Although the Wisconsin Dells is well-known for being the Waterpark Capital of the World, the city is also a favorite for planners looking for a location to inspire excitement in the Midwest. In addition to the city’s incredible locations to accommodate groups big and small, planners can also entice even the pickiest attendees with the huge variety of teambuilding and after-hours activities.
“The Dells has so much to see and do, people want to return because they never have to have the same experience twice,” said Leah Hauck, Communications Manager for the Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau, noting that the Wisconsin Dells is a favorite return destination for planners and a frequent request from attendees.
Wondering how you can tap into this and make your meeting a can’t-miss? Leverage these four factors unique to the Dells that combine to consistently bring groups back time and again.
If you choose to host your event at one of the Dells’ many large, inclusive resort locations, attendees will have memorable, unique experiences without ever having to leave the property. Having options like golf, amusement parks, and incredible beverages, dining, and nightlife onsite means there’s no need to coordinate transportation, leaving more time for attendees to explore and fewer logistical hurdles for planners to clear.
[Related: 8 Group-Friendly Activities in Wisconsin]
Depending on your group’s interests, resort events staff can help create an onsite itinerary and provide resources. This can help attendees find activities to take part in that add value to the event and help ensure positive memories to make meeting guests want to return. Your event resources activities need not be limited to those available at the location, but it’s a good place to start as your plans take shape.
Waterparks will probably be the first thing on people’s minds when you announce the location as the Wisconsin Dells. Most planners who have hosted in the city have already experienced it, but you might be surprised at the level of excitement this can generate among attendees, frequently being noted as the biggest reason that inspires return visits. Some locations like Kalahari Resort even offer meeting packages that include private waterpark rentals for a seamless transition to hosting after-hours events and enticing attendance offers.
Event Spaces that Hit the Mark
Possibly the most consistent reason the Dells is noted as a favorite return destination for planners is the huge variety of meeting, conference and event spaces available for hosts to choose from, whether you’re looking for a large conference venue or a small restaurant space to host an intimate meeting.
A constant favorite for planners includes Kalahari Resort, which boasts over 212,000 square feet of multifunctional space including meeting rooms, breakout rooms, large ballrooms and executive boardrooms, all featuring state-of-the-art technology and amenities that make a difference like ergonomic chairs and hassle-free wi-fi.
Photo: Kalahari’s meeting spaces provide high-tech, immersive environments for events; Credit: Kalahari Resorts & Conventions
“Even if you’ve visited before, recent updates include 10 brand new meeting rooms for a total of 47, sun-drenched prefunction spaces, 'recharge' lounges and outdoor patios, in addition to our world-class family-friendly amenities to create incredible experiences,” said Kevin Shanley, group sales and revenue leader for Kalahari, noting that the resort is constantly adding new spaces and making improvements to the property.
When it comes to activities after the event and during downtime, Kalahari has indoor and outdoor waterparks, golf, memorable food and drink options, and much more to explore. Kalahari is frequently noted as a favorite for attendees interested in extending their trips or bringing their families along to “double up” on travel time and get some much-needed relaxation after an important event.
Chula Vista is another group favorite that inspires return visits with its 100,000 square feet of meeting space as well as a nearby sports and expo center for even bigger gatherings. After the meetings are done, attendees can enjoy golf, a full-featured day spa, waterparks, fine dining and much more onsite.
Connected by skywalk to the Wilderness Hotel, Glacier Canyon Lodge is another perennial Dells favorite with banquet space for up to 1,200 guests. Much like Kalahari and Chula Vista, this property brims with inclusive amenities like four indoor and outdoor waterparks, championship golf, ropes courses and ziplining and more.
For smaller groups or retreats, Sundara Inn and Spa, nestled deep in the pines of Wisconsin Dells, offers a quiet, intimate meeting experience with a demo kitchen in the meeting space and plenty of opportunities for attendees to recharge after the meeting has finished. The location includes luxury accommodations, fine dining options for groups, available wellness and fitness activities, and of course, a full array of spa treatments available.
Midwestern Food and Beverage
From high-class craft cocktails to incredible microbrews, planners can find a range of drink and nightlife options to please even the most sophisticated of attendee palates.
Fawn Creek Winery, located a quick drive north of the Dells near Fawn Lake, can give attendees a scenic place to gather around.
The winery’s private event rentals include space for 25-100 guests for drinks and conversation, plus live music available. You’ll want to try their exquisite selection of sweet, fruit-flavored grape wines.
Craft breweries are also in abundant supply for visitors, with the area including three unique spots for beer lovers to try.
(Photo: Wow attendees with distinct craft brews from Port Huron Brewing Company; Credit: Port Huron Brewing Company)
A wide array of craft options from the Port Huron Brewing Company, a family-owned establishment located just a mile outside of the Dells is a must-hit for groups, with a large taproom and regular brewery tours. Be sure to sample their bestselling Honey Blonde Ale, a year-round local favorite.
Whether your group is looking for a refined experience or something more relaxed, the plethora of dining choices in the Wisconsin Dells ensures that even return visitors can find new, inspiring tastes as well as old favorites.
For refined dining that leaves attendees raving, consider the Double Cut Charcoal Grill & Liquor Bar located at Kalahari Resort. Guests can reconnect with the incredible flavor of steaks cooked over charcoal and handcrafted, one-of-a-kind cocktails.
[On Topic: 7 Iconic Foods and Drinks of Wisconsin]
“While the charcoal grilled steaks concept is intriguing and provides incredible flavors, it’s our staff that really gives groups a reason to come back,” Shanley said. “Our managers and servers alike have been on the team for decades and treat the restaurants like they are their very own, creating incredible guest experiences and a smooth process for planners.”
For a more casual atmosphere, Moosejaw Pizza and Dells Brewing Company are staple crowd pleasers. With pizza dough made fresh daily and a huge variety of comfort foods like burgers and pastas, you can bet that even choosy attendees will find something to dig into. The restaurant also includes an onsite microbrewery with 12 microbrews on tap and private rental rooms for groups larger than 20.
The huge range of outdoor activities available from sightseeing to sports available in the Dells ensures that planners have many options when creating group teambuilding events or promoting after-hours activities as an attendance bonus.
Photo: Trapper’s Turn combines incredible golf experiences with beautiful scenic views; Credit: Kalahari Resorts & Conventions
Golf outings are a constant group favorite, and the huge variety offered by the Dells’ proximity to six courses is frequently cited as a reason the destination offers value even after a group has visited before. For group outings or events, consider Trapper’s Turn Golf Club, a highly rated 27-hole course located in the rolling hills of Wisconsin’s countryside from the mind of world-famous course designer Roger Packard. Trapper’s Turn also features classic Wisconsin dining onsite, including real local favorites in a friendly, warm atmosphere. Stop by a Friday fish fry or on Saturday for prime rib to give attendees a real taste of the Midwest.
For outings with groups seeking to experience the Dells’ incredible natural spaces, a Dells Boat Tour provides incredible scenic landscape and wildlife viewing in a luxurious two-story vessel. Bring your group on a sunset cruise for a relaxing evening touring the Wisconsin River along with dinner and live music. Attendees can look forward to views of towering cliffs, dramatic rock formations and hidden passages. The views get even more incredible with two exclusive shore landings. Planners bringing groups of more than 20 people can get special discounts and custom promotional materials.
Wisconsin Dells CVB | 608.254.4636
Read next: Wisconsin Dells Entices with Updated Venues