Family Reunion Site Selection
Hotels and resorts usually fill up banquet facilities and group room blocks about 12 months ahead of time. So, about 18 months before the reunion it's nice to send out a site selection survey to those family members that are available on email and that you think will be coming. You don't have to strictly follow the results of the survey, but at least you'll know what people are thinking. Here's a sample of one we sent out.
As promised, here is the shortlist of venues for the 2002 reunion. Again, please respond with your 1st and 2nd choices and comments NO LATER than JUNE 19. Thank-you very much for your input.
First, a little background info about Duluth. Duluth is a beautiful city of about 90 000 people located on the shore of Lake Superior. The last few years have seen a large development in the Canal Park area on the waterfront. Many of the city's most interesting activities and attractions are located in this area. There are public beaches, numerous restaurants of various types, and access to the Lakewalk, a miles long boardwalk running along the shore.
Attractions available in the Canal Park area include harbour cruises, the Lake Superior maritime Visitor Center, the Duluth OMNIMAX Theatre, the S.S. William A. Irvin Ore Boat Museum, charter fishing expeditions, the Great Lakes Aquarium (America's only all-freshwater aquarium), Bananaz Family Entertainment Complex. A 10 minute walk to downtown brings you to The Depot (which includes the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, the Children's Museum, 2 other museums and is the departure point for the North Shore Scenic Railroad) and the Fond du Luth Casino. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Further e-mails and mailings will go into more detail on Duluth attractions and on our plans for activities. If held in Duluth, the reunion would be the first weekend in August, since Blues Fest is held the second weekend, and rooms are much scarcer and more expensive.
From a long list of venues initially considered, we have managed to create a short list of 4 for your consideration. Three are located in Duluth
1) Hawthorn Suites of Canal Park
A very attractive facility built in a converted warehouse. Amenities include business centre with internet access, exercise room, video arcade, coin laundry, pool, hot tub, wading pool, large sauna. Room rates include a free hot breakfast buffet (it looked very good). There is a free drink and snack hour in the evening Monday thru Thursday. There are three restaurants in the building (pizza, steak, and Red Lobster) and many others within 1 or 2 blocks. It is within 3 blocks of all the Canal Park attractions listed above, and a 10 minute walk from downtown. There is not, however, any green space on the property. There is a meeting room which accommodates 40 people which could be ours as a hospitality room at no charge for the duration of the weekend. Alternatively, one of the larger suites could be occupied by several families and also serve as a hospitality room. There is a larger meeting/banquet room which accommodates up to 96 which we could use for the family dinner. It is not a particularly attractive space, but at $70 for a half day rental is very reasonably priced. I do not have prices on catering at this time. Alternatively, we could have the dinner at another location. All rooms include a full kitchen, pots and pans and dishes etc. Room types and rates as follows:
Studio King: One room with King bed and pullout double sofa
These rates do look high, but if we can cooperate on sharing suites among 2 or more families, then the prices can actually become quite reasonable. There are about 8 fully accessible rooms available of various types. The closest campground is only 7 blocks away, and includes full sewer/water/electrical hookups, as well as boat launching facilities. RVs can be parked in the hotel parking lot if you wish to bring your RV but stay in the hotel.
2) AmericInn of Proctor
An attractive, modern roadside motel with adjacent restaurant and conference centre located on the southeast edge of the city. There is a small lawn behind the motel, and a rather unattractive city park a few blocks away. There is also a 9 hole golf course one block away, but otherwise the town of Proctor has very little to offer. Further activities would require a trip into Duluth, but this is a short trip, and busing should not be difficult to arrange. The room rates include a full cold breakfast. A meeting room with access to the pool area would be ours as a hospitality room for the weekend at no charge. The room accommodates about 25 people. The pool area also includes a whirlpool, a billiards table and a video arcade. A banquet room accommodating up to 110 is available for dinner or a general meeting. The room rental is $100, and dinner could be catered about $18 per person, $7 for children 8 and under. Room types and rates are as follows (suites include fridge and microwave). The lower price is for Sunday - Thursday, the higher is Friday and Saturday:
Standard Room: 1 or 2 Q beds
There are 3 fully accessible rooms, each with 1 Q bed. Two have a pullout sleeper. The closest campground is about 4 miles southeast on the Interstate, with full hookups. RVs can be parked in the motel parking lot if you wish to stay in the motel.
3) Holiday Inn
This very attractive, large hotel is located right in the heart of downtown Duluth. Access to Canal Park is via the skywalk system. There are two indoor pools, both with a large number of overlooking rooms. A free hospitality room with access to the pool area would be ours for the duration of the reunion. The room is a little on the smallish side for this purpose, especially if there are a large number of attendees, but it opens into the pool area, so spillover could be accommodated that way. In addition, this location also has the nicest banquet facilities of all the venues on the short list, and for dinner they would be provided free. Dinner could be catered for between $17 and $20 depending on the menu. If we wanted this large space for a meeting without dinner, there would be a fee for that. There is guest laundry, 3 restaurants, and a concourse with over 30 shops right in the building. Given the downtown location, it is not surprising that the hotel's immediate surroundings are not particularly attractive. In addition to the pools there are 2 whirlpools, a sauna, a fitness centre, and an arcade. All rooms include a fridge. Room rates as follows (weekday and weekend rates):
There are 13 fully accessible rooms. The closest campground to the Holiday Inn is the same one that is close to the Hawthorne Suites. It's about a mile away. Again, RVs can be parked in the Holiday Inn garage if you wish to stay in the hotel. The final property on the short list is located in Two Harbors. Two Harbors is a small port town of about 3600 people located 30 miles northeast of Duluth. It has an 18 hole golf course, some nice walking trails by the lakeshore, and the scenic cruise ship Grandpa Woo III sails from the dock on Thursdays and Fridays. Gosseberry Falls State Park, one of the states most popular and most scenic parks, is located 20 miles to the north. Two Harbors lies at the start of the North Shore Highway; an incredibly scenic driving stretching 150 miles along the shore of Lake Superior to Thunder Bay.
4) Superior Shores Resort and Conference Centre
This resort has by far the nicest surroundings. It is located on spacious grounds on the shores of Lake Superior, and the main Lodge building which includes an exceptional restaurant is a stunning example of Northwoods style décor. A large patio area and lawn space are available at the back of the lodge, and a short trail leads to the expansive rock beach, where the staff provides a bonfire, marshmallows etc. every night. A private bonfire could be arranged for a group of our size. There are several indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs. Laundry facilities are available. The banquet facilities are very attractive, but pricey. A meeting room could be rented as a hospitality room at a cost of $50 per day ($150 on Saturday). A better option for a hospitality room would be to have it in one of the 3 or 4 bedroom townhomes (see below). Banquet facilities are $250 for ½ day ($750 on Saturday) meaning the dinner would likely have to be held on Friday. Dinner could be catered at about $19 per person. Room types and rates as follows (weekday/weekend rates; rollaway cots NOT available):
Guest Room: 2 double beds
All townhomes have deck, BBQ and most have in suite laundry. The townhomes, if occupied by enough people, can be economical (the 3BR can sleep up to 10). The townhomes are somewhat separate from the main lodge (about a 6 minute walk) but there are enough that the whole group could be accommodated in this part of the facility. In addition, one of the larger units would be well suited to house 6 or 8 people and serve as a very attractive hospitality suite. There are 3 accessible rooms and one suite located in the main lodge. There is a fully equipped campground/RV park ½ mile south on the highway. RV's can be parked in the Superior Shores parking lot if you wish to stay in the complex.
Thank-you again for your input! I look forward to seeing each of you next year in Duluth!