by Alex Palmer | July 08, 2020
While restrictions on gatherings and travel slowed things down everywhere, construction here continued, and in some cases even sped up. As the destination has moved ahead with its phased reopening, meeting planners can check out a number of new and newly renovated properties.

The Tampa Convention Center is progressing on its $35 million, multiyear capital-improvement program, the largest renovation the venue has ever undergone. So far, 15 of its restrooms have been fully upgraded, several new F&B outlets added or revamped, and concession stands in the exhibit hall have been modernized. In December 2020, work is scheduled to begin on 18 new meeting rooms overlooking the Hillsborough River, covering 16,000 square feet. This will be followed by a full renovation of the convention center's existing breakout rooms and ballrooms, bringing in new carpet, paint and upgraded lighting.

Downtown's 519-room JW Marriott Tampa Water Street, just across the street from the Tampa Convention Center, is on track to open its doors in fall 2020. The property will offer 126,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 30,000-square-foot ballroom (the largest in the region), as well as the city's highest rooftop bar, with impressive views of downtown and the waterfront. Guests will choose from four F&B outlets; a full-service spa, a 3,000-square-foot fitness center and extensive street-level shops round out the amenities.

Marriott is also opening a dual-branded Aloft and Element property in midtown. Totaling 226 rooms, the seven-story hotels will share a 10,000-square-foot rooftop event space. The complex also will feature meeting space, retail offerings and a fitness center. The property currently is on track to open later this year or early next year.

Another dual-branded property, which will debut this fall, is a 230-room Hyatt Place with a 115-room Hyatt House, which together will encompass 4,000 square feet of meeting space and 3,200 square feet of retail. The complex will offer easy access to the city's Riverwalk attractions, such as the Tampa Convention Center, the Florida Aquarium and Amalie Arena.

This fall, the city will welcome the 180-room Hotel Haya, a $52 million property in the Ybor City neighborhood. Among the amenities will be a restaurant, a café, and an interior courtyard with a pool and a lounge. The property's developers aim to tap into the vibrant area's local history, naming it after one of the neighborhood's founding fathers, Ignacio Haya.

Read the full Tampa Bay Destination Guide at NorthstarMeetingsGroup.com.