From cosmopolitan Tampa (pictured) to the gorgeous laid-back beaches of Clearwater, and the elegant resorts and shops of the Naples area and points in between, Florida's West Coast offers meeting, convention and incentive groups a wealth of inspiring settings.
• The 230-room Opal Sands Resort in Clearwater Beach has opened. The property has 25,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, including nine meeting rooms, a fitness center and a spa. All guest rooms offer Gulf views.
• Set to open next year is the 450-room Wyndham Grand Resort Clearwater Beach. The beach-front property will have 24,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
The 719-room Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina now offers a floor of Stay Well rooms that feature air purifiers, vitamin C showers and more. The property has more than 43,000 square feet of event space.
• Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants will open a 150-room property here early in 2018, in the city's vibrant Westshore neighborhood. The hotel will offer a rooftop bar, a separate rooftop event space, more than 4,000 square feet of indoor meeting and event space, a lobby bar, a pool and a fitness center. Chef Silvia Baracchi will run the in-house fine-dining restaurant, which will feature produce from the local Red Barn Farm.
• The 250-room Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa opened Grey/Salt, a Mediterranean-inspired eatery from chef Marc Murphy, The restaurant has a private dining room that accommodates 50 guests.
• The 540-room Saddlebrook Resort recently completed a renovation of its conference center. The property offers a total of 95,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space, two 18-hole Arnold Palmer golf courses and a five-acre team-building course.
• Tampa International Airport is undergoing a $1 billion expansion that will add a new main terminal, car-rental facilities and more. The project, designed to double the number of passengers the airport can accommodate (to some 35 million), 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 six miles to downtown Tampa. Transfer cost by taxi, $25
Taxes: Room tax, 5%; sales tax, 7%; total tax on hotel rooms, 12%
Group Venue: The Tampa Museum of Art, with its colorful exterior bathed in programmable LED lights, has a permanent collection of modern and contemporary works, with an emphasis on photography. The facility can host private events for groups of up to 800 people. (813) 274-8130
Contact: Visit Tampa Bay, (813) 223-1111 or (800) 448-26720
Sample delicious Cuban treats like guava turnovers or tasty sandwiches such as the media noche -- marinated pork, ham, salami, Swiss cheese and pickle -- at La Segunda Central Bakery's café
in Ybor City.
The 187-room Zota Beach Resort will debut on Longboat Key, near St. Armand's Circle, in February 2017. The luxury property, the former Longboat Key Hilton Beachfront Resort, is undergoing a $24 million makeover and will have 2,758 square feet of event space.
• In January 2017, the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort will debut the final stages of its multiyear makeover and officially be renamed the JW Marriott Marco Island. The resort will have 810 guest rooms and will offer 100,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
• The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club will unveil the final fruits of a propertywide renovation next month, with the debut of its redesigned golf course. The project, which included input from golf legend Jack Nicklaus, follows $50 million in recent upgrades that touched upon all 319 guest rooms and 4,000 square feet of meeting space and included the addition of a new beachfront pool complex.
• The 183-room Hyatt House Naples/Fifth Avenue opened in March with 3,160 square feet of meeting space.
• The 189-room LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort in Naples recently completed a facelift of its 12,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including enhancements to its two ballrooms.
Meeting Hotels: Properties include the 474-room Naples Grande Beach Resort 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. 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