For each ‘Planner’s Pick,’ Prevue interviews a planner for their choices of compelling, high value destinations.
PLANNER: MARY KEOUGH-ANDERSON
Manager Conference/Meeting Management
Inspiration for the song Moon River, the gentle Savannah River runs from the Atlantic inland 18 miles to Savannah—”The Pearl of the South.” Hip restaurants and lively bars built inside restored cotton merchant buildings line one side of the river. The 403-room Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa borders the other shore on an island it shares with the well-lighted Savannah Convention Center.
Mary Keough-Anderson, CMP/CMM plans a program here every April for about 500 pax that coincides with the annual Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf tournament.
“The purpose of Legends is to entertain our guests,” she says. “It’s all about building relationships between our agents, brokers and customers, and thanking them for their business.”
The highlight event is the 2-day Pro/Am tourny where 100 attendees are paired with legendary golf pros, who in 2010 included Mark O’Meara and Nick Price.
Does that sound like a dream for golf fans, or what?
“Absolutely, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our guests to play golf with Freddy Couples or Greg Norman. We have a pairing party the night before and the pros will show up for that too,” says Keough-Anderson.
Another fave event was the daily spa parties Mary created in the Heavenly Spa, ranked among the top 100 US spas. The chef even came in with spa hors d’oeuvres and wine.
The Westin has long made a name for itself due to its unique location. At once, you have a quiet, exclusive and secluded environment in a pristine natural surrounding, along with America’s prettiest downtown core just minutes away.
“It’s perfect because of the complimentary ferries across the river, so you don’t feel isolated,” says Keough-Anderson. “At the same time, it helps keep everyone together, which is important to us, and the service is consistently wonderful.”
For offsite events, a few people did tugboat tours up the river (10 pax/boat). The group also took the Savannah River Queen paddlewheeler out to historic Fort Taylor for a 300-pax Lowcountry boil—a delish Southern BBQ of shrimp, sausage and corn on the cob that’s popular in these parts. Entertainment was provided by The Crabettes, a local group of Southern ladies performing everything from Lawrence Welk polkas to Irish medleys and old-timey spirituals.
The group also visited Tybee Island on the Atlantic for sea kayaking and eco-tours through the majestic mangrove trees, a day at a private celebrity home, and dinner at the super fun Uncle Bubba’s for more Lowcountry langoustines.
In town, Savannah’s enchanting historic beauty is without equal, encompassing 22 leafy squares. Each has something to offer such as the South’s first public museum, the Telfair Museum of Art, with an edgy modern wing designed by Moshe Safdie. Or the spectacular Pink House restaurant on Reynolds Square, housed inside a mansion built in 1771.
Keough-Anderson organized a lovely lunch in one of these parks, redolent with spring blooms of jasmine and gardenias.
“When you pull up and see these magnificent squares,” she says, “with their oak trees and Spanish moss, and everything is set up beautifully, it’s pretty special.”