Myrtle Beach at a Glance
Location: South Carolina’s Atlantic Coast
Access: U.S. routes 17 and 501 or SC Rte. 9 from interstates 95 and 20; Myrtle Beach International Airport
Hotel rooms: 425 hotels and 98,600 accommodations
Visit Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach Convention Center
Exhibit Space: 250,000 square feet
Other Meeting Spaces: 17 meeting rooms
Embassy Suites at Kingston Plantation
Guest rooms: 225 two-room suites
Meeting Space: 70,000 square feet
Marina Inn at Grande Dunes
Guest rooms: 200 guest rooms and suites
Meeting Space: 15,000 square feet
Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort and Spa at Grande Dunes
Guest rooms: 405
Meeting Space: 36,650 square feet
Who’s Meeting in Myrtle Beach
Urban Exhibitions — Myrtle Beach Gift Show
North Carolina Petroleum and Convenience Marketers Association — SE Petro-Food Marketer Show
Like a string of pearls, the crystalline sands of the Myrtle Beach area stretch 60 miles down South Carolina’s Atlantic Coast, from Little River to Georgetown. Nicknamed the Grand Strand, this historic ocean playground boasts stunning beaches, affordability, never-ending attractions and activities that include seven live entertainment theaters, 90 championship golf courses and, as the Miniature Golf Capital of the World, 50-plus mini-golf courses. Meeting attendees can also enjoy myriad watersports, boating and deep-sea fishing; 1,800 full-service restaurants, many specializing in fresh seafood; and a number of spend-the-day shopping/entertainment complexes.
No wonder Myrtle Beach has added a spot on Trip Advisor’s 2018 “Most Excellent” global tourism destinations to its already-impressive list of kudos that include ConventionSouth magazine’s Reader’s Choice Award as Top Meeting Site/Destination in the South.
Birthplace of the Shag, South Carolina’s state dance, this things-to-do nirvana, where attendees can bring their families and vacation for extra premeeting or postmeeting days, is a year-round destination thanks to seasonally changing attractions and an ocean-breeze-driven mild climate. With average temperatures in the 70s, it’s not unusual to see visitors hitting the links and hanging out by a pool in the wintertime.
Accommodations run the gamut, from hotel guest rooms and suites to luxury villas and condos, cozy inns and cottages, many with wide ocean views.
“There’s a real connection to nature and being outside here,” said Bob Harris, executive vice president of group sales for the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce/Visit Myrtle Beach. “Brookgreen Gardens is one of the top 10 in the country. And the 200-foot Skywheel on the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, Broadway by the Beach and Barefoot Landing are great group outdoor attractions.”
While their attendees meet, spouses can paddle among gaping gators and slithering snakes for two- or four-hour tours with Black Water Outdoor Kayaking Excursion, cruise the Georgetown Harbor on a history tour, and watch a cooking demo or take a class at the International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach. Groups can rent the facility for tasty team building.
“We have a number of places you can set a group free to explore, like the Marsh Walk in Murrells Inlet, where a number of restaurants have live music,” Harris said. “Attendees can stroll a boardwalk, peruse local art and choose a restaurant by the live music on its deck.”
About 30 minutes south of Myrtle Beach, Brookgreen Gardens is an exquisite 9,100-acre property on a former rice plantation. It features the country’s largest collection of American figurative sculpture displayed in a stunning garden setting. The sculpture garden can accommodate up to 1,200 people for banquets.
Guests can board a 48-foot pontoon boat History Adventure Tour up swamps to observe alligators or trek on a four-wheeler through backcountry.
At Ripley’s Aquarium, attendees will marvel over the wondrous undersea world of 14,000 marine animals. Popular exhibits include “Pearl Harbor”; “Rio Amazon,” with piranhas and tiny poison dart frogs; and “Planet Jellies,” where thousands of jellyfish float.
While sipping cocktails, guests can see sharks and octopi, experience interactive exhibits and learn about aquatic creatures. Renting three rooms for a private event — a banquet room, a smaller space and an outdoor patio with fire pits and twinkling lights — can accommodate 200. A full-venue buyout comes with a caterer, room for 1,200 at a reception, and food stations and bars throughout. Dive shows, glass-bottom-boat tours and behind-the-scenes peeks are options.
“There’s no other place like this in Myrtle Beach,” said Dawn Temples Knopff, marketing director for Ripley’s Entertainment. “You’re by the ocean, so why not feel like you’re in the ocean at the aquarium?”
Completed in 2018, The Blvd, a 55,000-square-foot, updated beach club complex along the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, houses the Tin Roof Myrtle Beach Restaurant, with terrific live music and a 10,000-square-foot event space.
Major Meeting Spaces
A quick five miles from the airport, the 250,000-square-foot Myrtle Beach Convention Center (MBCC) features a 108,600-square-foot Exhibit Hall and a 17,000-square-foot ballroom for 1,450 theater-style. For outdoor gatherings a 30,000-square-foot Events Plaza offers warm ocean breezes.
The 402-room boutique Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center Hotel connects directly.
“Some of our staff and sales reps have been on board for 20 and 30 years, which speaks to our quality of service,” said Tiffany Andrews, MBCC’s sales and marketing administrator. “We work with planners to stay in-budget and shine in the eyes of their bosses.”
The area’s largest conference facility on the beach, Kingston Resorts encompasses the 225-suite Embassy Suites at Kingston Plantation, the 385-room Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort and the 223-room Royale Palms. A total of 110,000 square feet of meeting space includes an Oceanfront Ballroom with breathtaking views from the Hilton’s 15th floor.
All properties have access to a 50,000-square-foot water park and lazy river.
“Attendees will definitely want to bring the family,” said Sabena Dayton, director of sales and marketing.
Located in the 2,200-acre, AAA Four Diamond Grande Dunes Resort, the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes can host 350 attendees for meetings. Outdoor space for a reception, cookout or oyster roast can accommodate 60 on a covered deck and 300 on a lawn area. The property offers such amenities as golf and private beach access for guests.
“Our environment is serene,” said Pamela Shelley, director of sales and marketing. “We’re a little bit of a respite from the crowded areas in Myrtle Beach.”
After the Meeting
Two massive shopping/entertainment complexes specialize in happy hour, fabulous food, frequent fireworks and pure fun.
The first, Barefoot Landing, sports a new restaurant district along the Intracoastal Waterway that includes Lulu’s, a 20,000-square-foot eatery owned by Jimmy Buffett’s sister Lucy, with live music, a sandy beach and a ropes climbing course. One of the area’s seven live theaters, Alabama Theatre features shows with such household names as the Temptations and the Oak Ridge Boys. Made-from-scratch Southern specialties such as jambalaya, shrimp and grits, and pulled-pork barbecue along with live music make the House of Blues a terrific group stop.
Another retail and entertainment hub, Broadway at the Beach, has 100 specialty shops, 20-plus restaurants, live music and a 23-acre lake. Here, the tribute show “Legends in Concert” portrays five celebrities in an amazingly realistic manner. Opened this year, Topgolf features point-scoring golf games, golf tournaments and instruction, food, drinks and big-screen TVs. Topping off the complex’s offerings is the ballpark of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, a Class A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.
One of the area’s seven live entertainment venues, the Calvin Gilmore Theater presents five award-winning live entertainment shows, among them the Carolina Opry, two hours of high-energy music, comedy and dance.
And in North Myrtle Beach, groups can sip while learning the fine art of winemaking at Duplin Winery. Strong spirits are made at Twelve 33, the area’s first craft distillery, which was named in honor of the end of prohibition in December 1933. Opened in May, the attraction has an infusion room for spirits and a hidden speakeasy.