by Lisa A. Grimaldi | October 01, 2015
Why here?
Florida's West Coast offers groups an eclectic range of destinations, from vibrant, high-energy Tampa (pictured), to the genteel resorts of the Naples area. The region's abundant greens (of the golfing variety) and powdery beaches add to its overall meeting and incentive appeal.

 The 454-room Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs has renovated its 14,000-square-foot ballroom, adding new digital signage. The property has a total of 70,000 square feet of meeting space.

 The 400-room Sundial Beach Resort & Spa on Sanibel Island recently added six clay tennis courts and upgraded its other outdoor areas.

The meetings team at TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Petersburg Beach organizes quirky interactive meeting-room activities -- for example, marshmallow tosses -- to break the ice and energize attendees.
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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