CHARLESTON AND DENVER DEFINE UPSCALE VALUE WITH LOADS OF VARIETY AND DRAMA
Charleston epitomizes Southern grace and hospitality ranging from its Greek Revival mansions to Lowcountry cuisine. The combination is a heady mixture offering groups awesome ROI.
“The Charleston area blends history and luxury with first class resorts, world class cuisine and cosmopolitan culture, but all at a more affordable price point than tier one destinations,” says Christopher Hendrix, CMP, assistant director of sales for the Charleston Area CVB.
For golf events, there are 20 golf courses within a 30-mile radius. Many are designed by golf architects like Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Tom Fazio.
Hendrix says, “Corporate bookings are already heavy for South Carolina’s first major championship—the 2012 PGA event August 6-12 at the famous Ocean Course on Kiawah Island.”
Combine that with local cuisine and you’ve got one happy group. Try an oyster roast dished up with mac ’n cheese and Frogmore Stew filled with shrimp, yellow corn and sausage.
Shannon Odom, GM of the Charleston & Resort Islands Golf division of the CVB, explains.
“You hand someone from the Midwest or the North our naturally salty oysters, put a shucker in their other hand and have saltines, horseradish or tabasco nearby, and that person gets a taste experience that’s uniquely Charleston,” he says.
The Lowcountry is prevalent in the mineral-rich botanicals and mud used for treatments at top Charleston spas. On Kiawah Island, The Spa at the Sanctuary is regularly rated as one of the best in the world. The Spa at Charleston Place Hotel is routinely voted one of the best city spas in North America.
“We’re also one of the few cities in North America with three James Beard-winning chef-owned restaurants,” says Odom. The newest arrival is chef Sean Brock’s Husk. Try the deviled eggs with pickled okra and trout roe.
Before abstract expressionist painter Clyfford Still died in 1980, he promised to donate his life’s work to any city willing to dedicate a museum to his art. Twenty cities bid. Denver won. Last November’s opening of the Clyfford Still Museum earmarked another victory in Denver’s strategy to establish its downtown as an arts and culture destination.
“Denver has been overlooked as a luxury destination but that’s been changing in the past couple years,” says Rachel Benedick, vp of sales/services for Visit Denver.
Two years ago Denver won its first AAA 5-diamond hotel, The Ritz-Carlton Denver, followed by the Four Seasons Denver last year.
“Add those to the high-end base we already had with Hotel Teatro, Hotel Monaco Denver and the Brown Palace Hotel & Spa, and we have a wealth of luxury accommodations at a reasonable cost.”
In the past year alone, more than 300 restaurants, a second art museum and the $110 million History Colorado Center that debuted in April have enhanced Denver’s downtown core. A mile-and-a-half spine called the 16th Street Mall connects Denver’s cultural district to Lower Downtown. The “LoDo” warehouse district ends at Union Station, currently being renovated like a European train station.
“We’ve added to the luxury side and now LoDo has become a hip, happening area,” says Benedick. “Our chefs are becoming rock stars too, such as ChoLon Bistro exec chef Lon Symensma, up for Food & Wine’s Chef of the Year.” Other upscale restaurant openings include Edge at the Four Seasons, Linger, Ocean Prime and Euclid Hall.