With business travel still scrutinized after the economic downtown, it’s a testament to Wisconsin Dells’ corporate culture that meetings are still taking place here. The area’s wholesome reputation, let’s-get-down-to-work work ethic and good values are often mentioned among business owners as having made the difference.
So, if your employer is the type who sees the value of in-person meetings from time-to-time, then you’re likely the type of traveler who, from time to time, has to find a way to please two masters - said employer and the family who misses you when you’re gone. If that description fits you, you may be pleasantly surprised at what the Dells has in store for you.
First, work expectations. Feedback from business groups is that they find it easy to move through their agendas thanks to newer conference facilities at the medium and large waterpark resorts. The highest of high-tech expectations don’t seem to ruffle a feather among on-staff meeting planners either. Rooms accommodating anywhere from 10 to 3,000 of a company’s closest co-workers and suppliers are widely available.
Now, if you’ve decided to bring along the spouse and children to ensure at least one family vacation this year, here’s a tip: The resorts do a nice job of planning spousal outings and family-friendly activities so your mind can be fully on your meeting.
Popular activities for the spouse include cooking classes, pottery classes, golf instruction, winery tours, and scenic hikes at area state parks.
For the family, of course the waterparks are the #1 activity. But if you’re going to be in town for a few days, the local visitor & convention bureau suggests indoor theme parks, family bowling, a tour of the Wisconsin River by amphibious vehicle known as a Duck (they’ll even pick you up at the front door of the resort), a day-trip to Circus World, a guided tour of the outdoor crane exhibits at the International Crane Foundation, a mini-golf sibling challenge, and a stop at the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory - Interactive Science Center where you can tour a Russian MIR space station core module and get hands-on with some fun science activities.
Work is work and play is play in Wisconsin Dells, and that’s a strategy that fits right in with today’s values-driven economy.
Most Unexpected Facilities
- Cold Water Canyon is a historic stone pavilion available for a variety of gatherings including business groups. To get to this destination, attendees take an exclusive charter boat excursion on the Upper Dells of the Wisconsin River. Cold Water Canyon is actually a tributary glen that cuts deep into the east bank of the Wisconsin River. The boat pilot has to skillfully navigate the narrow passageway to dock in the shady canyon. Groups can have meals or refreshments in the pavilion; then take a scenic stroll through the narrow canyon, lit by torches.
- Woodside Ranch Resort & Old Towne Hotel has loads of professional amenities in a rustic ranch setting. Outside of meetings, attendees can stay fit with horseback riding, canoeing and hiking. In the winter, cross-country skiing is popular.
- H.H. Bennett Studio, a state historic site and original studio of famed landscape photographer H.H. Bennett whose haunting photos of the river, bluffs, and Native American tribes from the late 1800s made Wisconsin Dells famous, offers meeting space above the museum for a very creative and inspired setting.
- Circus World, just a short drive from Wisconsin Dells, is a national historic site comprised of an enclave of original buildings where the Ringling Brothers housed their circus from 1884 until 1918. It’s famous for having the world’s largest collection of one-of-a-kind antique circus wagons and also has space for small board meetings in its library and research center.
- Great Wolf Lodge achieved Green Seal Certification at the Silver Level and completely revamped its waterpark operations to be the "green" leader in the industry.
- Sundara Inn & Spa, named the #5 Top Destination Spa by Travel + Leisure Magazine, has a total of 12 private villas set back in its 26-acre pine forest that are becoming increasingly popular for small business retreats and annual planning meetings. These villas were designed using sustainable building practices. Sundara is a member of the Green Spa Network.
- Kalahari Resorts & Conventions has roof top solar panels that heat more than 60% of the resort’s hot water for laundry, energy control systems in the guest rooms, low flow showerheads, and motion sensor lights in public areas.