Georgia & The Carolinas - A Successful Meetings Destination - 2007-07-16

SUCCESSFUL MEETINGS July 2007 Innovations and renovations mark the meetings landscape for these southeastern states. With Atlanta, Greensboro, and Charleston developing their airports into full-fledged communities, Raleigh soon to be debuting a convention center, and Myrtle Beach unveiling a new resort complex, the next few years will welcome a rejuvenated region.

Essential Tool Box
Atlanta CVB
Augusta Metropolitan CVB
Savannah Area CVB
Valdosta/Lowndes CTA
North Carolina
Chapel Hill/Orange CVB
Charlotte CVB
CVB Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area
Durham CVB
Fayetteville Area CVB
Greater Raleigh CVB
Greensboro Area CVB
South Carolina
Charleston Area CVB
Greater Greenville CVB
Hilton Head Island VCB
Myrtle Beach Area CVB

The Big News
In Georgia, developers in College Park are continuing with plans for a master-planned mixed-use community next to the 400,000-sf Georgia Int'l Convention Center, which sits adjacent to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Int'l Airport. Phase I development is slated for completion in 2009 and is expected to include a
400-room flagship hotel and a 150-room property, as well as an extension of Hartsfield's automated people mover, which will bring visitors from the airport to the complex in three minutes. Nearby, the Georgia Aquarium is set to complete its $13-million renovation this fall. The aquarium, currently the world's largest, will expand its facilities from 550,000 sf to over 580,000 sf following improvements that include a 7,000-sf expansion to the prefunction space of its Oceans ballroom.

In North Carolina, Greensboro's soon-to-be launched 147-room Proximity Hotel is creating a buzz with its eco-friendly design, including the state's largest solar-powered hot water system and a restaurant roof topped with greenery. The hotel will offer 4,050 sf of completely equipped meeting space plus an adjacent terrace and garden. Proximity sits in the Green Valley Office Park near its sister hotel, the 131-room O. Henry, which is a regular recipient of the AAA Four Diamond Award. In Raleigh, the Raleigh Convention Center is scheduled to open in 2008, featuring more than 500,000 sf of space, 19 individual meeting rooms, an exhibit hall with 150,000 sf of space and a 32,000-sf ballroom. An attached full-service Marriott will add 15,000 sf of meeting space. The center will also feature the $1-million 9,284-sf Cree Shimmer Wall, comprising 80,000 aluminum pixels, hinged on louvers to allow for free motion on four-foot by four-foot grids.

SOUTH CAROLINA Myrtle Beach Kingston Shores, a new sister development to the adjacent 145-acre Kingston Plantation, officially opened in Apr with the debut of the 184-unit Royale Palms, a luxury oceanfront condo that is available for groups. Kingston Shores, which features a pool complex with deep water and sand-bottom pools and luxury cabanas on its 12-acre site, includes the 385-room Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort, where construction is under way on a new 36,000-sf conference center, with a 14,600-sf ballroom that can accommodate groups up to 1,500. Bookings are being accepted for Feb 2008. Last year, the Hilton Golf Academy opened for golf enthusiasts.

Facilities Update
GEORGIA Atlanta The 287-room Atlanta Marriott Century Center completed a $15-million renovation featuring 25,000 sf of flexible meeting space including 16 meeting rooms and two state-of-the-art amphitheatres. Redesigned guest rooms feature signature bedding, flexible work areas, and spacious bathrooms.
* Callaway Gardens has recently opened the 13,000-sf Spa Prunifolia, as part of the new 150-room Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens. The spa features 13 treatment rooms with a multi-treatment suite, private relaxation lounges with fireplaces, and a full service salon and fully-equipped weight and cardiovascular studios.

Augusta The 179-room Doubletree Hotel Augusta, featuring more than 15,000 sf of meeting space (including a 5,600-sf ballroom), opened in Mar following a $7-million renovation of guest rooms, meeting space, dining facilities, and much more.

Cary The Umstead Hotel & Spa opened in Jan just outside of Raleigh. The 150-room hotel includes 27 suites, a 14,000-sf spa and 16,000 sf of flexible indoor/outdoor meeting space.

