APR 2012

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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2012 Sneak Peek Directory Subscribe Advertise Contact South Carolina Sonesta Opens First Property In The Palmetto State HILTON HEAD ISLAND— Sonesta International Hotels Cor- poration has just announced its first hotel in South Carolina, the Four- Diamond, 340-room Sonesta Re- sort Hilton Head Island. The property offers an outdoor swim- ming pool, a snack bar and sun- deck, a beach club, nearby golf and tennis, and 20,000 square feet of functional meeting space. Tennessee Water Park Resort Opens 'Indoor Fun Park' SEVIERVILLE—Wilderness at the Smokies resort, the Southeast's largest indoor and outdoor water- park had doubled its size with the new Adventure Forest family entertainment park. "Unlike our other at- tractions at Wilderness at the Smokies, the new Adventure Forest is a 'dry' park," said Steve Cruz, gen- eral manager. "It features a three-story ropes course, a multi-level enclosed laser tag arena, mini-bowling, black-light mini- golf, more than 100 arcade games, a 'Laser Maze,' a 25- foot tall spring ride, a 23- foot climbing wall, special birthday party rooms, another restaurant and lounge, plus other attractions and activities that do not involve water— all of it indoors and open year-round." ■ Live From The South's Travel Shows This March, I traveled to Louisville, Ky., for the 2012 Travel South Showcase and a few weeks later, to Greenville, S.C., for the Southeast Travel Show. The energy was high at both events and it was clear that in the South—travel reigns supreme. Hereʼs a brief rundown of some of the hot news coming out the shows. Alabama: The Heart of Dixie is booming with at least seven hotels slated to open throughout the state next year, including two each in Gulf Shores, Birmingham and Huntsville. Arkansas: The Natural State celebrated last November with the opening of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. The museum offers free admission thanks to Wal-Mart donations. The Museum of Native American History in Bentonville has also added on to its exhibit space. The renovated Arkansas Museum of Discovery in Little Rock had its grand re-opening in January and offers new hands-on exhibits in three galleries. Georgia: The Peach State is thriving as Atlanta has two major attractions set to open in 2013. The Cen- ter for Civil and Human Rights will open adjacent to the World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium. The planned 200,000-square-foot National Health Museum will also be located near Centennial Olympic Park. The Mansion on Peachtree is being rebranded as the Mandarin Oriental - Atlanta, a luxury 127-room hotel in Buckhead. The 228,000-square-foot beachside Jekyll Island Convention Center will open on May 19. Kentucky: The Bluegrass Stateʼs new campaign is "Thereʼs Only One" and thatʼs the case with the planned Bluegrass Boardwalk amusement park, which is set to open in the former site of Six Flags outside of Louisville. Louisiana: The Pelican State entices you to "Pick your Passion" during its bicentennial year of 2012 and if meetings are your passion, the new Great Hall at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center will entice you. The 100,000-square-foot area is set to re-open after renovations in early 2012 and offer a variety of spaces, including a 60,300-square- foot column-free ballroom. Meanwhile, a $300 million modernization project continues at New Orleans Louis Armstrong Interna- tional Airport. Mississippi: The stateʼs new tag line is "Find Your True South" and youʼll be able to find a new attrac- tion this spring as an interactive science center with meeting space called Infinity NASA Stennis Space Center opens along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Margaritaville Casino Resort in Biloxi is scheduled to open this Memorial Day weekend with a Margari- taville restaurant and a multi-purpose events center. North Carolina: Tourism officials in The Tarheel State are making "Deeper Connections" this year and are excitedly reporting the opening of The Nature Research Center, a new wing of the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. South Carolina: The Palmetto State has a spotlight on Greenville as it was recently named one of "Americaʼs Top 10 Downtowns" by Forbes Magazine and the city continues to reinvent itself with several major downtown developments. Tennessee: The Volunteer State is proud of its No. 3 "Most Favorable State" ranking by a Public Policy Polling survey. And its proud of the Music City Center, a new convention center thatʼs set to open next year in Nashville with 90,000 square feet of meeting space and a 350,000-square-foot exhibit hall. Memphis will see the inaugural season of the 436-passenger luxury steamboat American Queen in early April at the newly developed Beale Street Landing Dock. West Virginia: The Mountain State will celebrate its 150th birthday in June 2013 and activities will be held all over the state throughout 2013. ■ www.con v APRIL 2012 ConventionSouth 9

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