What's New

New performing arts centers in Miami and Daytona Beach and large shopping and entertainment complexes statewide have added more options for groups.

In Orlando, both city and Orange County government leaders recently announced plans to build a $385 million events center and $376 million performing arts center in downtown, with estimated openings for both facilities in 2010.

Meanwhile, Pointe Orlando, an entertainment and shopping complex across the street from the Orange County Convention Center, is undergoing a major redevelopment that will add several new restaurants.

And there's more. Opening in phases through 2007 is Veranda Park, a $500 million multi-use project three miles from Universal Studios Florida. It will have specialty shops; restaurants; a high-tech, digital 20-screen movie theater available for corporate events; and a 150-room luxury hotel.

In Daytona Beach, the February opening of the $29 million News-Journal Center, a performing arts complex on the west bank of the Halifax River, has energized the local cultural scene. The center contains two theaters — one seating 859 and the other 264 — and a catering kitchen. Ocean Walk Village, which is opening in phases through 2007, will triple its convention complex from 74,000 square feet to 244,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space.

In Tampa, a 360-unit Embassy Suites hotel with 11,000 square feet of meeting space has opened opposite the Tampa Convention Center. The recent opening of the $135 million Airside C terminal that serves Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Independence Air has enhanced Tampa's international airport.

Miami's new development includes a $461 million performing arts center; the Miami Seaquarium, reopened in February after post-Hurricane Wilma renovations; and, in downtown, the Mary Brickell Village, a 5.2-acre multi-use project.

Fort Lauderdale is undergoing a luxury hotel building phase that includes openings by St. Regis and W in the next two years, as well as two new condo hotel developments by Donald Trump in Fort Lauderdale Beach.

In Palm Beach County, plans for a headquarters hotel for the 350,000-square-foot Palm Beach Convention Center have been announced: the 400-room Westin property will include a restaurant, a spa, ballroom, and pool.

Key West International Airport will open a $24 million, 45,000-square-foot terminal in 2007. Meanwhile, the Southwest Florida International Airport, the main air gateway to Naples, has debuted a 28-gate terminal, and Naples Municipal Airport has introduced nonstop jet service between Naples and Atlanta, with three flights daily on Delta Connection.

  • Facilities Update

    The West Coast

    Tampa/St. Petersburg

    The QUORUM HOTEL-TAMPA in the Westshore business district has renovated its 12,000 square feet of meeting and pre-function space.

  • Lee Island Coast

    The 360-room RENAISSANCE VINOY RESORT & GOLF CLUB in St. Petersburg completed a $3.5 million renovation.

  • Naples

    The 800-unit SADDLEBROOK RESORT recently introduced a 5,400-square-foot, column-free tent that is sealed, climate-controlled, and surrounded by an 11,000-square-foot courtyard.

  • Central Florida

    Daytona Beach

    The 430-unit SOUTH SEAS ISLAND RESORT ON CAPTIVA ISLAND opened this year after a 17-month, $140 million renovation.

  • Greater Orlando

    The 297-room HILTON MARCO ISLAND BEACH RESORT has completed a $15 million renovation of its meeting space, lobby, restaurants, and more. A new spa is set to open in 2007.

  • Kissimmee

    After a $12 million expansion and enhancement, the 474-room Registry Resort & Club is now the NAPLES GRANDE RESORT & CLUB.

  • South Florida & The Keys

    Greater Miami

    DAYTONA BEACH RESORT AND CONFERENCE CENTER offers 315 guest condo rooms, as well as more than 17,000 square feet of meeting space.

  • Greater Fort Lauderdale

    DISNEY'S POLYNESIAN RESORT and DISNEY'S CONTEMPORARY RESORT were remodeled last year.

  • Palm Beach County

    THE GROSVENOR RESORT, A DOWNTOWN DISNEY RESORT HOTEL, will undergo a $24 million makeover. The hotel's name is likely to change after the renovations.

  • Florida Keys

    A 150-room HAMPTON INN & SUITES will be built as part of a $100 million multi-use project in downtown Orlando called Capital Plaza. The project will be completed in phases by 2008.

  • Northern Florida The Panhandle

    Jacksonville

    Plans for the HILTON ORLANDO CONVENTION CENTER encompass an 18-story, 1,400-room hotel with 130,000 square feet of meeting space, a spa and fitness center, and several restaurants. The hotel will offer direct access to the North Concourse of the Orange County Convention Center via a pedestrian sky bridge. Construction will begin by the end of this year, with completion set for 2009.

