It’s no surprise that the birthplace of Mardi Gras knows how to have fun. The south Alabama city of Mobile has myriad new options for entertainment and adventure before, during and after a meeting.
“The Carnival Cruise port, which is right across from our downtown convention center, has a brand-new cruise ship that offers pre- and post-convention trips for meetings, which are becoming more and more popular with groups,” said David Randel, vice president of sales, Mobile CVB.
Two newly refurbished 18-hole Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail courses at Magnolia Grove provide team-building opportunities, as well as space for a 145-person reception on the clubhouse terrace.
And the new 5 Rivers: Alabama’s Delta Resource Center across Mobile Bay in Spanish Fort offers guided pontoon and kayak trips into the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, as well as a reception facility for 275 and classroom space for 150.
“We also have new reception sites, including Space 301, an 8,000-square-foot downtown showcase for contemporary art,” Randel said. “Also, groups of up to 75 can hold an event at the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum, which was recently renovated and moved to the grounds of 6,000-seat Hank Aaron Stadium.”
Perennially popular off-site venues include the World War II Battleship USS Alabama, which can hold 500 for a reception on the fantail or 1,200 for dinner in the Aircraft Pavilion, and the Gulf Coast Exploreum, where groups of up to 800 can hold a reception. Displays that highlight the history of Fat Tuesday are the backdrop for receptions for up to 200 at Mobile’s Carnival Museum.
On the waterfront downtown, the Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center is the city’s primary meeting venue. The center and its 100,000 square feet of exhibit space, 26,500 square feet of meeting space and 15,000-square-foot ballroom are linked by an outdoor walkway to the recently refurbished 374-room Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel.
The hotel has 46,000 square feet of meeting space of its own, including three ballrooms. Another 238 guest rooms and a luxury spa are nearby at the Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel, a circa-1850s hotel that reopened three years ago after being closed for 35 years. It has 28,000 square feet of meeting space.
In recent years, new limited-service hotels have added about 1,700 guest rooms in Mobile. Among them are a 150-room Hampton Inn and Suites and a soon-to-open 81-room Candlewood Suites.
With its reputation for Southern hospitality and value, Mobile draws state associations, regional corporations and religious groups, like the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, which held its nine-day, 6,000-attendee annual conference at the convention center this summer.
Mobile’s 10 championship-quality golf courses and one of the largest tennis facilities in the world have made the city a sports town. A new sports authority has been created to lure more sports events to Mobile.
“We got off to a great start with the Hot Rod magazine Power Tour that brought 2,500 hot rods and 3,000 people to our downtown this summer,” said Randel. “Mobile was the last stop for this famous seven-day, seven-city annual event.”