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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Southern Historic Hotels

A historic hotel can add an air of sophistication or timeless interest to any meeting. In states throughout the Southeast, historic properties offer opportunities for diverse and memorable meeting experiences.

From rustic and Jeffersonian to pink and elegant, these five historic hotels across the South make picture perfect spots to host meetings and events.

1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Perched above the Victorian village of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa is small compared with other grand hotels of the time, with just 72 guest rooms and a few cottages. The full-service resort was first built in 1886. During the Great Depression, since nobody could afford to travel, the resort was turned into an all-girls college. In 1937 it was bought by a snake oil salesman who turned the hotel into a cancer hospital. He bilked people for two years before being run off, and the property returned to a resort soon after.

The current owner bought it in 1997, along with the Basin Park Hotel, and spent millions renovating it and bringing it back to its 1886 grandeur with heavy curtains and stenciled walls. It is a full-service resort, and meeting groups don’t have to leave the property to have a good time. The hotel offers crafts, painting classes and hatchet throwing. It also has a spa and salon.

The resort’s Crystal Ballroom can accommodate a reception of 350 people. The Conservatory is a smaller room with three glass sides overlooking the surrounding forest. It can hold 125. The resort has two garden spaces that can host groups up to 350. Tents can be erected in the Crescent Gardens on the side of the hotel, or the East Lawn, which is on the back side of the hotel.

The Frisco Sporting Club sits on 15 acres that can host events, and there are several small cottages built in the 1990s that can be used for meeting spaces for smaller groups. The hotel has an on-site catering team, and a former employee of the hotel leads nightly ghost tours, as the facility is famous for its paranormal activity.

The Don CeSar

St. Petersburg Beach, Florida

Known as the Pink Palace, The Don CeSar sits on its own private section of St. Petersburg Beach, Florida. The grand 95-year-old Great Gatsby-era hotel features private beaches, outdoor terraces and plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities, including kayaking and paddleboarding. Like many historic hotels before it, the building has gone through many incarnations over the years, including serving as a hospital for veterans returning from World War II. The facility reopened as a hotel in 1973 and has since been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Since 2018, the hotel has undergone a full renovation of its guest rooms, meeting rooms and common areas; added a new pool bar with a rooftop deck; and opened a new breakfast, lunch, and dinner restaurant, Society Table. The full-service spa has a steam room, whirlpool, sauna and outdoor terrace, and there are three boutique shops and six dining establishments.

For meetings, the hotel has everything from a small boardroom to a huge ballroom that can host up to 250 people for groups wanting to tap into a legendary part of Florida’s past. There are meeting spaces on the fifth floor, ground floor and lobby level. Outdoor spaces include a beach pavilion, a courtyard, North Beach and an outdoor deck that is part of Rowe Bar, the hotel’s beachfront bar.

All the resort’s meeting spaces feature floor-to-ceiling windows, letting in plenty of natural light with views of the private beachfront or the bay. Team-building options include sandcastle competitions, beach games, Build-a-Boat (where teams work together to build a working watercraft), or Build-a-Bar competition, where they must build a bar and come up with a signature cocktail for the group.

The James Madison Inn

Madison, Georgia

The James Madison Inn is one of the oldest hotels in downtown Madison, Georgia, situated in a gorgeous historic district that has many elegant 19th century homes that were saved from destruction during the Civil War. More than 45 have been lovingly restored and are on the National Register of Historic Places. The James Madison Inn is a 17-room boutique hotel full of antiques and Southern charm that combines modern technology and amenities with the feel of an old-fashioned bed and breakfast.

Groups can rent out the entire inn, as well as individual indoor or outdoor venues. The hotel has several meeting rooms, including the Media Room, which is set up conference-style and can host executive meetings up to 12 people. Located just steps from the inn is Variety Works, a barn-style venue with wooden walls, beautiful chandeliers and concrete floors that was built in the 1870s as a manufacturing facility. The two-story building now hosts events up to 175 people. It also has a backyard for outdoor events called the Round Bowl Springs Gazebo and Event Lawn.

The area is surrounded by woods, a small pond and peaceful walking trails.

General Morgan Inn and Conference Center

Greeneville, Tennessee

The General Morgan Inn was built on the site of a former tavern that served the community of Greeneville, Tennessee, during the Civil War. After the railroad built a depot in Greeneville in 1886, a local entrepreneur saw the need for a nice hotel to accommodate travelers. The Grand Central was a beautiful four-story brick building with marble trim that looked very much like the General Morgan looks today. The only difference is that over the years, the hotel acquired the Mason Hotel and Union Hotel and connected them to form the current establishment.

The General Morgan was renovated in 1996 as part of a major redevelopment project in the area. The inn has 51 guest rooms and Brumley’s Restaurant, serving steak and seafood along with sandwiches and salads. Groups up to 300 can rent out the 2,950-square-foot Grand Ballroom, or the room can be divided into three separate spaces. The Rooftop Terrace is perfect for outdoor functions of 300 people, with 3,200 square feet of it covered by a tent. There is a boardroom available that seats up to 12, and Brumley’s Restaurant, which is named in honor of the Brumley family, which owned and operated the Hotel Brumley from 1920 to 1980, can accommodate up to 100. The restaurant has three distinct dining rooms: the Club Room, the Greene Room and the library, which can all be used for smaller group events.

The Greenbrier

White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

The earliest guests of The Greenbrier came to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, to “take the waters” to restore their health in 1778, but it wasn’t until the 1830s that prominent individuals such as presidents, judges, diplomats, and merchants began to flock to the mountain resort. Before the Civil War, five sitting U.S. presidents stayed at the property, cementing it as one of the most prominent resorts in the country.

The Greebrier has 710 guest rooms and more than 200,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, including 40 breakout rooms and a 16,500-square-foot exhibit hall. The facility is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and amenities, such as enclosed projection rooms with online computer hookups, sophisticated multimedia equipment and Dolby Surround Sound.

Groups meeting at the resort have their pick of 55 indoor and outdoor activities to fill their downtime, including an aerial adventure course, bowling, bunker tours, escape rooms, horseback riding, kayaking and sport shooting. Golfers will want to set up tee times at the Old White, an 18-hole golf course that opened in 1914, or the Meadows, an 18-hole course that opened in 1911. Two nine-hole courses are also available. The resort also has The Greenbrier Casino Club, a full-service spa, retail shops, and 19 food and beverage establishments.