by Lisa A. Grimaldi | October 01, 2015

Local Update
 Jeffrey Vinik, owner of the National Hockey League's Tampa Bay Lightning, is spearheading a new 40-acre development in downtown Tampa Bay, near the convention center. Plans call for a residential/retail/corporate district, which would include a 400- to 450-room convention hotel with exhibit space.

 The 540-room Saddlebrook Resort has a new look: The property's landscaping, exterior entryways, balconies and meeting foyers all have been renovated. The 480-acre resort features 95,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, two 18-hole Arnold Palmer golf courses and a five-acre team-building course.

 The 130-room Le Méridien Tampa debuted last summer in a former courthouse. The hotel's offerings include a pool, a 24-hour fitness center and 4,000 square feet of meeting space.

 Tampa International Airport is undergoing a $1 billion expansion that will add a new main terminal, car-rental facilities and more. The project is slated for completion in 2017.

Meeting Hotels: Major properties include the 719-room Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina, 520-room Hilton Tampa Downtown and 422-room Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.

To find and compare hotels, and send RFPs, visit

Convention Center: Tampa Convention Center; exhibit space, approximately 200,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 37; (813) 274-8511

Airport Transit: Tampa International Airport, about nine miles to downtown Tampa. Transfer cost by taxi, $32

Taxes: Room tax, 5%; sales tax, 7%; total tax on hotel rooms, 12%

Group Venue: Skipper's Smokehouse and Oyster Bar is a local Tampa landmark. Live music is on the menu, along with "Floribbean" cuisine -- a fusion of Caribbean, Florida and Louisiana flavors in dishes like black-bean gator chili, alligator ribs and fried gator tail. Private events are accommodated. (813) 971-0666

 Visit Tampa Bay, (813) 223-1111 or (800) 448-2672