Greenville at a Glance
Location: Upstate South Carolina
Access: Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport; Greenville Downtown Airport; interstates 85, 385 and 26; SC 291; Amtrak
Hotel rooms: 10,600
Greenville Convention Center
Built: 1964; expanded in 1966, 1969, 1977; $22 million renovation in 2006
Exhibit Space: 280,000 square feet
Grand Bohemian Lodge
Guest rooms: 187, including 24 suites
Meeting Space: 4,000 square feet
Springhill Suites/Residence Inn
Guest rooms: 186 total
Meeting Space: 11,000-plus combined square feet
Guest rooms: 200, including 20 suites
Meeting Space: 12,000-plus square feet
Guest rooms: 73 total, including 10 suites
Meeting Space: 16,000 square feet
Who’s Meeting in Greenville
SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament
Women’s NCAA Tournament
TD SYNNEX INSPIRE Conference
Once known as the “Textile Center of the South” for the 18 mills that fueled the local economy from the 1890s to almost the dawn of the new millennium, Greenville, South Carolina, has revisited its roots, repurposed its historic architecture, lured talented chefs and embraced its natural resources. The result is a visitor-friendly, high-tech, ecologically sound destination in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains that’s constantly collecting kudos.
Securing Greenville’s status as a “foodie destination,” Southern Living named this upstate city one of “The South’s Tastiest Towns.” Readers of Conde Nast Traveler crowned it “#1 Friendliest City in the U.S.” And People magazine proclaims it “The Next Big Small Town.”
Little wonder its slogan is now “Yeah, that Greenville!”
Touted as one of Travel and Leisure’s “Top 10 America’s Greatest Main Streets,” Greenville’s tree-lined Main Street is rife with innovative restaurants and al fresco dining, as well as local boutiques, art galleries, independent coffeehouses and hotels. Once a power source for textile mills, the Reedy River bisects the city. Its spectacular waterfalls cascade down boulders midtown. Thirty-two-acre Reedy River Park hugs the waterway while a 345-foot-long pedestrian suspension bridge allows walkers a bird’s-eye view of the falls.
This easily strollable, safe downtown displays 125-plus pieces of outdoor art. There’s even a wintertime ice skating rink. Greenville has come a long way since its cotton-mill days.
“As a lifelong resident, I have found our city’s transformation over the past 18 to 20 years amazing,” said Jonathan Brashier, vice president of commercial strategy for VisitGreenvilleSC. “I believe there’s a special feeling here that almost has to be experienced, not explained, as the city continues to grow.”
Outdoor plazas dot the downtown, featuring such crowd draws as a Mast General Store and Greenville ONE Center, a 36,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art conference center.
Some 201 Fortune 500 companies — including BMW, Michelin and TD SYNNEX Corporation — and 26 higher educational institutions call Greenville home.
The city’s 23-mile Prisma Health System Swamp Rabbit Trail welcomes walkers, runners and bicyclers. Hiking and water sports await in the upstate at numerous foothills’ state parks and three expansive lakes.
Located in the up-and-coming Village of West Greenville, Fluor Field is home to the Greenville Drive, a minor league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, and was designed as a replica of Fenway Park. The 7,400-seat stadium greets fans with a statue of local baseball great “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. Groups can visit a museum/baseball library built in his honor. The field’s gathering spaces include 18 luxury suites and a concourse where 1,500 guests can schmooze. Up to 300 can meet in the Champions Club and 80 on the rooftop, both with stunning views. The food goes way beyond hot dogs and beer.
“Our in-house catering is full-service with a full-time chef,” said events manager Katy Beverly.
In the architecturally stunning $32 million Peace Center downtown, visitors can enjoy top Broadway musicals and small-venue concerts, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra and International Ballet. Its Performance Hall can seat 2,500, and 10 live music venues surround it.
Part of the Peace Center Complex, the 1882 Huguenot Mill on the Reedy River was one of the area’s first coal-fueled, steam-powered mills. The top floor is now known as the Huguenot Loft, a stellar 4,800-square-foot event space for 400 guests, and is all exposed brick, rough-hewn timber columns and hardwood floors.
Another reimagined historic venue, Judson Mill, built in 1912, has two event areas, with reception capacities of 500 and 200.
Thanks to public/private partnerships, big-name concerts and events fill 15,000-seat Bon Secours Wellness Arena. The venue is home to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits ice hockey team.
Major Meeting Spaces
At 280,000 square feet, the Greenville Convention Center is one of the region’s largest venues and can accommodate groups from 25 to 25,000. A 3,822-square-foot courtyard allows attendees fresh-air breaks. Only 15 minutes from the airport, the center has an award-winning staff that sources locally grown choices for customized menus.
Opened in August, the boutique Grand Bohemian Lodge is perched above the Reedy River’s waterfalls and brings a Western lodge feel to Main Street. An enormous fireplace in its lobby welcomes guests to peruse an extraordinary curated Western art collection.
Event spaces include a 1,900-square-foot ballroom, private dining room for 20, and an 80-capacity porch with park views. A bourbon bar offers 120-plus varieties. Dining at the Lodge’s restaurant, Between the Trees, is like eating marvelously eclectic food in a treehouse.
The Southern belle of Greenville properties, the 200-room Westin Poinsett, was built in 1925 as one of the most beautifully furnished hotels in the country. A $27 million renovation has restored her former glory. Two ballrooms accommodate 250 attendees each, and a piano bar has live music five days a week.
Also downtown, a Springhill Suites/Residence Inn partnership is perfect for meetings.
“It’s a dual hotel,” said Derek Cooper, general manager. “Truly a twofer that works well for both, with luxurious accommodations, on-site dining at a full-service restaurant — Oak and Honey — state-of-the-art meetings tech and a 24/7 techno gym.”
Greenville’s newest meeting space, Hotel Hartness, lies 15 minutes from downtown and hosts corporate meetings, board retreats and social events. Set on a 450-acre nature preserve, the former family estate includes a 74-room luxury hotel, spa with overnight suites, and a bar/restaurant with gin and bourbon tastings and locally sourced cuisine.
After the Meeting
Greenville shines with post-meeting options for attendees and/or their families.
In nearby Greer, the 133-acre BMW campus’ Performance Center, with meeting space for up to 120, offers upbeat, high-performance teambuilding, client entertainment and ultimate corporate incentives, in cars — fast, sporty ones — on a two-mile track. Options include a “hot lap” with an experienced racecar driver for teams and individuals.
“Where else can you drive a half-million-dollar vehicle like you just robbed a bank and not get in trouble for it?” said BMW corporate sales representative Doug McGrath.
Named one of Food Network’s “Best Rooftop Restaurants in the Country,” Up on the Roof, atop the Embassy Suites downtown, is a terrific place for late-afternoon relaxing. This don’t-miss stop on Greenville’s “Liquid Highway” features exquisite sunset views, handcrafted cocktails, artisan wines, craft beers, a chef-curated menu and cozy outdoor fireplaces.
For handcrafted suds, more than 20 breweries provide an array of choices. The Beer Experience introduces local beer meisters on a tour so folks can choose their faves. South of Greenville, wine afficionados can taste innovative wines at family-run City Scape Winery and Vineyards. Behind-the-scenes winemaker’s tours, a wine scavenger hunt, live music, low-sulfite and vegan wines, and charcuterie boards are all available.
Groups can learn to cook like pros at The Cook’s Station or enjoy being fed on several local tours. Choices include a craft cocktail tour, Saturday breakfast tour, coffee tour, barbecue trail tour, taco trail tour and a decadent just desserts excursion.