One of the tasks I liked best in my role as a corporate meeting planner was the site, search and selection process. However, there came a time when I had to turn that part of the planning process over to an outside resource so that I could better concentrate on the numerous projects and the multitude of intricate details related to the projects I was working on to insure that no stone was left un-turned.
I am able now to do this more at my leisure, and there are so many neat properties out there – some that have been around for a while that I need to reacquaint myself with – others that are new to the market that I’m eager to explore to share information with others.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege to reconnect with Michael Seaberg, Director of Catering & Events at the Graduate Hotel Minneapolis. I first met Michael when I was on-site in New York at the Ritz Carlton Battery Park handling my first Board of Directors’ Meeting for a new CEO, and then sometime later for a recognition event for key agents and brokers at the then new Trump SoHo (since renamed The Dominick). It’s nice to see him back home in Minnesota.
The 4-Star Graduate Hotel Minneapolis is not a new build. Some may remember it as The Commons Hotel; before that it was a Radisson property.
In 2016, the hotel was launched by A.J. Capital Partners, as part of a collection of their hotels that reside in some of the most dynamic university towns across the country, each reflective of the culture and heritage of the city where it lives.
The hotel is located in the heart of the U of M campus, between Coffman Memorial and the Gopher Football Stadium, a short drive off I-35E from the north. The METRO Green Line rail system runs between downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul via Washington Avenue.
The neighborhood around the hotel is a mix of residential and commercial buildings, with plenty of foot and bike traffic. It’s busy, it’s active but if feels safe. The hotel’s entrance has nice curb appeal with a circular drive where guests are welcomed by valet and/or bellmen. For those who prefer to self-park, guests have access to the U of M’s Washington Avenue Ramp, adjacent to the hotel.
The open floor plan of the lobby immediately brings a warm Minnesota welcome to guests with its wood plank flooring, rustic artwork, circular fireplace surrounded by comfortable barrel-shaped occasional chairs, and a wistful fish basket chandelier decorated with colorful fishing lures. There are plenty of conversational furniture groupings throughout the lobby including a large wood-top communal table with seating for 18-22, as well as number of other smaller, more intimate furniture groupings. Not surprisingly, you will see students in the lobby, but they mainly use the area as an adjunct study hall or library and do so in a quiet and respectful manner.
The Beacon, a neighborhood “gastropub” featuring American classics with seating at custom leather booths and a combination of high-top wood tables and square tables, large bar, pool and air hockey tables is located just off the lobby. To the back of the restaurant is a private room with seating for 12. (The bar area can also be used for private parties, and between it and the private room, makes for a very nice event flow.)
Guests have complimentary access to the 400,000 square feet U of M Recreation & Wellness Center.
A new feature as of this fall for individual or group use is their brand new Top Golf Swing Suite, located on the lobby level. This is a virtual driving range where players use a real ball and club. Sensors on the back drop measure speed, spin and force to show on the screen where the ball will land. It’s also set up for Dodgeball, baseball and hockey.
The 304 guest rooms (includes 16 suites) feature a combinations of double-doubles, two queen beds or single king beds. They’re all comfy, cozy with an upscale north woods retreat feel, custom woodland toile fabric headboards in tones of blue, green, gold and burgundy, white comforters, colorful custom wool throws, spacious work stations and chairs. Wi-fi is complimentary. Room décor includes artwork of Minnesota natives: a framed replica of the infamous Herb Brooks’ sports coat, a framed print of Loni Anderson, and a model replica of a Prince’s “little red corvette.” The bathrooms are perfectly adequate with open marble vanities and glass-enclosed showers (and some with bathtubs).
The 20,000 square feet of meeting space is for the most part all conveniently located on the Mezzanine Level. The 5,200 square foot Meridian Ballroom with 15’ ceilings is located in the East Wing and is divisible by four. It has a private foyer with nice tall arched windows and an outdoor terrace. The ballroom itself does not have windows. There is one breakout room conveniently across the foyer from the Meridian, perfect for office or other space.
The 4,000 square foot Pinnacle Ballroom located in the West Wing has 9’ ceilings, a private foyer and outside terrace. There are pillars in this room, but depending on your needs is very adaptable. The ballroom does have windows which is a nice added feature. There is also an additional breakout room in this wing. The Boardroom with a table that seats 18 is located on the lobby level.
There are six additional breakout rooms on this floor ranging in size from 175-956 square feet located along the north end of the Mezzanine, mainly square in shape, most with windows.
The hotel does have a Crisis Management Plan in place. Leaders are CPR and AED trained and there is always an MOD in place day or night. Security staff is outsourced and do overnight duty only.
Looking for a hotel in a campus setting other than the Twin Cities? Check out other A.J. Capital properties in Ann Arbor, MI, Athens, GA, Berkeley, CA, Madison, WI, Bloomington IN, Oxford, MS, Iowa City, IA Tempe, AZ, Richmond, VA, Charlottesville, VA, and Seattle, WA. Coming in 2019: Columbus, OH; Nashville, TN; Eugene, OR; New Haven, CT; and Providence, RI. And coming in 2020: Palo Alta, CA, and Roosevelt Island.
The Graduate Hotel Minneapolis| 615 Washington Avenue SE | Minneapolis, MN 55414 | 612.379.8888
For further information, visit: www.graduateminneapolis.com or www.graduatehotels.com