Florida's West Coast
by Lisa A. GrimaldiOctober 1, 2012
Florida's West Coast stands out as a meeting and incentive destination for its pristine beaches, gorgeous properties, excellent arts offerings and thriving downtowns, such as Fort Myers' (above), which is expanding and revitalizing through its Riverfront Redevelopment Plan.
Tree PedigreeFort Myers' McGregor Boulevard is lined with statuesque royal palm trees that were imported from Cuba and planted by inventor Thomas Edison, who had his winter retreat here.
Bring a Pail
Shell collectors flock to Sanibel Island, known as the seashell capital of the world. For details: sanibel-captiva.org
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The Fort Myers Riverfront Redevelopment Plan is well under way. The project includes the addition of a 200-room convention hotel (at press time, a developer had not been selected), 100,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, two new parking decks, a four-acre addition to the existing 10-acre Centennial Park that will include a riverfront amphitheater, and an expansion of the existing public yacht basin. The project also calls for an expansion of the Harborside Event Center. The latter currently has 41,000 square feet of exhibit space; the 80,000-square-foot addition will nearly triple that amount. At press time, there was no time-line in place for the center expansion.
The 454-room Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa in Bonita Springs is undergoing a three-month guest room renovation. The property recently added a restaurant, a spa boutique and a rock-climbing wall.
The 181-room Sundial Beach & Golf Resort in Sanibel Island has announced plans to renovate its exterior, all 12,000 square feet of meeting space and the full-service spa.
The 347-room Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa in Fort Myers is undergoing a $5 million renovation of its lobby, front desk area, Tarpon House restaurant and Charlie's Cabana bar.
Spirit Airlines will double the number of cities it serves from Southwest Florida International Airport by adding seasonal service to Boston, Dallas/Fort Worth and Minneapolis-St. Paul, as of this month.
Meeting Hotels Properties include the 227-room Crowne Plaza Hotel Fort Myers at Bell Tower Shops, 149-room Courtyard Fort Myers Cape Coral and 67-room Hotel Indigo Fort Myers River District.
On Fort Myers Beach are the 213-room Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina and 124-suite DiamondHead Beach Resort & Spa.
On Captiva and Sanibel Islands are the 444-room South Seas Island Resort, 347-room Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa, 181-room Sundial Resort and 137-room 'Tween Waters Inn.
Convention CenterFort Myers Harborside Event Center; exhibit space, 41,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, four; (239) 321-8110
Airport Transit Southwest Florida International Airport, 14 miles southwest of downtown Fort Myers. Transfer cost by taxi, $40
Taxes Fort Myers: room tax, 5 percent; sales tax, 6 percent; total tax on hotel rooms, 11 percent
Group VenuesThe Olympic spirit is strong year-round at the The Art of the Olympians Museum and Gallery in Fort Myers. The facility connects the world of art and athletics through its exhibits of works by Olympic competitors. Visitors can view paintings, photography and sculptures from the likes of sprinters, skiers and cyclists. Up to 200 people are accommodated for receptions. (239) 332-5055
Hold a meeting of the minds at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, the winter retreats of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. The 20-acre venue includes the Edison Botanic Research Lab and a 15,000-square-foot museum devoted to inventions by the two innovators. The compound offers six indoor and several outdoor options for events. (239) 334-7419
ContactLee County Visitor & Convention Bureau, (800) 237-6444