APR 2012

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2012 Sneak Peek Directory Subscribe Advertise Contact CHARLOTTE Venues in the National Spotlight This will be a banner year for Charlotte as the city primes itself for the 2012 Democratic National Convention (DNC) in September. The political extravaganza has sparked major infra- structure improvements, hotel renova- tions and other developments that will be assets to the Queen City for years to come. The Charlotte Observer reported that "Charlotte-area hotels are spend- ing millions to renovate rooms and gussy up suites." Two Charlotte hotels will be the base of DNC operations. The cityʼs largest hotel, The Westin Charlotte, is one. The Four-Diamond facility under- went a multimillion-dollar renovation last year that included a significant up- grade of the 700 guest rooms and 44,000 square feet of meeting space, including the 16,000- square-foot Grand Ballroom. The hotel partners with PSAV, an on- site audio/visual and tech serv- ices supplier. The Four-Diamond Hilton Charlotte Center City is the other DNC host hotel. The 400- room facility had a major makeover of its guest rooms several years ago and pro- vides 30,000 square feet of meeting space, the largest single room offering more than 11,000 square feet. Both hotels are located near the Charlotte Convention Center. More than 15,000 rooms have been secured by the DNC, and a total of 56 hotels and 6,700 rooms will be used strictly for delegates. The Charlotte Motor Speedway will serve as the site to kick-off festivities for the DNC. The NC Music Factory, a former textile mill now operating as a live music and entertainment complex, will host 15,000 media members. Other major Charlotte attractions in- cluding the U.S. National Whitewater Center and the Carolina Raptor Center will also host welcome-events. ■ www.con v Charlotte Gathering Spaces Charlotte has 4,100-plus hotel rooms within walk- ing distance of the Charlotte Convention Center, and nearly 100 restaurants, three major museums, two performance houses and other attractions close to city center. Hyatt Place Charlotte-Uptown, a 172-room hotel is set to open by the end of the year in the new SKYE condominiums mixed-use develop- ment, bringing three meeting rooms overlooking Charlotte's skyline to the city. The Blake Hotel's 52,000 square feet of func- tion space in 26 variably configured meeting rooms is the most in a downtown hotel. Its 600 guest rooms will all be newly remodeled as of April 2012. The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte is a LEED-Gold certified hotel with 146 guest rooms and 12,000 square feet of meeting space. "We have two stellar new attractions for groups, including the just- opened E.Y.I. Design Studio, where the event visu- alization process can be pre-enacted by a planner, from tablescapes to meals to design and décor," said Heidi Nowack, director of sales and marketing. "E.Y.I. Design Studio completely transforms the planning process and is like a virtual event in itself, newly occupying a full wing of the hotel. We have also recently introduced new group team- building cooking classes at Bar Cocoa's Cocoa Lab, with a solid favorite being our new Urban Chef competition." The Omni Hotel Charlotte has 374 guest rooms and suites and its special amenities include a rooftop pool and sundeck. The hotel was recognized on the Expedia Insiders' Select list for 2010 and 2011 and parent-chain Omni Hotels and Resorts was named the top luxury hotel brand in 2011 by Harris Interactive's EquiTrends Report. The property has 16,000 square feet of meeting space. Charlotte's most historically significant down- town hotel and a Historic Hotels of America mem- ber, the Dunhill Hotel was built in 1929. It is a fully restored property featuring 18th century Euro- pean furnishings and original works of art. The Dunhill Hotel underwent a $1 million renovation of its 60 guest rooms and reopened its restaurant in early 2011. The property offers 2,500 square feet of flexible function space for small meetings. The 193-room, pet-friendly Crowne Plaza Charlotte Hotel—with more than 10,000 square feet of meeting space—was bought last summer by Greenville, S.C.-based JHM Hotels. The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Charlotte was rebranded and renovated in September 2011. The 187-room property features 2,000 square feet of meeting space. Hyatt House Charlotte/Center City Hotel— formerly Hotel Sierra—is located adjacent to Time Warner Cable Arena and features 163 guest rooms and more than 2,000 square feet of meeting space. South/Southwest Charlotte Southside luxury can be found at the Four-Dia- mond, 214-room The Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge, a member of Starwood Hotels and Resorts' Luxury Collection Hotels, located about 15 miles south of city center. The Ballantyne has 14 luxury suites, a 36-room lodge, a four-bedroom cottage, a championship golf course, and more than 30,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event venues. "In addition to offering versatile event space, The Bal- lantyne is always looking for new ways to enrich the meeting experience," said Director of Sales and Marketing Marshall Hilliard. In May, the hotel is set to open The Carolina Ballroom, a nearly 2,000- square-foot space with a balcony overlooking the golf course. Also on the south side, Charlotte Marriott Executive Park is about eight miles southwest from the center of downtown but just three blocks from Charlotte's LYNX light rail system. The hotel also provides free shuttle service to the Charlotte Douglas Airport. The property offers more than 15,000 square feet of meeting space in 18 event rooms and can seat 1,000 theater-style. Sister facil- ity Charlotte Marriott SouthPark is about seven miles south of downtown. The 187-room hotel has been recently redesigned with a bit of a European flair. It has 14 meeting rooms providing 8,750 square feet of meeting space. One event facility on the outskirts of Charlotte near the airport is the Harris Conference Center at Central Piedmont Community College's Harris campus. This educational facility offers more than 9,000 square feet in a 14-room conference hall with seven meeting rooms and a small specially equipped videoconference room. ■ APRIL 2012 ConventionSouth 41

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