NOV 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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N O V E M B E R 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 61 progress. A 112-suite Staybridge Suites opened earlier this year and a 118-room Homewood Suites, a 103-room Hyatt Place and a 98-room Tru by Hilton are scheduled to open by year's end. Next year will bring an 86-room Comfort Inn. These properties will bring Florence's hotel room inventory past 2,700. All of that is in addition to Florence's engaging downtown full of great shops, restaurants ranging from Thai to Southern barbecue, bars, historic buildings, a couple of live performance theaters and several museums. And Florence is the hub for the South Carolina Pecan Trail, along which all manner of pecan- flavored treats await in more than 20 participating restaurants in and around the city. Pecan- encrusted grouper, pecan goat cheese, pecan salad, pecan pie martinis and, perhaps the pecan pièce de résistance, the White Russian pecan pie! Visitors can pick up a South Carolina Pecan Trail Passport at the many participating businesses and collect stamps to be redeemed at the Visitor Center for "pecan swag." Downtown Connect, a trolley service, provides transportation to and from downtown for free. Guests staying in hotels near Hospitality Bou- levard can take advantage of the transportation service. Aiken Aiken's profile is rising as not only a great tourist destination but also as a good option for small to medium-size meetings. Located in south-central South Carolina only 35 miles from Augusta, Ga., Aiken is a good "two-state" locale convenient for drive-ins from Georgia as well as South Carolina. Aiken is well known as serious horse country. It's one of the nation's centers for horse training, home to several polo fields and top-notch horse sporting events, and offers visitors horseback riding tours. In addition to its equestrian allure, Aiken has a nice historical ambiance with several historic homes and downtown structures, including Aiken Visitors Center and Train Museum, housed in the Aiken Railroad Depot. The museum has nine di- oramas depicting towns along the original South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company right-of- way. The property can seat 60 indoors for meals and handle up to 150 reception-style. Outdoor seating can accommodate 130 seated and 350 reception-style. Similarly, the Center for African American History, Arts and Culture is housed in the historic Immanuel Institute Building, dating to 1889, and also provides event space: 150 seated dinner-style or 225 reception-style. Aiken also has a prominent outdoor rec- reation appeal thanks to Hitchcock Woods, which, at 2,100 acres, is among the largest urban forests in the nation; Aiken Arboretum Trail; and Boyd Pond, a 30-acre pond within the 210-acre Aiken County Park. ► Hilton Head Island offers a wonderful backdrop for meetings attendees, with 12 miles of pristine beach, 60 miles of leisure pathway and more than 250 restaurants steps away from a variety of accommodations. The seaside destination added significant meeting space last year with the new 5,000-square-foot Grand Ocean Terrace at The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa. Overall, the Westin Hil- ton property can provide 37,000 square feet of flexible venue space and 416 guest rooms, along with its spa, golf, tennis, pools and stretch of beach. The Grand Ocean Terrace was the final piece of a several-years-long $40 million renovation at the resort that included four additional meeting rooms, a deck overlooking the ocean for groups and business meetings, large cabanas and addi- tional meetings staff. Another of the island's premier conference hotels, the Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa, recently completed a renovation that included updating the meeting spaces, adding the new Blue Restaurant & Lounge and reworking its lobby. The property also boasts Spa Soleil, an indoor pool and an outdoor pool. Hilton Head Island's array of resorts also includes the Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort, with the Ocean Tides Spa, and a mul- titude of other accessible nearby recreation options; Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island, with five restaurants; and the AAA Four Di- amond The Sea Pines Resort, with on-resort golfing options and, in Bluffton, Montage Palmetto Bluff, offering a range of lodging options and Spa Montage. There are also more than 24 golf courses on this small island. "Hilton Head Island, named Number One Island by both Travel +Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler three years in a row, is an ideal choice for a meeting or group based on our location with our unique meeting space of- ferings," said Ariana Pernice, vice president, Hilton Head Island Visitor and Convention Bureau. "We are conveniently located and easily accessible with the ever-growing air service from Savannah/Hilton Head Interna- tional Airport." She added that the Hilton Head Island VCB staff can help make meetings truly exceptional by arranging one or more Signa- ture Experiences that take meeting attendees into the island culture, such as Lowcountry Life Tours, Antebellum Home Tours, Gullah culture experiences and Art of Mixology sessions. Also, HHI VCB offers an Island Compass app that makes navigating the island and all its treasures a breeze. n B R E A K O U T S P O T L I G H T : Hilton Head Island Contact: www.hiltonheadmeeƟ S O U T H C A R O L I N A

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