On The Horizon In 2014 & Beyond: New Tourism Developments In The Myrtle Beach Area Of South Carolina - CW15 - OMAHA

On The Horizon In 2014 & Beyond: New Tourism Developments In The Myrtle Beach Area Of South Carolina

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SOURCE Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce / CVB

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C., Feb. 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- As one of the fastest-growing family and vacation destinations in the nation, the Myrtle Beach area of South Carolina currently attracts an average of 15 million visitors annually, along with thousands of new residents to the destination, each year. Known affectionately as "The Grand Strand," Myrtle Beach continues to evolve and expand, giving way to an entirely "new" Myrtle Beach area of accommodations, attractions and events. Highlights include the first new hotel construction in more than five years, the addition of a new sports complex at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center and a new exhibit at Ripley's Aquarium. Here is a run down of the latest new development in the region.
*Updates are listed alphabetically by category

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140203/CL57308)

~Airlines~

Porter Airlines Winter/Spring Service
Porter Airlines, which has been flying non-stop seasonal service from downtown Toronto to Myrtle Beach since 2010, will expand their winter/spring seasonal service from February 15 to May 19, 2014. There will be daily service for two weeks during March break and flights available up to six times weekly outside of this period. Flights will depart from the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport to Myrtle Beach International. Visit www.flyporter.com for more information.

Spirit Airlines Resumes Seasonal Service
Spirit Airlines resumes its seasonal non-stop service to Myrtle Beach International (MYR) earlier than in previous years to nine cities. Service will start on February 13, 2014 through the summer travel season from Baltimore Washington International, Chicago-O'Hare, Detroit, Latrobe/Pittsburgh and Niagara Falls, NY/Toronto. Service will begin March 20, 2014 from Charleston, WV and Philadelphia and on May 1, 2014 from Dallas/Ft. Worth and Plattsburgh, NY/Montreal. For more information, visit www.spirit.com.

WestJet Resumes Seasonal Service
WestJet will resume its non-stop seasonal service for a second year between Toronto Pearson Airport and Myrtle Beach on March 6, 2014, nearly two months earlier than in 2013. Flights will be twice a week on Thursday's and Sunday's March 6 to October 23, 2014. For more information, visit http://www.westjet.com.

~Attractions, Museums, Amenities~

Brookgreen Gardens
As one of the world's most beautiful and expansive sculpture gardens on the site of four former rice plantations, Brookgreen is planning an outdoor environmental education area for children that will open in spring 2014 with 12 interactive stations to learn about the natural world. A new milkweed garden next to the butterfly house at the zoo will also open in summer along with interpretive signage about the dependence of the Monarch butterfly on milkweed as a food source. Other exhibits and events in 2014 will include "Sojourn to Gullah Geechee" and "The Reign of Rice Lecture Series" showcasing the Gullah Geechee rice culture, "Equine Spirit: The Horse in American Art" exploring the history of the horse as a subject for art, "Kent Ullberg: A Retrospective" and the National Sculpture Society's 81st Annual Awards Exhibition. For a complete listing of events, visit www.brookgreen.org.

Horry County Museum
The Horry County Museum has expanded and moved to a historical landmark on the National Historic Register in Conway, the former Burroughs School. This $6.4 million renovation presents a walk through time of the key points in the county's history in a new 10,000 square foot space. The museum will feature two galleries focused on the American Civil War in addition to two permanent-but-evolving exhibits. There are roughly 800 custom display cases for historical artifacts and a new 600-seat auditorium which will be used for public programming and educational events. The museum launched a soft opening in October 2013; however, plans are in the works for construction of a large aquarium and a children's interactive learning exhibit in 2014. For more information, visit www.horrycountymuseum.org.

Ripley's Aquarium New Exhibit
Ripley's Aquarium is planning to open a new exhibit titled "Swarm" by the end of March 2014. Swarm will take you on a wild journey of how animals behave as a group to survive. This all new $750,000 dollar exhibit will encompass such animals as Halloween Crabs, Leaf Cutter Ants, Blubber Jellies, Coral Catfish and Mice just to name a few. Discover how these animals flock, school and herd together in magnificent displays of survival. Kids and adults will be able to climb, crawl and take pictures up-close with many of these animals, as well as putting their hands in water of schooling fish and get to see how a leaf cutter ant can carry leaves 3 times its size. www.ripleyaquariums.com/myrtlebeach/

Indoor Sports Complex Adjacent to Myrtle Beach Convention Center
The Myrtle Beach area will soon have a 100,000 square-foot indoor sports facility that will help expand sports tourism. Construction of the $12.4 million facility will begin in February 2014 and will open in February 2015 adjacent to the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. The complex will include eight basketball courts, 16 volleyball courts, a cafe and retail area, and entertainment zone complete with a climbing wall and a 1500-seat telescopic bleacher system configurable for numerous indoor sports. For more information, please visit www.myrtlebeachareachamber.com/sports.

~Dining~

Cook Out
The southern U. S. fast food restaurant chain Cook Out is coming to 1800 N. Kings Hwy in Myrtle Beach in early 2014. The restaurant specialized in grilled hamburgers and hotdogs cook out style, chicken sandwiches, Carolina BBQ and milkshakes. For more information, visit http://cookout.com/.

Homebrewer's Pantry
To add to the cultural revitalization of the downtown area of historic Conway, South Carolina, a new Homebrewer's Pantry store will open in April 2014. This will not only be a place to provide homebrew ingredients and equipment for making beer, wine, mead, cider and soda, it will also serve as a place for entertaining and education through classes, demonstrations, tastings, contests and competitions. For more information, visit http://homebrewerspantry.com.

