APR 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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Page 35 of 67

⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ A P R I L 2 0 1 8 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 36 F L O R I D A units; and Sundestin Golf & Beach Resort, has 250 suites and 2,000 square feet of meeting space. Four Points by Sheraton Destin – Fort Walton Beach, located on Okaloosa Island, has 261 guest rooms and 3,500 square feet of meeting space. South Walton Recognized as a premiere vacation destination, South Walton is a 26-mile stretch of 16 distinct waterfront neighborhoods along picturesque U.S. Highway 98 and County Road 30A in the Florida panhandle. Dawn Truemper, director of sales and events for Visit South Walton, said the area offers just what planners need: "We have quality resorts and more than 200 fabulous restaurants and great shopping. We have amazing sugar-white sand beaches and turquoise clear water on the Gulf, plus beau- tiful bays for kayaking and paddle boarding. What's really special for groups is bringing everyone together for a bonfire on the beach. It really cements the vision of the conference and provides great memories for attendees." Several facilities are completing major enhancements, Truemper said: "WaterColor Inn's restaurant, Fish Out of Water, has had a complete redesign, with expanded gulf views and a new menu. The Hilton Sandestin is experiencing a $5 million capital improvement plan that covered guest rooms, outdoor dining and amenities, and updates to its restaurant. Also, the 33,000-square-foot Linkside Conference Center at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort just completed a total transformation." Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort has 1,280 guest rooms and 65,000 square feet of function space, including the Baytowne Conference Center and can accommodate groups of up to 1,500 people for events. Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa offers 602 guest rooms and 60,000 square feet of event space, including three ballrooms, a tiered theater, 20 meeting rooms, and beach and poolside ven- ues. WaterColor Inn & Resort has 60 guest rooms and can seat up to 300 for a theater-style presentation. Other hotels and resorts include the 155-room Embassy Suites Destin Mira- mar Beach, with 6,000 square feet of meeting space; the 235-room TOPS'L Beach & Rac- quet Resort in Miramar Beach, with 4,088 square feet of meeting space (see breakout spotlight on page 38); the 220-room Seascape Golf, Beach and Tennis Resort Miramar Future meeting attendees in South Walton will want to brush up on their scuba diving skills to visit the nation's first permanent un- derwater sculpture exhibit. The Underwater Museum of Art (UMA) will be unveiled this summer on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, a little more than a half-mile off Grayton Beach State Park. The museum, created by Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA) and South Walton Artificial Reef Association (SWARA), is part of the CAA's "In Public Spaces" program and will reflect the mission of the SWARA to enhance the ecological, creative, cultural, economic and educational opportunities for guests and locals alike. UMA will be composed of seven original sculptures selected by jury for permanent exhibition. Of the seven artists whose works were chosen, five are local to the area. The sculptures chosen include "Propeller in Motion" by Marek Anthony, "Self Portrait" by Justin Gaffrey, "The Grayt Pineapple" by Rachel Herring, "SWARA Skull" by Vince Tatum, "Concrete Rope Reef Spheres" by Evelyn Tickle, "Anamorphous Octopus" by Allison Wickey and "JYC's Dream" by Kevin Reilly in collaboration with students from South Walton Montessori School. Typically, artificial reefs are built to pro- mote marine life in a specific area and could be made out of rocks, concrete blocks or even purposely submerged ships. The sculptures will be deployed with SWARA's existing arti- ficial reef project that includes nine nearshore reefs. UMA will rest in about 50 to 60 feet of water on a one-acre patch of seabed that has been dedicated to the CAA for the purpose of the underwater sculpture exhibit. n B R E A K O U T S P O T L I G H T : South Walton Contact: South Walton Underwater Museum Courtesy Visit South Walton

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