ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.
Issue link: http://conventionsouth.epubxp.com/i/666001
A P R I L 2 0 1 6 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 33 F L O R I D A On the eastern side of Pensacola Bay, Na- varre Beach offers three resort communities: ResortQuest, Summerwind, and the Caribbean Resort. An easy drive from the meeting venues and attractions of both Pensacola and the Em- erald Coast, they are convenient to Pensacola's airport, and provide family lodging alternatives for meeting attendees. Destin, Fort Walton Beach & Okaloosa Island Known as the "The Heart of the Emerald Coast," this area encompasses Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island, and is a go-to destination for meetings combined with vacations. Just steps from the beach, The Emerald Coast Convention Center offers 12 meeting rooms, ranging from 400 to 10,800 square feet, which can be com- bined to create the 21,000-square-foot Emerald Grand Ballroom. On-site catering, A/V services, event coordinators, operations personnel and se- curity officers are on site throughout every event. Lodging options along this stretch of the north- west Florida coast include hotels, condos and home rentals, many offering meeting facilities. These include: • Palms of Destin Resort and Conference Cen- ter: 416 suites/condos; 6,410 square feet of conference space • Pelican Beach Resort & Conference Center: 425 suites/condos; 4,850 square feet of meet- ing space • Ramada Plaza Beach Resort: 335 guest rooms; 14,000 square feet of meeting space Dining, shopping and recreation options abound on the Emerald Coast, with local seafood brought in daily by Florida's largest fishing fleet. The City of Fort Walton Beach has two public 18-hole championship courses and Eglin Air Force Base boasts its own two highly regarded championship courses. Fishing is huge, as are diving, snorkeling, Jet Skiing, kiteboarding, para- sailing and waterskiing. Charters and rentals are available through a number of professional outfit- ters and many hotels. Panama City Beach Located along 27 miles of sugar-white sand beaches where the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrews Bay converge, Panama City Beach provides great resorts and plenty of outdoor activities. More than 160,000 square feet of meeting space, four major conference resorts, an additional 20,000 rooms at area hotels and con- dominiums, and easy access by air or auto make Panama City Beach the perfect choice, according to Dan Rowe, executive director of the Panama City Beach CVB. Bay Point Golf Resort and Spa, a 2014 ConventionSouth "Top 25 in the South," is joining the Sheraton Hotels & Resorts family, after undergoing a $30 million renovation and repositioning as the Sheraton Bay Point Resort. Nestled within a 1,100-acre wildlife preserve on St. Andrews Bay, the resort has 200 guest rooms in the main building, 120 golf villas, and more than 40,000 square feet of meeting space. There are three restaurants and lounges, two 18-hole golf courses, five clay tennis courts, three outdoor pools, and a full-service luxury spa. Tallahassee Offering many cultural attractions and surround- ed by scenic forests and rivers, the state's capital is also a great place for conferences and meetings involving from 10 to 1,200 participants, accord- ing to Janet Roach, meetings and conventions director for Visit Tallahassee. "Combined with its natural beauty and rolling hills, Florida's Capital City makes a unique state- ment and destination for group travel or special gatherings," she said. According to Visit Talla- hassee, the city has 58 hotels offering 6,000 guest rooms. There's 33,915 square feet of exhibit space and 400,000 square feet of meeting space at a variety of venues. The 35,000-square-foot Tallahassee Automo- bile Museum offers the city's largest banquet room and conference center, while the Tallahas- see Museum features a 52-acre lakeside setting, and 10,000 square feet of indoor function space. The Cascades Park Amphitheater is a 3,500-seat outdoor venue that attracts a variety of artists. Florida State University also has several meeting and event sites, including the University Center Club. the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center and the FSU Conference Center. Meeting-friendly hotels include Four Points by Sheraton Tallahassee Downtown; Hotel Duval, Autograph Collection; Aloft Tallahassee Downtown; and Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Tallahassee. Brooksville & Weeki Wachee Florida's Adventure Coast, or Nature's Place to Play™, includes Brooksville and Weeki Wachee, where mermaids and manatees head up the attrac- tions, but boating, fishing, beachcombing, birding and golfing are also big draws. For more than six decades, Weeki Wachee Springs' world-famous mermaids have performed in the unique spring. Part of the Florida State ► Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort Weeki Wachee Mermaid Photo by John Athanason