FEB 2014

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 ⎜ F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 4 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 46 Central Arkansas I N S I D E R ' S G U I D E By Marlane Bundock In Central Arkansas, groups will find easy access to the cities of Little Rock, Hot Springs and Conway—all of which offer their unique flair. U.S. Interstates 30, 40 and 530 connect the region as well as the recently renovated and renamed Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock. ■ ALABAMA ARKANSAS FLORIDA GEORGIA KENTUCKY LOUISIANA MARYLAND MISSISSIPPI MISSOURI NORTH CAROLINA OKLAHOMA SOUTH CAROLINA TENNESSEE TEXAS VIRGINIA WEST VIRGINIA • Little Rock • Conway • Hot Springs John Mayner, the vice president of marketing and communications for the Little Rock CVB, says the city has a lot to brag about. "Little Rock has numerous new and exciting things going." Renovations to its major meeting sites and hotels, new attractions and restau- rants, and an emphasis on living well are just some of the happen- ings that Mayner refers to. But you don't have to take his word alone. Major media brands are honing in on Little Rock. It's been named a "2013 Best Place to Retire" by Forbes, taken the top spot of "10 Great Places to Live" by Kiplinger's Personal Finance and one of "Five Secret Foodie Cities" by Forbes Travel Guide—just to name a few. "As we say, 'Life is better with a Southern accent,' here in Little Rock," Mayner said, adding that the city offers an "ease of conven- ience" for groups, including a walkable down- town for getting around and a one-stop-shop booking experience. Robinson Music Hall, which first opened in 1939 and claims the first recorded performance of Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog," is shutting its doors this summer in order to undergo a massive renovation. Among the enhancements, the facil- ity will receive major interior upgrades to the performance hall, increased lobby space, acousti- cal improvements, theatrical upgrades, loading dock expansion, a larger stage area, and new dressing room facilities. Additionally, an enhanced modern ballroom, a small conference center and outdoor plaza spaces will be added—all with a reveal set for September 2016. A new, mixed-use building, known as the Arcade Build- ing, opened last year and offers retail space, a restaurant and a 325-seat theater. The name "Arcade" is in honor of a landmark structure that once resided in downtown Little Rock. Several comprehensive and exciting renova- tion projects are complete at the Statehouse Con- vention Center, including new carpet, paint and wall treatments; upgrades to the sound system, lighting and security, as well as additional air- walls in the 18,500-square-foot Wally Allen Ballroom, which expands its meeting capabilities and space flexibility, Mayner said, adding that the facility now offers high-definition monitors for scheduling and complimentary wireless Inter- net access. The facility offers four large, flexible exhibition halls, and 250,000 square feet of total meeting space—all in the heart of the downtown. Attached to the center is the city's new Marriott. Last May (2013), the city's Peabody Hotel became Arkansas' first full-service Marriott hotel, according to Bill Fontes, general manager of the newly dubbed Little Rock Marriott. Renovations to the 418-room property are currently underway. Little Rock's River Market District is located on the scenic south shore of the Arkansas River and has been revitalized with new outdoor spaces, the Arkansas River Trail and improved bridges connecting the city to North Little Rock. ■ New Meeting Spots On The Little Rock Along with the new Marriott hotel, Little Rock offers several full-service properties for groups. The Crowne Plaza Little Rock has 244 guest rooms and more than 7,000 square feet of meeting space, complimentary parking and wireless Internet access. Attached to the Robinson Music Hall, the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Little Rock has 13,760 square feet of space. The Wyndham Riverfront Little Rock offers 220 guest rooms and 14,000 square feet of meeting space, complimentary wireless Internet access, complimentary parking and airport shuttles. Located in West Little Rock, the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center provides more than 14,000 square feet of meeting space located on one level. ■ Where To Meet & Stay In Little Rock Robinson Music Hall will undergo a massive renovation this summer, including adding an enhanced modern ballroom, a small confer- ence center and outdoor plaza spaces. 27-52 CS FEB 2014_Layout 1 1/31/14 5:12 PM Page 46

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