Fresh Coast Retreat 2016

Fresh Coast Retreat 2016 in Grand Rapids Michiganphoto by Alejandro Photography

A month ago I flew out to Grand Rapids, Michigan for #FreshCoastRetreat with 14 other bloggers-turned-friends. For 4 days, we cooked out, sang (badly), danced (very badly), learned from each other, sat around the fire pit, made s’mores…If it weren’t for the wine and the gorgeous eat-your-heart-out-Nancy Meyers mansion where we stayed, you’d almost think we were camping. This home sits right on Lake Michigan, sleeps 14 (probably 50 if you’re in my family), and I can’t tell you the number of times I asked how soon was too soon to come back. (Did I mention it’s available for rent?)

Fresh Coast Retreat 2016 - Grand Rapids, Michigan

But that wasn’t the first place we stayed in Michigan, so let me back up. The 3 incredible planners of #FreshCoastRetreat, Liz of The Lemon Bowl, Dara of Cookin’ Canuck, and Phi of Sweet Phi, worked with Experience Grand Rapids to put together a mini tour of Grand Rapids for our first night and early the next morning, before heading out to the lake.

Amway Grand Plaza Hotel - Grand Rapids, Michigan

We spent that night in Grand Rapids at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. It’s elegant, historic, and sophisticated, and every staff member was as friendly as can be. Also, the beds are heavenly.

Fresh Coast Retreat 2016 in Grand Rapids Michigan

Just inside the hotel is The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck, where we had a whopping 15-course dinner. Everything was fresh, interesting, and lick-your-plate delicious, which made pacing ourselves impossible. Phi wrote about each course in her Fresh Coast recap!

The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck - Grand Rapids, Michigan

The next morning, we had breakfast at San Chez Bistro, a laid-back downtown bistro with a menu full of refined diner classics. I ordered the spinach, tomato, and herbed goat cheese omelet with fresh pineapple and then shared a warm cinnamon pecan roll with cream cheese glaze with Lenny and Denise of Chez Us.

San Chez Bistro - Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Fresh Coast Retreat 2016 in Grand Rapids Michigan

From there we headed to the Downtown Market, an indoor/outdoor market full of local butchers, bakers, fishmongers, and more. It reminded me of Faneuil Hall in Boston, or Pike Place in Seattle, with its flower vendors, sweet little bake stands, and one-of-a-kind carts.

Fresh Coast Retreat 2016 in Grand Rapids Michigan

After the visit to the market, we were off to the Lake.

Fresh Coast Retreat 2016 - Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Fresh Coast Retreat 2016 in Grand Rapids Michiganphoto by Alejandro Photography

Fresh Coast Retreat 2016 in Grand Rapids Michigan

Thanks to a fully stocked fridge and some tender, loving, care from StonyfieldSabra, Bob’s Red MillThe Little Potato Company, LindtStonefire Authentic Flatbreads, and DeLallo Foods, we made most of our meals at the house. We had our own cooking teams and everything.

Fresh Coast Retreat 2016 in Grand Rapids Michigan

Fresh Coast Retreat 2016 in Grand Rapids Michiganphoto by Alejandro Photography

Fresh Coast Retreat 2016 in Grand Rapids Michiganphoto by Alejandro Photography

Fresh Coast Retreat 2016 in Grand Rapids Michiganphoto by Alejandro Photography

During the days, we talked about blogging, shared advice, and opened up about vulnerabilities. It was refreshing and heartening, and I think each of us came away from Fresh Coast Retreat feeling like we have 14 new friends and supporters. That just doesn’t happen every day.

Fresh Coast Retreat 2016 in Grand Rapids Michigan

Fresh Coast Retreat 2016 in Grand Rapids Michiganphoto by Alejandro Photography

I am so grateful to have gotten to know these people, so if you don’t know them already, take a look at their blogs:

Liz | The Lemon Bowl
Phi | Sweet Phi
Dara | Cookin’ Canuck
Amy | Amy’s Healthy Baking
Denise & Lenny | Chez Us
Heidi | FoodieCrush
Gina | Skinnytaste
Jennifer & Trevor | Show Me the Yummy
Alejandra | Always Order Dessert
Lee | Fit Foodie Finds
Alexis | Hummusapien
Raul | Photography by Alejandro 

Fresh Coast Retreat 2016 in Grand Rapids Michigan

Thank you Liz, Dara, and Phi for organizing such an amazing retreat. Thank you to the kind and generous sponsors of the Fresh Coast Retreat, who allowed me to be part of such a special experience: StonyfieldSabra, Bob’s Red Mill, Experience Grand RapidsThe Little Potato Company, LindtStonefire Authentic Flatbreads, and DeLallo Foods!

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12 thoughts on “Fresh Coast Retreat 2016

  1. Alexa

    Grand Rapids is just one of the beautiful cities on the Great Lakes. I’m a proud Michigander and think you should consider going to Glen Arbor or Traverse City next time! (I also secretly want to join in on this…. just a thought of maybe featuring a handful of followers to join?!) Thanks for the MI love Andie!

    Reply
  2. Phi @ The Sweetphi Blog

    I’m tearing up over here thinking about how absolutely amazing it was to spend time with you! So amazing! And I’m right there with you – I was wondering how soon was ‘too soon’ to go back, Grand Rapids and Muskegon were both so gorgeous and such wonderful places!

    Reply
  3. Judy

    How wonderful to have these great experiences that you do Andie. Thank you for sharing as much as possible with all of us. Judy

    Reply
  4. Denise

    I loved our time at the Fresh Coast Retreat – it was definitely a wonderful experience. As well, I enjoyed drinking wine with you and Heidi and talking just about …. life! Hoping our paths cross sooner than later.

    Reply
  5. Amy Lutke

    Glad GR and Muskegon showed you a good time! I’m a local just south of Muskegon in Grand Haven. We have the Coast Guard Festival coming up the first week of August. It is truly the most magical time of the year. Would love to have you and your crew join us!!

    Reply
  6. Nichole

    This looks like a fab time, The house, the packed fridge, the local bites…the people (I have met Lenny & Denise a few times now, and think they’re great)…looks like such a great, and inspiring time!

    Reply
  7. Jessica

    And now I’m jealous all over again! ;) I’m so glad you got to come to Michigan and see just how amazing it is! Any time you want to come back (and rent that amazing house!), I’m there!! :)

    I’m so happy to see you back on here more often! Hope your writing is going well and that you’re having fun in Boston! Can’t wait to hear all about that trip! :)

    Reply
  8. Cari Hartman

    OMG! How did I not know you were right in my back yard, literally! I live very close to the house you were at. It’s so incredibly beautiful in Muskegon along the lake shore! I’,’m thrilled you had such a wonderful time! Several of my favorite bloggers, (you, Liz, Gina) all so close! Thank you for shining your spotlight on West Michigan. It’s truly an amazing place. And Thank you for what you do!!!

    Reply

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