  • Panama City Beach

    A 1,000-room HILTON hotel and a 500-room WALDORF-ASTORIA hotel will be built in a joint complex at BONNET CREEK, next to Walt Disney World Resort. The complex will include 145,000 square feet of meeting space, an 18-hole, Rees Jones-designed golf course, and a 25,000-square-foot spa and fitness center. Bonnet Creek will open in 2009.

  • ASk the CVB

    Slated to open in 2009, a 1,260-room InterContinental hotel called PALAZZO DEL LAGO is planned on Lake Bryan in Orlando, four miles from the Orange County Convention Center. The luxury hotel will be the largest InterContinental in the world — with 1,260 rooms — and the first in Orlando. It will offer 114,000 square feet of meeting space.

  • The 1,100-room Sheraton World Orlando Resort, with 70,000 square feet of meeting space, was recently purchased by the Buena Vista Hospitality Group and is undergoing a $30 million renovation. Located on 28 acres adjacent to SeaWorld, the property will be renamed the INTERNATIONAL PLAZA RESORT & SPA.

  • CARIBE ROYALE ORLANDO recently renovated its 1,218 one-bedroom suites and its lobby. This follows on the heels of the addition of a new high-tech, two-story fitness center and a $30 million convention center with 150,000 square feet of meeting space.

  • The 2,265-room WALT DISNEY WORLD SWAN & DOLPHIN has completed a $75 million room renovation and a $60 million redesign of both lobbies that includes several new boutique stores. The resort also debuted its Mandara Spa and will soon open Il Mulino New York Trattoria restaurant.

  • The WYNDHAM LAKE BUENA VISTA HOTEL AND SPA BONNET CREEK RESORT will be built adjacent to the Walt Disney World Resort. The 400-room property will have a 14,000-square-foot spa and meeting and conference space. All phases are expected to be completed by early 2009.

  • The 146-unit VILLAS OF GRAND CYPRESS is undergoing a $3 million renovation set for completion in early 2007.

Kissimmee

  • Days Inn Maingate East on U.S. Highway 192 will be replaced by a 260-room condominium-hotel called TOSCANA VILLAGE, scheduled to open in 2007.

  • Construction on the 348-room LANDMARK SUN AND SPA RESORT, at the northeast corner of Interstate 4 and U.S. Highway 192, will begin near the end of 2007. The hotel will have a 160,000-square-foot conference center and five high-rise condo-hotel buildings, with a lagoon running through the site. Construction is expected to take five to 10 years.

  • REUNION RESORT & CLUB has opened The Spa at Reunion, a 3,500-square-foot, Colonial-style spa facility, with amenities including cashmere throws and a personal iPod for each guest.

  • The first phase of THE VILLAS AT CHAMPIONSGATE opened in the summer and features 59 one- and two-bedroom units in a condominium hotel. A second phase, which includes an additional 224 units, began construction earlier this year.

  • South Florida & The Keys Greater Miami

    The 280-room BILTMORE HOTEL opened a 12,000-square-foot spa on the seventh floor of the hotel. The spa includes specialty treatment suites for groups.

  • A $40 million, three-year enhancement to the 693-room DORAL GOLF RESORT AND SPA, A Marriott Resort, which includes a freestanding 60,000-square-foot meeting facility, debuts in January.

  • The 205-room DON SHULA'S HOTEL & GOLF CLUB in Miami Lakes recently opened a new Aveda Spa and a floor for female business travelers called the Patrician. The resort also spent half a million dollars renovating its Senator course.

  • The 179-suite MAYFAIR HOTEL & SPA has completed a $10 million renovation that included a new spa.

  • Sonesta International Hotels Corp. plans to develop a new 350-room hotel on the beachfront site of the SONESTA BEACH RESORT in Key Biscayne. The opening is set for 2008.

  • Greater Fort Lauderdale

    The recently debuted 124-room ATLANTIC HOTEL, a member of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Luxury Collection, offers a European-style spa and two function rooms for small gatherings.

  • The 504-room BONAVENTURE RESORT & SPA is undergoing a $90 million makeover of its 75,000 square feet of meeting space, seven restaurants, and four swimming pools. A 48,000-square-foot Golden Door Spa debuted this year.

  • Scheduled to open early next year, the 333-room HILTON FORT LAUDERDALE BEACH, a 25-story property, will have a 2,700-square-foot ballroom, a restaurant, a spa, and retail shops.

