Destination: FloridaAugust 25, 2021

Perfect for Mixing Business With Pleasure By
August 25, 2021

Destination: Florida

Perfect for Mixing Business With Pleasure
Walt Disney World Resort will kick off its 50th anniversary celebrations October 1 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Photo by Matt Stroshane

Walt Disney World Resort will kick off its 50th anniversary celebrations October 1 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Photo by Matt Stroshane

When it comes to mixing business with pleasure, no state does it like Florida. From its pristine beaches to its sophisticated metropolises like Miami, the state of Florida offers a wealth of meeting and event planning options that keep both meeting planners and attendees coming back for more.

Meet Me in Miami

Miami is a city of neighborhoods — each with its own personality and unique characteristics. These neighborhoods carry a unique pulse of their own, whether it’s cultural, architectural, or artistic. Some of the ever-popular areas include Little Havana, Little Haiti, Historic Overtown and Coconut Grove. Brickell is the epicenter of Miami’s financial arena, but this downtown neighborhood also offers plenty of modern-day amusements, as well as convenient access to popular Miami attractions and upscale services that will keep meeting attendees refreshed and productive.

While Brickell is an international financial hub, it is also home to an assortment of wonderful eateries, high-class boutiques and a French-style village called the Mary Brickell Village. Offering the ideal venue for gatherings and entertainment, Brickell Village, as it often called, is a wonderful collection of brasseries and bistros, as well as unique shops and services that reflect the incredibly eclectic nature of the region. The benefits of hosting meetings in Brickell are endless; not only does it boast a broad variety of meeting spaces, but also offers venues in ideal proximity to areas that can be explored when business is done. Plan a meeting just steps away from the beach or find yourself near major attractions as well as businesses in this gracious financial district. From elegant venues in historic settings to modern meeting spaces, Brickell is an exceptional option for financial-based meetings or conventions of any size.

Marti Tejada, associate vice president, convention sales at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, says Miami is a sophisticated destination that has world-class meeting facilities, amazing venues and an endless array of entertainment. Centrally located is the Miami International Airport (MIA), which offers great connectivity and serves more than 150 cities around the world with non-stop service. “Our balmy temperatures, spectacular beaches, world-class hotels, fine dining, exciting nightlife, diverse shopping experiences and historic architecture make Miami one of the most sought out meeting destinations in the world,” Tejada says. “Some of the world’s most prestigious associations and corporate meetings, conventions and trade shows choose to meet in Miami.”

Trump National Doral Miami boasts four championship golf courses and 175,000 sf of indoor and outdoor space.

Trump National Doral Miami boasts four championship golf courses and 175,000 sf of indoor and outdoor space.

One reason is the city’s state-of-the-art Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC), which recently underwent a $620 million renovation and expansion. The renovated MBCC features nearly 500,000 sf of exhibit space, a new 600,000-sf grand ballroom, 81 breakout rooms, a 20,000-sf rooftop specialty space and an adjacent 6-acre park. “Whether in a hotel or our new convention center, we always strive to provide our clients and guests with exceptional customer service and an unforgettable experience,” Tejeda says. And Miami is teeming with exceptional hotels, resorts and other venues to “play host” to meetings and events.

Trump National Doral Miami is conveniently located just minutes from MIA, as well as South Florida’s acclaimed beaches and attractions. With a trajectory that spans nearly 60 years, the iconic resort has established itself as one of South Florida’s premier golf resorts featuring world-class accommodations, four championship golf courses, a full-service spa and 175,000 sf of indoor and outdoor space. “The meetings industry has found creative ways to adapt and evolve as a result of the pandemic, taking many meetings and events outdoors,” says David Feder, vice president and managing director, Trump National Doral Miami. “Luckily, we are surrounded by a lush, tropical landscape and plenty of sunshine to enjoy the outdoors any time of the year. Besides boasting numerous areas for hosting meetings and events al fresco, our championship golf courses and tennis courts also provide excellent opportunities for experiential, team-building activities, which are always a hit with groups.”

Trump International also is constantly looking for ways to innovate and stay ahead of the meetings and events trends. As Maria Daniel Espina, director of sales at Trump International Beach Resort Miami, another Trump property, explains, “We are now offering planners creative and customized hybrid solutions that encompass everything from strategy to staging and lighting, through our specialized partner, as we move toward a post-pandemic future. Plus, to make functions more practical for planners, we are now offering everything from a fully customized, all-inclusive option for groups, to a complete resort buyout for the ultimate in privacy and exclusivity.” The beachfront venues at the Trump International Beach Resort Miami feature 22,000 sf of versatile space overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and can accommodate everything from training seminars to board meetings to corporate summits.

When planning a meeting or event in Miami, proximity to the area’s favorite amenities is important. Brad Cirino, director of sales at Loews Miami Beach Hotel, says meeting planners are drawn to Loews because its location in the heart of South Beach positions the hotel centrally on the beach, so clients and attendees have easy access to the best of the destination in addition to direct beach access from the oceanfront resort. “With 65,000 sf of flexible function space, we are ready to partner and bring any type of meeting and event to life, with plenty of indoor and outdoor options depending on the planner’s needs,” Cirino says.

