MAR 2018

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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M A R C H 2 0 1 8 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 21 ANNUAL CVB ISSUE Augustine Alligator Farm/Rent the Zoo: On Anastasia Island, just minutes from down- town St. Augustine, the park's Anastasia Island Conservation Center has a range of facilities and retreat packages that can be tailored to include workshops, seminars, break-out sessions, team breakfasts and even wine/cheese receptions set among lush tropical foliage and exotic animals. Gary Sass, local tour operator for Active Escapes, has hosted several corporate retreat programs at the Alligator Farm. "The beauty of events in this very unique and exotic setting is that you can provide a memorable experience for groups of 10 to 100," Sass said. "We brought in one event of more than 100 participants after hours. We set up stations using the Crocodile Crossing's Nile Course, the Python Challenge, an alligator feeding program (participants actually went into the alligator pit) and incorporated a climb to the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse, which is located just a block away. We were able to break the group into smaller teams and cycle through all the challenges. We also had food stations set up throughout the park providing food and drink between programs." Other options to add to your itinerary in St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra: Pirate Melee, for groups of 25 to 200, starts with a Trolley Tour through St. Augustine, fol- lowed by a surprise pirate visit, a bountiful dinner at an enchanting location and an evening of mag- ic, music and entertainment by talented pirates. GTM Reserve, in Ponte Vedra Beach, has beach access, 10 miles of upland hiking trails and an environmental education center. Birmingham, Alabama "Birmingham is the fun place to be for events looking for out-of-the-ordinary adventures," said Steve Pierson, director of sales for the Greater Birmingham CVB. "Groups have a great time team-building with the Positively Funny Improv troupe during full- or half-day sessions. It's an en- tertaining way to learn new communication skills with the benefit of laughter." Other options for unique Birmingham group experiences include: Bike & Brew Tour: "I went on the bike-and- brew tour and discovered another side of the city to appreciate," said Rebecca Camerio, vice president of Finance for Manufacture Alabama. "It felt like the fun of being a kid again. Riding the bike around downtown was priceless. I had a wonderful time at the breweries seeing how beer is made. Lunch with Chef Stitt at Bottega Café: "During the Alabama Council of Association Ex- ecutives convention, a group of meeting planners had lunch with internationally renowned chef and Birmingham restaurant owner Frank Stitt," said Patti A. Culp, CAE, executive director of Ala- bama Travel Council. "He treated us to a tutorial on pasta and oils. To top off the wonderful meal and experience, we received autographed copies of Chef Stitt's cookbook." Daytona Beach With so much to do and see in Daytona Beach, meeting planners are sure to find a multitude of fun itinerary ideas, according to Linda McMahon, director of group sales for the Daytona Beach Area CVB. "The Sunshine Summit itinerary was used during a recent meeting planners' FAM and was met with great enthusiasm," McMahon said. Here's a rundown of the fun activities incorporat- ed into the meeting planner group's itinerary: Daytona International Speedway com- pleted a $400 million renovation project that transformed the World Center of Racing into the world's only motorsports stadium. Groups can experience the 31-degree high banks, walk in the footsteps of legends and climb atop the podium in Gatorade Victory Lane for a photo. ONE DAYTONA, a new lifestyle and en- tertainment center located adjacent to Daytona International Speedway features a vibrant and growing mix of unique dining, shopping and entertainment experiences. Eco-Tours: Groups can enjoy narrated dolphin and manatee eco boat tours, visit the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse and learn about the area's diverse wildlife at the Marine Science Center. Raleigh, North Carolina "Whether it's the world's largest beer garden, the largest underground speakeasy in the Southeast or a dim sum restaurant/brewery/flower shop/library concept that is redefining what a modern-day community gathering place looks like, we truly have the most progressive culinary scene in the South right now, providing some truly ► Food tours are fun in Columbia, S.C. Anna Nemeth, Two Gals and a Fork Culinary Crafts: King Cake Decorating in Lake Charles, La. Lake Charles CVB

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