It is a long tradition for Financial & Insurance Conference Planners meeting planners and Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. hospitality partners to gather before theAnnual Conference. This year, about 25 planners joined their hosts at The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne, November 15–17 for networking and local color that included a catamaran excursion to so-called Stiltsville—a grouping of vintage houses built on stilts in the middle of the bay—and an elegant dinner at the Versace Mansion.
The event began with a relaxed reception at the hotel’s Dune lounge. Among 10,000 square feet of outdoor oceanfront meeting space at the property, the Dune features plush sofas and cabanas on the sand. Indoor meeting space includes a 10,140-square-foot ballroom with seaside views that can accommodate up to 1,000 people for a reception. There is also a junior ballroom, boardroom, and five conference rooms for a grand total of 20,000 square feet of meeting space.
The meeting-friendly hotel has a total of 450 guest rooms, and, depending on the season, will allow group buyouts. It is located on a beautiful beach consistently named one of the top 10 in the United States, just six miles from downtown Miami yet far removed from the city’s hustle and bustle. The immaculate interiors bespeak elegance and comfort, with an attentive and friendly staff reflecting the service for which Ritz-Carlton is known. Spacious guestrooms, including 113 suites, 60 club level rooms, and one presidential suite, are appropriately luxurious and high-tech. The tranquil, 20,000-square-foot spa has 21 treatment rooms.
It wasn’t easy to leave this seaside oasis, but our hosts had some treats in store that wowed even those who were locals. First up was a catamaran excursion to one of several small houses built in the 1930s, collectively known as Stiltsville, where we disembarked for lunch and a relaxing afternoon. The Miami landmark sits in pristine Biscayne Bay, surrounded by turquoise waters and magnificent views of the city. With lunch catered by The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne, and a terrific Jimmy Buffett–style band arranged by Bill Hopkins Events, a fun time was had by all.
We had just enough time to shower off the salt water and change attire before being whisked away to an amazing evening at the Versace Mansion in South Beach. Recently acquired by the destination management company Barton G. and re-named Miami’s Villa by Barton G., the villa’s over-the-top décor transports visitors to a rarified enclave. We toured the guest rooms, including the 1,400-square-foot suite that Gianni Versace once slept in, with such features as hand-painted wall and ceiling frescoes, stained-glass windows, a double-king-size bed, and three balconies. The dazzle continued over an outdoor, poolside dinner, with soft light emanating from the 24-karat-gold tiles that line the pool.
After a farewell brunch at Cioppino, one of three on-site restaurants at The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne, Aventura Worldwide Transportation—who provided transportation services throughout the event—transferred attendees to the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, FICP’s host hotel for the annual conference.