By Olivia Orman
Nestled in Centralia, Illinois, stands a castle that is already reshaping how organizations approach group business. Castle Ridge, an $18-million development with a vision just as large as its investment, is making final preparations before its grand opening in spring of 2021. In addition to promoting its south-central destination for personal leisure, weddings, and outdoor exploration, Castle Ridge has also made specific additions that make it a unique option for corporate and association functions.
Flexible Meeting Options
Castle Ridge provides several ways groups can effectively meet indoors and outdoors, with its array of options accommodating each group’s preferences, goals, and agendas. The following are different ways organizations can utilize the space at Castle Ridge.
For conferences, banquets, and breakout sessions, there are two large indoor spaces that can seat attendees in a variety of configurations, be divided into smaller spaces, and/or be consolidated into one large space. The Grand Hall is 7,200 square-feet in total, can place a maximum of 1,200 attendees, and can be broken into 3,600 square-foot Grand Hall Ballrooms A and B using a moveable wall. The Conference Center is 9,480 square-feet as a whole, can seat a maximum of 1,580 attendees, and has 34 different room configurations for breakout space. When the Grand Hall and Conference Center are combined, the space amounts to 16,680 square-feet and seats a maximum of 2,780 attendees. Castle Ridge has calculated how many attendees each indoor space can accommodate cocktail -, theater-, classroom-, and banquet-style, so please refer to the seating capacity chart to view accurate counts for each configuration.
This property also offers several options for outdoor events, which will yield one-of-a-kind experiences. The castle’s rooftop event space is built along a scenic overlook of a 970-acre lake, presenting a unique panorama for gatherings outside of its Grand Hall and Conference Center while still offering Wi-fi and power capabilities. Meetings and events are not just limited to Castle Ridge’s scenic overlook, though. Three-phase power is established all throughout the property’s 60 acres, giving companies the ability to meet wherever they want outside and keep attendees spaced out. This could include gathering along the lakefront or the property’s amphitheater with rearrangeable seating options. The possibilities are endless.
In addition to its unique meeting and event space, groups meeting at Castle Ridge will have a diverse selection of team development activities that they can choose to include in their agenda. Some options Castle Ridge has considered include, but are not limited to, physical activities including kayaking, baseball/softball featuring the popular HitTrax system, for players and non-players alike, at Gaetti’s Sports Academy located on-site, cooking classes with their restaurant’s executive chef, cardboard boat building and more. Additionally, the team at Castle Ridge is actively looking for other creative ways to partner with local talent and businesses in the region that would offer groups new, out of the ordinary experiences while also supporting the community. Specific team development inquiries can be made for group outings.
Melissa Roach, Director at Castle Ridge, is positioning the property to show leadership in this area and believes in the lasting impact of leisure-like teambuilding activities. She states, “We really want to redefine what [teambuilding] is in 2021 and beyond. I think Castle Ridge will be on the forefront of deciding what that is going forward. And that’s kind of exciting.”
More Concepts on the Horizon
Though the castle at Castle Ridge will be holding its inaugural events in March of 2021, the property has even larger plans for its long-term development. One of these additions will include an area occupied with 6- and 8-room lodges. These shared spaces will be equipped for informal meetings with a smart TV in the common area so organizations can hold discussions from the comfort of their lodge and retreat to their rooms afterwards. There will be 50 rooms across these lodges in total.
Castle Ridge continues to explore new ideas to bring excitement back to the meetings and events industry, encourage spacious travel and tourism, and bring more guests to Centralia. Keep an eye out for more property updates from Missouri Meetings and Events to see the latest happenings at South Central Illinois’ newest meeting and event property.
Olivia Orman is a contributing writer from St. Louis.