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 ⎜ A P R I L 2 0 1 6 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 32 Florida E V E N T P L A N N E R ' S G U I D E T O FL C E N T R A L F L O R I D A S U N S E T Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, Florida is also home to many lakes and rivers. With more than 500 lakes, Central Florida is a popular area for airboat rides, kayaking, water skiing, fishing and just enjoying the scenery. BY D. FRAN MORLEY, T. WAYNE WATERS & SABE FINK Featuring white-sand beaches along its Gulf coast, numerous natural springs, world-famous theme parks, the international glamour of Miami and the exotic tropical keys, Florida offers beautiful weather and a wide range of attractive settings for meetings and events. VISIT FLORIDA, the state's tourism department, also asserts that it is "Good Business To Do Business In Florida!" According to a recent research study surveying both corporate and asso- ciation meeting planners across the country, Florida is ranked the highest state for affordable travel, accessibility and value. NORTHWEST FLORIDA Pensacola/Pensacola Beach & Perdido Key The Pensacola Bay Area offers historic, urban, and natural settings for meetings of almost any size, with both beachfront and downtown ven- ues. Pensacola Beach has a dozen hotels with meeting facilities, most of them with beach frontage and on-site amenities. The Pensacola Beach Conference Campus represents a group effort of the beach's hotels, condos, restau- rants, and shopping and nightlife venues to demonstrate how they can all work together to create a critical mass of 1,292 hotel rooms, 400 condos, 38,000 square feet of meeting space, 25 meeting rooms and 26 restaurants all within walking distance of one another, with free trol- ley service in the summer months. Nearby, Perdido Key offers the Big Lagoon State Park and Amphitheater, which can handle events of up to 300 people, and the Lost Key Golf Club, which can accommodate up to 80 for a small meeting or conference. The Pensacola Civic Center, located in the heart of downtown Pensacola, can ac- commodate up to 10,000 participants in its 22,000-square-foot facility, with additional meeting space available at New World Land- ing, the Crowne Plaza Pensacola Grand and the historic Saenger Theatre. The downtown area is also vibrant with restaurants, shopping and nightlife. Along the bay, The National Naval Aviation Museum has 10,000 square feet avail- able for meetings and special events within its world-famous facility. Additionally, the Uni- versity of West Florida has fixed seating for 422 in the 4,000-square-foot Performing Arts Center and 485 in its UWF Conference Center.