Alabama offers groups a variety of destinations rich in culture and heritage. This year, the city of Birmingham is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights movement (50yearsforward.com
), while Mobile's Mardi Gras is said to be the oldest such celebration in America.
The Wynfrey Hotel is now the Hyatt Regency Birmingham-The Wynfrey
, after a $20 million renovation. The 329-room property now offers a Merk's Tavern & Kitchen, which serves Southern fare. Other amenities include a pool, a fitness center, the exclusive Regency Club lounge and 32,000 square feet of meeting space.
The 100-room Grand Bohemian Hotel
in the Lane Park neighborhood is set to open in 2014 as part of the Kessler Collection. The property also will have 276 upscale apartments and 185,000 square feet of retail and office space.
The 294-room Westin Birmingham Hotel
opened adjacent to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex this past February with approximately 7,000 square feet of meeting space and an additional 2,500 square feet of prefunction space. The $50 million property also has a gym, an outdoor pool and the Todd English P.U.B. restaurant.Regions Field,
the new $64 million home of the Birmingham Barons, a minor league affiliate of baseball's Chicago White Sox, opened in April with 8,500 seats and 23 luxury suites.Meeting Hotels
Major properties with meeting space in the city include the 757-room Sheraton Birmingham Hotel, 329-room Hyatt Regency Birmingham-The Wynfrey, 298-room DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Birmingham, 295-room Birmingham Marriott, 259-room Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa, 242-room Embassy Suites Birmingham and 205-room Hilton Birmingham Perimeter Park. To find and compare hotels, and send RFPs, go to mcvenues.com
The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex; exhibition space, 220,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 74; (205) 458-8400; bjcc.orgAirport Transit
Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, about five miles northeast of downtown Birmingham. Transfer cost by taxi, $17Taxes
Room tax, 14%; sales tax, 10%; total tax on hotel rooms, 14%. Group Venue
Now a National Historic Landmark, the Sloss Furnaces
were once the site of major iron production in Birmingham. The 32-acre plant was in operation from 1882 to 1971 and is now available for tours, metal arts classes and group rentals. The Furnace Apron space can accommodate up to 100 guests among the factory's historic infrastructure and equipment, while the venue's largest area, which includes a stage and unobstructed views of the plant's blast furnace, can host up to 900 people. (205) 324-1911; slossfurnaces.comDining Out
A semifinalist for best new restaurant in this year's James Beard Awards, Ollie Irene offers a fresh take on seasonal homegrown cooking, using ingredients and flavors associated with the heritage of Southern farming. Menu items range from catfish dusted in cornmeal and sautéed with sweet corn, Cajun ham and lemon butter, to fresh tagliatelle pasta in a braised chicken and pancetta ragu. (205) 769-6034; ollieirene.comContact
Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau, (205) 458-8000; birminghamal.org
• The Embassy Suites Tuscaloosa Downtown broke ground in May and is scheduled to be completed near the end of 2014. The 154-suite property will have 5,300 square feet of meeting space and an in-house restaurant/lounge.
• The 88-suite SpringHill Suites by Marriott recently opened in Huntsville, offering complimentary daily breakfast, an outdoor swimming pool and meeting space for up to 30 people.
• The DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Huntsville South opened last September with 149 rooms and 5,000 square feet of meeting space.