Georgia offers groups everything from cosmopolitan Atlanta (pictured) -- with its ever-growing skyline, wealth of meeting and convention facilities, and crowd-pleasing attractions like the Porsche Experience Center -- to resorts that promise seaside vistas, country charm and superb golfing.
SEA ISLAND SPOTLIGHT
• Sea Island Resort is an idyllic isle off the Georgia coast, spanning four properties: The Cloister, The Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club, Broadfield Sporting Club & Lodge and the Inn at Sea Island. The Cloister is undergoing an expansion; the 200-room luxury property is adding a 63-room Garden Wing, slated to debut in spring 2016. Also, a new meeting space, the 5,000-square-foot Mizner Ballroom, will open this fall.
THE "REAL" PEACHTREE STREET
Atlanta has more than 70 streets that include the name "Peachtree," but the best-known is the original, the main thoroughfare that traverses the city's most conspicuous neighborhoods.
History buffs will enjoy themed tours (e.g., architecture, the Civil War) of Historic Oakland Cemetery, the final resting place of famous Atlantans such as Margaret Mitchell and Bobby Jones.
• The 166-room AC Hotel Buckhead is set to open in early 2016. The property, a member of the AC Hotels by Marriott brand, will include approximately 2,500 square feet of meeting space, a lounge, a library and a fully equipped fitness club.
• The 260-room Omni Atlanta Hotel at SunTrust Park will be the flagship of SunTrust Park, the Atlanta Braves' new ballpark and mixed-use project. The $452 million complex, including the hotel, will open in 2017. The Omni property is slated to have 12,500 square feet of meeting space, an elevated pool deck and bar overlooking the plaza and ballpark, and a signature restaurant.
• The 1,073-room Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta has launched a special tour to give groups a behind-the-scenes look at the silver Green Seal property. The tour emphasizes the hotel's many eco-friendly initiatives, including event serveware made of leaves and the 450,000 pounds of waste recycled each year through the property's innovative one-stream system. The event concludes with a stop at one of the hotel's 53 newly renovated meeting spaces to let visitors see how the in-house setups and other features minimize the environmental impact of events.
• The Aloft Atlanta Downtown has opened in the former Days Inn Atlanta Downtown following a $25 million renovation. The 254-room hotel has an outdoor pool, a fitness ceπnter and 2,000 square feet of meeting space.
• The 150-room Hyatt House Atlanta Downtown debuted this summer. The property is near Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, and the Center for Civil and Human Rights.
• The 200-room Hotel Indigo Downtown is set to open in early 2016 in one of downtown Atlanta's first office buildings, 230 Peachtree St. The property, with its three meeting rooms, will occupy the first nine floors of the building.
• The Ponce City Market, an urban food hall and retail area, has opened in the former Sears, Roebuck & Co. building, which dates from 1925. Among the offerings are H&F Burger, El Super Pan and Farm to Ladle.
• Featuring a retractable roof, the new Atlanta Falcons Stadium is scheduled to open in time for the 2017 NFL season. The venue will serve as the home of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC soccer team.
Room tax hike
As of July 1, all hotels in Georgia began charging an additional $5 per room, per night. The new statewide tax, which was introduced by lawmakers in April as HB170, is earmarked to pay for improvements to Georgia's transportation network. The new tax is expected to net $200 million for state coffers.
Meeting Hotels: Among the city's major meeting properties are the 1,569-room Atlanta Marriott Marquis, 1,260-room Hyatt Regency Atlanta, 1,178 room Hilton Atlanta, 1,073-room Westin Peachtree Plaza, 1,038-rom Omni Hotel at CNN Center and 749-room Sheraton Atlanta Hotel.
To find and compare hotels, and send RFPs, visit mcvenues.com.
Convention Centers: Georgia World Congress Center; exhibit space, approximately 1.4 million square feet; number of meeting rooms, 106; (404) 223-4200
Georgia International Convention Center; exhibit space, 150,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 10; (770) 997-3566
Airport Transit: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, about 10 miles south of downtown Atlanta. Transfer cost by taxi, $30
Taxes: Room tax, 8%; sales tax, 8%; total tax on hotel rooms, 16%, plus a state tax of $5 per room, per night.
Group Venue: The Porsche Experience Center, which debuted this past May, features a world-class test track for one-on-one instruction, exciting off-road courses, a human-performance training facility, a driving simulator center, a restaurant and meeting/event space for up to 150 guests. Group buyouts of the entire center are accommodated. (888) 204-7474
Contact: The Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, (404) 521-6600