APR 2018

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 8 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 40 F L O R I D A tal River offers endless land and sea adven- tures. Known as The Manatee Capital of the World, the area waters provide an incredibly transparent topaz environment and include Three Sisters Springs, Homosassa Spring, Seven Sisters Spring and the 70 springs of Kings Bay. There are also many museums and historic sites. The main meetings venue is the Plantation on Crystal River, an eco-friendly resort hotel with 196 guest rooms and 12,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including the 3,000-square-foot Magnolia Ballroom, which has a covered veranda. The resort also offers 27 holes of championship golf, swims with manatees in the wild, educational tours and an outdoor pool. Gainesville Home to the University of Florida, Gainesville and surrounding Alachua County offer diverse attractions, such as the 7,350-acre San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park, a rare example of mature Florida hammock woodland, popular for hiking and mountain biking. Additionally, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens includes the larg- est herb garden in the Southeast and Florida's largest display of bamboos. The city also offers a slice of Broadway at the Hippodrome, the region's only professional theatre, currently celebrating 40 years of artistic excellence. When it comes to meetings, Gainesville is big enough to logistically handle large groups and corporate functions, yet small and per- sonal enough so everyone feels comfortable, according to Visit Gainesville. A number of full-service meeting properties and unique ven- ues combine to equal 200,000 square feet of function space in the area. The Hilton University of Florida Conference Center has been transformed by a $15 million dollar renovation and opened Shula's Steak House in November. The hotel features 248 guest rooms and 25,000 square feet of function space. The historic University of Florida Au- ditorium seats 840 people and hosts concerts, lectures and ceremonies. Holiday Inn ® University Center Gainesville is a six-story city landmark hotel with 167 guest rooms, a 4,000-square-foot pool deck and 4,500 square feet of meeting space. The University Air Center (UAC) at the Gainesville Regional Airport has a small conference room and two aircraft hangars that can accommodate Groups seeking a break from the typ- ical four-wall meeting site will enjoy all the options offered by Pelican Beach Resort & Conference Center in Destin. From team building events on the resort's beautiful stretch of white sand beach along the Gulf of Mexico to breakout sessions under beach umbrellas to sunset social gatherings on the gulf-side deck nes- tled in the dunes, this property offers planners many ways to make their meetings a hit with attendees. This northwest Florida property also includes a two-story conference cen- ter that accommodates groups of up to 300 participants, featuring a circu- lar staircase and signature artwork. All the meeting spaces are located on the second floor with terraces and large windows overlooking the out- door pools and the Gulf. Additionally, the Dolphin Room, located on the third floor above the lobby in the Pelican Beach Re- sort is a great option for groups of up to 30 people, while the Terrace Room, located on the lobby level of The Terrace at Peli- can Beach, serves 40 people and overlooks the pool deck. Located on the west side of Destin, The Resorts of Pelican Beach are close to all the area attractions. Accommodations include one-, two- and three-bedroom condos, with pools, tennis courts, fitness centers, a Tiki bar and lounge among the on-site amenities. n B R E A K O U T S P O T L I G H T : Pelican Beach Resort Contact: The Gathering, Tallahassee Florida Part of the new College Town area that connects downtown Tallahassee to Florida State University's Doak Campbell Stadium, The Gathering event space is a great spot for group functions. Director of Sales Amanda Morrison calls the 3,000-square- foot facility "a blank canvas that can be transformed into nearly any kind of setting." While the building is new, it has the look and feel of reclaimed industrial space, with brick and metal surfaces. Win- dows overlook a large lawn that is used by tailgaters before FSU games. Used by associations, as well as corporate, educational and social groups, this special event space also offers a 2,700-square- foot patio and features cuisine from Social Catering & Events. n Site Visit Highlight: FUN NEW EVENT SPACE ➤

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