Mississippi - A Successful Meetings Destination

It's Biloxi's time to rock and roll, with the much anticipated Hard Rock Hotel & Casino opening in July, and the just-announced $704-million Margaritaville collaboration between Harrah's Entertainment and Jimmy Buffett expected to break ground this summer. Elsewhere in the Magnolia State, some hotel brands are entering the market for the first time, growth is ramping up, and an entire development is planned in a bubble. Really, no kidding.

Essential Tool Box
Convention Facilities:
Mississippi Coast Coliseum & Convention Center, 180,000 sf of dedicated meeting space; 23 meeting rooms. (Coliseum open now; convention center to reopen by 2009.)
From Airport to Center:
Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, 14 miles
Daily Business Costs*:
Biloxi/Gulfport Hotel $133.69 F&B: $70.05 Car Rental $71.78
JACKSON Hotel $115.30 F&B $78.39 Car Rental: $93.18
For More Info:
Mississippi Gulf Coast CVB
For more listings, visit Facility Quick Search at www.mimegasite.com
*Business Travel News 2007 Corporate Travel Index

The Big News
JACKSON The Capital City Conven-tion Center, which broke ground June 12, 2006, is on track for completion in late 2008 or early 2009. The 264,500-sf facility, with a 60,000-sf exhibit hall, a 30,000-sf ballroom, a variety of other meeting spaces, and separate entrances for the exhibit hall and ballroom, will be integrated with the Mississippi TelCom Center.
*Near Jackson, The Renaissance at Colony Park development in Ridgeland is scheduled for completion in Mar 2008. The 57-acre complex will include a 127-room Hyatt Place-the brand's first Mississippi property-a P.F. Chang's China Bistro, and Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano, among other restaurants and retail stores.
*Embassy Suites Hotels has also announced that its first Mississippi property will be in Ridgeland, at The Township at Colony Park, a mixed-use development that will also house fitness, retail, and restaurant facilities. The 140-suite property will cost $19 million to build and will include 6,000 sf of meeting space. The hotel is scheduled to break ground this summer and be completed in the summer of 2008.

TUNICA The Tunica Arena and Exposition Center has added a multipurpose, 48,000-sf floor for trade shows, equestrian events, and other group needs.
*Plans are still in the works for an enormous, $1.9-billion development called the Myriad Botanical Resort, which would cover 540 acres along the Mississippi River and include a 375,000-sf convention center, an 80,000-sf casino, a 1,200-room four star hotel, an 18-hole golf course, a water park, and a snow park, all in a climate-controlled enclosure.
*Also in Tunica, Fitzgeralds Casino Hotel, with over 18,000 sf of meeting space and 506 rooms, has completed Phase I of a renovation that includes an updated lobby with a new VIP check-in area, renovated elevators and hotel rooms, and new suites. The property is also updating the casino, redesigning the Stage Bar, adding a poker room and high-limit table game room, and upgrading the second floor buffet. Gold Strike Casino Resort completed a renovation of its convention level in April; the facility offers more than 30,000 sf of meeting space. The Grand Casino has installed new mattresses and the Hollywood Casino remodeled its buffet. The Horseshoe Casino added a Starbucks, a Diamond Lounge, and a high-limit slot area; the property, which has two boardrooms for meetings and more than 500 guest rooms, has also completed Phase I of a remodel of hotel rooms.
*The Resorts Casino completed an exterior renovation, added a steakhouse and bistro as well as new slot machines, and updated its 200 guest rooms. The property has over 13,400 sf of meeting space. The 134-room Sheraton Casino built a showroom for meetings and conventions, installed new carpeting, and repainted.

Bridges to the Future
Progress is being made to replace the bridges destroyed by Katrina. The Bay St. Louis Bridge linking Pass Christian to Bay St. Louis opened two lanes in May, and the Biloxi Bay Bridge should have two lanes open by November. Both bridges will display brass plaques every 1/10 of a mile that are designed by residents and use brass remnants from the original bridges.

The 731-room Isle of Capri in Biloxi is taking on a $180-million project that will give the resort a land-based casino and return the 45,000 sf of convention space-currently being used as a casino-to meeting and exhibit space. The project will also rebuild the Isle of Capri's Farraday's steakhouse, expand the tropical buffet, and add one new dining facility.

Also in Biloxi, the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center is undergoing extensive renovations and is on track for completion in spring 2009. The facility will remain available for groups during the course of the renovation. The Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport is expected to unveil its new terminal next month with nearly double the existing square footage. The Ohr O'Keefe Museum of Art, with its Frank Gehry-designed complex, will be rebuilt in phases on the existing site, with two facilities suited for groups going up first-the Center for Ceramics and the Welcome Center. Those buildings, with catering facilities, a lecture hall, and an outdoor terrace, will be finished by 2009. - KL

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Our subscribers gave a Pinnacle Award to:
Beau Rivage, an MGM Mirage Resort
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