by Kate Mulcrone | August 01, 2012
Coastal Savannah
The Garden City is debating a proposal to publicly fund a proposed $131 million Hilton convention center headquarters hotel on Hutchinson Island. The property would feature 500 rooms and 50,000 square feet of meeting and event space.

The city hopes to sign a contract for a $4 million renovation of the Coffee Bluff Marina, Savannah's only public boating complex, by the end of the month. Upgrades will include a fishing pier, docks, a shop and a meeting center.

The Massie Heritage Center reopened in April following an extensive renovation. Built in 1856 to serve as a public school, it closed in 1974 and was turned into a museum. Exhibits focus on local history and include a 3-D model of Savannah as well as the compass Gen. James Oglethorpe used to lay out the city. Guided tours are available for groups of 10 or more.

Last March, Ellis Square, an 18th-century park, was restored and reopened as a tourist attraction. In the heart of Savannah's Historic District, the square features interactive fountains, a life-size chessboard and a visitors' center.

Forsyth Fort, an outdoor park complex and tourist information center, reopened in spring 2010 following a $4.7 million renovation. The site now offers 7,500 square feet of event space, including a performing arts bandshell with a retractable canopy, as well as a café.

Hampton Inn and Suites Jekyll IslandAbout 75 miles south of Savannah proper, the 138-room Hampton Inn and Suites Jekyll Island opened in 2010. The property was the first to open on the island in nearly 30 years. It is less than a mile from the Morgan Center, a former indoor tennis court transformed into a conference center, the ground level of which offers 4,900 square feet of flexible function space, along with a 900-square-foot mezzanine.

Also on Jekyll Island, the 200-room Westin Jekyll Island Center currently is under construction. The property will feature 5,700 square feet of meeting space and will be part of the Jekyll Island Convention Center Complex, a mixed-use development that will include a 128,000-square-foot convention facility with a 45,000-square-foot ballroom and an additional 11 breakout meeting rooms. The complex, being built to achieve LEED Silver certification, is expected to open in February 2014.