Beach destinations, with their calming vibe and stunning settings, have long been a favorite for corporate meetings and incentive programs, their appeal being magnified during the current challenging times.
Thinking about opting for a beach destination for your next meeting or event? Here are some options of venues that might be a perfect fit.
Situated on Wailea Beach, the open-air resort Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea offers all the beauty and charm of Maui, as well as gorgeous weather throughout the year.
The five-star resort implemented the Lead with Care program, ensuring that attendee and employee health and safety remain their top priority.
A collaboration with Topgolf at the resort added a Swing Suite, which groups can rent to provide an immersive social experience for their attendees, including a comfortable lounge to play, and enjoy food and beverage service. There are three golf courses about five minutes from the resort as well. The property has 40,202 sf of meeting space, including the 5,200 sf Oceanfront Lawn and the 6,930 sf Four Seasons Ballroom.
Debbie Weil-Manuma, president of PRA Business Events in Honolulu, has brought more than 100 programs to the resort during her 42 years as a planner. In addition to opening up some new spaces in recent years, she said that the venue also “added filtration systems and other antivirus products to the hotel rooms, in a very attractive, nonclinical way.”
This upscale property, located in one of Florida’s most enchanting locales, is renowned for a vibrant nautical theme.
Michelle Malloy, CMP, CAE, senior director of meetings and member services for the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, has hosted meetings on the property multiple times per year.
“The rooms are spacious, comfortable, practical and they all have a view of the water,” Malloy said. “The food outlets have great options and nice ambiance, and the hotel offers the perfect location for business, just across the street from the beach and is adjacent to restaurants and shopping. Who needs anything else?”
Kim Watson, events director for Phillies Phantasy Camp in Clearwater, Florida, who has planned events at the property since 2011, said that location is one of the reasons she takes her groups to this venue.
“The location is phenomenal, with incredible views from every room.” Watson said.
“Most properties don’t have staff that will bend over backward to be partners for a successful event, but this property does,” Courtney Swilley, vice president for Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, who has planned events for 25 years, said.
This stellar service can be seen in the variety of new protocols and elevated practices it has implemented as part of Marriott International’s family of brands to address the pandemic.
A few years ago, they had an event that they had to cancel and the planner’s help proved invaluable.
“We were working with their planner on things such as sanitizer stations and buffet serving, and you could tell that safety for the guests was at the top of the list, which, as a planner, is worth its weight in gold,” Swilley said.
Groups can utilize the 11,729 sf of meeting space, which includes the 3,300-sf Sand Key Ballroom. Other highlights are multiple dining options, including Watercolour Grillhouse, serving fresh seafood and prime cuts of beef. They also have an outdoor pool with a 35 ft. waterslide and Antonio’s Salon & Day Spa, featuring a wide array of massage and beauty treatments.
The Hammock Beach Golf & Spa resort in Palm Coast, Florida, just south of St. Augustine, has also been going the extra mile to ensure safety and up-to-date technology for groups and in the event of possible future safety concerns, this resort is prepared.
Walter Ejnes, CHCP, president of Continuing Education Company, Inc. in Palm Coast, Florida, has worked as a meeting planner for 15 years, plans 12 meetings per year at beach hotels and resorts, including three at the Hammock Beach Golf & Spa Resort in Palm Coast.
“Beach properties are extremely attractive to our meeting attendees due to the amenities they provide,” Ejnes said. “For those who do not live near the coast, attending a conference at a tropical beach resort provides a unique getaway to relax and unwind. The tranquility of a beach’s natural setting, coupled with tropical sea breezes and the warmth of the sun, have a way of making meeting attendees forget all about their worries, and the hustle and bustle of their everyday life. Besides the beach, many coastal properties have amazing pools, golf and tennis, and other water activities”
Their company held four conferences at Hammock Beach in recent years, Ejnes said. “Our conference participants appreciated the safe atmosphere at the resort, which is a result of its size and the location of its various amenities. Attendees are able to spread out whether at one of the resort’s many pools or on the uncrowded beach.”
