by Kate Mulcrone | June 01, 2013
Hoist Your Cutlass
Each January or February Tampa plays host to the Gasparilla Pirate Festival.
read more

The 164-room Four Points by Sheraton Tallahassee Downtown opened in May with more than 17,000 square feet of function space. The property also offers a fitness center, a saltwater pool and hot tub, and free Wi-Fi connectivity throughout.

The 598-room Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa completed a $5.5 million renovation of its more than 32,000 square feet of meeting space this past February. There are now Smart TV and teleconferencing capabilities in the boardroom and touch-screen lighting in the ballrooms.

Carmike Cinemas' Boulevard 10 recently opened in Sandestin. The 1,800-seat theater features 10 screens and two special auditoriums: BIGD, which offers a 60-foot-wide, three-story screen, and the Ovation Club, a 60-seat space with a full menu, beer and wine.

In Panama City, the Bay Point Marriott became the Wyndham Bay Point Resort last year. The hotel has 319 guest rooms and 40,000 square feet of meeting space.

Last November, Pensacola International Air­port (formerly Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport) debuted an $80 million renovation that includes a new state-of-the-art baggage-handling system.

The Oceanfront Club at the 510-room Sawgrass Marriott is currently being renovated to add design touches that tie it back to the golf-centric nature of the resort. The new design incorporates beach-inspired textures, materials and colors. The hotel also plans to refresh its 56,000 square feet of meeting space with new wall coverings, seating, carpeting and light fixtures, as well as refresh its Golf Villas. The renovation is set to debut in October.

Last November the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay completed a $16 million renovation of its 445 guest rooms, restaurant and outdoor terrace.

The 266-room Sheraton Tampa East (formerly the Crowne Plaza Tampa East) wrapped up a $10 million renovation of its guest rooms, public areas and more than 30,000 square feet of meeting space last summer.

Meeting Hotels
To find and compare a wide range of properties across Northern Florida, as well as send requests for proposal, please visit

Convention Centers
Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center; exhibit space, 52,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, six; (850) 487-1691;

Baytowne Conference Center (Sandestin); exhibit space, approximately 21,900 square feet; number of meeting rooms, eight; (800) 277-0803;

Emerald Coast Convention Center (Fort Walton Beach); exhibit space, 21,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 12; (800) 322-3319;

Pensacola Civic Center; exhibit space, 20,600 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 12; (850) 432-0800;

St. Johns County Convention Center (St. Augustine); exhibit space, approximately 33,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, five; (904) 940-8632;

Tallahassee: room tax, 5%; sales tax, 7%; total tax on hotel rooms, 12%
Panama City Beach: room tax, 5%; sales tax, 6.5%; city licensing tax, 1%; total tax on hotel rooms, 12.5%

South Walton: room tax, 4.5% sales tax, 7.5% total tax on hotel rooms, 12%

St. Augustine: Room tax, 4%, sales tax 6%; Total tax on rooms 10%

Visit South Walton, (800) 822-6877;

Visit Tallahassee, (800) 628-2866;

Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, (800) 722-3224; visit

St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & Beaches Visitors & Convention Bureau, (904) 209-4432;