Grand Rapids, the capital of western Michigan, has begun to attract more visitors in recent years, especially those drawn to experience ArtPrize, one of the country’s most prestigious annual art competitions. And while there are lodging options downtown, it would be hard to find a better place to stay than the Prince Conference Center on the verdant campus of Calvin College.
The Prince Center, a 100% smoke-free facility, comprises 66 guest rooms, plus three handicapped accessible king suites. The environmentally conscious facility has also been awarded Green Lodging Michigan Steward Certification.
From the time one travels along the sweeping drive and arrives at the Prince Center’s impressive entrance, the realization dawns that this is not your ordinary student union hotel. That impression is reinforced upon entering the massive lobby, which has two fireplaces, a grand piano and picture windows overlooking the expansive grounds — which actually extend to encompass a 90-acre nature preserve offering three miles of walking trails.
The sense of spaciousness extends to the guest rooms as well, which have ample room for either two queen-sized beds, or one king-sized bed plus a queen sleeper sofa. The even larger king suites contain kitchenettes. All rooms offer complimentary high-speed wi-fi Internet access, limited cable television, hair dryers and irons with full-sized ironing boards.
A pleasant surprise awaits guests on the way from the reception desk to their rooms. Passing through the dining area, one spies large, inviting cookies and Chex mix — which, along with tea and coffee, are available as complimentary snacks throughout the afternoon and evening. The treats continue in the morning, at the hotel’s “deluxe continental breakfast” — actually a generous buffet that, in addition to the usual baked goods and cold foods (cereals, fruit and yogurt), features chafing dishes serving up hot entrees, such as corned beef hash, biscuits and gravy, ham and cheese omelets, oatmeal with assorted toppings and waffles.
Additional Prince Center perks include an on-site fitness center, plus access to Calvin College’s Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex. Finally, as a pre-arranged service, the conference center will provide a very convenient free shuttle service to and from the airport.
With all these extras, the Prince Conference Center at Calvin College offers unparalleled value in Mivhigan’s second largest city.
Published rates: Queen and King rooms, $125; King Suite, $145. AAA and AARP discounts apply.
Text and photos by Buzzy Gordon, who was a guest of th4 Prince Center for purposes of review.