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by Michael C. Lowe | August 01, 2010
Riverside Repast
The reinvented Cha Bella restaurant now specializes in locally sourced, seasonal and sustainable fare. Steps from the Savannah River, the space can accommodate up to 250 people for private events in its indoor dining area and outdoor covered patio. cha-bella.com
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Local Update:The Bohemian Hotel Riverfront and the Mansion on Forsyth Park are two of the first seven entries to be included in Marriott International's new Autograph Collection. The hotel chain's newest group features independent upper-upscale and luxury properties with distinctive personalities.

The Charles H. Morris Center was named the Best Special Event Venue for 2009 by Savannah magazine. The restored and renovated facility was built in 1881 and includes 3,600 square feet of event space enclosed by a historic Savannah gray-brick exterior.

Last fall, the former Holiday Inn Savannah Midtown became a Quality Inn with renovated guest rooms. The 170-room hotel is within walking distance of Oglethorpe Mall and a short drive to Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. Meeting facilities include more than 2,700 square feet of space.

The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa completed a $10 million renovation in June, featuring 403 new guest rooms, new meeting rooms now totaling 35,000 square feet and two new dining options. For additional meeting space, the 250,000-square-foot Savannah International Trade and Convention Center is next door.

Meeting Hotels: Properties in the city's lively downtown area include the 403-room Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa, 387-room Savannah Marriott Riverfront, 351-room Hyatt Regency Savannah, 252-room Inn at Ellis square, 246-room Hilton Savannah DeSoto, 170-room Quality Inn Savannah Midtown, 154-room Hampton Inn & Suites Savannah Downtown, 150-room Doubletree Hotel Historic Savannah, 145-room Mulberry Inn and 133-room Hilton Garden Inn.

The Savannah Historic District is home to the 156-room Courtyard by Marriott Savannah Historic District, 151-room Avia Savannah, 144-room Hampton Inn Savannah-Historic District, 143-room Holiday Inn Express Savannah-Historic District, 127-room Four Points by Sheraton Historic Savannah and 126-room Mansion on Forsyth Park.

Hotels near Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport in West Chatham include the 162-room Embassy Suites Savannah-Airport and 155-room Governor's Inn Conference Center.

Convention Center: Savan­nah International Trade & Convention Center; exhibit space, approximately 100,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 13; (888) 644-6822; savtcc.com

Airport Tran­sit: Savannah/Hilton Head International Air­port, about 10 miles northwest of downtown Savannah. Transfer cost by taxi to downtown, $25; by shuttle, $16

Taxes: Room tax, 6%; sales tax, 6%; total tax on hotel rooms, 12%

Group Venues: Relive John Berendt's riveting bestseller of 1994, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, with a private dinner party at the 1903 haunt, Clary's Café. In Savannah's colorful Historic District and known for its role as the go-to diner in the film version, the restaurant features a private dining room for 70 people and a stained-glass depiction of the book's cover. (912) 351-0302; savannahga.net/dining/claryscafe.html

For a patriotic pick, the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum offers several private rooms for group gatherings, including the Major General Lewis E. Lyle Rotunda, which can fit up to 300 people for dinner under its 30-foot ceilings, and a British-style pub with a mahogany bar available for parties of up to 60. The 90,000-square-foot museum was built to commemorate the more than 350,000 members of the 8th Air Force who served during World War II. (912) 748-8888; mightyeighth.org

Telfair Academy of Arts and SciencesThe Telfair Museums offer three distinct venues for special events. The neoclassical Regency-style Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences accommodates up to 200 people in its majestic rotunda and another 150 in its sculpture gallery. The mansion was built for Revolutionary War patriot and Georgia governor Edward Telfair in 1819 and was opened to the public in 1886. The Owens-Thomas House is both a National Historic Landmark and historic house museum built in the early 1800s. The venue's English-inspired garden can hold up to 100. The Jepson Center for the Arts is a 64,000-square-foot facility featuring a 220-seat auditorium, outdoor sculpture terraces for cocktail parties and space for up to 500. (912) 790-8800; telfair.org

CVB Services: Savannah Convention & Visitors Bureau, (912) 644-6400 or (877) 728-2662; savannahvisit.com