Text: R.J. Weick
In a world where augmented and virtual technologies have become a reality, there has been a newfound discovery in the experiential. Real, authentic, and memorable, if not raw and imperfect, the experience has become an integral part of both business and leisure travel. Whether searching for amenities to meet business needs for conferences and conventions, or that unexpected delight upon stumbling across the rich stories hidden within the very city streets, there is something about an experience that touches people.
In Grand Rapids, Michigan, a neighborhood-wide initiative has transformed a three-square-block radius within the boundaries of Interstate 196, Fulton Street, Division Avenue, and U.S. Route 131 into an experience where hotels, restaurants, and local businesses come together tell its own branded story. It is known as the Hotel District and considered a cultural epicenter with access to the riverfront and more than 1,850 hotel rooms—617 rooms per square block—within walking distance and nearly all accessible through a climate-controlled skywalk system.
The Hotel District speaks to the Grand Rapids hospitality story, where a rich cultural, social, historical, and economic story unfolds and welcomes visitors, both business and leisure alike, to its streets. The district brings together hotel venues of Homewood Suites by Hilton Grand Rapids; Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Downtown; Hyatt Place Grand Rapids/Downtown; Amway Grand Plaza, a Curio Collection by Hilton; JW Marriott Grand Rapids; AC Hotel Grand Rapids Downtown; Courtyard Grand Rapids Downtown by Marriott; and CityFlatsHotel through the AHC+Hospitality alliance.
It is a destination featuring hotel dining, local restaurants, breweries, wineries, and coffee shops; where museums tell a collective story and galleries display local, national, and historic works; and boutiques showcase an affinity and attention to craft. Within its boundaries, public spaces, concert venues, and performance halls welcome audiences to reflect upon art, music, and entertainment; while the warmth and service inherent to the Grand Rapids’ hospitality sector is remembered long after guests check out.