Charleston offers South Carolina sunshine for team-building activities
Experience US-style charm and hospitality in Charleston, the oldest city of South Carolina, says Jack Carter.
Groups can now enjoy direct flights from London Heathrow to the soulful South Carolinian city thanks to a brand-new route from British Airways. The airline makes the eight-hour flight twice a week, leaving at 5.20pm on Thursdays and Sundays and arriving into Charleston at 9.20pm that evening.
For a five-star stay in the city, look no further than Hotel Bennett, which opened on the corner of the historic Marion Square in February this year. The 179-room property offers 1,100 sqm of event space, though planners requiring a more opulent setting for their group should head on up to the Champagne lounge or rooftop bar. Alternatively, the four-star Belmond Charleston Place offers 434 rooms and suites and is enriched in Southern charm.
One opening for planners to keep an eye on, meanwhile, is the West Beach Conference Center, which will open for groups just outside the city on Kiawah Island in the new year.
Take the opportunity to introduce delegates to the destination by hosting a meeting at the historic Charleston Gaillard Center. Home to the city’s symphony orchestra, its all-white façade houses a multi-tiered theatre that can seat up to 2,734 delegates, while five additional meeting spaces can hold smaller meetings for up to 80 delegates.
Head down Charleston’s bustling thoroughfare, King Street, to Stars Rooftop Bar & Grill. Housed in a restored Arts and Crafts building, up to 140 delegates can enjoy a menu of South Carolinian delicacies (think shrimp and seared scallops) alongside stunning views from its rooftop.
The southern states are renowned for their cuisine and, according to the Charleston CVB, an afternoon spent In the Kitchen with Chef Bob Waggoner is an “absolute must.” The renowned epicurean opens his show kitchen up for hands-on teambuilding events, helping delegates prepare a seasonal tasting menu using produce exclusively from local farmers and fishermen.
With its own 700-foot dock and private lawn, the Lowndes Grove Plantation – Charleston’s grandiose waterfront estate – is a sublime spot for evening drinks receptions come sunrise. The venue welcomes up to 600 guests for gala dinner and cocktail functions. For something a little closer to the city, the South Carolina Aquarium can host dinners for up to 200 delegates with its towering cylindrical tank the centrepiece.
Charleston has an impressive collection of luxury boutique properties, like The Restoration – an upscale, all-suite property and stylish option for a morning meeting. Head to The Observatory, which can seat 24 guests in a boardroom style, for a coffee on its terrace before getting down to business.
Afterwards, reward your team with lunch at the Peninsula Grill’s spectacular conservatory-style Garden Room. Just make sure to leave room for its signature 12-layer Ultimate Coconut Cake® – a dessert so popular it’s been registered a national trademark.
Take an outing with Charleston Harbor Tours to see the city just as the first English settlers did from the sea. Some of the city’s most historic sites, like Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired, and the USS Yorktown can be seen from aboard the Carolina Belle.
Meet the expert: Angie Day, assistant director of sales at the Charleston CVB, explains why this destination is a one to watch.
How does Charleston’s MICE offering differ to other US cities?
As a boutique destination, Charleston is renowned for its variety of experiences that give groups a real taste of South Carolina. The city combines cobblestone streets and historic war sites with pristine coastline. Folly Beach, for example, is a great option for groups looking to enjoy the state’s carefree beach vibes, while the city itself offers an enticing selection of nationally-acclaimed restaurants serving the best flavours of the Lowcountry.
What’s the accessibility like?
Getting to Charleston is easier than ever thanks to a nonstop service from British Airways, but Charleston International Airport is in easy reach of all key hubs across the country, too, with over 175 flights serving more than 25 cities.
Lastly, what exciting openings should event planners keep their eye on?
It is an exciting time for the region with a number of developments set for completion over the next 12-18 months. One of which is the Emeline hotel, which will be unveiled in spring 2020. As well as offering 212 rooms and suites, it will feature 10,000 sq feet of flexible event space for up to 250 guests in the heart of the Historic District.
Published Date: 21/02/2020