The Carolinas Destination Guide

Why Here?
The Carolinas offer attendees rich experiences, ranging from coastal resorts to the culinary traditions of the South. Major airport renovations in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (above), and Raleigh, N.C., are making travel into two of the region's high-profile destinations easier and more enjoyable for groups.

Resort overhaul. The 323-suite Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort completed the first phase of a $17 million renovation in April, including a revamp of its 20,000+ square feet of meeting space (phase 2 details are still to come). The property also sports a new 3,600-square-foot "zero-entry" swimming pool. bit.ly/13mIA02.

Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Myrtle Beach International Airport completed an extensive $113 million expansion project this past April, increasing the number of gates from six to 13.

The 100-room Homewood Suites Oceanfront Resort & Convention Center is on target to open in June 2014. The $25 million property will offer a 300-seat conference center and will share swimming pools and other amenities with the 226-room Hampton Inn Oceanfront next door.

The 492-room Springmaid Beach Resort recently completed a $7 million renovation, upgrading its guest rooms, conference center and landscaping. The resort offers 35,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort at Kingston Shores has wrapped up a renovation of its 385 guest rooms. Upgrades include new furnishings, bedding, lighting and paint. The property features more than 48,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau has relaunched its website, VisitMyrtleBeach.com. The revamp focused on improving user experience, maintaining brand positioning and helping community stakeholders grow business through website referrals.

Meeting Hotels
Properties include the 1,600-room Sands Resorts (comprising seven hotels), 1,560-room Kingston Plantation Resorts (four hotels), 816-room Sea Mist Oceanfront Resort, 620-room The Breakers, 600-room Litchfield Beach & Golf Resort, 570-room Landmark Resort, 540-room Caravelle Resort, 514-room Crown Reef Resort & Conference Center and 491-room Springmaid Beach Resort & Conference Center. To find and compare hotels, and send RFPs, go to mcvenues.com.

Convention Center
Myrtle Beach Convention Center; exhibit space, 100,800 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 17; (843) 918-1225; myrtlebeachconventioncenter.com

Airport Transit
Myrtle Beach International Airport, three miles from downtown. Transfer cost by taxi, $13-$15. Many hotels offer free shuttle service.

Taxes
Room tax, 2.5%; local taxes, 4.5% or 5.5%; total tax on hotel rooms within city limits, 13%; outside the city, 12%

Group Venue
Attendees can experience hurricane-force winds or lay on a bed of nails at Wonderworks, which has more than 100 interactive exhibits, including a space-themed ropes course and a 2,100-square-foot "lazer-tag" arena. The venue can host groups of up to 1,000 people. (843) 626-9962; wonderworksonline.com

Contact
Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, (800) 488-8998; www.visitmyrtlebeach.com

Click Here
Learn about the myriad attractions of Charleston, S.C., at charlestoncvb.com

For all there is to do on North Carolina's Outer Banks, visit outerbanks.org

Columbia, S.C.

The Columbia Mar­riott recently completed a renovation of its 299 guest rooms, increased its meeting space to 27,000 square feet, revamped the lobby and upgraded all banquet spaces.

Meeting Hotels
Choices include the 299-room Columbia Mar­riott; 238-room DoubleTree by Hil­ton, Colum­bia; 181-room Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Co­lumbia Northeast, and 161-room Clarion Hotel Downtown. To find and compare hotels, and send RFPs, visit mcvenues.com.

Convention Center
Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center; exhibit space, 24,700 square feet; meeting rooms, 13; (803) 545-0001; columbiaconventioncenter.com

Airport Transit
Columbia Metropolitan Airport, about eight miles southwest of downtown. Trans­fer cost by taxi, $20-$25

Taxes
Room tax, 2%; sales tax, 7% (Richland County and Lexington); tourism development tax, 3%; total tax on hotel rooms, 12%

Group Venue
The Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is home to more than 2,000 animals, from Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes to massive Galapagos tortoises, as well as more than 4,200 species of native and exotic plants. The venue features a variety of function spaces, such as the Ndoki Lodge, which can hold up to 300 people and overlooks an elephant habitat. In August, the venue unveiled "Zip the Zoo," a series of zip lines that trail along the perimeter of the facility and over the Saluda River. (803) 779-8717; riverbanks.org

Contact
Columbia Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, (803) 545-0000; columbiacvb.com

Raleigh, N.C.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport is undergoing a $68 million modernization that will upgrade Terminal 1 with new dining and retail outlets, expanded security areas and more. The work is scheduled to be wrap in early 2014.

