The Newspaper for Smaller Cities, Facilities and Planners.
Issue link: http://digital.smallmarketmeetings.com/i/743490
November 2016 23 "A destination plays an important part in the meeting experience," said Jeff Hewitt, senior vice president of Visit Savannah. "Savannah appeals to all five senses." Set on the Savannah River across from down- town, the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center has 330,000 square feet of meeting space — a 100,000-square-foot exhibit hall, 13 meeting rooms, four boardrooms and a sunlight-filled, 1,800-person-capacity con- course for receptions that can flow outdoors onto the riverbank. A 25,000-square-foot ball- room boasts evening views of the architectur- ally intricate Talmadge Bridge, downtown lights, and huge container ships chugging into and out of this busy port city. "We can create an area for smaller groups by using our 367-seat auditorium and smaller meeting rooms," said Fredia Brady, the center's senior director of sales. "It mimics that intimate feeling of a hotel." Just steps away, the 403-room Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa shares an island with the center and features 35,000 square feet of meeting space, including the 6,000-square-foot outdoor Harbor Lawn, which hosts up to 250 seated. Amenities such as an 18-hole PGA Championship golf course — a for- mer host to the Legends tournament — and a Bourbon and Chocolate Bar lure visitors to park their cars for the duration of their stay. "Thanks to a partnership, guests can also chill at Bloody Point Golf Club and Resort on Daufuskie Island, just a short, complimentary boat ride away," said David Moses, director of public relations and communications for Savannah and Hilton Head Westins. When a meeting is over, attendees can hop aboard a Savannah Belles Ferry for a free, four- minute river ride to River Street to stroll the riverfront on cobblestones once used as ships' ballast, past old cotton warehouses repurposed as boutiques, shops, candy-makers, restaurants and bars. Nearby is the Marriott Savannah Riverfront, with 391 rooms, including 46 suites; 36,000 square feet of meeting space; the full- service Magnolia Spa; and splendid water views. H o t e l B o o m Hotel Boom Despite the city's strict historic preservation building codes, meetings-related construction is I n 1733, James Oglethorpe set up Savannah on a 24-square Roman military grid with wide streets as firebreaks. That plan has served the city well: Civil War Gen. Tecumseh Sherman was so impressed with the beauty of Savannah that he gave the city that his troops occupied to President Lincoln as a Christmas gift. That beauty endures today and continues to make Savannah one of the most popular cities in the South. Savannah's Landmark Historic District, the nation's largest, is one huge walkable neighbor- hood. Live oaks hung with Spanish moss create an enormous, cooling urban forest. Photo- snapping groups on walking tours, clip-clopping horses pulling carriages, professionals on their lunch hour and backpack-toting Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) students mean- der past shops, coffeehouses, tearooms, pubs, theaters and churches sprinkled throughout 22 garden squares, each with a distinctive personal- ity. Crowning this history-rich area is 30-acre Forsyth Park, ultimate outdoor local hangout and event venue. A busy selfie spot, its elaborate fountain flows green on St. Patrick's Day during the country's second-largest celebration. Little wonder that in May, Travel + Leisure named Savannah one of "America's Favorite Cities." D i s t i n c t i v e N e i g h b o r h o o d s Distinctive Neighborhoods The district's lovingly restored historic build- ings include City Market; the Mercer-Williams House, made famous by "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"; and the Olde Pink House. Once a bank, this 1771 Georgian man- sion now serves Southern lunches and dinners — she-crab soup, shrimp and grits, etc. "Our second-floor grand ballroom holds 130 and features large murals of low-country scenes painted on silver leaf," said Reginald Mack, res- taurant manager. Its basement Planters Tavern, all leather and dark paneling, can host up to 50 for a corporate buyout. Broughton Street is a downtown shoppers' nirvana, with 37 upscale stores in the midst of a $200 million facade lift. SCAD has been instru- mental in Savannah's preservation by restoring buildings throughout the city, such as an early- 1900s-era Greyhound Bus Station, now a hot new restaurant, The Grey. Savannah Trolley "A destination plays an important part in the meeting experience. Savannah appeals to all five senses." All photos courtesy Visit Savannah LOCATION Southeast Georgia on the Savannah River ACCESS Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, Amtrak, interstates 95 and 16 MAJOR MEETING SPACES Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, Savannah Civic Center, Coastal Georgia Center HOTEL ROOMS 15,000 rooms in the Savannah area, 4,500 in the historic district OFFSITE VENUES Charles H. Morris Center, Jepson Center for the Arts, Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences, Mighty 8th Air Force Museum, Gingerbread House, Owens-Thomas House, Forsyth Park, Savannah Squares, River Street Riverboat Company, The Pink House CONTACT INFO Visit Savannah 877-728-2662 www.visitsavannah.com p y Savannah, Georgia