Location and meeting capabilities aside, the Loews Miami Beach Hotel team help set the venue apart. “There are many beautiful hotels in Miami Beach, but as a planner recently mentioned to me, ‘coming back here feels like home,’” Cirino says. “That is exactly what our goal is with every program. We are here to welcome you like family for not only a successful event, but for a comfortable and memorable luxury hotel experience.” Recently, Loews Miami Beach redesigned its top four suites, including the two, dual-story Presidential Suites. “These suites are a fantastic location for unique and more intimate meetings and private events,” Cirino says. Both have panoramic views of either the ocean or Miami Beach, and provide a setting for an exclusive event with premier amenities and service. They can, of course, also be booked for a planner’s top clients, company CEOs, etc.

The Biltmore Hotel is an expansive, 150-acre property in Miami’s historic Coral Gables neighborhood. The property features more than 75,000 sf of indoor/outdoor meeting and function space.

The Biltmore Hotel is an expansive, 150-acre property in Miami’s historic Coral Gables neighborhood. The property features more than 75,000 sf of indoor/outdoor meeting and function space.

Another Miami gem, The Biltmore Hotel, serves as the perfect backdrop for events of all sizes because it is sprawled across 150 acres in a residential neighborhood within historic Coral Gables, often referred to as “The City Beautiful.” “With the events of last year still top of mind for many meeting attendees, our venue is unique in that it offers guests ample space to roam freely throughout the property to enjoy the gardens and communal spaces,” says Joyce Gomez, senior director of sales & catering at The Biltmore Hotel. “In addition to our indoor spaces, meeting planners enjoy multiple options to choose from which to plan outdoor events.”

The Biltmore features more than 75,000 sf of indoor/outdoor meeting and function space housed within two locations on the Biltmore grounds — within the hotel itself and at the adjacent Conference Center of the Americas. This meetings and events space includes 23 meeting spaces, three ballrooms, more than 11,000 sf of outdoor banquet space, 36,000 sf of indoor banquet space that can accommodate up to 1,000 attendees, and another 40,000 sf of additional meeting space.

Located in Miami Beach, the iconic Shelborne South Beach boasts Art Deco design details and has a playful modern touch throughout, with more than 30,000 sf of meetings and events space. “Whether planning an intimate or extravagant gathering, The Shelborne’s meeting and events spaces offer a vintage-chic legacy of luxury, elegance and impeccable service,” says Mariana Hauri, director of sales and marketing. The main room, the Grand El Dorado Ballroom, which has a contemporary Miami feel, is 4,388 sf and holds up to 360 attendees. The hotel’s Continental space overlooks the Shelborne’s lobby and can host a range of special events — from meetings and conferences to cocktail parties and networking events. Spacious and bright, it’s the second-largest indoor meeting space on the property.

Oceanside glamour complements Shelborne’s 250 guest accommodations, which boast vintage-chic furnishings and stunning views of Miami’s white sandy beaches.

Orlando Here We Come

Orlando presents a variety of meeting venues for professionals who are looking for unique locales. Cozy, awe-inspiring, and monumental, these Orlando gems offer unique accommodations and amenities aplenty — all while providing ideal opportunities for your group to work some and play some. Caribe Royale Orlando is in the midst of a $125 million expansion that includes renovating all one-bedroom suites, the addition of a grand ballroom, and a beautifully redesigned lobby. Many meeting planners enjoy Caribe Royale Orlando due to its all-suite status, providing ample space for attendees to enjoy. Currently, the meeting spaces within the resort feature more than 220,000 sf of meeting and event space in the Grand Caribe Convention Center, and includes the recently opened 50,000-sf Palms Ballroom, and meeting spaces on one contiguous level. In addition, Caribe Royale features a plethora of outdoor spaces, as well as private dining rooms that are ideal for small to mid-sized groups.

Swan Reserve — a 349-room tower adjacent to the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort — is now open for booking.

Swan Reserve — a 349-room tower adjacent to the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort — is now open for booking.

Other Orlando gems are Rosen Hotels & Resorts’ three convention properties: Rosen Shingle Creek, Rosen Centre Hotel and Rosen Plaza Hotel. Together, these properties offer 700,000 sf of indoor and outdoor meetings and events space. Rosen Plaza Hotel is synonymous with “all things meetings,” thanks in part to its 60,000 sf of state-of-the-art meetings and events space, and its premium accommodations, including the unique guest access to the Gary Sain Memorial Skybridge — a direct, covered walkway to the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC). The Rosen Plaza Hotel features a 26,000-sf grand ballroom, 22 meeting rooms and a 12,500-sf ballroom foyer ideal for pre-function gatherings.

