From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Great Smoky Mountains, the southeastern U.S. is full of amazing mountain destinations that offer meeting groups a chance to get out of the city and enjoy all types of outdoor recreation while still having access to full-service meeting venues and lodging.
Here are some mountain destinations to consider for your next meeting in the Southeast.
The Lodge at Mount Magazine
The Lodge at Mount Magazine sits on the south bluff of Arkansas’s highest peak, Mount Magazine, which rises 2,753 feet. It is in Mount Magazine State Park, a major destination in the state for relaxation and outdoor and extreme adventures, such as horseback riding, backpacking, mountain biking, rock climbing and hang gliding.
The lodge features 60 guest rooms, Skycrest Restaurant, a conference center, a heated indoor swimming pool, a fitness center, and a game room. There are 13 cabins to choose from in one-, two-and three-bedroom configurations with fully equipped kitchens, fireplaces and covered decks with outdoor hot tubs. The mountain also has 18 campsites for the more adventurous.
The banquet hall is 3,840 square feet and can be divided into three separate rooms. The room can seat 200 for a banquet or 304 theater-style. Two smaller meeting rooms can host groups of 50 theater-style or 30 in a classroom setup. The lodge’s 125-seat restaurant can also be used for event space and features a menu of classic Southern cuisine. The dining room is dominated by a two-story tall native stone fireplace and large windows with beautiful views of the Petit Jean River Valley and distant Blue Mountain Lake below.
In their free time, meeting attendees can visit numerous wineries at the base of the mountain or spend time at Cove Lake Recreation Area, a 160-acre lake where visitors can swim, fish or rent boats. The visitor center has exhibits that explore the local flora and fauna and is a great place to learn more about the area.
Forrest Hills Mountain Resort and Conference Center
The family-owned Forrest Hills Mountain Resort is about one hour outside of Atlanta in Dahlonega, Georgia. It features 32 private cabins, each with a hot tub and fireplace, 12 luxury bi-level suites with steam sauna and other amenities, and small lodges that come in either four-, eight-, 12- or 16-room units. The Tree Topper Lodge is the largest with 16 bedrooms, each with a bathroom, a kitchenette and an outside deck. It has 48 beds. The Conference Center Ballroom is within easy walking distance and can seat up to 200 theater-style. Some of the other small lodges have their own hospitality or meeting rooms.
The resort has seven meeting rooms and four dining rooms, including the Secret Garden for couples and the Rose Garden, which can be used for formal or casual banquets of up to 200 guests.
For fun, groups can ride horses, take a horse-drawn carriage tour, swim or play tennis. There are three golf courses within a 10- to 20-minute drive of the resort, as well as Dahlonega’s old-fashioned town square.
Groups can organize a chuck wagon ride to the Riverhouse for a barbecue cookout with all the trimmings, a bonfire and live entertainment. The resort has two wagons plus one tractor-pulled trolley to transport groups to the event. There are also two regulation-size volleyball courts, gem mining and massage on site.
Cherokee Convention Center at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort
Cherokee, North Carolina
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort is a meeting planner’s dream with 1,800 deluxe guest rooms and suites, nine dining options, a casino, live entertainment and a luxurious full-service Mandara Spa, all situated on 56 acres at the gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The property is owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, so the history and culture of the tribe permeate the resort. Between the hotel and the Cherokee Convention Center, the resort has 130,000 square feet of conference space.
The convention center, which was added in 2021, has 83,000 square feet of conference space, including a 32,000-square-foot ballroom, 11,100 square feet of pre-function space and 26 meeting rooms. The exhibition hall offers 33,000 square feet of space with 6,000 square feet of pre-function space. Inside the hotel, the Council Fire Ballroom can host groups up to 1,100 people theater-style.
The resort’s culinary team can handle all a group’s food and beverage needs, from coffee service and midday breaks to multi-course meals. To get out of the ballroom, groups can rent out some of the resort’s restaurants for the evening. Dine-arounds allow groups to sample food at different restaurants on property.
For fun, the resort has heated indoor and outdoor pools, a fitness center and an 18-hole championship golf course. Groups wanting to participate in friendly competition can organize bowling or e-sports tournaments at Ultrastar Multi-Tainment Center. The facility also has an arcade, private party rooms, Strikes Lounge (a boutique bowling alley and bar), and an Esports Zone. The 3,000-seat event center hosts entertainment with artists ranging from Miranda Lambert to the Stone Temple Pilots. Several retail shops offer everything from soap and Christmas ornaments to ladies’ apparel and homemade fudge.
Wintergreen Resort sits atop a mountain overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains in central Virginia. The all-season resort is spread out over 11,000 acres, both on the mountain and in the valley below, and offers everything from snow sports, such as skiing, snowboarding and tubing, to hiking on 30 miles of trails managed by the Wintergreen Nature Foundation.
Wintergreen offers villa-style lodging ranging from studio suites to multi-bedroom condominiums and private homes up to nine bedrooms. Many groups enjoy reserving the larger homes or condos for both their lodging and their meetings. The resort has about 200 unique lodging units, so it can host a wide variety of groups. With 39,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space, the resort can accommodate large groups. Its largest indoor space, Skyline, can host groups of 400. There also are two ballrooms and a 6,000-square-foot event tent pad with slope-side mountain views.
For fun, groups can take advantage of the resort’s 45 holes of golf, tennis and pickleball at Racquet Sports Center at Devils Knob. The Spa at Wintergreen has two pools, three hot tubs, a sauna and a fitness center. Discovery Ridge Adventure Center offers summer mountain tubing, indoor ninja warrior course, climbing tower, mini-golf, gem-mining and disc golf. Lake Monocan has a sand beach, which groups can utilize for swimming, canoeing, kayaking and standup paddleboarding. The resort also will organize team-building events for meeting groups, including cardboard boat regattas and beach Olympics, scavenger hunts and guided hikes.
Overlook Events Center
Situated in the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky, the Overlook Events Center is perched on a reclaimed mining site with breathtaking views of the Pikeville Cut-Through Project, an engineering project that began in 1973 with the sole purpose of relieving the barrage of flooding that the city of Pikeville experienced annually. The Cut-Through Project also gave the city more room for development due to the relocation of the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River away from downtown.
The event center features a large outdoor patio with amazing 360-degree views and an open concept indoor meeting space that can accommodate up to 350 guests.
Pikeville is also home to Appalachian Wireless Arena, a premier entertainment and conference venue in the heart of downtown. The 126,000-square-foot facility has an arena floor that can provide concert seating for 7,000. The building was designed as a multi-purpose facility, complete with about 5,000 square feet of ballroom space overlooking the arena floor.
Groups wanting to visit the area have their pick of fun outdoor activities, as well as a healthy dose of history. Pikeville’s claim to fame is the infamous feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys. Visitors flock to the area to learn more about the feud and take a self-guided tour of sites associated with the two families.