The Carolinas are known for their pristine mountain vistas and gorgeous white sand beaches. Meeting planners can take their pick of some of the finest resorts in the country based on their hobbies and interests.
The following North and South Carolina resorts offer everything from golfing and fly-fishing to hiking and zip lining, with luxury accommodations and first-class service that will make meeting delegates eager to attend events there.
Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort
Hilton Head, South Carolina
The 323-suite Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort sits on the southern tip of the Carolina Coast on Hilton Head Island. The island itself is known as a major golf destination, but the Omni resort is a destination in its own right, with pristine white sand beaches and a laid-back Caribbean-style atmosphere.
“The resort is built in a way where we embrace that whole outside vibe,” said Warren Woodard, director of sales and marketing for the resort. “We’re not your traditional sort of fancy hotel on the beach. We’re connected. Our buildings are connected by boardwalks. We have open-air breezeways that are our corridors. All of our meeting space has natural lighting.”
With 14,000 square feet of meeting space and a variety of outdoor venues, there are plenty of options for conference planners. Most groups will add some element of the outdoors to their meeting or convention, like a barbecue or a cocktail hour on the beach or a group golf outing.
The resort specializes in groups of under 200 people. Its 3,960-square-foot ballroom is its largest meeting space. It also has a building that is broken into eight 1,000-square-foot sections, one of which is a United Nations-style boardroom. These meeting spaces have access to a Carolina porch, which can be used as a meal or break space for convention attendees. The Shorehouse Oceanfront Deck is a covered pavilion with 360-degree views right on the water that can serve 350 people banquet-style.
The resort can arrange stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, boat excursions, and nature or golf tours.
Blowing Rock, North Carolina
Chetola Resort has been around since the 1800s. The historic mountain property, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, became the summer home of J. Luther Snyder, the owner of 10 Coca-Cola bottling plants in the Charlotte area, in 1926. The estate became a resort about 20 years ago, taking advantage of its prime location close to ski resorts and offering one of the area’s top spas. The property, which is two hours from Charlotte, features three different types of accommodations: a lodge, condominiums and a bed-and-breakfast.
“The reason people like to come there is it gets you out of your zone, out of the city,” said Beth Burleson, sales manager for the resort. “It is ski country. All the ski resorts are here. A mini-Aspen in North Carolina, downtown Blowing Rock has cute shops and restaurants to go try.” And the town is in walking distance of the resort.
The resort can handle events for up to 100 people. There is a seven-acre lake for trout fishing, paddleboarding, a disc golf course, tennis and pickleball courts. Lots of conferences get planned in the summer months because Blowing Rock is 10 degrees cooler than its lower-elevation counterparts, but many event planners like to book Chetola around prime foliage season in October as well.
All of the resort’s meeting rooms have windows and fireplaces. It also has on-site and off-site team-building activities, including zip lining, whitewater rafting and horseback riding. The Chetola Sporting Reserve, six miles away, offers sporting clays and pistol, rifle and archery ranges.
Duck, North Carolina
Sanderling Resort sits on the shores of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, a 200-mile-long strip of barrier islands. It features 360-degree views of the Atlantic Ocean and Currituck Sound. The original property began as a small lodge in 1985. It has since expanded and has continued to expand every year to include fine dining, additional guest rooms, two pools and an event center.
“We’re fortunate to see the sun rise over the Atlantic and set over Currituck Sound,” said Wendy Coulson Murray, director of sales and marketing for Sanderling Resort. “That is what those guests experience if they are having a function there.”
The first level of the Oceanside Event House and Deck features 1,800 square feet of function space with a large deck and fire pit. The second floor houses an additional 1,800-square-foot ballroom or function space with a large deck, a boardroom, a breakout room and spaces to prepare food.
The resort has a 4,500-square-foot pavilion that has become a prime wedding and event space. It has 123 guest rooms and five rental homes. Groups can golf or fish. The town of Duck has an “awesome boardwalk and pedestrian walkways and bikeways,” Coulson Murray said. “Guests can take bikes from here and ride there.” It is also fairly close to Kitty Hawk of Wright Brothers fame.
Old Edwards Inn and Spa
Highlands, North Carolina
Over the past 11 years, the Old Edwards Inn has grown considerably, from an 87-room lodge to three resort properties with 204 rooms, plenty of event spaces and a world-class golf course. The inn, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is the company’s flagship property and is right on Main Street in Highlands, North Carolina. Highlands is surrounded by mountains, lakes and the sixth-highest concentration of waterfalls in the contiguous United States. Charlotte, Atlanta, Birmingham, Alabama, and Raleigh/Durham are all within a 60-mile radius of the resort, making it a hot spot for corporate retreats, conferences and events.
Highlands isn’t just a “teeny little mountain town,” said Melissa Delany, director of sales for the Old Edwards Inn and Spa. “We are rather well funded. It has been the place where wealthy folks in the Southeast have come to play in the last 100 years.”
Groups can rent out traditional meeting venues like Edwards Hall, for up to 125 guests, or the resort’s Barn Pavilion, which can hold up to 275 guests, or they can hold their meetings at the Old Edwards Club, which overlooks the ninth hole of the Tom Jackson-designed golf course.
Montage Palmetto Bluff
Bluffton, South Carolina
Montage Palmetto Bluff sits on 20,000 acres in South Carolina’s lowcountry. It is perched on the banks of the May River between Hilton Head Island and Savannah, Georgia. Half of the resort is set aside as a nature preserve, but it also has its own marina and a Jack Nicklaus-signature golf course.
“Everything we do is geared around the land and incorporates the land,” said Scott Thrasher, director of group sales for the resort.
Originally, the resort was made up of 50 cottages. But in 2016, the resort built its main inn and eight additional guest houses. It now has 260 guest rooms and both traditional and outdoor meeting and conference venues.
The Wilson Ballroom in the inn has nearly 7,000 square feet of space and can hold up to 700 guests. The River House has a large ballroom, two verandas, a wine cellar and some boardroom spaces.
The resort offers horseback riding, biking, golfing, shooting and spa activities. Watersports are big because of Bluffton’s location on the water, and guests enjoy fishing, kayaking and paddleboarding on the lagoon or on the salt-water river. Montage also offers team-building activities like bicycle scavenger hunts and group kayaking adventures.