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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⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 18 NEW & RENOVATED Sites In The South! terrace overlooking the Arkansas River. The conference center is connected to the DoubleTree Hotel, which is also undergoing a major renovation. The combined facilities will offer more than 45,000 square feet of meeting and function space. The historic Robinson Center renovation caps off a major renaissance in downtown Little Rock that began with the River Market district – which just celebrated its 20th anniversary – and continued through the development of the Clinton Center, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Little Rock has also received a national AIA award for the transformation of a four-block area downtown, which now features pervious parking surfaces, extensive plantings and enhanced connectivity. According to Mayner, this area serves as "an organic, living laboratory for downtown redevelopment." Events Facility Is Enhanced and Upgraded The 232,000-square-foot LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge (Tenn.), a relatively new events and meetings facility in this tourist-friendly city, recently enhanced its 100,000 square feet of clear-span indoor space with upgraded sound- attenuating panels and draping. Additionally, the columns around the perimeter have been accented with new programmable LED lighting. Three new dressing rooms, complete with shower facilities, have been added for performers and 439 additional parking spaces have been added. There are 17 breakout rooms for meetings of all sizes, including the 12,000-square-foot Greenbrier Hall. The center is beta testing a new mobile push notification program to better connect meeting attendees and visitors to the Pigeon Forge business community. "Pigeon Forge is already a strong tourist destination," said Phil Campbell, facility manager of the LeConte Center. "New lodging of all sorts continues to come on line in the Pigeon Forge market. Three hotels are under construction, including the Black Fox Lodge, which is part of the Chartwell hotel group, just across from the LeConte Center. Also opening soon are the Hilton Garden Inn just half a mile away and the Courtyard by Marriott under two miles away. There are over 15,000 sleeping rooms in the Pigeon Forge market, up from around 12,000 just a few years ago." Center's Upgrades Include Nod To City's History In downtown Winston-Salem, N.C., the 100,000-square-foot Benton Convention Center is undergoing a multi-million-dollar renovation, which includes significant structural, design and technological upgrades to the interior and exterior of the building. Key design elements will create more open, flexible meeting space and incorporate architectural nods to Winston- Salem's historic arts, tobacco and textile roots. Plans also include expansion of the front space, and the addition of more windows and skylights to give the venue a contemporary, open and inviting aesthetic. The center will remain operational throughout all phases of the project, which is expected to be finalized in May 2017. Elsewhere in the city, the recently opened Kimpton Cardinal Hotel in the majestic R.J. Reynolds building, a beloved Winston-Salem landmark and famed Art Deco prototype of the Empire State building, is Winston-Salem's first upscale boutique hotel. Restored beyond its original splendor, the hotel is an architectural showcase of gold leaf, rich marble and burnished brass. Soaring along the city's skyline at the heart of a vibrant and historic downtown, The Cardinal is Kimpton's first foray into the Carolinas, featuring 174 guest accommodations, including 15 suites, expansive fitness and recreation centers, a distinctive neighborhood restaurant and bar, and more than 6,300 square feet of space to meet, greet and celebrate the spirit of the South. The property opened in April 2016. In addition to these projects, more than $1 billion has been invested in downtown development initiatives, including new retail and nightlife venues, restaurants and the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter with a full suite of conferencing facilities. A New Look For An Island Convention Center The South Padre Island Convention Center on South Padre Island, Texas, has just completed a multi-million-dollar renovation that included a complete restructuring of the center's foundation, the addition of solar lighting across the parking lot and landscaped areas, new digital signage indoors and out, and a vivid new paint scheme outside and inside, with new carpeting throughout to complement the lively new color scheme. In addition, there are new high-tech air walls in all meeting rooms, natural light enhancements in all interior walkways, a complete kitchen remodel, new banquet and decorative furniture, and a new fiber-optic network to strengthen Wi-Fi signal and reliability throughout the complex. The convention center is not all that's new on South Padre Island, however. New transportation options on the island and between the island and the mainland make accessibility easier than ever, with better connectivity with two international airports and two international bus terminals through coordination with regional transit systems. Shopping and entertainment options are growing as well, with the renovation of Fiesta Plaza and the addition of new retail and dining opportunities. Hotel and The Plano Centre South Padre Island Convention Center LeConte Center