Prevue January-February 2018 - 19
Left: Rendering of Perry Lane Hotel's Peregrin Rooftop Pool & Bar, Savannah, Georgia
Savannah's Power Plant has "windows that haven't seen the light of
day in 30 to 40 years," says Jeff Hewitt, senior VP for Visit Savannah.
This is about to change with the redevelopment of the cobblestonelined waterfront along the Savannah River, scheduled for completion
next year. The Kessler Collection is converting the century-old, coalfired power plant into a luxury hotel and vibrant 4-acre entertainment
district with live music in a 500-seat venue, dining and high-end
shopping. Groups will be able to enjoy wine tastings and a stroll
through the Grand Bohemian Art Gallery, gather for brainstorming
sessions in tree-lined parks and plazas, explore natural science exhibits
and bask in pampering spa treatments in what is being called the Plant
Riverside District. A new 422-room JW Marriott will sprawl over
five different buildings with three distinct themes, more than a dozen
dining options, three rooftop bars with handcrafted cocktails and cozy
fireplaces, and 26,000 sf of meeting and event space.
"In many ways, the Power Plant
holds the story of Savannah's evolution,"
explains Hewitt. "We now have the
largest historic district in the nation."
Repurposing and preserving rather than
tearing down and tossing away is a
cornerstone of this evolution-so much
so that the Savannah College of Art
& Design (SCAD) offers degrees in
preservation design. "SCAD has done
so much with historic preservation,"
Hewitt says, "they've been instrumental
to the success of our National Historic Landmark District."
Groups can tour the Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home
Museum, the Victorian District and the Massie Heritage Center,
housing Georgia's oldest school in continuous operation to catch
a glimpse of SCAD's work. Workshops introducing groups to the
intricate details of preservation can also be arranged. After exploring
Savannah's downtown digs, groups can experience high-end soul
food at The Grey restaurant, set within a restored '30s art deco
Greyhound Bus Terminal. The Grey has three private dining areas
for meetings and events, the largest holding room for 45 attendees,
but the intimate Boiler Room, with its speakeasy vibe of exposed
brick, centered crystal chandelier and piano seems made for creative
The spring's opening of the 168-room Perry Lane Hotel will
add a new layer to Savannah's southern flair-porch, parlor, grand
fireplaces and decor included. A highlight here will be the rooftop
Peregrin Pool & Bar overlooking the surrounding cityscape with
covered and open-air lounge areas. The hotel is within walking
distance to SCAD, the Savannah History Museum and Telfair's
Jepson Center for the Arts.
gravitational pull for tech start-ups and the new Dell Medical School
at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin is reimagining education
through medical simulations, interactive lectures, and partnerships
aimed at solving community issues. What's all this got to do with
meetings? Steve Genovesi, executive VP for Visit Austin, says it
means that "Austin's in the game. We're on the map."
Development wise, there's much ado around the city. More
than 3,000 hotel rooms were added last year, including the Hyatt
House Austin Downtown, Aloft & Element Austin Downtown
and Fairmont Austin. This year and the next will see the opening
of the Hotel Zaza, The Proper Austin Hotel and the dualbranded Autograph Collection and AC Hotel by Marriott at
the UT campus. Unconventional venues are also popping up,
like Waterloo Park's new Moody Amphitheater and lawn for up
to 4,000 attendees, part of a larger downtown revamp, and the
reimagining of the Seaholm Power Plant has revitalized the Lady
Bird Lake waterfront with shopping,
restaurants and meeting space.
The latest addition here is Boiler
Nine restaurant, serving wood-fired
cuisine and curated beers across
three levels, including a rooftop and
a "subterranean cocktail laboratory."
The LEED Gold plant is the crux of the
Seaholm EcoDistrict, an 85-acre
development recognized as a model
for green building design.
Austin's food scene is bold,
innovative and eclectic. More than a 1,000 food trucks are
scattered throughout the city offering everything from cupcakes
to Korean-style barbecue. East Austin's psych rock Moloko bar
was inspired by the film "A Clockwork Orange," while Sellers
is mixing craft cocktails in a swanky, '70s-inspired lounge in the
Warehouse District. And in a city dubbed the "Live Music Capital of
the World" with more than 250 live music venues to kick your heels
in, entertainment should also be high on the to-do list. Genovesi
says groups should head on down to the South Congress
neighborhood for live music at the legendary Continental Club.
"It's like another world down there."
This nook of the city is also a great spot for homespun bites,
tours and shopping. The 11-acre St. Elmo Public Market district,
the first indoor-outdoor market in Austin, will offer locally-curated
dining, boutique shopping, live music and a yet-to-be-named
hotel when it opens later this year. Groups can carry this vibe over
to The Yard, just a few steps away, with breweries and maker
studios. Slightly north of Austin in Round Rock, Texas, Kahahari
Resorts and Conventions will add even more flavor to the area
in the next couple of years with an African-themed waterpark,
convention center and 1,000 guest rooms.
"In many ways, the Power
Plant holds the story of
Savannah's evolution. We
now have the largest historic
district in the nation."
Apple has added more than 2,000 jobs to the city, Oracle has
cozied up with a new 40-acre campus, the Capital Factory is a
explorestlouis.com; austintexas.org; visitsavannah.com;
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