Florida's West Coast

Centro Ybor Muvico Tampa

Why here?
Florida's West Coast offers groups an eclectic range of destinations, from vibrant, high-energy Tampa (pictured), to the genteel resorts of the Naples area. The region's abundant greens (of the golfing variety) and powdery beaches add to its overall meeting and incentive appeal.


LEE COUNTY NEWS
 The 454-room Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs has renovated its 14,000-square-foot ballroom, adding new digital signage. The property has a total of 70,000 square feet of meeting space.

 The 400-room Sundial Beach Resort & Spa on Sanibel Island recently added six clay tennis courts and upgraded its other outdoor areas.


FOOD FIGHT?
The meetings team at TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Petersburg Beach organizes quirky interactive meeting-room activities -- for example, marshmallow tosses -- to break the ice and energize attendees.

TAMPA

Local Update
 Jeffrey Vinik, owner of the National Hockey League's Tampa Bay Lightning, is spearheading a new 40-acre development in downtown Tampa Bay, near the convention center. Plans call for a residential/retail/corporate district, which would include a 400- to 450-room convention hotel with exhibit space.

 The 540-room Saddlebrook Resort has a new look: The property's landscaping, exterior entryways, balconies and meeting foyers all have been renovated. The 480-acre resort features 95,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, two 18-hole Arnold Palmer golf courses and a five-acre team-building course.

 The 130-room Le Méridien Tampa debuted last summer in a former courthouse. The hotel's offerings include a pool, a 24-hour fitness center and 4,000 square feet of meeting space.

 Tampa International Airport is undergoing a $1 billion expansion that will add a new main terminal, car-rental facilities and more. The project is slated for completion in 2017.

Meeting Hotels: Major properties include the 719-room Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina, 520-room Hilton Tampa Downtown and 422-room Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.

To find and compare hotels, and send RFPs, visit mcvenues.com.

Convention Center: Tampa Convention Center; exhibit space, approximately 200,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 37; (813) 274-8511

Airport Transit: Tampa International Airport, about nine miles to downtown Tampa. Transfer cost by taxi, $32

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

Group Venue: Skipper's Smokehouse and Oyster Bar is a local Tampa landmark. Live music is on the menu, along with "Floribbean" cuisine -- a fusion of Caribbean, Florida and Louisiana flavors in dishes like black-bean gator chili, alligator ribs and fried gator tail. Private events are accommodated. (813) 971-0666

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

RAISE A GLASS
Tampa Bay's booming craft beer industry has earned it a place on the national stage. One beer maker, Cigar City Brewing Co., offers tours that include a souvenir mug and tastings.


ST. PETERSBURG/CLEARWATER

Local Update
 The 230-room Opal Sands Resort, Clearwater Beach, is set to debut in February. The property will have 25,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, including nine meeting rooms and a 7,650-square-foot ballroom. Other offerings include two restaurants, a spa and a Gulf view from every meeting and guest room.

 The Guy Harvey Outpost, a Tradewinds Beach Resort, has launched the SandBox, a beachfront lounging experience complete with sofas, colorful seating and hammocks. VIP cabanas equipped with TVs, fans and personal servers are available for daily rental.

 The 50-room Hotel Zamora opened in St. Pete last year. Features include a pool, a fitness center, a restaurant, a rooftop lounge and a marina, as well as 9,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting and event space.

Meeting Hotels: For a list of area properties, and to compare hotels and send RFPs, visit mcvenues.com.

Airport Transit: Tampa International Airport, about 18 miles east of Clearwater and 20 miles northeast of St. Petersburg. Transfer cost to Clearwater or St. Petersburg by taxi, $50

Taxes: Room tax, 5%; sales tax, 6%; total tax on hotel rooms, 11%

Group Venue: Give your group the next best thing to a "dining beneath the sea" experience: The Rumfish Grill at the Guy Harvey Outpost has a 33,5000-gallon aquarium, where patrons can view fish indigenous to the area and the brave hotel guests who dare to snorkel beside them. The eatery accommodates 150 for seated dinners. (844) 786-3474

Contact: Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater, (727) 464-7200

Top-tier redo
The first phase of an expansion/renovation has been completed at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa, featuring updates to restaurants and guest rooms. The second phase will add new meeting space, as well as a 94-room adults-only tower. The resort will be rebranded as a JW Marriott in 2017.


NAPLES/MARCO ISLAND

Local Update
 The Naples Grande Beach Resort unveiled an $18 million renovation of its 474 guest rooms, plus its meeting spaces and dining areas, earlier this year. The new Catch of the Pelican offers fresh local seafood, while the beachfront Rhode's End offers Greek fare. The resort has 83,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space.

Meeting Hotels: Meeting and incentive properties in the area include the 474-room Naples Grande Beach Resort; 454-room Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa; 450-room Ritz-Carlton, Naples; and 319-room Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club.

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

Airport Transit: Southwest Florida International Airport, 33 miles northeast of Naples. Transfer cost by taxi to downtown Naples, $55

Taxes: Naples and Marco Island: room tax, 4%; sales tax, 6%; total tax on hotel rooms, 10%

Contact: Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau, (239) 252-2379