As for technological features, the very high demands needed for internet connection and bandwidth because of the conference live-streaming requirements were more than ample according to Ejnes.
“Hammock Beach resort’s highly trained IT team is always proactive to ensure that we have the technology that we need to have a successful meeting,” Ejnes said.
The property offers more than 50,000 sf of meeting space, including a 4,500 sf ballroom.
“The unique feature that Hammock Beach has to offer is the multitude of accommodations; it’s rarely seen at beach resorts,” Ejnes said. “Our medical conference attendees appreciate these options, whether they are traveling solo or with friends and family.”
Hammock Beach has upgraded its Wi-Fi throughout the property and changed all guest room locks in recent years. There was also a renovation of three restaurants, including Delfinos Italian Chophouse, Stix Authentic Sushi and Loggerheads Sports Pub. Other top attractions include the Atlantic Grille, an award-winning restaurant overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, a 10,000 sf Spa at Hammock Beach, offering massages and signature treatments.
Other features include a Jack Nicklaus-designed Ocean Course, which is a golf course that winds along pristine wetlands and sparkling lakes, and a Tom Watson-designed Conservatory Course, highlighted by babbling brooks and field stone work.
The largest beachfront resort in northwest Florida is Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf & Spa Resort which sits on a private beach of pure white sand along the Emerald Coast. The resort offers 60,000 sf of indoor and outdoor function space.
They enhanced their meeting space in the past few years, which coincided with the rooms being renovated. They also redesigned their main restaurant’s kitchen and added more features to enable their culinary team to work more efficiently and have more time to be creative. The renovations are slated to be complete next year.
Hilton Sandestin has also renovated its traditional theater into a media center.
It is a fully immersive, technologically enhanced space for meeting planners to utilize, featuring the latest video and audio components. Outdoor space and three large ballrooms with flexible air walls and extensive space have given the resort a distinct advantage as the industry adjusts to new needs and standards.
The property enhanced its safety efforts by implementing Hilton’s EventReady with the CleanStay program.
The on-property Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood is a AAA Four Diamond restaurant that serves fresh seafood dishes and steaks rated USDA Prime Black Diamond, the highest designation the U.S. government gives. The restaurant is set in elegance giving an upscale vibe to the dining experience. The 14,000 sf Serenity by the Sea Spa offers facials, massages, body treatments inspired by the coastal location incorporating elements, such as seawater pearls and sea salts.
Nestled into the Sierra Nevada mountains, the 26-acre Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa & Casino, located in Incline Village, Nevada, provides a less conventional beach experience than most other waterfront properties.
Not only do groups have access to a pristine, private beach, but they also have direct access to the premier outdoor experiences available in North Lake Tahoe, from skiing and snowboarding at nearby resorts, to exploring some of the most scenic hiking trails in the area.
The Tahoe Adventures program provides groups with expert-led guided activities and excursions, such as hikes, tours and meditation sessions. Other available activities at the resort include gambling at the 24-hour casino, catamaran and yacht cruises, fishing trips, bicycling, kayaking and other water sports. Be aware that they are doing some renovations and access to the lake will not be available until next spring.
The resort also added a virtual studio to provide state-of-the-art wellness experiences. The studio features Lululemon’s Mirror technology, which provides real-time feedback and motivation from certified trainers.
In addition to guest rooms and suites, the resort provides 24 cottages with fireplaces and alpine-style decor, and 50,000 sf of indoor and outdoor meeting space, including the 5,813 sf Lakeside Ballroom and 7,326-square-foot Regency Ballroom.
In line with Hyatt Hotels & Resorts’ Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment, Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe has made guest safety and wellness a top priority. The property has received the Global Biorisk Advisory Council’s STAR facility accreditation.
Set on a coastal bluff above the Pacific Ocean, Montage Laguna Beach in Laguna Beach, California, spans 30 acres and features two outdoor pool decks, the 20,000 sf Spa Montage and three signature restaurants with spectacular views of the Southern California coast.
