The uppermost reaches of the Sunshine State offers groups the powdery sands of the emerald-hued Gulf to the west (pictured) and the broad expanse of Atlantic Ocean beaches to the east. Northern Florida also is famed for its outstanding golf courses, fishing and wildlife.
• The 138-room Casa Monica Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection, in St. Augustine has recently unveiled expansions to its Poseidon Spa and Grand Bohemian Gallery as well as an update to the pool area.
• The 330-room Hammock Beach Resort, just south of St. Augustine, has unveiled a remodel of the lobby and a new lobby bar. The resort also renovated its 50,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
The St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum houses the world's largest collection of authentic pirate artifacts, including a treasure chest and a vintage 17th-century Jolly Roger flag.
• The 514-room Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa has revealed an extensive facelift that included upgrades to guest rooms, public areas and the Cabana Beach Club, as well as the addition of a wing of premium-service rooms and suites. The property has 61,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including 36 meeting rooms, an exhibit area and a ballroom. Also new on-site is the Surfstream Wave Machine in one of the resort's pools, in which seven different types of waves are created for surfing and other aquatic fun.
• The 95-room TRYP by Wyndham Sebastian St. Augustine has debuted. The property features a gastrobar and offers free high-speed WiFi, an electric car-charging station, an outdoor pool and fire pit, meeting space for up to 30 guests and a 24-hour fitness center.
• The 249-room Ponte Vedra Inn & Club (part of the Ponte Vedra Beach Resorts, along with the 66-room Lodge & Club) has unveiled its upgraded conference center, which has eight rooms that can host up to 350 attendees.
• The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens has opened, constructed within several historic buildings, and includes approximately 1,400 square feet of meeting space.
Meeting Hotels: The St. Augustine area offers more than 5,800 hotel rooms in properties such as the 301-room Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village and 138-room Casa Monica Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection.
Ponte Vedra has the 514-room Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa, 249-room Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and 66-room Lodge & Club.
To find and compare hotels, and send RFPs, visit mcvenues.com.
Convention center: St. Johns County Convention Center at the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village; exhibit space, 33,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, five; (904) 940-8632
Airport transit: Jacksonville International Airport, about 52 miles from downtown St. Augustine, 33 miles from Ponte Vedra. Transfer cost by taxi to downtown, about $125; to Ponte Vedra, about $85
Northeast Florida Regional Airport, about five miles from downtown St. Augustine and 20 miles to Ponte Vedra. Transit cost by taxi to downtown, $10-$12; to Ponte Vedra, $40-$60
Taxes: Room tax, 4%; sales tax, 6.5%; total tax on hotel rooms, 10.5%
Group venue: The historic former Hotel Ponce de Leon at Flagler College can accommodate private events for up to 400 guests for receptions and up to 300 for a seated meal. (904) 829-6481
Contact: St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau, (800) 418-7529
GILDED AGE GEM
The Lightner Museum,
built in 1888 as the Alcazar Hotel, houses a vast collection of 19th-century fine and decorative art, from cigar labels to Tiffany treasures, and hosts private events of up to 400.
The 602-room Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa in South Walton has updated the F&B offerings at its Sandcastles Restaurant and Lounge and Picnix Poolside Market, and upgraded its meeting and event menus. The property has 40,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
• The 170-room Henderson, a Salamander Beach & Spa Resort, has opened in the city of Destin on the Gulf of Mexico. The resort has 30,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space, including the 5,221-square-foot Crystal Ballroom, the Grand Lawn and the Sunset Vista Terrace. Other features include the Primrose restaurant, the Horizons Bar, the Sea Level grill, two outdoor pools, a fitness room and the Salamander Spa with 11 treatment rooms. The Henderson is the anchor resort property of still-developing Henderson Beach Resort; future phases will include villa-style accommodations.
Meeting Hotels: Among the meeting properties in Okaloosa County are the 335-room Ramada Plaza Beach Resort, 216-room Four Points by Sheraton Destin--Fort Walton Beach, 170-room The Henderson and 195-room Wyndham Garden Fort Walton Beach.
To find and compare hotels, and to send RFPs, visit mcvenues.com.
Convention center: Emerald Coast Convention Center; exhibit space, 65,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 12; (850) 609-3800 or (877) 574-5123
Airport transit: Destin--Fort Walton Beach Airport, 16 miles from Destin.Transfer cost by taxi to Destin, $50
Taxes: Room tax, 5%; sales tax, 6%; total tax on hotel rooms, 11%
Contact: Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau, (850) 651-7647 or (800) 322-3319