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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J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 5 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 45 If your group's got game, the Mississippi coast has the options. A number of upscale resorts mix the glitz and glamour of high-rise casino hotels with state-of-the-art meeting facilities, while tucked-away retreat properties offer serenity and seclusion. New meeting space was recently added to the Mississippi coast as part of the $100 million transformation at the Golden Nugget Biloxi (formerly the Isle of Capri Casino & Resort). Director of Sales Brenda Taylor said the entire property, including the 721 guestrooms and suites, has been given a fresh, new look. By remodeling existing meeting space and adding new space, the facility now offers 23,000 square feet for groups of up to 1,000. On-site restaurants include Morton's Steakhouse and Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. For one-of-a- kind private functions, check out H2O Pool + Bar, the largest and sleekest pool on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, with numerous lounges, daybeds, cabanas, a restaurant, a swim-up bar, live music AND poolside gambling. Overlooking the beach and offering 1,740 newly remodeled guestrooms, including 95 luxury suites, the 32-story Beau Rivage Resort & Casino has 50,000 square feet of state-of- the-art meeting space, which can accommodate groups of up to 1,800, according to Mary Cracchiolo Spain, regional director, public relations for MGM Resorts International, Mississippi Operations. Known for its beautiful and elegant atrium and shopping promenade, the Beau has 10 restaurants, four bars and a spa and salon, which was rated by Travel + Leisure as one of the top 20 in the U.S. Adding yet another special touch for guests, the AAA Four-Diamond property recently upgraded its VIP check-in service. In addition to an 85,000-square-foot casino, a 1,550-seat theater boasts a $3 million sound and lighting system. There's also a large pool, with private cabanas, and Fallen Oaks, an 18-hole golf course. Among the best sites for special group events, Cracchiolo cited the Red Brick Room, the terrace outside the Azalea Ballroom that overlooks the pool and the elegant Oaks Boardroom. By February, all 1,088 guestrooms and suites at the IP Casino Resort Spa will have been completely redone, according to Leslie Barfield, Director of Hotel Sales. With 32 floors overlooking a back bay and 70,000 square feet of gaming, the AAA Four Diamond property offers VIP check-in and King Spa Suites. Barfield said the penthouse suites are great for association officers or executive perks, with space for receptions and onsite catering offered. On the property's entire top floor is Thirty-Two, a fine-dining Steak and Seafood restaurant with excellent views. An elegant board room and Studio, a 1,400-seat theater often used for keynote addresses, are included in the 65,000 square feet of meeting space for up to 1,200. For a unique treatment, try the Arctic Snow Room in IP's Senses Spa. Replacing the former Grand Casino Biloxi, Harrah's Gulf Coast has a large outdoor event site, which can accommodate up to 60,000 people. Overlooking the beach, it's great for concerts and other events. There are also several spaces in the facility's dining area for small gatherings. n The Mississippi Gulf Coast is about to get a new minor league baseball stadium, which will also serve as a state-of-the-art special event center. MGM Park at Beau Rivage, scheduled to open in 2015 and located just across the street from the Beau Rivage Resort Casino, will be the home field for the Biloxi Shuckers, who will play in the Double-A Southern League. Additionally, the 5,000-seat stadium will be able to accommodate up to 18,000 people for other types of events. "This will be a game-changer for the Mississippi coast, in terms of both sports competitions, concerts and other large-scale special events," said Mary Cracchiolo Spain, regional director, public relations for MGM Resorts International, Mississippi Operations. n Beach Baseball For a truly unique retreat, check out the Gulf Hills Hotel and Conference Center in Ocean Springs. This historic, secluded property was built in the 1920s as a hide- away for Al Capone and became a get-away for Elvis Presley during the 1960s. Today, smaller groups can book the entire facility, which has 52 spacious guestrooms and two elegant and luxurious suites. The meeting space, designed with simple elegance of days past, can hold 300 for receptions, 150 for banquets, and has a special board room. General Manager Donna Brown said groups that book the hotel have the run of the facility, including the large pool, and access to the 18-hole golf course and lighted tennis courts on the property. There's also a launching area for kayaks and canoes in a back bay that leads out to the Gulf of Mexico. "It's perfect for reunions, weddings, retreats, company parties and all sorts of special occasions," she said. Just a short drive away, downtown Ocean Springs offers lots of dining and shopping options located in charming, historic structures along shady, walkable streets. n Old-School Seclusion in Ocean Springs M I S S I S S I P P I G U L F C O A S T Play & Stay