New hotels bring fresh event spaces to downtown Milwaukee

Corporate event planning

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At a recent networking event at the newly opened Hyatt Place Milwaukee, about 200 executives chatted around a bar on the outdoor terrace overlooking the soon-to-open Fiserv Forum (the new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks).

The event, put on by VISIT Milwaukee and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, was the first large one for the Hyatt Place, which opened June 28.

The conference room at Hyatt Place in The Brewery complex can be split into three smaller rooms.

“We’ll have (hotel) rooms open to show and we’re also splitting the mixer with Louise’s catering,” said Jennifer Terpstra, director of sales, who added Greendale-based The Explorium Brewpub and Milwaukee-based Third Space Brewing would be offering beer tastings during the event.

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Hyatt Place is one of several newly opened hotels in downtown Milwaukee and the Historic Third Ward that have added not only hotel room block capacity, but also new event and meeting spaces to the city.

The six-story, 150-room Hyatt Place, is located at 800 W. Juneau Ave. in the former Pabst Brewery complex. It is decorated with a basketball theme to tie in with the soon-to-open arena across the street. Behind the registration desk is a basketball net backdrop, and basketball-themed artwork is displayed throughout the hotel.

Among the meeting facilities available at Hyatt Place are the outdoor terrace and a 1,721-square-foot ballroom, which can be divided into three smaller rooms of between 500 and 660 square feet each. The full meeting room can hold up to 120 people, and the smaller rooms generally hold 25 people in a seated format. Costs run from $300 to $900 per day, and event planners can bring in a caterer of their choice for meals.

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“We would be positioned more for business clientele because our meeting space is smaller,” Terpstra said. “We’ve booked a few teambuilding events where people are going to concerts over at the Bucks arena. I would anticipate that would continue to grow once the Milwaukee Bucks announce their season.”

One group that’s booked for a two-day meeting in the fall is using the full ballroom at Hyatt Place during the day, and then walking to a brewery tour and the Eagles concert at the new arena in the evenings.

Terpstra said nearby venues also offer options for groups, such as Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub or Pabst Milwaukee Brewery and Taproom, or the planned Good City Brewing taproom and Venue 42, both of which will be in the arena district.

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Another recent addition to the hotel market is the Homewood Suites by Hilton Milwaukee, a 94-room hotel that opened Nov. 22 in the converted Button Block Building at 500 N. Water St.

Homewood Suites has a 589-square-foot meeting room, which has capacity for 40 guests in theater-style seating, said Lindsay Wolf, director of sales. It can also be arranged in classroom, U-shape or banquet-style seating.

The room has modern décor and a window that brings in natural light.

“We’ve hosted multi-day meetings, we’ve hosted rehearsal dinners, brunches, seminars, pretty much anything that requires an event space,” Wolf said.

Homewood offers in-house audiovisual equipment, including a screen and an HDMI port that connects to a 49-inch TV, as well as speakerphone capabilities. And it doesn’t have a food and beverage minimum. Those two aspects make it an affordable choice for companies on a budget, Wolf said.

“We do a room rental and then you are welcome to bring in your own food, as long as it’s by a licensed caterer that is approved by the hotel … which sometimes can save a little bit of money,” she said.

The hotel does offer snack break packages for mid-morning or mid-afternoon breaks. The room rental rates are $400 for a full day and $200 for a half day, and there’s a discount if the company rents guest rooms, as well.

Homewood has so far hosted a number of companies based in the Milwaukee suburbs that are bringing in out-of-town clients and want a downtown vibe for the meetings, Wolf said. It’s also right next to the freeway, which makes it easy to travel to the airport or other destinations.

“Being (near) the Third Ward, it’s very walkable and just a great location. I think that’s what gets our draw,” she said.

A SpringHill Suites by Marriott hotel opened at 744 N. Fourth St. in July 2017, and offers three event rooms totaling 1,840 square feet, with a max capacity of 60. It offers both A/V equipment and catering, as well as valet parking.

In May 2017, the Westin Milwaukee opened at 550 N. Van Buren St. It has a 4,800-square-foot Grand Ballroom and another 5,000 square feet of meeting room and banquet hall space, with total capacity of 366. The hotel offers in-house A/V, caters to special dietary needs and has several environmentally-friendly amenities.

In the suburbs, The Ingleside Hotel, the newly renamed former Country Springs Hotel in Waukesha, recently completed extensive renovations to its 40,000 square feet of meeting space, offering a refreshed option in Lake Country.

Also in the works are several other hotels slated to open in the next couple of years that will add new event space in the Milwaukee market.

Potawatomi Hotel and Casino is slated to open its 119-room second hotel tower in spring 2019, which it has said will include additional meeting space. The first tower opened in 2014 and has seven meeting rooms totaling almost 9,000 square feet, as well as 381 hotel rooms.

The 200-room Drury Hotel is slated to open at the First Financial Centre, at 700 N. Water St. in downtown Milwaukee, in summer 2019 with more than 5,000 square feet of flexible meeting and banquet space.

Ascendant Holdings plans to convert the Humphrey Scottish Rite Masonic Center building into a 220-room hotel, which is scheduled to open in spring 2020 with a variety of entertainment and concert venues, restaurants, and a rooftop bar.

The City of Brookfield and Middleton-based North Central Group are developing a 54,000-square-foot conference center with an adjacent 168-room Hilton Garden Inn hotel in the Brookfield Square parking lot.

Milwaukee-based HKS Holdings LLC is developing a 120-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott hotel at Milwaukee County Research Park in Wauwatosa.

HKS Holdings also plans to renovate an office tower at Mayfair Mall into a 196-room, 11-story Renaissance Hotel by Marriott, which will include a ballroom, meeting space and rooftop amenities.

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