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 54 F L O R I D A have plenty to please meeting planners who are thinking about off-hours activities. With 450,000 square feet of meeting space, 30 miles of beaches, 90 golf courses and 1.5 million acres of exotic wetlands, the area offers a varied, delightful land- and waterscape. Tours are available for the Everglades, Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Naples Botanical Gardens and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, among other locales. The biggest news in the area is the immi- nent summer debut of the all-new five-floor, 93-room Lanai Tower at the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort property. The all-adult addition to the resort will provide the 30,000-square-foot Calusa Grand Ball- room overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, a 12,000-square-foot indoor virtual entertain- ment center and additional meeting spaces, bringing the property's total square footage to 100,000. The AAA Four Diamond Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, nestled on 125 tropical acres along the Gulf of Mexico, features 319 guest rooms and suites and 34,000 square feet of meeting space, spectacular outdoor venues and customized banquet menus. Bellasera Hotel, a Four Diamond boutique resort located in downtown Naples, part of Sunstream Hotels & Resorts, has 100 suites and 4,000 square feet of meeting space, Another notable Paradise Coast property is the 454-room family-friendly Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa, featuring a Lazy River complex with three three-story waters- lides, four pools, hot tubs and a cold-plunge waterfall, championship golf course, tennis, rock climbing wall, five restaurants and bars. The 125-suite Edgewater Beach Hotel in Na- ples is an elegant property with pools, a pool bar, a fitness center and 2,600 square feet of meeting space. Naples/Marco Island/Everglades Meeting Spaces • JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort: 100,000 square feet of event space; 17,000-square-foot ballroom; 27 meeting rooms; 726 guest rooms, plus 93 guest rooms in new all-adult Lanai Tower • Naples Grand Beach Resort: 83,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting space; 424 guest rooms • Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa: 82,500 square feet of newly reno- vated meeting space; 454 guest rooms • The Ritz-Carlton, Naples: 42,000 square feet of meeting space; 450 guest rooms • Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club: 34,000 square feet of meeting space; 319 newly renovated guest rooms Florida Keys The biggest (and best) news about the Flor- ida Keys is that tourism in the popular chain of tropical islands had rebounded within six months of being struck by Hurricane Irma in September 2017. According to The Florida Keys & Key West CVB, nearly 80 percent of all lodging units were back up and running by mid-March. Key West, in particular, had 92 percent of all properties online by March. "Lodging properties and other tourism facili- ties in the keys have made an amazing rebound since last fall," said Jim DeKeyrel, director of sales for the CVB. "We're seeing demand re- turn, helped by cold temperatures in the north." Additionally, tourism officials are projecting increasing demand throughout 2018 and 2019, as the destination unveils upscale and revital- ized properties. All major attractions are open according to the CVB. In Islamorada, Theater of the Sea, one of the world's oldest marine mammal facilities, is open. On Big Pine Key, a new 1,840-square-foot Florida Keys National Wild- life Refuges Nature Center will open this fall, showcasing the Keys' four national wildlife refuges. The Key West Garden Club at West Martello Tower recently restored and enhanced its outdoor attraction Key West International Airport is undergo- ing a $10 million, five-month reconstruction project on its single 15-year-old runway. The airport is to remain open during the day to accommodate scheduled commercial airlines — American, Delta, Silver and United — and general aviation. Key Largo In Key Largo, the adults-only Bungalows Key Largo, a 12-acre 135-unit property billing itself as "luxury inclusive," is targeting an opening in May as the first all-inclusive resort in the Florida Keys. Most rooms include private out- door plunge pools or tubs. Resort-wide ameni- ties include two in-ground pools, five indoor and outdoor restaurants, four bars, 1,000 feet of shoreline and 4,000 square feet of indoor and Margaritaville Key West Resort Located next to Mallory Square, the southern- most point of land in the continental U.S., and one of the best places to see the sunset, Margar- itaville Key West has a large outdoor dining area and patio for outdoor functions that overlook the sea and are near the heart of the action on the famous island. n Site Visit Highlight: DINING ON THE EDGE ➤ The Colonnade Another unique property is The Hotel Colonnade Coral Gables, a Tribute Portfolio located in historic downtown Coral Gables, with 157 charming guest rooms and 8,932 square feet of event space. The outside of the historic building is ornate and dates back to the 1920s with open-air veranda restau- rants on three sides. The five-story hotel is con- nected to a newer office building and the public areas include a living room with large-screen tele- visions, foozball, air hockey, a pool table and other games. Coral Gables will its centennial in 2025, and a $20 million streetscape project is underway, with city parking garages being developed and a new free downtown transportation service now helping people get around town. n Site Visit Highlight: AN ELEGANT ENTRANCE

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