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Home Away From Home

Atlanta’s Southern hospitality shines through its meeting and event offerings

By Madeline Fuerstenberg

An aerial view of Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta || Courtesy of Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

Charm takes on a whole new meaning in Georgia’s state capital. From thousands of hotel rooms to Georgia World Congress Center, the world’s largest LEED-certified convention center, Atlanta’s hospitable nature and innovative spirit make for an ideal meeting destination year-round.

“Whether it is the Super Bowl, College Football Playoff National Championship, or a major convention with thousands of attendees, Atlanta has proven it can handle any size event,” says Kristin Delahunt, vice president of destination services at the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The city’s infrastructure makes it a natural location for hosting major events with nearly 13,000 hotel rooms downtown and nearly 300 dining options within walking distance of the convention centers, stadium, and arena.”

A One-Stop Shop

If planners are searching for a true one-stop shop for event hosting in the heart of the city, Atlanta’s 22-acre Centennial Olympic Park is the place to go. There, the massive Georgia World Congress Center boasts 1.5 million square feet of exhibit space for myriad event opportunities.

Seated in or near the park are Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the NFL Atlanta Falcons and MLS Atlanta United FC, featuring 167,500 square feet of event space; the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame, boasting 50,000 square feet of event space; and State Farm Arena, home of the NBA Atlanta Hawks, which has 13 event spaces with capacities ranging from eight to 13,000 eventgoers.

The shark exhibit at Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta || Courtesy of Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

Also nearby are the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola museum, SkyView Atlanta (the city’s 20-story Ferris wheel), and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. The aquarium has 23,000 square feet of meeting space, with rooms boasting private windows looking into the Ocean Voyager and Cold Water Quest galleries. World of Coca-Cola has six event spaces, with a maximum capacity of 1,200. The National Center for Civil and Human Rights has six event spaces with capacities ranging from 30 to 500.

Conveniently situated on the outskirts of Centennial Olympic Park are several hotels. The 1,067-room Omni Atlanta at Centennial Park has 45 meeting rooms and 120,000 square feet of available meeting space. The 321-room Embassy Suites by Hilton Atlanta at Centennial Olympic Park has 16,585 square feet of event space across 20 meeting rooms. Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta Downtown, a 242-room property, has 11,621 square feet of event space across 11 meeting rooms.

Of course, Centennial Olympic Park isn’t the only part of Atlanta with much to offer. “In Atlanta, we pride ourselves on a collaborative hospitality community dedicated to making every event a success,” Delahunt says. “We work in concert with our hotels, venues, restaurants, attractions, and ambassadors to create a seamless meeting experience. Additionally, our hospitality portfolio continues to grow as the city is gaining new hotel properties, expanding venues, and renovating existing facilities, creating an ever-evolving destination for visitors.”

The Atlanta Convention Center at AmericasMart, located on Atlanta’s iconic Peachtree Street, can accommodate groups of up to 3,000 and is connected to the 1,100-room Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, and the 206-room Hotel Indigo Atlanta Downtown, an IHG Hotel. Treat guests to a 360-degree view of the city in Westin’s The Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar & View on the hotel’s 73rd floor.

Peachtree Street during autumn in the Midtown neighborhood of Atlanta || Courtesy of Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

Located in northern Atlanta is Truist Park, home of MLB’s Atlanta Braves. The stadium features 17 rentable event spaces that can accommodate gatherings from team building in the batting cages to massive trade shows. Also, in the northern half of the city, the 218-room Hyatt Centric Buckhead Atlanta offers meeting space and easy access to Lennox Square, an upscale shopping destination.

Zoo Atlanta, located in the Grant Park neighborhood of the city, has 14 event spaces and offers a full zoo buyout for larger events of up to 5,000 attendees. For a sophisticated vibe, the Fernbank Museum has 10 event spaces available, with its largest room accommodating up to 600 eventgoers.

To find the perfect venue for your next event, Delahunt recommends working with Atlanta-based planners like Destination South Meetings & Events, Discover Destinations, E.S. Destinations, Juice Studios, PRA Events, Presenting Atlanta, and Vibe Destination Management LLC.

Beyond the Boardroom

With all Atlanta has to offer for meetings and events, it’s worth noting the myriad activities available to your attendees across the city affectionally known as “The Big Peach.” “Our hope is that attendees have an opportunity to explore our unique in-town neighborhoods,”
Delahunt says. “One way to do so is by visiting Atlanta BeltLine, which is one of the largest sustainable redevelopment projects in the nation. The Eastside Trail [of Atlanta BeltLine] connects several of Atlanta’s neighborhoods like Midtown, Inman Park, and Old Fourth Ward. The 3-mile segment [of Atlanta BeltLine] is bustling with locals and peppered with unique art to discover while biking the path or taking a leisurely stroll on foot.”

Midtown, Atlanta’s arts and cultural district, is a quick drive up Peachtree Street. There, you’ll find attractions like Politan Row at Colony Square, a 20,000-square-foot culinary destination housing 11 independent restaurant concepts.

Savannah Hall at Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta || Photo by Don Riddle, courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

In Midtown, eventgoers can stay at Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, a 244-room hotel with 17,436 square feet of event space across 16 rooms. From there, head to the Buckhead neighborhood for fine shopping, historical displays, and a lively nightlife scene. Treat your event attendees to a meal at Mary Mac’s Tea Room, capable of hosting private events ranging from 20 to 200, or indulge in classic Southern cuisine at Wisteria Restaurant, which can host groups of up to 100. For a more laid-back evening, visit Bold Monk Brewing Co., which has five event spaces with capacities ranging from 65 to 175.

Easy Access

With a sprawling layout of 134 square miles, it should come as no surprise that Atlanta has public transportation down to a science. “When it comes to accessibility, Atlanta is second to none,” Delahunt says. “Whether it’s by plane or by car, our city is one of the most accessible in the world, making it easy for attendees to get here quickly. Once you’re in Atlanta, navigating the city is a breeze with MARTA [Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority], our rapid transit system. MARTA comes directly to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s baggage claim and takes attendees to downtown, Midtown, Buckhead, and beyond.” Interstates 20 and 85 intersect at the heart of Atlanta, allowing easy access in and out of the city.

And while Delahunt touts the city’s walkability as a top selling point for meeting and event planners, she also acknowledges that Atlanta’s true draw goes much deeper than that. “At the end of the day, what attendees talk about most is the helpful, hospitable attitude of the people who live and work here,” Delahunt explains. “Our Southern hospitality remains our most unique and appreciated asset.”