What’s New, and What’s To Come, Across the Coastal Carolinas
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Lining the Atlantic Ocean coastlines of North and South Carolina are popular meetings destinations with more to offer than just sand and sunshine. From Wilmington, North Carolina, to Myrtle Beach and down to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, opportunities for group gatherings of all kinds are seemingly endless, and the cities are ready to offer even more in 2024.
Here’s what’s new—and what’s to come—across all three Coastal Carolina cities.
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Named America’s Favorite Island in Condé Nast Traveler’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards for seven consecutive years, Hilton Head Island is a Coastal Carolinas destination with distinctive charm, a conservation-focused mindset and thriving biodiversity.
From the island’s 12 miles of white-sand beaches in the Atlantic to the towering, mossy live oaks that line the winding pathways of the beach town, Hilton Head Island offers a coastal getaway with a small-town feel and all the amenities necessary to host groups of all sizes.
The island’s accommodation options range from boutique beachside hotels to AAA Four-Diamond resorts like the oceanfront Marriott Hilton Head Resort & Spa, offering 513 guest rooms and 46,000 square feet of meeting space. The property is a popular choice for meetings and events and provides guests easy access to three PGA golf courses, indoor and outdoor pools, a luxury spa and four dining outlets.
The luxe, intimate Inn & Club at Harbour Town, another AAA Four-Diamond property, is the only Forbes Four-Star hotel on Hilton Head Island and was ranked the No. 1 luxury hotel on Hilton Head Island by TripAdvisor in 2022, according to the property’s website.
Part of The Sea Pines Resort’s three distinct types of luxury accommodations set on 5,000 acres of oceanfront estate, Inn & Club at Harbour Town features 60 guest rooms decorated with coastal color palettes. The resort itself has more than 20,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, over 400 rental homes and villas and multiple outdoor venue options, like the 200-capacity Liberty Oak, a centuries-old, moss-draped tree forming a natural gazebo overlooking the resort’s Harbour Town Yacht Basin and the iconic Harbour Town Lighthouse.
Also sitting on the coast is Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa, which recently underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation and reimagining of its 419 guest rooms. The hotel’s enhanced Ocean View rooms and suites were inspired by the serene coastal landscapes surrounding the resort and offer views overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa features nearly 39,000 square feet of total event space, 22 event rooms and 13 breakout rooms. The resort’s largest space, the 13,439-square-foot Grand Ballroom, can accommodate 840 banquet-style or up to 1,200 for a reception.
Dining and Entertainment
Also at The Sea Pines Resort is the completely reimagined, all-new Quarterdeck restaurant, which has become a popular dining and event space for groups since reopening post-Covid, according to the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and CVB.
The restaurant and event space sits at the bottom of the island’s famed candy-striped Harbour Town Lighthouse and is an iconic spot that has been part of the island’s history since it first opened decades ago as part of the original resort concept. The waterfront dining venue overlooks the Sea Pines Yacht Basin, Calibogue Sound and the 18th green of the Harbour Town Golf Links, arguably one of the most famous holes in golf.
Executive Chef Benjamin Harris and his team are known for their fresh take on Lowcountry seafood and signature dishes such as hush puppies and shrimp and grits. Chef Harris has been a guest on the Today Show multiple times and diners often understand why once they take their first bite, the CVB said. The restaurant is one of the island’s most memorable spots.
Groups interested in experiencing Quarterdeck can do a full buyout, reserve a single floor or, for an executive gathering, rent the private dining and conference room with water views.
While the island itself provides plenty of opportunities for groups to explore, many opt to get off land and into the water with Outside Hilton Head’s watersports activities, rentals and outdoor adventures. The tour and adventure company has more than 40 years of experience offering activities such as kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing and dolphin-watching with expert guides knowledgeable about the area’s ecology, history and culture.
Groups can book their own private experiences on Page Island for an afternoon of teambuilding and a Lowcountry oyster roast or boil. After being transported by boat to the island, choose between kayaking, an on-island nature walk, ropes courses and more.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Every year, more than 17 million people travel to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, a destination commonly known as The Grand Strand for its 60 miles of beaches and coastline.
Throughout Myrtle Beach’s 14 unique communities are more than 2,000 restaurants, various entertainment opportunities, unique teambuilding offerings and more than 90 golf courses. The city’s meetings and events venues offer more than 500,000 square feet of total meeting space able to accommodate up to 5,000 attendees.
What Myrtle Beach has to offer groups doesn’t stop there though, as the city continues to develop and invest in new projects throughout 2024.
Situated on 27 acres at the southern end of Ocean Boulevard and next to Myrtle Beach State Park is DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Myrtle Beach Oceanfront, a dual-branded property currently undergoing major renovations and rebranding.
The project started in October in the south tower of the hotel, which houses the 214-room DoubleTree by Hilton. Renovations to its guest rooms, lobby and meeting space are scheduled to be finished by February 1 while the rebranding of the 238-room north tower to a Tapestry by Hilton hotel is scheduled to reopen in May 2024.
“The DoubleTree Resort is a big property for us,” said Bob Harris, EVP of sales at Visit Myrtle Beach. “They have a lot of meeting space. It’s very popular with planners. So having that big renovation done is exciting news.”
Margaritaville recently announced plans to build a new resort between 17th Street and 18th Street on Ocean Boulevard. The 17-story tower will bring 200 rooms to the area in spring 2025.
“I’m really interested and excited to see what they do,” Harris said. “They sent the plans to the city for approval, and so they’re having to go back and make some changes, but the initial plan shows that the resort will be on the west side of Ocean Boulevard and the resort amenities like the swimming pool, the restaurants, things like that will be on the oceanfront side. And part of the reason for that is to give more time for the sun to shine on the beach in the afternoon.”
