JUN 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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J U N E 2 0 1 8 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 45 E V E N T P L A N N E R ' S G U I D E T O NC C A P E L O O K O U T N A T I O N A L S E A S H O R E The Lighthouse at Cape Lookout is one of North Carolina's most recognized historical features. Undeveloped and uncrowded be- cause it can only be reached by boat, Cape lookout offers panoramic views of the At- lantic Ocean. Because the cape has beaches that face both East and Southwest, visitors can watch the sun rise from the ocean and set in the ocean from the same location. BY T. WAYNE WATERS With its three distinct regions, North Carolina offers a wide range of meeting venues and event settings. From barrier island beaches along the Atlantic Ocean to beautiful mountain ranges on its western side, the state has the terrain for all types of outdoor adventure. Additionally, there are historic towns and modern cities to explore, with vibrant arts and music scenes as well as unique food and beverage experiences. Wilmington and Beaches Wilmington's Convention District continues to develop. Hotels, restaurants and an extended Riverwalk are popping up around the 107,000- square-foot riverside convention center. The Embassy Suites Wilmington Riverfront Hotel opened in late 2017 with 186 two-room guest suites. The 92-room Hampton Inn Wilmington Downtown opened last year just a few blocks from the convention center and the river. Meanwhile, the former Hilton Wilmington Riverside underwent an $11 million renovation and reflagged within the Hilton family to become the Hotel Ballast Wilmington, a Tapestry Collec- tion by Hilton. The renovations included major work to the property's meeting spaces, a refresh- ing of all guest rooms and public spaces, and a complete overhaul of one of its two restaurants. Out at the beaches, the 144-room Courtyard Marriott Carolina Beach Oceanfront recently completed a major renovation that spruced up all guestrooms, meeting and conference rooms. Wilmington and Beaches has more than 8,000 sleeping rooms currently and more are on the way. A seven-story, 125-room Aloft Wilmington Hotel with 7,000 square feet of meeting space, is being built very close to the convention center in downtown Wilmington, slated for an early 2019 opening. A Hotel Indigo is expected to come soon across from the convention center. Wrightsville Beach offers the Blockade Runner Beach Resort, Shell Island Resort and Holiday Inn Resort Wrightsville Beach. Another riverside project – North Waterfront Park – is in the planning stages. A greenspace, splash plaza, beer gardens, an inland boardwalk and connection to the Riverwalk are expected to be developed, as well as an outdoor performance space. The World War II-era battleship USS North Carolina rents out space on the ship's mas- sive deck and in its smaller bellow-deck spaces. Wilmington and Beaches Venues • Wilmington Convention Center: 30,000- plus square feet of exhibit space; nearly 13,000 square feet in three concourses; 11,800-square-foot ballroom • Embassy Suites Wilmington Riverfront Hotel: 6,600 square feet of meeting space; 186 guest rooms, adjacent to Wilmington Convention Center • Hotel Ballast Wilmington, Tapestry Collection by Hilton: 20,000 square feet of meeting space; 17 meeting rooms; ► North Carolina Photo courtesy Bill Russ —

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