  • The new opened $30 million, 229-room HOLLYWOOD BEACH MARRIOTT has 6,634 square feet of meeting space.

  • Florida's first St. Regis, the $135 million, 166-room ST. REGIS, FORT LAUDERDALE, opens this month with 8,400 square feet of oceanfront meeting space and a Remede Spa.

  • Expected to open in 2007 is the 298-unit TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL & TOWER Fort Lauderdale. Also planned is the 95-unit Trump International Beach Club, slated to open in 2008.

  • Set to open in 2008 is the $220 million, 346-room W FORT LAUDERDALE HOTEL AND RESIDENCES, a 23-story, two-tower property that will offer 13,000 square feet of meeting space and a 10,000-square-foot spa.

  • LAGO MAR RESORT & SPA is getting a $15 million addition: a six-story wing of one- and two-bedroom suites. The 76-room project will include a 5,000-square-foot saltwater lagoon. When completed, the resort will have 225 rooms. Renovations are scheduled to start in summer 2007.

  • The 579-room FORT LAUDERDALE GRANDE HOTEL & YACHT CLUB (formerly the Fort Lauderdale Marina Marriott), with 20,000 square feet of meeting space, is open.

  • The former Hilton Ford Lauderdale Sunrise, now the LAS PALMAS HOTEL & SUITES, is completing a $6 million renovation of all of its 240 rooms.

  • Palm Beach County

    The 1,043-room BOCA RATON RESORT & SPA finished a multimillion-dollar upgrade of its 26,000-square-foot Great Hall.

  • The 339-room PGA NATIONAL RESORT & SPA recently completed a guest room makeover program.

  • The 279-room PALM BEACH GARDENS MARRIOTT renovated all its meeting space.

  • The 270-room RITZ-CARLTON, PALM BEACH completed a $15 million renovation of all guest rooms.

  • Florida Keys

    The 120-room HYATT KEY WEST RESORT & MARINA is undergoing a $5 million makeover that includes the creation of a new spa.

  • The 350-unit OCEAN REEF CLUB in Key Largo, a private club community with two championship golf courses, a 175-slip marina, a private beach, and 12 restaurants and lounges, offers 30,000 square feet of meeting space. Ocean Reef can host up to 750 attendees.

  • The 200-room SHERATON BEACH RESORT in Key Largo has completed a propertywide, multimillion-dollar renovation to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

  • Northern Florida The Panhandle Jacksonville

    The 670-unit AMELIA ISLAND PLANTATION recently announced the addition of the Royal Amelia Golf Club to its course line-up and now offers 72 holes of golf for guests.

  • The famed TPC SAWGRASS STADIUM COURSE at the 508-unit Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Spa reopened in November after renovations overseen by Pete Dye, who designed and built the course 25 years ago. The new 80,000-square-foot clubhouse is slated for early 2007 completion.

  • Panama City Beach

    Slated to open in August 2007 is a 20,000-square- foot meetings pavilion at the 550-unit EDGEWATER BEACH RESORT.

  • The 340-room HOLIDAY INN SUNSPREE RESORT has debuted its 4,000-square-foot SeaWatch Conference and Entertainment Center.

  • The 365-room MARRIOTT BAY POINT RESORT recently opened its new 12,000-square-foot Spa at Bay Point.

Ask the CVB

VISIT FLORIDA
(850) 488-5607
www.visitflorida.org

DAYTONA BEACH AREA CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU
(800) 544-0415
www.daytonabeachcvb.org
Total Hotel Tax: 11.5%

FLORIDA KEYS & KEY WEST CVB
(800) Ask-keys
www.fla-keys.com
Total Hotel Tax: 11%

GREATER FORT LAUDERDALE CVB
(954) 765-4466
www.sunny.org
Total Hotel Tax: 11%

KISSIMMEE-ST. CLOUD CVB
(407) 847-5000
www.floridakiss.com
Total Hotel Tax: 12%

GREATER MIAMI CVB
(305) 539-3000; (800) 933-8448
www.MiamiandBeaches.com
Total Hotel Tax: 13%

NAPLES, MARCO ISLAND, EVERGLADES CVB
(800) 2-ESCAPE
www.paradisecoast.com
Total Hotel Tax: 9%

ORLANDO/ORANGE COUNTY CVB
(407) 363-5872
www.orlandoinfo.com/meetings
Total Hotel Tax: 11.5%