The 137-room Hyatt House Raleigh North Hills opened in July with nearly 1,700 square feet of meeting space, an indoor pool and a bar.

Adjacent to the Raleigh Convention Center, the 335-room Sheraton Raleigh Hotel is undergoing a series of renovations that include upgrades to the property's 20,000 square feet of meeting space and prefunction areas. Work is expected to wrap up later this fall.

The 150-room Umstead Hotel and Spa

 in Cary, just minutes from downtown Raleigh, recently completed a three-month renovation of its 16,000-square-foot Umstead Spa, which resulted in upgraded treatment rooms and a new nail salon area. The hotel offers more than 10,000 square feet of meeting space.

Meeting Hotels
Properties include the 400-room Raleigh Marriott City Center, 375-room Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley, 353-room Sheraton Raleigh Capital Center Hotel, 341-room Hilton North Raleigh, 273-room Embassy Suites Raleigh-Durham, 229-room Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel, 190-room Doubletree by Hilton Raleigh Brownstone-University and 150-room Umstead Hotel & Spa. To find and compare hotels, and send RFPs, visit mcvenues.com.

Convention Center
Raleigh Convention Center; exhibit space, approximately 150,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 20; (919) 996-8500; raleighconventioncenter.com

Airport Transit
Raleigh-Durham International Airport, about 15 miles northwest of downtown Raleigh. Transfer by taxi, about $40

Taxes
Room tax, 6%; sales tax, 6.75%; total tax on hotel rooms, 12.75%

Group Venue
The Haywood Hall House and Gardens was built in 1799 by John Haywood, North Carolina's first elected treasurer. Today, the Federal-style home serves as a museum and event space for groups of up to 25. Outdoor space includes an area with a gazebo that can host up to 80 guests. (919) 832-8357; haywoodhall.org

Dining Out
The Angus Barn, a 2013 James Beard Award nominee for Outstanding Wine Program, has a cellar that holds approximately 27,500 bottles and doubles as a private dining area for up to 34. The eatery also offers private banquet rooms for up to 220. (919) 781-2444; angusbarn.com

Contact
Visit Raleigh, (800) 849-8499; www.visitraleigh.com.

Other Cities
Other Cities
• The 95-room Sanderling (N.C.) Resort reopened in May after a multimillion-dollar renovation. New features include an event lawn and a 1,500-square-foot oceanside event space. The hotel offers a total of 12,000 square feet of meeting space.

• The 297-room Crowne Plaza Charlotte (N.C.) Executive Park opened in June with 15,000 square feet of meeting space.

• The Westin Hilton Head Island (S.C.) Resort & Spa completed a $30 million renovation in April. The resort has 416 guest rooms and more than 37,000 square feet of function space.

High flying: The Gorge Zip Line (thegorgezipline.com) in Saluda, N.C. , just 90 minutes east of Charlotte, N.C., drops 1,100 vertical feet. The attraction has 11 zip lines, three rappels and a skybridge.

In the know: Follow the latest news from Visit Charlotte (N.C.) on Twitter: @cvbcharlottenc

Succulent soft crabs at Lantern in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Succulent soft crabs at Lantern in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Foodies, Take Note


More than a dozen restaurants and chefs across the Carolinas received prestigious James Beard Award nominations this year, including:

Chef & The Farmer
Kinston, N.C.
chefandthefarmer.com
Set in a 100-year-old mule stable 45 miles southwest of Greenville, N.C., Chef & The Farmer offers a rustic urban vibe and modern Southern cuisine. Menu items (locally sourced) include pork-belly skewers with candied bell peppers, and barbecued duck served with pink-eyed pea succotash. Two private dining rooms can be combined for groups of up to 130. Chief Vivian Howard received a James Beard nod for Best Chef: Southeast.

Cypress
Charleston, S.C.
magnolias-blossom-cypress.com
Helmed by James Beard Award nominee chef Craig Diehl, Cypress offers dishes adorned with the likes of cheddar beer sauce, black truffle demi-glace and bacon jam. This downtown Charleston eatery offers private dining for up to 75.

Lantern
Chapel Hill, N.C.
lanternrestaurant.com
A James Beard nominee for Outstanding Restaurant, Lantern features a fusion of Asian flavors and North Carolina ingredients, such as the spicy heirloom tomato soup served with fresh wasabi. Lantern can host up to 45 for a private seated dinner.