Tag Archives: Kalispell meetings

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.

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