PALM BEACH COUNTY CVB
(561) 233-3000
www.palmbeachfl.com
Total Hotel Tax: 10%

ST. PETERSBURG/CLEARWATER AREA CVB
(877) 352-3224
(727) 464-7200
www.floridasbeach.com
Total Hotel Tax: 11%

BEACHES OF SOUTH WALTON
(800) 822-6877
www.beachesofsouthwalton.com
Total Hotel Tax: 10%

TAMPA BAY CONVENTION & VISITORS ASSOCIATION
(813) 223-1111
www.visittampabay.com
Total Hotel Tax: 12%n

Phantom Planner

  • Looking for a budget-conscious spouse shopping program? Naples has more than 30 elegant consignment shops full of gently and never-worn designer clothing from Naples' wealthy residents. Find everything from designer furniture to fine jewelry and antiques — all at great prices.

  • Walt Disney World recently introduced the Disney Gift Card, available in denominations of $25, $50, $100, $500, and $1,000. It can be used for anything from dining to nightclubs.

  • Keep travel logistics issues to a minimum with a dine-around on walkable Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. The street is packed with restaurants with cuisine offerings that range from Brazilian and Indonesian to New American and Florida Fusion.

  • When in Miami Beach, don't miss Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant, a landmark eatery that serves fresh stone crabs and other fresh Florida seafood. The stone crab season runs from October 15 to May 15. Group capacity is 50, with a private room available for groups.

  • On the west coast, in Naples, the most economical time to golf is from April to September, when hotel room rates and greens fees drop dramatically, with reductions between 20 percent and 50 percent off winter season rates.

On Location: Rosen Shingle Creek

For large groups looking for a room with a view, the sparkling new Rosen Shingle Creek Resort's rooms offer panoramas of its 18-hole golf course. Enhancing the resort's appeal is its proximity to Orlando International Airport (a 10-minute drive), Sea World (a five-minute drive), and the Orange County Convention Center (just a few blocks away).

The 1,500-room, 14-story resort is set amid the lush oaks and tall pines of Shingle Creek, at the headwaters of the Florida Everglades.

But despite the natural setting and resort feeling, Rosen Shingle Creek Resort is a meeting space-plentiful property designed for large groups, with 445,000 square feet of dedicated, state-of-the-art meeting space that includes one of the nation's largest column-free ballrooms at 95,000 square feet. Other amenities include The Spa at Shingle Creek, a full-service, 13,000-square-foot spa with nine treatment rooms; a state-of-the-art fitness center; four outdoor swimming pools; seasonal canoe trips; nature trails; and more.

After a round of golf on the Dave Harman-designed course, I thoroughly enjoyed returning to my “well-connected” guest room with its high-speed Internet access, 32-inch flat-screen television, and NXTV connectivity, a new technology that allows guests to use broadcast messaging when attending a convention.
Ed Schmidt Jr.

  • Special Venues

    On Miami's SOUTH BEACH, CASA CASUARINA, built in 1930 and formerly known as the Versace Mansion, is now a private club available for corporate group functions. Award-winning chefs can prepare elegant dinners; the Safari Suite holds 80 for a reception, and the Mosaic Garden and Pool can accommodate 450 for a reception. casacasuarina.com

  • FORT LAUDERDALE, with its 300 miles of inland waterways, has long been known as the “Venice of America.” Now, GONDOLA TOURS (gondolaservizio.com) aboard hand-carved wooden boats are available for 30 and 60 minutes, and longer tours can be arranged in advance. Tours depart from Las Olas Boulevard and can accommodate up to six passengers per gondola.

  • The FORT LAUDERDALE ANTIQUE CAR MUSEUM (antiquecarmuseum.org) contains 22 vintage Packard automobiles as well as a special collection of auto memorabilia, an automobile library, and an FDR room and library. Up to 300 can be accommodated for a reception.

  • Ideal for focus groups, education/training seminars, planning sessions, executive board meetings, the CONFERENCE CENTER OF THE AVENUES (jaxcvb.com) in JACKSONVILLE offers nine meeting rooms, including a 12-person boardroom. The largest can handle up to 125 theater-style.

  • The TAMPA CLUB (thetampaclub.com) on the 41st and 42nd floors of downtown Tampa's Bank of America building offers views of the TAMPA BAY waterfront, gourmet dining, and 10 private rooms that can accommodate everything from intimate dinners for six to gala receptions for 350.