Two years ago, Montage International partnered with Adventure IO, a proprietary mobile platform offering exclusive adventure experiences led by professional athletes and local experts. Offered at the Laguna Beach property, Montage and Pendry Excursions with Adventure IO invites groups to experience locally inspired day trips and outdoor pursuits, such as learning to fly above water on a new electric hydrofoil, receiving surf and skimboarding instruction, enjoying a hiking and photography excursion and sailing to Catalina Island aboard a 100-foot luxury Azimut motor yacht.
The 26,000 sf of indoor meeting space includes a 7,500 sf grand ballroom and a 3,200 sf gallery ballroom. Outdoor meeting space totals 17,900 sf and includes four lawns, each providing 2,600 to 5,500 sf.
Normally reserved for members, Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida, also offers opportunities for groups to experience its unique way of life. Located on a private peninsula on the northernmost tip of Key Largo, this property is perhaps best known for its two 18-hole championship golf courses. The scenic Hammock Course, partially situated in a wildlife sanctuary of mangrove and tropical hardwood hammocks, contains many rare and endangered species of plants. The Dolphin Course, which is undergoing some renovations, features fairways winding past tamarind, mahogany trees, coconut palms and other exotic landscaping.
Ocean Reef Club provides many other amenities, including an 8,000 sf spa, fishing, diving, snorkeling, tennis and a host of other recreational activities. The rental fleet includes sailboats, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.
Dining options include the Islander & Sushi Bar, featuring fresh Florida Keys seafood. The Cooking School at Carysfort Kitchen, provides the opportunity for groups to arrange for cooking demonstrations and hands-on cooking classes that include team-building activities.
The property provides 30,000 sf of meeting space, including the 7,350 sf Town Hall Ballroom and the 5,688 sf Carysfort Ballroom.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort, a luxury property, located approximately 30 miles from Charleston International Airport in South Carolina, has been busy adding attractive new features that enhance attendees experience. The recently opened West Beach Conference Center provides 23,000 sf of pre-event and meeting space, anchored by the 10,000 sf Carolina Ballroom.
After hosting the 2021 PGA Championship, four-bedroom, two-story cottages were added at The Ocean Course, one of five courses on the island, overlooking the driving range and Atlantic Ocean.
These are ideal for hosting highly customizable, small executive or board retreats, or premier incentive programs for top producers.
The property features 90,000 sf of meeting space, more than a dozen dining options, immersive nature experiences, two outdoor swimming pools, an indoor pool, a fitness center and a spa featuring signature treatments and services.
Alexandra Marini Concolino, director, Head of National Event Strategy for Bernstein Private Wealth Management, also has worked as a meeting planner for 15 years and has brought attendees to several beach properties including The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina.
“There is a built-in ambiance and entertainment factor at beach properties,” she said. “You get a destination feel even if the venue is in your backyard. There’s a calming effect where you feel like you’re on vacation, even if you’re there to attend a conference. From a planning perspective, our meeting at the property was a dream because everything was on-site, including conference space, restaurants, rooming, transportation and activities.”
The Sanctuary partners with professionals at the Medical University of South Carolina to guide its actions to ensure the well-being of guests and employees. The commitment includes increasing and monitoring policies regarding overall cleanliness, frequency of cleaning and food safety throughout the resort.
The only resort in the world to receive four Forbes Five-Star ratings 13 years in a row, Sea Island Resort is located 88 miles south of Savannah, Georgia, and 80 miles north of Jacksonville, Florida. It features 390 guest rooms, divided among several lodging sites, including The Cloister, a 265-room, Mediterranean-style oasis that offers a 7,855 sf ballroom in its 87,000 sf of indoor and outdoor meeting space.
A distinctly different experience is available at The Lodge at Sea Island, an English-style manor that offers 40 guest rooms, a state-of-the-art Golf Performance Center, an 18-hole putting course, an oceanfront pool and a pool house.
Both The Cloister Hotel and The Lodge at Sea Island have won Forbes Five Star awards, along with The Spa at Sea Island and the Georgian Room, a restaurant that has achieved the award. C&IT