Myrtle Beach is known for its more than 100 golf courses, beautiful beaches and surf, shopping, and a good amount of family-entertainment-style venues that attract 14 million visitors annually. Myrtle Beach has a new kid on the block, one that is sure to delight baby boomers and their kids alike: Hard Rock Park, the world's first and only rock 'n' roll theme park, opened in June.

In fact it's the first new major theme park to be built in the U.S. in nearly a decade. With approximately 50 acres and more than 50 rides and attractions, it's all rock music all the time, both live and recorded. There's a roller coaster called Led Zeppelin-The Ride. But my favorite was much tamer: Nights in White Satin, The Trip, a gentle, fun way to relive the psychedelic '60s and '70s.

The Grand Strand's other themed attractions include Myrtle Waves Water Park, offering 20 acres of themed attractions and more than one million gallons of water; and the NASCAR SpeedPark, a 26-acre, race-themed amusement park.

First-class but unpretentious meeting and guest rooms are available at a number of properties, including the 402-room Sheraton Myrtle Beach, adjacent to the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, which has 250,000 square feet of flexible and airy meeting space. The 355-room Barefoot Resort features the new Lakeside Conference Center, with 17,000 square feet of meeting space; as well as the new Event Plaza next to the Intracoastal Waterway, offering 4,000 square feet of air-conditioned meeting and function space.

Kingston Shores is one of the largest meeting offerings in the area. Encompassing the 385-room Hilton Myrtle Beach and the Royale Palms, a luxury oceanfront condominium complex, it also includes the new Hilton Conference Center at Kingston Shores, which offers 14,400 square feet of conference space. The luxurious 230-room Marina Inn at Grande Dunes is incentive quality and sits on the Intracoastal Waterway with two championship golf courses and privileges to the Grande Dunes Ocean Club. The right-on-the-beach, 407-room Myrtle Beach Marriott at Grande Dunes offers lots of meeting space and a spa to boot. The 340-room Island Vista has a perfect beach setting and a traditionally laid-back Myrtle Beach experience.

Newsmakers:

  • Cynay P. Smith has been named regional director of association sales for Skamania Lodge in the Columbia River Gorge, Stevenson, Wash., and for Suncadia Resort, 90 minutes east of Seattle.

  • The Las Cruces Convention & Visitors Bureau has hired Rochelle Miller-Hernandez as a new convention sales manager. She worked for five years as a meeting planner for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.