In May, Gulf Shores Welcome Center debuted its new building, symbolic of the push the region is making to draw planners and attendees to the year-round destination. With beautiful beaches and warm weather, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have a strong case for meetings business for small associations that see their event as a chance for attendees to tack on a family vacation. The setting allows for golfing and fishing excursions, as well as zip lining and paddleboarding teambuilding activities. Take a look at what’s new and coming.
> Down the road in Foley, Alabama, the $32 million Foley Sports Tourism Complex, currently in development, will also have a 90,000-sq.-ft. indoor events center to host association events, conventions and trade shows. It’s scheduled to come online by Memorial Day 2017.
> You won’t find big hotels with huge conference centers along the beach. While a SpringHill Suites is now open in Orange Beach and a Hotel Indigo is set to join by March 2017, condominium-hotel buildings like Phoenix All Suites Hotels often work well for smaller meetings.
> The Event Center at Cosmo’s Courtyard, which had its grand opening in July, can accommodate 200 attendees for an event or reception. BuzzCatz Coffee & Sweets, featuring locally roasted coffee, breakfast fare and ice cream is also on property.