Shipwrecks and sea turtles, golf courses galore and multicourse meals, tall-ship cruises and kayaking tours: The coastal cities of the Carolinas are surrounded by water, not only the Atlantic Ocean but also major rivers, salt marshes, tidal creeks and the Intracoastal Waterway.
Meeting planners can book beachfront resorts and ocean-view venues, take attendees on dolphin cruises or shrimp boat outings and even charter boats to ferry guests to an uninhabited island for a private beach bonfire, oyster roast and low-country boil.
Charleston, South Carolina
English settlers founded Charleston, South Carolina, in 1670 on the Atlantic Coast, and the seaport city still greets visitors with historic charm and lots of water at every turn.
Many of the buildings and houses in the renowned Charleston Historic District have been repurposed into hotels, inns and restaurants, so “it’s like being in a living museum,” said Chris Hendrix, director of sales for the Charleston Area CVB.
The city’s two largest event venues are the Charleston Area Convention Center complex, about 10 minutes from the historic district, and the Charleston Gaillard Center, in the heart of downtown.
The 179-room Hotel Bennett, slated to open this summer, is the largest new hotel construction in the historic district in several years. The full-service hotel’s 12,000 square feet of event space will include a flexible 6,700-square-foot ballroom, a rooftop pool deck and a rooftop meeting room.
The Kiawah Island Golf Resort just announced major expansion plans ramping up to hosting the 2021 PGA Championship. The resort will build a conference center with 24,000 square feet of meeting space that will be complete in June 2019. A new luxury, 150-room oceanfront hotel with an oceanfront restaurant and a rooftop bar is slated to open in late 2020. “It will be a phenomenal addition to their portfolio,” which includes the Sanctuary Hotel, Kiawah’s beachfront luxury hotel, Hendrix said.
Groups can incorporate water in many ways, both cultural and culinary, among them dinner cruises, ecotours and kayaking trips that lead past historic plantation homes. Planners can charter private boats to an uninhabited barrier island for an oyster roast or a low-country boil. Aboard the Schooner Pride tall ship, up to 49 passengers can enjoy a leisure cruise or participate in team building, competing to raise and set the sails and steer to the finish point.