Gulf State Park named attraction of year

Published 12:21 am Thursday, January 10, 2019

2019 promises to be a special year for Gulf State Park, recently named Attraction of the Year by the Alabama Tourism Department in the 2019 Alabama Vacation Guide and Calendar of Events.

The Lodge at Gulf State Park, a Hilton Hotel, opened in November 2018 for guests, business meetings and conferences. The Lodge, operated by Valor Hospitality, offers 350 guest rooms and is part of a complex that includes two restaurants and a pool. According to General Manager Bill Bennett, bookings have been strong. “Reservation activity has been quite impressive for the new beachfront facility,” he said. “First and second quarter bookings are coming in at a record pace and should result in strong business levels for the entire park,” he said.

One of the first events at the conference center is Governor Kay Ivey’s Gulf Coast Inaugural Celebration on January 12 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Bennett says The Lodge has been well received by visitors thus far. “With a commitment to sustainability and direct access to more than 2 miles of pristine beach, guests are truly impressed with the design and comfort of the facility,” Bennett said.

“With our ideal beachfront location, innovative programming and team-building options available at the park, conference and meeting planners are excited to offer their attendees a unique meeting experience.”

That experience includes 28 miles of hiking and biking trails, a nature center, programs about local wildlife, a saltwater fishing pier and a new interpretive center.

Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship says the Attraction of the Year designation is a high honor. “One reason the Alabama Tourism Department made this designation is the environmental sustainability the park is embracing,” Blankenship said. “Restored sand dunes, a rainwater recycling system and lighting favorable to wildlife are just some of the things that make the park ecofriendly,” he added.

The park’s 600,000-plus annual visitors have access to an array of recreational opportunities throughout the park’s 6,150 acres. Other lodging available includes 11 cottages, 20 cabins and 500 campsites.