Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa
Location: Florence, Alabama
Size: 199 guest rooms
Meeting Space: Over 30,000 square feet
Access: Interstates 65 and 22; Northwest Alabama Regional Airport; Huntsville International Airport
Groups meeting at the Marriott Shoals are immersed in quintessential Alabama experiences.
The Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa in Florence provides memorable Southern cooking and fine-dining experiences, ample meeting facilities, a relaxing spa, a stunning view of the Tennessee River and proximity to world-famous music studios in nearby Muscle Shoals.
Located in northwest Alabama, it is a place steeped in songs dating back to the native Yuchie Tribe, which called the Tennessee “the singing river.”
Swampers, the resort’s casual restaurant, is named after the band of local talent that rose to fame working with Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, The Rolling Stones and many other greats.
The resort’s fine-dining establishment — called 360 Grille — is the state’s only revolving restaurant with breathtaking views of the river, along with Wilson Lake.
All of the resort’s 199 the rooms have balconies and share a spectacular view of the land and water that spawned the unique style Muscle Shoals music The rooms tower over the resort’s figure-eight outdoor pool, which has a bar and waterslide. If the weather turns bad, families can enjoy the resort’s indoor pool.
At the base of the resort’s distinctive tower is a spa where guests can get massages, body treatments and facials. Young and old alike can stroll to the nearby River Heritage Park and marvel at its splash pad with spray jets and LED lights.
For time away from the resort, guests can tour FAME Studio, where many famous music recordings occurred. Guests can also go to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame to learn about the extensive line of musical talent that has come to the region. There are numerous other local attractions, including Ivy Green, the birthplace of Helen Keller, who published 12 books and overcame the challenges of being blind and deaf. There are plays and storytelling events at the Shoals Theatre, and golfers can enjoy two 18-hole championship courses on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at the Shoals.
“We can help put together all the things you want to do,” said Selena Miller, director of sales and marketing. “If you want speakers and activities, we can help. Our team is very seasoned. We are selling the destination and all the things that make us who we are.”
With more than 30,000 square feet of well-lighted meeting space, including a 12,000-square-foot ballroom, the resort is well equipped to accommodate groups. The resort conference center has its own culinary team providing restaurant-style cuisine. The resort offers a certified meeting planner, photographer, audio-visual technician and other staff. The center also has a public address system, easels, flip charts, name cards and a portable stage. There are 17 event rooms, 10 breakout rooms and a ballroom that can accommodate up to 2,000 guests.
Swampers offers Southern flavors for breakfast, lunch and dinner and includes a terrace for outdoor dining. It is known for delicious burgers, pretzels with beer cheese, shrimp and grits, beer chili and an array of flat-bread pizzas, but the main attraction is live music seven days a week. In the 360 Grille, guests can choose from an extensive wine list with separate lunch and dinner menus that feature steak entrees, fresh fish and decadent desserts like crème brulee. The restaurants offers both vegetarian and gluten-free meal options.
Guests can tour the Florence birthplace of W.C. Handy, the father of the blues. The cabin houses a collection of Handy’s tunes and his piano. Groups can also tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s Rosenbaum House, which architecture critic Peter Blake said was “unexcelled” in America for its beauty. There is also a massive stone wall that weaves through the forests near Florence built by Tom Hendrix as a memorial to his great grandmother, a member of the Yuchi Tribe who was forcibly removed during the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma and walked all the way back to the area.
Back to Nature
Hikers will enjoy the Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve, a 700-acre, privately owned natural area just south of Muscle Shoals. It offers 11 miles of hiking trails and beautiful places for picnics and wading in creeks. About 45 minutes from the resort is the William Bankhead National Forest, which is well-known as an ideal spot for birdwatching species ranging from the Louisiana waterthrush to the Acadian flycatcher. The park has many scenic views along with Kinlock and Payne Creek waterfalls and is home to Alabama’s only National Wild and Scenic River, the Sipsey Fork.