Charlotte A 150-room, $60-million Ritz-Carlton, featuring 13,600 sf of meeting space (including a 9,000-sf grand ballroom) is expected to debut in 2008.
* The $60-million, 308-suite Embassy Suites Hotel Charlotte-Concord Resort and Spa, opened in Jan. The property adjoins the 80,000-sf Concord Convention Center and overlooks the Rocky River Golf Club.

Greensboro The 299-room Greensboro-High Point Airport Marriott, with 10,075 sf of meeting space, recently renovated its lobby and guest rooms and added a Garden Pavilion for outdoor events.
* A 134-room Hilton Garden Inn with 1,176 sf of meeting space debuted in the popular I-40 and Wendover Ave corridor, close to Piedmont Triad Int'l Airport.
* The 120-room Holiday Inn Express on Cedar Park Rd has been renamed the Quality Inn and Suites, with 5,614 sf of meeting space. A new 83-room Holiday Inn Express is under construction next door.
* Piedmont Triad Int'l Airport (GSO) continues to attract discount airlines with the recent addition of Skybus and Allegiant Air, flying to Ohio and Florida respectively. Six other airlines schedule flights to GSO.
* Greensboro's new two-acre Center City Park, located downtown, has several features that can be rented for events including the Great Lawn and the Pavilion.
* Amtrak trains now stop downtown at historic J. Douglas Gaylon Depot, which also serves as a taxi and bus hub with express bus service to the airport.

Medical Park The Hampton Inn Medical Park will complete renovations in Mar. Meeting space will be expanded to 1,500 sf, and a new wing will add 30-35 new guest rooms for a total of 120.

Raleigh The 229-room four-star, luxury Renaissance Raleigh North Hills opens this summer with 8,000 sf of meeting space, featuring a 5,500-sf ballroom and adjoining European-style day spa as well as a new $3-million, 50,000-sf Gold's Gym.

SOUTH CAROLINA Charleston The 136-room aloft Charleston Airport & Convention Center broke ground in May.

Groups Should Consider
Groups should consider these recommendations from Successful Meetings Home Team* experts. Top choices include the 150-room Umstead Resort & Spa (NC); and the 166-room Renaissance Charleston (SC). For venues, choices are the Duke Mansion (NC); the French American Brasserie, High Art Museum; and the
Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta).

*Contributors who informed this section include Home Team members James Amerson; Susan Henderson CMP (GEP); Gloria Nelson, CSEP; and Jean Travers. Contact them at

Their Old Is New - to You
Vintage architecture serving as unique, off-site venues, adds to a city's palette of amenities - especially when it can be improved upon. According to Peggy Seigler, MPA, vice president of sales for the Augusta CVB, "We host several citywide events a year, so it's nice to have so many options for our guests." Latest among Augusta's activities are rides down the Augusta Canal, a National Heritage area, on replica canal boats. The spacious boats (perfect for small cocktail gatherings) depart from the new Augusta Canal National Heritage Center, a former 19th century textile mill, and float down the same route cotton bales took in the 19th century, along dark waters full of ducks and turtles.
In Valdosta, GA, the past has been lovingly preserved. Valdosta has four National Register Historic Districts: Downtown, Fairview, North Patterson Street, and Brookwood North. Groups can tour the historic districts by bus, or have receptions at restored venues, such as the Crescent, a Neoclassic mansion.
In Greensboro, downtown's historic Carolina Theatre, which seats up to 1,075, recently installed a new, state-of-the-art Dolby sound system. Also in Greensboro, the Elm Street Center, which is located in a former downtown department store, offers two elegantly appointed ballrooms that total 21,500 sf and accommodate up to 1,000 people each. Close to downtown, Blandwood, the former mansion of Governor John Motley Morehead, rents its two-story carriage house set amid an outdoor patio and extensive gardens.
- Reporting by Mary Sue Lawrence and Renee Wright

Readers Recommend
Our subscribers gave Pinnacle Awards to:

Atlanta CVB
Greensboro Area CVB
Four Seasons Atlanta
Hilton Atlanta
Hilton Charlotte City
Hilton Head Marriott Beach & Golf Resort
Hyatt Regency Savannah
Kingston Plantation
Sea Pines Resort*
Sheraton Greensboro Hotel at Four Seasons
The King & Prince Beach & Golf Resort
Westin Charlotte
Chateau Elan Winery & Resort
Graylyn Int'l Conference Center
R. David Thomas Executive Conference Center
*2007 winner
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