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Arkansas Meeting Guide: Eureka Springs full of eureka! moments

Crescent Hotel, courtesy Arkansas Tourism

In 1998, while looking for a town in which to retire, Elise and Marty Roenigk discovered Eureka Springs, near the Missouri border in Northwest Arkansas.

“They fell in love with Eureka,” said Jodie English, director of sales for the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa and the 1905 Basin Park Hotel. “And who wouldn’t? It’s quite charming.”

Established in 1879, the picturesque retreat in the Ozark Mountains was once celebrated for its springs’ restorative benefits. Now it’s known as an artists’ enclave permeated with Victorian charm. Indeed, the entire town is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ardent preservationists, the Roenigks purchased Basin Park and then the Crescent. Today the restored properties, also listed in the National Register, are packaged as  one big hotel for planners, English said. Together, they have more than 10,000 square feet of event space in six rooms dressed in period décor.

“We find if they hold their meeting at Basin Park then they have dinner or an opening reception at Crescent. It depends on what the group is looking for as to which property is the primary hotel,” English said.

The 72-room Crescent is perched on Crescent Mountain and features a spa, now accessed by a new elevator. Furnishings have a Victorian sensibility.

The 62-room Basin Park, in the heart of downtown, takes an arts-and-crafts approach. The property also has a spa. A complimentary shuttle transports guests up and down the winding road between the hotels.

Both properties are continually tweaked to keep them in good shape. In summer, for instance, the Crescent’s lobby received a fresh coat of paint. “We’re in a constant state of preservation,” English said.

The Crescent’s meeting and event space includes the 2,947-square-foot Crystal Dining Room, the 1,313-square-foot Conservatory and the 896-square-foot Faculty Lounge. The lounge has an outdoor deck that faces the Ozarks. Basin Park’s largest space is the 2,400-square-foot Grand Ballroom.

For offsite venues, consider the circa-1920s Eureka Springs City Auditorium, which seats 1,000. The Eureka Springs School of the Arts offers studio space for corporate teambuilding.

There is no shortage of artists in Eureka Springs, and visiting their galleries, which line downtown’s quaint streets, is a good way to spend free time. “There are more than 300 artists living here and making a living,” English said.

Like the hidden room in the Crescent, this resort destination holds plenty of surprises.