Mobile Bay Adds Hotel Space in Push for Trade Show Business

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Mobile, AL – Renovations were completed recently on the two major hotels serving the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center located on the historic Alabama city’s riverfront.

About $70 million was spent to overhaul the 375-room Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel, including the addition of more than 10,000 square feet of ballroom space, while the nearby Battle House has been restored to the glory that earned it the nickname “Mobile’s Living Room.”

The two hotels, as well as other inventory currently under construction, will give downtown Mobile 1,317 rooms and will support Mobile’s current push to solidify its position as a destination for conventions and trade shows throughout the Southeast and also contract additional national events.

These are heady times in Mobile Bay. The city was buffeted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but has lately been enjoying a fresh breeze of good economic news. The city’s port is busy and the Pentagon recently awarded Mobile companies blockbuster contracts to build the cutting-edge Littoral Combat Ship for the Navy and the Air Force K-45 air tanker.

The industrial activity in Mobile is underscored by the view from the convention center. There are towering cranes for unloading ships on one side, shipyards on another, ship traffic on the Mobile River and a railroad track on which fully loaded freight trains pass directly under the foyer of the second floor.

On the first floor, the SMG-managed center provides 100,000 square feet of prime exhibit space with a total of eight columns set in the corners of the two halls. Outdoor terraces along the river provide a waterfront venue for receptions. Truck marshalling is available a few blocks away at the Civic Center.

Away from the center, the pace slows considerably as the old downtown Mobile takes over. The business district along Dauphin Street remains steeped in the Old South with a nice selection of welcoming bars and restaurants such as the venerable Wintzell’s Oyster House and Ruby Moore’s delightful Spot of Tea.

Mardi Gras is a point of pride in Mobile. It claims to have originated the annual event and features a museum dedicated to the festivities, which is available for functions,

Fine dining is centered on the upscale Battle House and Riverview Plaza. There are colorful Gulf Coast-style seafood restaurants located on the beach just east of the city. The upscale Grand Hotel Point Clear Resort & Spa in nearby Clear Point has 405 rooms and 37,000 gross square feet of meeting space, some of which is in a ballroom setting suitable for exhibits.

Reach Bob Brazier, general manager of the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center at (251) 208-2100 or bbrazier@mobileconventions.com; Jerry Buzzard, national sales manager, Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau, (251) 208-2021 or jerry-buzzard@mobile.org