Charleston to get Renaissance Weekend

Charleston Post and Courier
Schuyler Kropf, Staff Writer
October 1, 2001

The annual New Year’s Renaissance gathering on Hilton Head Island made famous by visits from then-President Bill Clinton is now coming to Charleston.

Event organizers will hold the big, end-of-2001 event in Charleston this year, while a smaller, more informal get-together will take place this Thanksgiving on Hilton Head.

Renaissance officials say the switch is due to the popularity of the weekend and because Charleston has much more hotel space.

“The facilities in Charleston are bigger and better,” said spokesman Guy Smith, who added the event should draw 1,000 people or more.

The gathering will begin Dec. 28 at the Charleston Place Hotel downtown. It is also the 50th so-called Renaissance Weekend.

Founded in 1980 by Linda and Phil Lader, former head of the Small Business Administration under Clinton, the Renaissance Weekends were marketed as off-the-record getaways for politicians, authors, celebrities, artists, business leaders and military personnel “to broaden their perspectives, stretch their minds, share their views and their experiences,” according to an organization pamphlet.

They have since franchised out to other locations, including Santa Fe, N.M. A weekend is also planned for Oxford, England, next year.

Helen Hill, executive director of the Charleston Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, said the economic impact will be a tremendous boost to the post-Christmas economy.

An even bigger bonus is the amount of advertising Charleston will get as a meeting and convention site.

“Hilton Head has gotten tremendous coverage of this for years,” she said. Bringing at least 1,000 extra visitors to Charleston that week should pump at least $1,072,224 more into the local economy, Hill estimated.

Smith said the war on terrorism is sure to be on the agenda, although he said it is far too early to say in what fashion or who will be among the guests and panelists.

“I’m confident there will be all sorts of discussions about it,” he said. Lader was also Clinton’s ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

He is currently with the Nelson, Mullins, Riley and Scarborough law firm in Charleston.

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