Along the 62 miles of coastline that span the Mississippi Gulf Coast region, the Gulf of Mexico laps at the feet of the towns of Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Diamondhead, Pass Christian, Long Beach, Gulfport, Biloxi, D’Iberville, Ocean Springs, Gautier, Pascagoula and Moss Point. Rebuilding the area after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 was no small task, but the Gulf Coast is assuredly back in business.
To prove it, the Mississippi Coast Coliseum & Convention Center is the largest beachfront facility of its kind in the South, with 400,000 square feet of expanded and renovated meeting space.
“Mississippi is the hospitality state,” says Nicole Misita, public and media relations manager for Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional CVB. “There is a feeling of being home on the Gulf Coast.”
That sense of hospitality extends past the chain hotels to the accommodations the area is well known for: casinos. Beau Rivage Resort & Casino has 16 meeting rooms and 50,000 square feet of meeting space, and more than 1,700 guest rooms and suites. IP Casino Resort & Spa has 65,000 square feet of space in 12 meeting rooms and more than 1,000 guest rooms. For more intimate meetings, the 197-room Treasure Bay Casino & Hotel has 3,600 square feet of ballroom space.
A $50 million expansion is underway at Gulfport’s Island View Casino Resort, which currently has 563 rooms and suites. The expansion will increase the city’s room count by 400 and create the largest meeting and convention space in Gulfport. Construction is expected to be complete by summer 2015.
For a quieter meeting environment, consider renting one- or two-bedroom condominiums at The Ocean Club at Biloxi. These oceanfront vacation rentals come completely furnished and fully appointed, ideal for mixing business and pleasure.
Off-site functions take an artistic twist at Biloxi’s Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art. It has two Frank Gehry-designed buildings under a canopy of ancient oaks and reception space for up to 300 people.
For evening relaxation, or pre- or post-conference exploration, attendees will find boutiques, restaurants and year-round special events, such as the Biloxi Seafood Festival and the Bay Bridge Festival, in the walkable downtown areas of Old Town Bay St. Louis and downtown Ocean Springs. Civil War re-enactments, historic sites like the Biloxi Lighthouse and Beauvoir (the last home of Jefferson Davis), and more than 20 professionally designed golf courses such as Tom Fazio’s course Fallen Oak Golf Club (shown), give visitors more entertainment options.