Savannah Convention Center
Location: French Lick, Indiana
Size: 762 guest rooms
Meeting Space: 165,000 square feet
Access: One hour and 15 minutes from Louisville airport; 90 minutes from Evansville, Indiana, airport; two hours from the Indianapolis airport.
Situated at the crossroads of urban sophistication and quintessential Southern charm, Savannah, Georgia, offers the perfect getaway destination. Add to the mix the city’s picturesque waterfront-adjacent convention center — which is currently undergoing a multimillion-dollar expansion — and it’s easy to see why Georgia’s oldest city is a popular choice for meeting planners.
“The new convention space will be open and in use in the first quarter of 2024, and the expansion will double the size of the exhibition floor — so the exhibit hall goes from 100,000 to 200,000 square feet,” said Jeff Hewitt, executive vice president of sales and service for Visit Savannah. “Additionally, the existing 25,000-square-foot ballroom will be complemented with an additional 40,000-square-foot ballroom, and the number of breakout rooms will increase from 16 to 32.”
The new convention center addition will also include an expansive outdoor patio overlooking the Savannah River and nearby Hutchinson Island — so meeting attendees can better enjoy the facility’s scenic setting.
The expansion and improvements at the convention center will allow the venue to better serve its established meeting planner partners, as well as attract first-time conference clients.
With the new facility additions, “we get to keep our old customers and also open the door to an entirely new universe of meeting planners that wouldn’t currently fit into our existing facilities,” Hewitt said.
The Savannah Convention Center offers state-of-the-art audiovisual capabilities and breakout meeting spaces for groups, both large and small. Its Oglethorpe Auditorium seats 367, while its four dedicated boardrooms can accommodate between 16 and 24 attendees in conference-style seating or as many as 48 participants in a theater-style seating arrangement. The 24,519-square-foot Chatham Ballroom can fit 2,604 attendees in banquet-style seating or 1,330 for a classroom setup. Once complete, the convention center’s expansion will include a new 58-foot-wide airplane hangar door and an all-new facility entrance with an all-glass façade.
Meeting attendees have multiple options when selecting overnight accommodations near the convention center. The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa, which is currently undergoing major renovations to refresh its guest rooms and lobby areas, sits immediately adjacent to the convention center on the east. Additional core convention hotels include the Marriott Savannah Riverfront, the Hyatt Regency Savannah, The DeSoto Savannah and the JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District.
Meeting visitors also have the option of booking accommodations at several new hotels within the Savannah riverfront and historic districts, including The Thompson Savannah and The Alida Savannah. Plans for a new Hilton and a new AC Hotel, as well as a new convention center district hotel soon to be announced, are also underway.
The Savannah Convention Center includes a full-service, on-site catering department led by executive chef Kasey Thexton, who specializes in serving sustainable, farm-to-table meals made using ingredients sourced from local, Georgia-based food partners.
The facility’s catering team is adept at meal planning for gatherings of any size, from large conventions to small board meetings. Additionally, planners can work with Visit Savannah to bring in a variety of local food trucks, so meeting attendees can enjoy a lawn-party-like atmosphere while soaking in the riverfront ambiance.
Beyond the on-site dining options, groups can also experience Savannah’s well-earned reputation as a foodie destination by strolling through its historic district in pursuit of fresh seafood, classic Southern comfort food and eclectic, internationally-inspired dishes.
Savannah itself offers ample options for post-meeting fun. Groups can take a guided trolly tour of the picturesque historic district — the country’s largest National Historic Landmark District, encompassing more than 20 city squares — or cruise the city’s central waterway on the Savannah River Queen or the Georgia Queen through Savannah Riverboat Cruises.
For history buffs, the city is also home to several specialty museums including the American Prohibition Museum, the Georgia State Railroad Museum and the Telfair Museums, three separate facilities housing three centuries of art and architecture.
Along River Street, the Plant Riverside District — centered around a creatively reimagined early 1900s power plant — offers an array of unique specialty shops, bars and restaurants for groups to explore and enjoy.