APR 2012

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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Home NOR THWEST FLORIDA Planning Directory Planner Resources Meeting Site Showcase Emerald Coast Floridaʼs Emerald Coast includes the cities of Destin and Fort Walton. The areaʼs con- vention center, the Emerald Coast Con- vention Center, is located in Fort Walton Beach and offers 35,000 square feet of meeting space. "Weʼve done an entire re- branding to go with our new name," said Tisha Maraj, CMP, sales and marketing manger. They used to be a conference center. "Weʼve added new TV screens to advertise events near our entrance, added a new upgraded marquee, new signage everywhere (including new way finders) and more. We also added complimentary WiFi throughout the building and more up- grades are on the way." Other meeting facilities include Destinʼs Emerald Grande, featuring an on-site restaurant, spa to accent its 3,150 square feet of meeting space, as well as more than 300 one- to four-bedroom residences. The surrounding Harborwalk Village offers boutique shopping and restaurants. Leg- endary Inc. the developer of the project, is looking to build a new 100- to 150-room hotel and a second parking garage just east of the resortʼs towers, according to Peter Bos, Legendaryʼs CEO. One of the larger hotel meeting spaces in the region can be found at the Ramada Plaza Beach Resort in Fort Walton Beach, offering more than 15,000 square feet of meeting space. The hotel also of- fers 335 guest rooms. ■ Fly high Pensacola Pensacola itself is growing in leaps and bounds, said Valerie Lento of Visit Pensacola. Not only has the city welcomed the Maritime Park (see page 53), it also recently debuted the Holiday Inn Resort Pensacola Beach with 6,000 square feet of meeting space. The 206-room Holiday Inn Resort Pensacola Beach also offers a 250-foot lazy river, Riptides Sports Grill and Tiki Bar, and other family-friendly amenities, according to Kati Kehoe, director of sales. Also, construction of Airport & 12th a $24-million project providing a business — Panama City Panama City Beach offers more than 160,000 square feet of meeting space. One of its largest meeting properties is the former Bay Point Marriott, which is now the Wyndham Bay Point Resort and offers 40,000 square feet of meeting space and 316 guest rooms. Edgewater Beach and Golf Resort offers 400 guest rooms to accom- pany its 32,000 square feet of meeting space. The property is planning to add a Kids Splash Pad/Water Play Area Beachside sometime this fall, said Steve Bailey, director of group sales. Its sister property, the Majestic Beach Resort, offers 170 guest rooms and 10,000 square feet of meeting space. Groups looking for a unique venue in the area can seek out the new 2,900-acre Conser- vation Park. "This Conservation Park is an eco-tourist's dream," said Dan Rowe, presi- dent/CEO of Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Just this morning while walking on one of the trails, I saw an alligator, Osprey and a baby Whitetail Deer." There are 24 miles of dirt trails, as well as picnic areas and a pavilion. An outdoor classroom is also available to groups. ■ 54 ConventionSouth APRIL 2012 www.con v location adjacent to Pensacola International Airport—is being built and is expected to open in spring 2013. At the heart of the new development will be a new 127-room Hyatt Place hotel, offering guests direct access to the airport, Lento said. The downtown area offers the Crowne Plaza Pensacola Grand Hotel which is lo- cated on a historic site and is just steps from the Pensacola Civic Center. Altogether, the hotel offers 7,584 square feet of meeting space and 210 guest rooms. The Pensacola Civic Center itself offers 14,000 square feet of meeting space with 20,000 square feet of arena floor space, said Michael Capps, event manager. ■ The Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron is based at NAS Pen- sacola. Learn more about the Blue Angels and host an off-site event at Pensacola's National Museum of Naval Aviation. 2 options: historic down- town Pensacola or Pensacola Beach. Resort & condo-styled accommodations abound for meetings & family fun. Emerald Coast CVB via

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