Florida's West Coast

Why here?
The western edge of the Sunshine State is humming with new projects of interest to meeting planners, from a $175 million hotel renovation on Marco Island to several debuts and refurbished properties in Tampa. The Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay (above) recently completed a major revamp.

News Flash
In 2017, the 726-room Marco Island Marriott will become the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort following a $175 million project that will add more than 100,000 square feet of meeting space, a rooftop restaurant and more.

In April, the 263-room Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village added four breakout rooms that hold 49 guests each and feature outdoor terraces. The resort has 25,000 square feet for events.


Dine out. Avenue5 is now open at the Inn on Fifth in Naples. The $3 million restaurant offers prime cuts of meat, local produce and fresh seafood, in addition to 300 wines. Two private dining rooms are available.


See the Sites
Tampa Bay became the first Florida destination to offer CityPass, which allows visitors access to five local attractions, including Busch Gardens and the Florida Aquarium, for $119, a savings of 38 percent.

Tampa

Last December, the 137-room Epicurean Hotel opened in Tampa's SoHo neighborhood, just west of downtown. The property, developed in collaboration with the city's famous Bern's Steakhouse, features culinary themes throughout. The Marriott Autograph Collection hotel has 5,200 square feet of meeting space, a spa and several food outlets. Unique food-themed team-building activities are available for groups.

Occupying the Old Federal Courthouse in downtown, the 130-room Le Méridien Tampa opened in July. The hotel offers a pool; a fitness center; a brasserie offering dry-aged, hand-cut beef and signature French dishes; and more than 4,000 square feet of function space.

The 442-room Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay completed $20 million in upgrades this past July. The project included a full revamp of public spaces, a new restaurant and the debut of a tech lounge within the lobby. The 442-room property has more than 20,000 square feet of function space, including a 10,370-square-foot ballroom.

The 130-room Aloft Tampa Downtown opened in July in the former Mercantile Bank building. Amenities include a bar and lounge, and 685 square feet of meeting space.

The Tampa Bay Convention Center will soon begin a four-year, $14.6 million program to replace its elevators and upgrade other infrastructure.

• Tampa International Airport is embarking on a $1 billion expansion project to expand its car rental facilities, parking structure and main terminal. The multiphase plan is expected to be complete by 2017.

Developers filed plans this past May for a 400-room hotel just west of the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The property, if approved by the city, will have 175,000 square feet of meeting space and 45,000 square feet of retail.


St. Pete/Clearwater Update
• The Hotel Zamora opened in June, St. Pete's first new property in 30 years. Features include 50 Mediterranean-style guest rooms, a swimming pool, a fitness center, a restaurant, a rooftop lounge and a marina. Of the hotel's 9,000 square feet of meeting space, 6,000 square feet are outdoors.

Guy Harvey's RumFish Grill & Bar
 opened this past May at the 211-room Guy Harvey Outpost - a TradeWinds Beach Resort. The restaurant, which can seat up to 150 people in the main dining room and an additional 160 at the indoor/outdoor bar, features a 33,500-gallon aquarium. Hotel guests can snorkel in the tank alongside small sharks and indigenous fish.

Meeting Hotels: Downtown properties include the 719-room Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina, 520-room Hilton Tampa Downtown and 277-room Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk.

Harbour Island, across the Garrison Channel from Tampa, has the 299-room Westin Tampa Harbour Island.

In the Westshore neighborhood, hotels include the 442-room Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay and 310-room Tampa Marriott Westshore.

Wesley Chapel has the 800-room Saddlebrook Resort.

In Palm Harbor: the 544-room Innisbrook, a Salamander Golf & Spa Resort.

To find and compare hotels, and send RFPs, go to mcvenues.com.

Convention Center: Tampa Convention Center; exhibit space, 200,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 36; (813) 274-8511

Airport Transit: Tampa International Airport, about 7 miles from downtown Tampa. Transfer cost by taxi, $25

St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, 10 miles from Clearwater and 12 miles from St. Petersburg. Transfer cost by taxi to Clearwater, approximately $25; to St. Petersburg, $28

Taxes: Tampa: room tax, 5%; sales tax, 7%; total tax on hotel rooms, 12%

St. Petersburg and Clearwater: tourism tax, 5%; other taxes vary depending on municipality

Group Venue: Set on the golden coast of Tampa Bay, The Getaway is a Keys-inspired tiki bar, complete with the requisite torches and coconut palms, not to mention its own boardwalk. The space, which can accommodate up to 1,000 for a private event, overlooks the mangroves of the Weedon Island preserve. (813) 267-1602

Contact: Visit Tampa Bay, (813) 223-1111 or (800) 448-2672