NOV 2017

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 ⎜ N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 7 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 54 S O U T H C A R O L I N A • Hilton Myrtle Beach Hotel at Kingston Resorts: 35,000 square feet of meeting space; 27 meeting rooms; 385 guest rooms Florence Florence has long offered a good option for small and medium-size conferences but the big news in this northeast South Carolina city is the $16 million expansion of its primary meeting facility, the Florence Civic Center, which will make Florence a contender for large conferences as well. When the venue reopens early next year, rebranded as the Florence Cen- ter, it will have 75,000 square feet of adaptable meeting space, 37,000 square feet of it newly constructed event and pre-event space, along with a new 5,000-square-foot catering kitchen. The entire facility is being renovated. Also, according to the Florence Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), there are three new hotels currently under construction. The addi- tion of those properties will increase the total number of guest rooms within walking distance of the Florence Center to more than 2,200. "Florence is a beautiful and lively Southern hot spot, brimming with attractions, culture, arts, entertainment, nightlife and outdoor adventures," said Holly Beaumier, executive director of the Florence CVB. "Our prime location at the intersections of I-95 and I-20 is easily accessible and centrally positioned between New York and Miami. Whether you're looking for team-building activities, conference space, group outings, private tours or planning a major convention, you will have found the right destination. Our team is ready to help." Among the outdoor adventure options are the SC Revolutionary Rivers Trail, Lynches River County Park and three self-guided walk- ing trails that make up the Francis Marion Trail sites, which all cover ground that served Marion, known as the Swamp Fox, to deter the British during the Revolutionary War. Florence is home to several interesting mu- seums, including the War Between The States Museum, the Florence County Museum and the Ronald E. McNair Life History Center, which celebrates the native son namesake astronaut and physicist who died in the 1986 Space Shut- tle Challenger disaster. Columbia South Carolina's capital city is conveniently located in the center of the state at the inter- section of I-77, I-20 and I-26. It is the home of the University of South Carolina and of the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, and major infrastructure developments continue within the city. The Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center continues to be renovated, adding more conference space that can be divided into several spaces. The boardroom is also being renovated to add space and will have updated technology and furniture. The building has a new sound system and its Internet capabilities and lighting are being upgraded. All renova- tions should be completed by the end of this year. Another project that continues apace is Co- lumbia's BullStreet Development. It is home for Spirit Communications Park, the city's major sports and multi-use facility, which re- cently added Bone-In Barbecue. A small new event space will open late this year on Main Street above Lula Drake Wine Parlour, which itself recently opened. The Pas- tor's Study at Lula Drake will feature exposed brick, wood-paneled walls and 19th Century furniture. A new 108-room Aloft Columbia Downtown opened in March and the 41-room Hotel Trun- dle is expected to open early in 2018. Along with all the downtown development, the Columbia Metropolitan CVB staff pointed to the area's many natural features as a great complement to taking care of business. "With so many trails, gardens, three rivers and Lake Murray nearby, it doesn't take long for groups to get from the middle of town to what seems like the middle of nowhere," said Jason Outman, executive director of Expe- rience Columbia SC. "With so much to see and do, event attendees can look forward to exploring beyond the main event. Go on a kayaking excursion, take on the zip-line course at Riverbanks Zoo or hike along the board- walk at Congaree National Park for outdoorsy team-building exercises. Escape the bustling city and get lost in your thoughts amidst fresh air, cool waters and old-growth hardwood for- est in next to no time flat." Columbia Venues: • Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center: 142,500-square-foot facility; 56,000 square feet of meeting space; 16,700-square-foot ballroom; 19 meeting rooms • Columbia Marriott Hotel: 26,000 square feet of meeting space; 16 meeting rooms; 285 guest rooms • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel: 21,000 square feet of meeting space; 12 meeting rooms; largest ballroom in Columbia; 150 guest rooms • Embassy Suites by Hilton Columbia Grey- stone: 15,000 square feet of meeting space; 16 meeting rooms; 218 guest suites; adjacent to Riverbanks Zoo and Garden ► Columbia skyline

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