA WITH GLACIER ADVENTURE GUIDES

Western Montana’s high season for visitors is summer, and our most recent brought record-breaking numbers to Glacier National Park and the surrounding region. We get it—summer splendor in Western Montana’s Glacier Country is an unmatched and unforgettable experience. We do, however, have a little secret to share with you: Winter here is spectacular. If your clients are winter enthusiasts who like to partake in the wonder and awe of unspoiled nature (without the crowds) and commune in a setting unlike any other in the lower 48, we’ve got just the place. Visiting Western Montana in the winter feels a little like you have the whole region—and an entire national park—all to yourself. The best way to experience some of this wonder of winter in Western Montana is with the help of a guide. Glacier Adventure Guides, one of our local outfitters and winter fun providers, has something for everyone year-round, but in the winter they offer up quite the memory-making adventure.

Winter wildlife. Photo: Glacier Adventure Guides

Cross-Country Skiing
Cross-country skiing tours are offered in Glacier National Park and the surrounding wilderness areas. For beginner and intermediate skill levels alike, tours travel along ice-capped streams and incredible frozen waterfalls. Journey to a designated location for lunch and warm drinks. Catch a glimpse of the winter wildlife and relish in a place of solitude and majesty.

A day of cross-country skiing.

 

Ice Climbing
As the premiere ice climbing guides in the Flathead Valley, Glacier Adventure Guides offers an adventure for new and experienced climbers. Based on your ability level, Glacier Adventure Guides will take you out to explore the best ice around. Strap on some crampons, grab an ice axe and your guide will help you have a fun, safe time finding a line to ice climbing success.

Climbing success. Photo: Glacier Adventure Guides

Snowshoeing
One of our most popular (and easiest) winter adventures is snowshoeing. Whether it’s a group tour, affinity group or family outing, Glacier National Park provides a magical experience. Snowshoe among the cedars and western larch, around frozen lakes and crystalized waterfalls to a scenic lunch destination, followed by hot drinks and group photos. Each trip is tailored to your group’s skill and fitness levels.

Snowshoeing fun in Glacier National Park.

Winter Camping
For the client who wants something a little more extreme, try a customizable multiday winter camping trip into Glacier National Park. Travel in by snowshoe or cross-country ski and see the frozen beauty of the park. Sleep in tents on travel days and then build an igloo upon arrival at the campsite. Take day tours of the area based on the itinerary set by your guide. All guides are certified in mountain travel and rescue, along with avalanche training and wilderness first aid.

Winter camping. Photo: Glacier Adventure Guides

Benefits of going with a guide:

  •           Gear available for rent
  •           Winter travel and camping techniques explained
  •           Cross-country techniques can be refined (kick turns, pole use, etc.)
  •           Snowshoeing techniques explained
  •           Avalanche awareness
  •           Trip and route planning
  •           Safety with experienced guides
  •           Leave-no-trace principles explained

For more information on group fun in Western Montana, visit our Glacier Country Tour Operators website. Or, if you need help with itinerary planning in Western Montana, drop me a line; I’m always here to help.

Bundle up in Montana,

DP

MEET WITH MONTANA AT IMEX AMERICA

For the fourth year in a row, Montana will be attending and exhibiting at IMEX America October 10 – 12, 2017 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 #A1310 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.

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

Returning to 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 and busiest 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 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 with 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

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 two new hotels that opened in 2016, and more coming in 2017, Kalispell offers over 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.

Mimi Hall Gustafson, Destination Missoula – Missoula CVB

Serving as the Group Sales Manager for Destination Missoula, Mimi Hall Gustafson will be at IMEX to talk about meetings in Missoula 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.

Dan Hansen, Explore Whitefish – Whitefish CVB

As the Marketing and Sales Coordinator for Explore Whitefish, Dan Hansen 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 more than 1,100 guest rooms and 46,000 square feet of meeting space, Whitefish is perfect for groups up to 300 attendees and citywide events of 2,500 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

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 2017, 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, Kalispell, Missoula and Whitefish, make an appointment with Western Montana’s Glacier Country. The four Western Montana representatives will be sharing each 20-minutes 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 #A1310 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