La Festa
A new Italian cuisine restaurant will open on the site of the former Cagney's Restaurant that closed after 36 years in business. Renovations are underway of the restaurant with an anticipated March 2014 opening. Head Chef Matteo Cazzin is from Padua in the Veneto area of Italy and will serve fresh pasta using a pasta machine from Italy and a brick pizza oven. The restaurant will also have its own bakery for fresh breads and desserts.

~Entertainment~

The Carolina Opry Cast Additions & Seating
The Carolina Opry celebrates the 28th season of its landmark variety show with the addition of two new powerhouse vocalists. North Carolina-based singer/songwriter, Bibis Ellison will join the cast of The Carolina Opry and Good Vibrations. Likened to artists such as Adele, Bibis is known for her soulful tones and has performed both covers and original music all over the U.S., as well as in Japan and Mexico. Colton Cason made his debut at their recent Christmas production and has agreed to join the cast for the 2014 season. Colton's smooth crooner style, inspired by Sinatra and Buble, adds an element of jazz-and he also plays a mean trumpet. Also among the changes for 2014 is all new seating in The Calvin Gilmore Theater auditorium. Gilmore is replacing all floor seating with plush, wide new seats decked out with rocking backs and cup holders. For more information, visit www.thecarolinaopry.com.

~Events~

Quidditch World Cup Coming to North Myrtle Beach
The 7th annual Quidditch World Cup is coming to the new North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports complex April 5 and 6, 2014. More than 80 teams from across the country will compete in this Harry Potter-inspired game popular among college students. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4_mredUpjQ

Darlington Raceway, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
In an effort to improve the guest experience in celebrating its 65th year of racing tradition and history, Darlington Raceway is moving its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 race weekend to April 11-12, 2014. Just an hour outside the Myrtle Beach area, the Bojangles' Southern 500 race weekend falls right before the Easter holiday allowing travelers the chance to enjoy the entire race experience.

Surfside Beach Celebrates 50th Anniversary
The town of Surfside Beach, also known as the "family beach" will be celebrating their 50th anniversary on March 14, 2014. Special events are being planned throughout the year including an official ceremony on the anniversary, a Founders Day weekend event May 2-4, summer outdoor movies and a blues, oyster and BBQ event October 10-11. http://www.surfsidebeach.org/pdf/january_2014_newsletter_50th_anniversary.pdf

Shag Celebrates 30th Anniversary
The official state dance of South Carolina, the Carolina Shag, celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2014. As a form of the Southern swing, the shag is said to have started in the Myrtle Beach area as early as the 1920's and continues to be a popular entertainment option for visitors in the North Myrtle Beach area. Special events are being planned throughout the year with more information to come.

~Lodging~

Crown Reef Resort
The Crown Reef Resort, one of Myrtle Beach's signature south-end hotels with more than 500 rooms, recently changed ownership to Vacation Myrtle Beach in August 2013 and is now undergoing a major renovation. All rooms will be completely redone with new furnishings, wall coverings, kitchens, and more.  A brand new water park is also underway featuring two 40 foot enclosed water slides that will finish into a new building that will also house a number of fun features including sprays, bucket dumps and more. Also, a new Town Center entertainment, dining and fun zone will be added and will include a Loco Gecko Beach Shak restaurant, Grab N' Go Grill and Coffee Bar, SWIRL Ice Cream and Sweet Shop, and a video game and redemption center. The room renovations are expected to be completed by April 2014, while all other additions will be completed in late Spring 2014. For more information, visit www.crownreef.com.

Homewood Suites Oceanfront Resort & Conference Center
The first new hotel in Myrtle Beach in five years is planning to be built at  1805 S. Ocean Blvd, the first and only Homewood Suites in the 399 chain that is on the oceanfront. The $25 million Homewood hotel aims to open in early 2015. The Homewood will share pools and other amenities with the Hampton Inn Oceanfront next door. It will have 100 suites, a mix of two-bedroom, one-bedroom and studios, all with kitchens and private balconies. Homewood also will have a 300-seat conference center, three pools, a fire pit, fitness center, a Pilates-aerobics room for women only, an on site chapel and a bistro serving sandwiches and snacks.

Hotel BLUE
The central Myrtle Beach Hotel BLUE is making a couple of upgrade changes in 2014. The lobby check-in area is being completely renovated and will offer VIP check-in including a new lobby bar. A new "8 South Sun Deck and Ocean Lounge" is being created which includes a new sundeck and lounge area that will be in proximity to accessing the pool deck from the lobby. The current Cafe Blue is relocating to the street side entrance of the hotel and will continue to feature Starbucks products. All changes will be completed by spring 2014. For more information, visit www.hotelbluemb.com.

Hilton Grand Vacations Club
Construction has begun on a brand new Hilton Grand Vacations Club timeshare resort at the former location of Beach View Apartments in downtown Myrtle Beach on Ocean Boulevard and 22nd Avenue North. Crystal Blue Investment Group is bringing this new hotel to the beach and the project is estimated to cost $41.5 million. The hotel will be 22 stories with 220 units. The project will be completed by July 2015.

The Myrtle Beach area, popularly known as the Grand Strand, stretches from Little River to Pawleys Island, comprising 12 distinct cities along the South Carolina coast. Home to world-class golf, 60 miles of sandy beaches, an assortment of entertainment and family attractions and Southern hospitality, the Myrtle Beach area presents the quintessential vacation experience. For additional information on the Myrtle Beach area, visit www.visitmyrtlebeach.com or call (888) Myrtle-1.

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