Florida's West Coast 2011
by Michael C. LoweOctober 1, 2011
For groups seeking some time under the sun, Florida's West Coast is ideal. During downtime, attendees can relax on the beaches of St. Petersburg, play a round of golf in Naples or head to the tarpon capital of the world, Fort Myers, for a fishing expedition.
Adventures in Paradise is the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau's new online video series featuring local hot spots. paradisecoast.com/videos
On the Water
Adventure Sea Kayak has offered kayak tours from Captiva Island since 1985. Outings can include fishing, birding, shelling, and history or ecology lessons. (239) 822-3337
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The Golisano Children's Museum of Naples (aka C'mon) will open in February 2012. The 30,000-square-foot venue will have interactive exhibits encouraging discovery and exploration. The space can be rented for private events.
The Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau has launched a free online service -- GAP, or Group Attendance Push -- to help meeting planners boost attendance at events through a variety of marketing strategies such as e-mail templates and visitor guides. Go to paradisecoast.com/gap for more information.
Scandinavian tour operator ComeFly inaugurated a program of nonstop flights in June between Denmark and Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Meyers. Flights are offered from the Danish cities of Copenhagen and Aalborg.
Meeting Hotels Properties include the 474-room Naples Grande Resort & Club; 450-room Ritz-Carlton, Naples; 319-room Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club; 295-room Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples; 199-room Hilton Naples; 189-room La Playa Beach & Golf Resort; 125-room Edgewater Beach Hotel; 100-room Bellasera Hotel, and 98-room Bayfront Inn 5th Avenue.
Convention Centers Fort Myers Harborside Events Center; exhibit space, approximately 41,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, four; (239) 321-8110
Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center; exhibit space, approximately 19,800 square feet; number of meeting rooms, five; (800) 652-6090
Airport Transit Southwest Florida International Airport, 35 miles north of Naples. Transfer by taxi to Naples, $55; transfer by shuttle to Naples, $30
Taxes Room tax, 4%; sales tax, 6%; total tax on hotel rooms, 10%
Group VenueThe Ngala Private Reserve, just 20 miles from downtown Naples, offers participants a chance to experience an African safari on U.S. turf, with some 42 acres of waterfalls, tropical foliage and animals as highlights. Among the wildlife on display in natural settings are zebras, leopards and camels. Three canvas safari tents -- complete with authentic teak and bamboo furniture, antique steamer trunks and rustic lanterns -- provide upscale shelter for attendees and space to mingle and dine. The venue can accommodate groups of between 20 and 1,000. (239) 353-3572
Activities Adventure Training Concepts offers outdoor adventure team-building programs. Participants might find themselves challenged by a high ropes course or stranded on a desert island, where they must work together to get back to home base. ATC can accommodate groups of five to 1,000. (239) 285-9142
Contact Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau, (239) 252-2384 or (800) 688-3600
FOR MORE FLORIDA'S WEST COAST:> Lee County