Rosen Centre Hotel offers more than 150,000 sf of flexible space including an impressive 35,000-sf Grand Ballroom, an 18,000-sf Executive Ballroom, the 14,448-sf Junior Ballroom and 35 meeting rooms of all sizes to accommodate everything from meetings to small- and large-scale events and receptions.

Of course, Rosen Shingle Creek stands out as the preeminent venue thanks to its impressive column-free ballrooms complete with an awe-inspiring, open-air terrace for outdoor events.

Groups never have to settle for business as usual at Universal Orlando Resort. With 295,000 sf of meeting space and 9,000 guest rooms campus-wide, Universal Orlando Resort was designed to offer the ideal meetings and events amenities. For example, all the hotels within Universal Orlando Resort offer business centers, separate meeting entrances and registration desks. Recently, Universal Orlando completed Surfside Inn and Suites, which offers 750 new standard rooms and spacious two-bedroom suites in the heart of Orlando’s convention district. They’re extra affordable, and the feeling here is relaxed and easy, with a cool surf vibe woven throughout. A sister hotel, Dockside Inn and Suites, also recently opened, and both hotels are part of Universal’s Endless Summer Resort.

Tampa Bay’s waterfront properties provide ample space for  outdoor meetings and events.

Tampa Bay’s waterfront properties provide ample space for outdoor meetings and events.

Exploring Greater Florida

Understated, but not overlooked, Tampa Bay bills itself as “the heart of Florida’s Gulf Coast.” Bask in the sun, fun, and culture that make Tampa Bay the ideal spot for meetings and events. Tampa International Airport is just minutes from downtown’s 600,000-sf waterfront Tampa Convention Center (TCC). Beyond its doors, Tampa Riverwalk links high-end hotels, outdoor venues and cultural centers like gems on a string. The historic streetcar can whisk attendees to a night of dining and dancing in Ybor City, where Cuban artisans hand-roll cigars as they have since 1885.

Many meetings and events properties recently enhanced their properties in an effort to welcome back conference attendees. The Don CeSar, located in St. Pete Beach, recently unveiled multimillion-dollar renovations across the expansive property’s six restaurants, 277 guest rooms and suites, two-story luxury penthouse, boutique shopping experience, two pools, destination spa and public spaces. Florida’s famed “Pink Palace,” has long been a Gulf Coast icon during its 93-year-history. This top-to-bottom renovation has resulted in a facility that seamlessly fuses sleek design and modern amenities — what meeting and event attendees have come to expect.

Todd Gehrke, director of sales and marketing at the Don CeSar, says the resort has remained open and available throughout the pandemic, allowing the team to gather firsthand experience. “In 2020, the Don CeSar completed phase III of a multi-year property renovation, which included all guest rooms, dining outlets and a new pool bar with rooftop event space overlooking the gulf. As financial and insurance meetings head back to the beach, offering the ‘Don of a New Era’ is the perfect fit for our luxury clients.” The hotel’s amenities include 22,000 sf of indoor function space, and more than 16,000 sf of outdoor space. Attendees can enjoy two deluxe heating pools and an 11,000-sf full-service Spa Oceana and fitness center.

As a luxury independent hotel, the Don CeSar leads with flexibility during all client partnerships. As Gehrke explains, this allows them to create the room setups, customized service plans and fabulous special events to meet corporate travel guidance, while also presenting a “wow” factor for attendees.

Miramar Beach, Florida is home to Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, which offers a plethora of meetings and events facilities adding up to more than 40,000 sf of indoor meeting space and 20,000 sf of outdoor deck space. “Our team at Hilton Sandestin is available to help create an experience expertly tailored to everyone’s specific needs,” says Kevin Rosa, director of sales and marketing. “With an abundance of outdoor event space, a perfectly peaceful learning environment overlooking the Gulf Coast, and endless beachside opportunities, we are able to execute every style and size of meeting safely while providing breathtaking views.”

Event attendees who enjoy golf have access to four unique golf courses in Destin, Florida as a guest of the Sandestin resort. From Burnt Pine to Baytown Golf Club, as well as The Raven and The Links at Destin, golfers of all levels will enjoy a course that is the ideal fit or a challenging adventure.

Located a mere 10 minutes from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood is still celebrating the completion of a $1.5 billion expansion and the addition of its iconic Guitar Hotel, adding 638 new, luxury guest rooms and 169 upscale guest accommodations. The project included a lush, “Bora-Bora”-style lagoon with private cabanas and butler service; a 42,000 sf Rock Spa; a 13.5-acre recreational water experience for swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding; 19 dining outlets, and 20 bars and lounges; an expansive gaming floor housing 3,100 slots, 193 table games and a 45-table poker room; 120,000 sf of premier meeting and convention space, including a 38,000-sf, carpeted exhibition hall; and a 26,000-sf retail promenade. The Hard Rock Live entertainment venue with a 7,000-person capacity is capable of showcasing A-list entertainers, comedy acts, Broadway performances, sporting events and live broadcast productions.  I&FMM

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