Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Venues That Wow

These spectacular spaces throughout the Southeast impress with amenities galore

By Terika L. Haynes

With warm weather and idyllic scenery, the Southeast is a top choice for many meeting and event planners. From the vibrant culture and breathtaking scenery of Florida to the historic charm of Georgia and the urban sophistication of North Carolina, this diverse region offers so many settings that elevate events.

The vibrant and contemporary lobby at Grand Bohemian Hotel Charlotte in North Carolina
The vibrant and contemporary lobby at Grand Bohemian Hotel Charlotte in North Carolina || Courtesy of Grand Bohemian Hotel Charlotte

Grand Bohemian Hotel Charlotte, Autograph Collection, in Charlotte, North Carolina, is one such standout venue in the region. “Every place you go in the hotel is an event in itself,” says General Manager Hugh Templeman regarding its memorable, artistic features—and planners agree. When reflecting on a past event experience at the hotel, Lori Lemmon, the National Association of Women Business Owners’ director of events and special programs, recalls, “The hotel had a luxurious boutique aura, and the event spaces were decorated beautifully, giving our 200 attendees the feeling of attending a very upscale event.” Attendees at Grand Bohemian will not only find vibrant colors, but also handcrafted furnishings and curated artwork throughout, creating an experience to remember—it is but one of many exceptional venues in the Southeast.

Venues like Grand Bohemian and so many others in the region will dazzle with spectacular views and amenities. Some will surround attendees with art, others provide the utmost convenience, and some provide breathtaking panoramic views and top-notch customer service. These venues will set the stage for any meeting or event to leave a lasting impression on attendees.

Where Art Meets Function
The Birmingham Museum of Art in the cultural district of Birmingham, Alabama, houses a diverse collection of 29,000 works of art alongside some eye-catching meeting and event spaces. Its 8th Avenue Lobby space can host a seated dinner for up to 80 attendees or up to 150 reception-style, and places attendees below the spectacular Dale Chihuly glass installation, “Birmingham Persian Wall,” a work of art designed specifically for the room. Another rental option at the museum is its larger Cafe Space, which overlooks the Charles W. Ireland Sculpture Garden and the Red Mountain Garden Club Memorial Garden via floor-to-ceiling windows—this grand room can hold up to 500 attendees standing. The museum also offers tours for groups, as well as a conference room and a rentable auditorium.

The Palace Ballroom at Grand Bohemian Hotel Charlotte
The Palace Ballroom at Grand Bohemian Hotel Charlotte || Courtesy of Grand Bohemian Hotel Charlotte

Up in North Carolina amid the urban sprawl of Charlotte’s Uptown district, Grand Bohemian Hotel Charlotte, Autograph Collection, blends Southern hospitality with artistic flair to create a unique and luxurious setting for meetings and events. “This hotel is world-class and provides inspiration to each attendee who enters through the doors,” Templeman says. The boutique hotel boasts a vibrant aesthetic influenced by South American art and culture. With nearly 20,000 square feet of flexible event space, including sophisticated ballrooms and outdoor terraces with rooftop views, the possibilities are nearly endless at Grand Bohemian. In addition, Grand Bohemian Hotel Charlotte’s convenient location in Uptown makes it easy for attendees to walk to many nearby restaurants and shops.

Convention Center Convenience
Situated in the heart of downtown Tampa, Florida, the Embassy Suites by Hilton Tampa Downtown Convention Center hotel blends comfort and convenience for eventgoers. With large, well-equipped convention rooms, it’s the perfect place for the most important of corporate meetings. Its proximity to the Tampa Convention Center and local attractions makes it a perfect option for adding a touch of fun and dining to the business agenda—while also facilitating seamless transitions from relaxation and hotel gatherings to larger events and conferences. With over 11,000 square feet of versatile event space, including a 3,700-square-foot ballroom space and various breakout rooms, this venue caters well to events of all sizes.

If planners are looking to give attendees a true tropical escape, head south to Palmetto, Florida, with an event at the Palmetto Marriott Resort & Spa, nestled on the banks of the Manatee River. This new resort—scheduled to open this spring—offers a captivating blend of coastal charm and modern sophistication. The resort is also located right next to the Bradenton Area Convention Center, amplifying the amount of convenient event space available for planners. To make it even more convenient, a climate-controlled corridor connects the two. “The stunning Gulf of Mexico sunset views from the hotel’s exclusive rooftop restaurant are sure to be a wow factor for your group’s event,” says General Manager Greg Ciaccio. To take advantage of the gorgeous Florida weather, planners can choose from the 15,000-square-foot pool deck; a 45,000-square-foot space called The Yard; and a 2,400-square-foot outdoor amphitheater with space for up to 5,000 people.

