APR 2017

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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Page 29 of 59

⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ A P R I L 2 0 1 7 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 30 F L O R I D A Jacksonville & the Beaches Situated along the Atlantic Ocean, the "River City by the Sea" boasts more than 20 miles of wide and uncrowded beaches, close to 40 miles of the Intracoastal Waterway and the longest stretch of the St. Johns River. On land, Jacksonville is home to the largest urban park system in the nation, with 10 state and national parks. Its thriving craft- beer scene and fun and cosmopolitan nightlife make Jacksonville a unique destination. According to Visit Jacksonville, the city is home to more than 450,000 square feet of meet- ing space, including the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center and an award-winning sports complex. There are more than 200 hotels and re- sorts that offer nearly 18,000 rooms and the area offers 70 year-round golf courses. Among the recently renovated properties, the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, with 966 guest rooms and 110,000 square feet of event space, has completed a full renovation with new river-inspired decor, new rooftop pool and additional meeting space. The 159-room Sheraton Jacksonville competed a $7 million property renovation in February 2017, including updates to all eight meeting rooms. The Omni Jacksonville completed renovations to all 354 guest rooms as part of a $9 million overhaul that also included upgrades to the restaurants and 14,000 square feet of meeting space. DoubleTree by Hilton Jackson- ville Riverfront completed renovations to its 293 guest rooms as well as upgrades to 12,000 square feet of event space. Embassy Suites Jacksonville Baymeadows has completed a $13 million total renovation to all two-room guest suites, meeting space and restaurant. The Lexington Hotel and Conference Center is in the final stages of a $15 to $20 million renovation of the entire property, including the 35,000-square-foot conference center, to be completed in Summer 2017. Several small beach communities along the At- lantic Ocean add extra interest to the Jacksonville metropolitan area. The quaint, historic village of Mayport is home to casino boats and seafood restaurants, and biking and hiking trails. Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach are intersected by Beaches Town Center, which offers casual and upscale dining, diverse shopping options and a happening nightlife scene. Additional Jacksonville Meeting Space • Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center: 265,000-square-foot facility with 22 meeting rooms ► Jacksonville combines Florida flair and Southern hospitality in a perfect mix with unique venues, a delicious local food culture, welcoming neighborhoods and a thriving craft beer scene, according to Patty Jimenez, communications manager for Visit Jackson- ville. "Location, affordability and the huge return on experience all make Jacksonville one of the best emerging meetings destination in the nation," she said. "It's not just about the great venues but most importantly about the great experience attendees have in those venues and outside of them. Jacksonville is a city that is eager to host them and show off its beautiful beaches, water activities, nature, dining scene, cultural assets, vibrant nightlife and welcoming attitude." Jimenez said the destination is most excit- ed about the redevelopment of the Northbank Riverwalk and areas across from EverBank Field. "Coming this spring, Daily's Place at EverBank, home of the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars, will house a new 5,500-person-ca- pacity amphitheater and 94,000-square-foot covered flex field, all under one roof and just feet from the St. Johns River. It will create a cohesive environment for events and festivals to utilize the entire stadium premises." Other new venues in Jacksonville include Topgolf Jacksonville, a 65,000-square-foot entertainment center with meeting rooms; Unity Plaza, an outdoor event venue with amphitheater and community center; and Institution Ale Works and Manifest Distilling, two businesses in one facility with restau- rants, craft beers and spirits, entertainment and meeting spaces. Planners and event attendees enjoy Jacksonville's accessibility, Jimenez said. "Our airport, Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), was just ranked number one in customer service in the entire nation. Plus, we are located by I-95 and I-10, making our downtown so easy to get to. Then there's our people! We are very much a Southern city and very much a Florida destination, a perfect mix for hosting events because our locals are welcoming and just so nice! Then there's the quality of the facilities. Historic yet modern. Most of them waterfront and so flexible, they can accommodate a wide variety of events and themes." n B R E A K O U T S P O T L I G H T : Jacksonville Contact: meetings Jacksonville skyline

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