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Prince Conference Center celebrates 10-year anniversary

Photo courtesy calvin.edu.
Photo courtesy calvin.edu.

The Prince Conference Center (PCC) celebrated 10 years of hospitality on Friday with a luncheon for clients, staff and the community.

“We wanted to thank all the people who have used [the Prince Conference Center], and also to acclimate people who haven’t used it in the last 10 years,” said event coordinator Amanda Campbell.

The center opened on Oct 1, 2002 and was originally proposed as the hospitality center for the college.

“The building was designed to accommodate small and large groups in a venue that stimulates learning and fellowship,” said Craig Farrell, director of hospitality services.

However, the building has played a much larger role than originally expected. The diverse offerings of the PCC allow it to be more than just a hotel room and a meeting place.

“We’re utilized in ways we never thought we would be,” said Campbell. “We’ve hosted January Series speakers, the Festival of Faith and Writing and we also became an art museum. That’s something that wasn’t envisioned in the original planning.”

Indeed in 2005, the college hosted Petra: Lost City of Stone, a traveling museum. The entire conference center was transformed for five months in order to accommodate the stone sculptures, ceramics and other rare artifacts. The museum even included a Middle Eastern café and gift shop, said Farrell.

Justin Jackson is the hotel manager at the Prince Conference Center and has been since the beginning. The ability of the PCC to host diverse events is really what keeps him excited about his work.

“We’re allowed to be creative with the service, the building, the food — that’s the best part of the job. Plus the community here at Calvin is really accepting,” he said.

That creativity has led to many repeat clients for the Prince Center. Beyond hosting museums, weddings, symposiums and retreats, the PCC also hosts more traditional annual meetings and conferences. From Spectrum Health to the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA) denominational office, the building is often quite busy.

The Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM) has hosted its annual meeting at the Prince Conference Center for the last nine years, and it continues to have excellent experiences.

“It’s always been wonderful,” said Wendy Impens, the office manager at AAAWM.

“It’s well run, the service is phenomenal… everything is very nice,” said Christopher Liscombe, AAAWM’s care management administrative assistant.

Such service has helped the PCC become a truly integral part of Calvin’s campus — becoming a popular destination for business as well as parents of students over the last 10 years.

“We’ve gotten a lot busier,” said Jackson with a chuckle. “Word of mouth has really gotten out. Our services are incredible and people really talk about the Prince Center.”

The busy schedule is one that all employees of the Prince Conference Center are accustomed to, especially the kitchen staff.

“It’s different everyday here,” said executive chef Patrick Mitchell. Mitchell started at the PCC when it originally opened, and, coming from the chain hotel atmosphere, he said it was a welcome change.

“Calvin, with its Christian environment — it’s a night and day difference,” he said. “The environment here is a service environment. We’re not here for the money.

Calvin’s mission of fellowship and learning is evident in this service environment and in the PCC’s events, according to Campbell. She highlighted the importance the building has in creating a Christian setting.

“For some people, entering this facility might be the only experience they have on campus, so portraying Calvin’s values is really important to us,” she said.

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