Impressive Vistas
Situated between Palmetto and Tampa, the resort city of St. Pete Beach is home to The Don CeSar, a historic, beachside gem available for myriad events. Nicknamed The Pink Palace as a nod to its pink exterior, the property has long been considered an iconic beacon of luxury and sophistication in the area. With more than 38,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space spanning elegant ballrooms and beachfront pavilions, The Don CeSar presents stunning scenery for unforgettable meetings and events. Special Leisure Sales Manager Lindsey Lyons affirms this sentiment, adding, “We have a beautiful history, celebrating nearly 100 years.” She also notes that the hotel is dramatically perched atop wind-swept dunes, giving attendees panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico and classic fun-in-the-sun experiences. The resort’s oceanfront location provides a picturesque backdrop for any event, and with direct access to the white sands of St. Pete Beach, attendees can unwind and recharge while taking in the coastal landscape.

The Don CeSar Resort in St. Pete Beach
The Don CeSar Resort in St. Pete Beach || Courtesy of The Don CeSar

On Florida’s northeastern shoreline just east of Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra Inn & Club offers a sophisticated retreat for meetings and events. Set amid lush landscapes and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, this historic resort offers more than 25,000 square feet of versatile event space, including elegant ballrooms and scenic outdoor venues. Here, planners will have access to meeting spaces surrounded by lush rolling golf courses and the Atlantic coastline, providing a serene backdrop.

Service With a Smile
In Georgia, Sea Palms Resort sits on the charming island of St. Simons on the Atlantic Ocean. This picturesque Golden Isles property offers a tranquil oasis for events with more than 9,000 square feet of available event space. Planners will have choices spanning elegant ballrooms and outdoor venues overlooking the pristine on-site golf course, all of which provide ambience for events that attendees will remember long after they head back home.

erial view of Sea Palms Resort on St. Simons Island in Georgia
erial view of Sea Palms Resort on St. Simons Island in Georgia || Courtesy of Sea Palms Resort

Caroline Brandon, director of sales at the resort, emphasizes that Sea Palms is a “standout option among Golden Isles hotels and promises guests an upscale retreat experience.” Rick Story, chair of the Judicial Invitational Golf Classic, has used Sea Palms as the venue of choice for company events for two years. “The staff at Sea Palms has been at the heart of the success our golf outing has enjoyed in the two years since we moved the event there,” Story says. “Their stated goal is to make our members want to return. Through their welcoming atmosphere, they have certainly achieved that goal.”

There might not be anything more classic for an Orlando experience than an event at a Disney property. The 2-year-old Walt Disney World Swan Reserve is the newest resort in the Disney portfolio, a boutique property near the Walt Disney World theme parks and attractions. This modern hotel offers a 7,000-square-foot venue called The Vue, featuring a contemporary design and breathtaking views. Within The Vue is a pre-function space, a ballroom, and an outdoor terrace.

The Vue Ballroom on Walt Disney World Swan Reserve’s top floor
The Vue Ballroom on Walt Disney World Swan Reserve’s top floor || Courtesy of Walt Disney World Swan Reserve

Fireworks viewed from The Vue Terrace at Walt Disney World Swan Reserve in Orlando, Florida
Fireworks viewed from The Vue Terrace at Walt Disney World Swan Reserve in Orlando, Florida || Courtesy of Walt Disney World Swan Reserve

Director of Sales and Marketing Jim Curtis confidently states that event attendees at Swan Reserve will be pampered by Disney’s legendary hospitality, ensuring a flawless event experience. When asked about his experience with The Vue at Swan Reserve, Chris Paul, vice president of brand experiences and sports marketing with FIS Global, notes, “From the first time I saw the venue through using it now several times, it continues to be my favorite place to host meetings and receptions. We have hosted meetings with senior executives, and watching them step out onto the balcony with views of two major theme parks, acting like children again, never gets old. When the fireworks start, it’s the icing on the cake.”