Destination Report: Motor City, in Style

Before you head to next year's Super Bowl, check out this assortment of Detroit's top venues.

September 19, 2005, 12:00 AM EDT

The chic new restaurant Crave offers what it calls a "Mediterranean-infused sushi bar."

If you're thinking about entertaining around next year's Super Bowl, it's not too late to make plans—but act fast. According to Gael Sandoval, manager of housing and events of the Detroit Super Bowl XL Host Committee (313.262.2006), the committee kept local “major hotspots” on hold until September 1. Those venues are now available, and when we last checked, the following—a mix of stylish new spots and a few local classics—had openings the weekend of the big game, which kicks off February 5, 2006, at Ford Field.

Opened last fall, Crave Lounge (313.277.7283), in West Dearborn, is a restaurant and lounge inspired by boutique hotel lobbies in New York, Los Angeles, and South Beach, Miami. Chef Sam Ness is a veteran of Nobu in TriBeCa, and decor includes a wall covered with live ivy and a jellyfish tank.

Slated to open in November, Proof (248.752.7345) will be a martini lounge and cigar bar in downtown Detroit, across from Comerica Park and Ford Field. This 3,000-square-foot venue will serve hot and cold tapas, as well as desserts complementing its dessert wine and port selections. Mid-January through mid-February, Proof will also rent to corporate clients 10 apartments in its building, ranging in size from studios to two-bedrooms.

Inside the GM Renaissance Center, Seldom Blues (313.567.7301) is a jazz restaurant and supper club. It serves French-influenced Continental cuisine, and showcases local and national musical talent like Bob James and Angela Bofill. Several historic buildings in the Detroit area make unusual party spaces.

The Majestic Theater (313.833.9700) was built in 1915 for movies and live vaudeville performances. Today it contains a billiards hall, pizza joint, bowling alley, the Majestic Café restaurant, and a concert venue with room for 1,000.

The Motown Mansion (313.865.2987) in the Boston-Edison suburb was once occupied by Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr. Its main residence has a wood-paneled library and living room, solarium, marble dining room and ballroom, and nine bedrooms. A separate athletic building contains a bowling alley, billiard tables, and workout rooms.

One unusual space is the Palazzo di Bocce (248.371.9987), in the Orien Township suburb. This facility offers 10 tournament-size bocce courts and an Italian restaurant. A separate, indoor courtyard accommodates 150; it has a private entrance, plus four bocce courts, a cocktail bar, and traveling espresso and grappa carts. Bocce lessons are available.

Detroit also has a pair of new spas that work with groups. Illusions Salon and Spa (248.644.2144), an 11,000-square-foot facility that opened last year, offers treatments ranging from body wraps to hydrotherapy and massage therapy. The 2,800-square-foot OM Spa (313.565.9686) in Dearborn marries Eastern practices and Western medicine. Each treatment room features iPods that let clients customize their music selections, while everything from Thai massages to nonsurgical facelifts is offered.

Another unusual venue is Joe Dumars' Fieldhouse (586.731.3080), at the Michigan State Fairgrounds. This 30,000-square-foot party space that can accommodate receptions for 1,200. Named after Detroit Pistons president and former guard Joe Dumars, it has a 65-foot ceiling and framed Sports Illustrated covers lining its walls.

Detroit and neighboring Windsor, Ontario, are home to a number of casinos. One favored by locals in the know is the Greektown Casino (866.473.3581), in Detroit's popular Greektown entertainment district. The casino offers two noteworthy party places: the Alley Grille Steakhouse and the Olive Room, a banquet facility of more than 2,700 square feet.

One project being planned by the host committee is the Motown Winter Blast (313.963.8418), a multifaceted program of activities that will be held in Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit February 2 through 5. These will include an outdoor family event with a snow maze, snow slide, snow sculpting, and laser lights, and a tasting event where the city's best restaurants will dish out cuisine in heated tents.

David Jaffe, vice president of Star Trax Corporate Events (248.263.6300), a Southfield, Michigan-based event, meeting, and incentive planner, urges groups attending the Super Bowl to “embrace the cold weather. Detroit is a cold-weather city—you don't want to keep people indoors.” He recommends skiing in nearby Pine Knob and Mt. Holly, ice-skating at Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit, and cross-country skiing in Kensington Metro Park and the Bald Mountain Recreation Area.

One more thing: The best place to find hotel rooms is the host committee's Web site, with a centralized online reservations system operated by PGI.

Jane L. Levere

Posted 09.19.05

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