MAY 2015

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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⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ M A Y 2 0 1 5 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 14 What makes resort meetings so special? The beautiful settings, whether oceanfront, mountainside or along a lake, are one factor. Then there's the multitude of recreational amenities most resorts offer, ranging from golf and tennis facilities to boating and fishing outfitters to simpler pleasures of swimming in the pool, playing croquet on the lawn or hiking and biking along scenic trails. Don't forget the option of getting pampered at luxurious spas or selecting from a variety of food and drink offerings, from snack foods to gourmet meals. Put all these elements together and you can see why resort properties are so appealing for meetings, retreats and special events. Resorts offer the "wow factor," says Cathy Claesson, director of media and digital marketing at Tradewinds Resort in St. Pete Beach, FL. "A resort destination is the way to go if a company is looking to wow their customers and employees," she points out. "At resorts, there is a high level of interaction among participants that creates a feeling of camaraderie. Most people will stay on-site at a resort since there are multiple options for dining and entertainment, which helps them connect throughout the meeting." Al Martinez-Fonts, director of marketing and advertising at Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel, Fla., (near Tampa), points out that groups benefit from the variety of amenities and facilities contained within a resort. "The wide choice of venues, particularly outdoor venues, all at one location on the resort grounds, allows planners to create a multi- faceted conference, without having to transport the attendees in motor coaches," he says. Claesson adds that resorts provide inspirational settings. "If a corporate meeting is all about putting new ideas on the table, then your group may benefit from the resort ambiance more than you might imagine. For example, the beautiful and relaxing atmosphere of a beach resort calms the nerves of everybody involved and gets the creative juices flowing more rapidly, so you are bound to have a more productive meeting than if you had opted for a video conference or typical hotel." Lisa Halpin, guest relations and sales manager at Palm Island Resort in Placida, Fla., contends that the relaxing atmosphere of resorts helps meeting attendees develop new ideas and approaches. An out-of-the box setting promotes creativity, teamwork, loyalty and cohesiveness," she explains. "Resorts offer a more relaxed environment and a family feeling. When most of us spend more time working than we have with our real family, why not choose this type of environment for your team outing?" Laurie Flynn, director of event management at the Marco Island (Fla.) Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa, says resort settings lend themselves to all kinds of special gatherings, even before any decorations or special effects are added. "From private beach concerts to weddings and for any type of meal function, you can sit on the beach, at an elegant table, be served the best in food and beverage, and watch peaceful waters with beautiful sunsets. Claesson points out that another reason to select a resort is the ease with which events are handled. "Resort staffs who are experienced in these events can predict your requirements even before you think of them," she says. "This ensures that there are no glitches during the meeting. A lot of business travelers spend a lot of time in hotels, so another meeting in another hotel will not be much incentive to attend. If you are expecting some significant people from the industry in a corporate meeting, the resort will make them feel more at home and at ease." n Why Resorts Deliver Awesome Return On Experience By Marcia Bradford R.O.E. C O V E R : R E S O R T M E E T I N G S S Venetian Pool in Coral Gables, Fla. Greater Miami CVB,

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