Destination “new” Detroit

by Bob Hoelscher 14. June 2011 00:40

Recently a British music magazine to which I subscribe contained an “opinion” piece by an erstwhile “expert” that was not only just plain nasty, but also showed its author to be poorly informed about a great American city that, yes, has significant challenges, but is also striving tirelessly to reclaim its former glory. The occasion for the editorial was an extended strike by the musicians of the outstanding Detroit Symphony Orchestra, resulting from the financial predicament of the orchestra which left no alternative to wage and contract concessions, to one extent or another. 

Due to the current recession, which has hit Michigan particularly hard, and its arts organizations reliant upon donor contributions even more so, the good people of Detroit had to do without most of the DSO’s 2010-11 season. However, this vitriolic Brit apparently couldn’t refrain from attacking the city itself, which was too much for this “fan” of both the “Motor City” as well as the many, many hard-working, conscientious Detroiters who are doing their level best to put their home town back on track.

It must be easy, or more likely profitable these days for pompous, self-important media types to take cheap shots at people or places that apparently don’t qualify for their personal stamps of approval. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it right. I’ve always been an advocate of the philosophy that holds that if one is not part of the solution, then he or she is part of the problem. As a result, I’m going to ask those of you responsible for planning group travel to be part of the “solution” in helping give Detroit a “helping hand” and a brighter future. If you accept my challenge, you are going to accomplish two major goals.

First, by showing the positive economic impact of group travel, you are going to help your fellow Americans in the Wolverine State to emerge stronger from tough economic times. But second, your travelers are going to discover a city rich in history, rich in fascinating places to visit and fun things to do, and a city filled with friendly, welcoming people. Rather that just a place to drive around on the way to Frankenmuth or Mackinac Island, consider Detroit as a “new” destination for a long weekend trip, or at least plan on spending a day or two before heading north to other Michigan attractions. 

Bob Hoelscher, CTC, CTP, MCC, CTIE, is a longtime travel industry executive who has sold his tour company, bought a motorhome and is traveling the highways and byways of America.  He is a former chairman of NTA, and was a founding member of Travel Alliance Partners (TAP).

Well-known in the industry as both a baseball and symphony aficionado, Bob is also one of the country’s biggest fans of our national parks, both large and small.  He has already visited more than 325 NPS sites and has several dozen yet to see.  He is currently traveling the country to visit as many of those parks as possible.  His blog, “Travels with Bob,” appears periodically on The Group Travel Leader’s blogsite, “Are We There Yet”.

Bob is available for contractual work in the industry and may be reached at or by calling (435) 590-1553.

Original television "Howdy Doody" at the Detroit Institute of Arts

Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry Murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts

Orchestra Hall at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, home of the Detroit Symphony


Don’t just drive past the “Motor City”

The Motor City

by Bob Hoelscher 14. June 2011 00:38

Yes, I am going to show you why the “Motor City” should rightfully be on your group’s list of cities to see. First are several “can’t miss,” world class attractions all closely connected to the automobile industry that made the teeming metropolis what it was in the first place. Also, the recent reversal of fortunes and profitability of Ford, General Motors and Chrysler augurs well for the area’s future. 

You’ll likely want to begin at The Henry Ford, which features the fascinating Henry Ford Museum, filled with an incredible collection of American memorabilia, transportation vehicles of all types, mechanical and decorative arts, as well as the adjacent Greenfield Village. Here you’ll stroll through the pages of our nation’s history as you visit the original homes, stores, and facilities of H.J. Heinz, the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, and many more famed Americans. These sites connected with famous U.S. citizens, including the court house where Abraham Lincoln practiced law, were all moved to the museum and preserved for posterity by Henry Ford. 

You’ll also be fascinated by the sprawling Ford Rouge Plant, now completely re-engineered with state-of the-art vehicle production technology and a showcase for environmentally-sensitive “green” practices and facilities. Next to it are the palatial mansion of the “auto barons.” These mansions include Fairlane, the home of Henry Ford, the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House, and my favorite, Meadow Brook Hall, the Tudor-style estate of Alfred and Matilda Dodge Wilson, on the campus of Oakland University in the city’s northern suburbs. Nearby, you’ll also find the excellent Walter P. Chrysler Museum.

Presidential Limousine in the Henry Ford Museum, Detroit (Dearborn)

Historic "Rosa Parks" bus in the Henry Ford Museum, Detroit (Dearborn)

Oscar Mayer "Wienermobile" in the Henry Ford Museum, Detroit (Dearborn)


Don’t just drive past the “Motor City”

Downtown Detroit renaissance

by Bob Hoelscher 14. June 2011 00:31

Downtown Detroit has been undergoing a major renaissance during recent years. Visitors who haven’t ventured into the heart of the city for many years are sure to be surprised and pleased. 

Of course, General Motors’ towering Renaissance Center on the banks of the Detroit River is still the area’s most prominent landmark. Elsewhere in the city, once-shuttered luxury hotels have renovated and reopened, shopping and fine dining have reappeared, and a spirit of renewal can be sensed everywhere.

Sports are big here. The NHL’s Red Wings sell out the Joe Louis Arena, and both the baseball Tigers (Comerica Park) and football Lions (Ford Field) have sparkling new downtown homes. Three downtown casino resort hotels (Motor City Casino, M.G.M. Grand Casino and Greektown Casino) all offer visitors exciting, Las Vegas-style gaming. 

Greektown itself, with its numerous shops, restaurants and nightspots, is a genuine tourist mecca. The fabulous Fox Theatre is home to all types of popular music concerts and Broadway theatre productions. And right up Woodward Avenue is the Cultural Center, where you’ll find such attractions as the New Detroit Science Center and the outstanding Detroit Institute of Arts, home to one of America’s most incredible collections of art treasures.

Here also is the elegant Orchestra Hall at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, where you even might find me at a performance of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, again presenting a full schedule of classical and pops programs. With the settlement of the labor issues, the orchestra’s management and musicians have embarked on a series of innovative new community outreach efforts, so your group will now find ticket prices for a world-class orchestra to be far lower here than you will find anywhere else in the country. And fans of the famed “Motown sound” are sure to enjoy a visit to the popular Motown Historical Museum, also nearby!

Renaissance Center, Detroit

Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers

Fox Theatre, Detroit


Don’t just drive past the “Motor City”

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