charleston *Scheduled to open this spring is a 275-room Embassy Suites attached to the new Charlotte Area Convention Center, which also opens this spring.

*In June, the 226-room historic Francis Marion Hotel became the Westin Francis Marion. A $2 million renovation was recently completed.

*A multimillion-dollar renovation was completed this fall at the 440-room Charleston Place in the historic district.

hilton head *A $9 million, four-year renovation is under way at the 340-room Crowne Plaza Resort. The majority of the project, including guest rooms and meeting space, will be completed by 2000.

myrtle beach *The Beach Cove Resort has refurbished all 330 guest rooms. It has seven meeting rooms; the largest holds 300.

*The Sea Watch Resort just opened a new building, bringing the guest room total to 240. Another addition, scheduled to open in early 2000, will feature 100 one- to three-bedroom units. Sea Watch has one meeting room, divisible into three, that can accommodate 200 people.

*The Ocean Creek Resort continually upgrades its 427 guest rooms. It offers seven meeting rooms; the largest accommodates 300 theater-style.

*The Caravelle Resort Villas is planning to refurbish its oceanfront rooms in 2000. It has 575 units and one meeting room, which accommodates 50 to 75 people theater-style.

*Kingston Plantation has added a 6,000 square-foot ballroom to its 50,000 square-foot conference center. There is a 255-suite Embassy Suites hotel at the Plantation, along with a large selection of rental units.

important info Charleston International Airport: Served by Air South, AirTran, Continental, Delta, Midway, United Express, and US Airways.

Hilton Head Island Airport: Taxi service available. Savannah International Airport is a 45-minute drive.

Combined sales & room tax: Charleston: 11%; Hilton Head and Columbia: 10%

Charleston Area CVB * (800) 868-8118 Fax: (843) 853-0444

Hilton Head CC * (843) 785-3673 Fax: (843) 785-7110

Myrtle Beach Area Convention Bureau * (800) 488-8998 (843) 448-1629 Fax: (843) 448-3010

Meeting Executives Say After meeting in Seville, Chicago, and Rome, the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue held its 1998 meeting in Charlotte in November.

"The Charlotte region really understands the value of international investment and the number of international firms there was very attractive," U.S. director Selina Jackson says. "The entire community supported us--many different groups embraced the project."

While most attendees stayed at the Hilton, Marriott, or Radisson in the city center, the group's leadership stayed at the nearby White Oaks Conference Center, a renovated mansion from the 1920s. "It was spectacular," Jackson said. "I highly recommend it--it's appropriate for any kind of small business conference. We held a reception there for 400, as well as a breakfast for 25, and both worked beautifully."

Another event was held at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where attendees rode around the track in pace cars and participated in a raffle for a ride in an actual race car. "They put together an event that was not only interesting and different, but also exciting," Jackson says. "It was a unique experience for both the Americans and the Europeans."

The Europeans attending the event were able to fly into Charlotte easily, as were the Americans.

"The hospitality was impeccable," Jackson notes, "from the volunteers greeting us at the airport to security and transportation. The hotels bent over backward so we had everything we needed."

Tours & Activities * Georgia--One newly popular walking tour in Savannah highlights places from the best-selling novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

* North Carolina--In Raleigh, three major attractions are opening this year: Exploris, a $36.5 million, hands-on, global learning center for children; the seven-story, 20,000-square-foot North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences; and the 20,000-square-foot Contemporary Art Museum

* South Carolina-- This December, the $40 million South Carolina Aquarium will open in Charleston.