Plans also include a request to extend the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk to the hotel for easier access to the city’s downtown area. The new oceanfront property will be within walking distance of the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
Dining and Entertainment
With more than 2,000 restaurants to choose from, and an endless rotation of entertainment options, Myrtle Beach seemingly already has it all—but the city’s list keeps growing.
Coming Q1 2024 to Broadway at the Beach—one of the city’s entertainment districts—is a new golf concept created in partnership with golf icon Tiger Woods named PopStroke. The innovative golf experience featuring professional putting courses is partnered with casual dining and has been described as the “Topgolf of mini golf.”
Using an electronic scorekeeping golf ball, PopStroke transmits scores to players via the PopStroke App and projects scores on a jumbotron leaderboard. Each player gets a PopStroke TaylorMade commemorative ball with their round of golf as a keepsake.
“The golf balls will have a tracking device, so as you’re going through [the course], it keeps track of your score and even where you are,” Harris said. “You can even order food and beverages and they’ll bring it to you because they know where you are along the course. It’s super cool for teambuilding and group outings.”
Also new to Broadway at the Beach is its recently added Key West Village, located across from The Hangout restaurant. Since opening in summer 2022, The Hangout has become a popular option for groups. The 1,200-seat restaurant serves seasonal seafood, burgers, sandwiches, tacos, appetizers and more and has an outdoor concert venue, while Key West Village offers specialty retail concepts and entertainment experiences.
“Another new thing that’s coming [this year] is going to be the Greg Rowles Legacy Theatre, and that’s going to be opening in the spring in North Myrtle Beach,” Harris said. “Greg was one of the first winners in the U.S. of a show called Star Search…He won that competition and became very popular, went to Nashville for many years and ended up coming to Myrtle Beach to sing at one of our theaters. Now, he’s opening his own theater, and they are definitely working with groups, already taking reservations.”
Kingston Resorts’ recent $65 million renovation brought the new oceanfront restaurant Black Drum Brewing, offering 40 beers on tap from both North and South Carolina. The restaurant’s menu is entirely “Carolina born and brewed” and showcases the area’s best local fare, from barbecue to fresh seafood to pizza-oven creations.
“The second story of that craft beer and restaurant complex is all meeting space and has these huge garage-like doors that open up to the ocean, so you can see and smell the ocean while you’re having a meeting, reception or evening event,” Harris said.
Wilmington and the Beaches, North Carolina
The charming coastal city of Wilmington, North Carolina, sits between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean, within driving distance of three island beaches that blend the city’s historic and walkable downtown with the vibes of a beach getaway.
The city’s River District, one of the largest National Register Historic Districts in the U.S., is lined with local boutiques, cafes and art galleries, and at night comes alive through various entertainment opportunities. Wilmington’s nearly two-mile Riverwalk, which winds around the Cape Fear River, has been selected as one of the country’s best riverwalks in USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice awards on more than one occasion.
In addition to all the city has to offer from a destination-experience standpoint, Wilmington is home to 30 meeting facilities and more than 40 unique offsite and open-air venues, and the city is continuing to expand its meetings and events offerings.
Wilmington International Airport (ILM), offering non-stop flights to cities including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami and New York, recently completed a $60 million airport expansion that brought five additional gates, a restaurant and concessions, and other improvements are on the way.
Between now and 2027, ILM plans to bring extended departures and arrivals curbing to increase capacity and passenger access, along with additional drop-off areas for taxis and rideshare services. More parking will be added in surface parking lots and there will be more covered parking within the parking garage. Plus, ILM is focused on compliance with ADA and expanded accessibility for persons with disabilities, as well as improved energy efficiency initiatives.
Wilmington will see several property developments this year, including the opening of two connected Hilton properties four miles from Historic Downtown Wilmington and five miles from ILM.
Hotel LELA Wilmington, Tapestry Collection by Hilton and Tru by Hilton Wilmington are slated to open this spring, with Hotel LELA Wilmington accepting reservations for stays beginning May 29, and Tru by Hilton Wilmington opening its doors to guests May 6.
Hotel LELA Wilmington will feature an outdoor saline pool, golf simulators, a fitness room and onsite restaurant, as well as a business center and public gathering spaces. Tru by Hilton Wilmington will feature a 24-hour fitness center, pool and onsite bar and restaurant, and both properties are ideal options for overflow rooms nearby downtown Wilmington.
Upcoming renovations in the Wilmington area include a complete transformation of meeting and event space at Hilton Garden Inn Wilmington Mayfaire Town Center, located 10 minutes from downtown Wilmington and the beach and eight miles from ILM. Scheduled to begin this fall and wrap in early 2025, enhancements to the hotel’s meeting space will bring upgraded state-of-the-art audiovisual solutions and hybrid event technology.
The 119-room Hilton Garden Inn Wilmington Mayfaire Town Center offers 1,750 square feet of event space that can accommodate groups of up to 35 people.
Dining and Entertainment
Developments to Wilmington’s Convention District will bring new dining and entertainment options throughout the year, all within walking distance of the Wilmington Convention Center.
Entering the dining scene early this year is a second location of Tequila Comida and Cantina, offering Mexican cuisine and menu items inspired by the family recipes of chefs Ramon Villasenor and Miguel Villasenor, both hailing from Degollado, Jalisco, Mexico.
The new two-story restaurant is located at Port City Marina in downtown Wilmington’s Convention District and will feature a lounge area and outdoor patio seating overlooking the Cape Fear River. Tequila Comida and Cantina will also feature a tequila library with top-shelf tequila and mezcals.
Groups looking to tap into attendees’ competitive sides can visit Rally Point Bar & Arcade, offering classic arcade games like air hockey and skee-ball, as well as rotating weekly schedules and a full-service bar. The arcade is slated to open a new retro lounge on the second floor sometime this year.
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