The H Hotel transforms courtyard into Winter Village

Some people tend to seek shelter indoors from Michigan’s wintry weather, but The H Hotel in downtown Midland is turning spending time outdoors into a magical experience. The hotel has transformed their courtyard into a Winter Village, providing outdoor dining, sports, and other events, made cozy no matter the temperature.  
Derek Grimaldi is the general manager of The H Hotel.
General Manager Derek Grimaldi has been with The H Hotel for five years. Since opening 29 years ago as a Marriott-branded hotel, the lodging space has seen some rebrands throughout that time. “In 2007, the hotel went through a repositioning and rebranding exercise and what emerged out of that was The H Hotel,” Grimaldi says. “The branding of the H is centered around chemistry and the elements of the periodic table as a nod to the influence of the chemical industry and its history of the community.”

For its latest transformation, The H Hotel has made over the courtyard. It can now be used even in the colder months. Grimaldi says the exterior space was popular during the summer, but they wanted to make it a destination from November to April too. Thus, the Winter Village was born. 

The courtyard at The H has been transformed into a winter village.“Our hope in developing the winter village was to create an experience for visitors and residents of Midland that would provide another amenity while visiting downtown,” Grimaldi says. “The curling rink, dining pods, holiday-themed decor, fire pits and an oversized Christmas tree provide the perfect backdrop for dining, playing or grabbing that unique photo-op while exploring the space.”
A curling rink is one of the features of the winter village.
Grimaldi says it took a lot of work, research, ideas and planning to re-imagine the courtyard for the different seasons. So far, it’s been a hit for locals and travelers alike. Last year, the Dining Pods were introduced in late February, and were very popular for reservations, special events and nights out. 

“We operated with three pods last year, and added a fourth for this season,” Grimaldi says. “Each pod can accommodate up to six guests and comes equipped with heaters, luxury throws, a Bluetooth speaker, dimmable lighting and seasonable decor. The pods themselves were sourced out of the United Kingdom and are the first of their kind in the U.S.A. They are open for lunch on Saturdays and Sundays and dinner seven days a week.”
View inside a dining pod at The H.
There is no additional cost to rent the pods, but there is a minimum spending requirement of $75 for lunch and $150 for dinner. Dining reservations can be made online via OpenTable. There’s also an outdoor curling rink for visitors to test out their Olympic sport skills. The cost is $25 to rent for one hour, which includes a $15 gift certificate to one of the hotel’s dining outlets, and a smores kit for the private fire pit during the game. Curling reservations can be made at the hotel front desk.The Hotel is also offering the Dyne & Dream package with a five-course dinner, and family packages which include courtyard activities. 

To kick off the holiday season, The H is hosting a fundraising event to support Hidden Harvest on Wednesday, Dec. 7. The inaugural event includes an auction, and invites guests to decorate holiday cookies and cupcakes, with help from the hotel’s Pastry Chef Jeremy Lacreuse. The cost of the event is a non-perishable food item. Reservations can be made by phone, by calling Saydee Robinson at 989-839-0500.

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Sarah Spohn is a Lansing native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan, leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at