Northern Florida

emerald hued Gulf of Northern Florida

Why here?
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.  


NEWS FLASH
 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.


HIDDEN TREASURE
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.

ST. AUGUSTINE


Local Update

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.


TASTE SENSATIONS
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.


NORTHWEST FLORIDA


Local Update

 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