Northern Florida

St Augustine Bridge of Lions

Why here?
Northern Florida is known for its pristine beaches, superb golf facilities, endless array of outdoor venues and activities, and rich history. St. Augustine features some the region's oldest historic sites - dating back 450 years - as well as eclectic architecture, such as its iconic Bridge of Lions (pictured).


NORTHWEST NEWS
 The 602-room Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa in South Walton has unveiled upgrades to its guest rooms and public spaces. The property has 40,000 square feet of meeting space, a spa and a fitness center.

 The 320-room Sheraton Bay Point Resort in Panama City Beach will reopen later this year following a renovation. The resort has 60,000 square feet of meeting space.


OCEAN-VIEW DINING
The Living Sea at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park in Fort Walton Beach hosts private dining events for up to 112. Guests can view marine life via eight-foot-high aquarium windows.


ST. AUGUSTINE

Local Update
The Courtyard Marriott St. Augustine Beach has opened with 205 guest rooms and 4,800 square feet of meeting/function space. The property is a short walk from the heart of the historic city, and the beach is one block away,

 The head-to-toe renovation of the 511-room Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa will be completed this fall. The yearlong project included upgrades to its pool area, front desk and the on-site Sawgrass Spa and Cabana Beach Club. Other enhancements include the addition of 30 square feet per guest room, new furnishings, the addition of a second presidential suite and the completion of the Sawgrass Reserve, a wing of 31 butler-serviced rooms and suites. The property has total of 61,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including 36 meeting rooms, an exhibit area and a ballroom that can accommodate up to 2,500 people.

• Opening next month is the Wyndham Garden Sebastian St. Augustine. The 95-room property, on the San Sebastian River, will have one meeting room.

 The Treasury on the Plaza has opened in the former lobby of a bank built in 1928. The opulent Mediterranean Revival-style venue can host up to 400 people for events.

 Flagler College has opened its historic Hotel Ponce de Leon Hotel for private events. The facility can accommodate up to 400 for a reception and 300 for a seated meal.

 The 250-room Ponte Vedra Inn & Club Conference Center will undergo a major renovation this fall. The property features two golf courses and 17 meeting rooms.

 The 320-room Hammock Beach Resort, just south of St. Augustine, is upgrading its lobby, conference center and some guest rooms. The property has a spa and two golf courses.

 This fall, the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum will add a new 2,500-square-foot facility to house more exhibits and programs. The museum recently launched an interactive exhibit that showcases artifacts from a British shipwreck off St. Augustine Beach that occurred in 1782.

TAPAS ON TAP
For innovative Spanish cuisine, Michael's Tasting Room offers tapas and succulent dishes like ceviche tostones and the daily catch served in a saffron lemon-scented broth. The eatery can host groups of up to 85.


TEE TIME
The World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum 's interactive new exhibit, Major Moments: Celebrating Golf's Greatest Championships, explores the top men's tournaments (the Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship) through  colorful recollections and artifacts.


Meeting Hotels: The St. Augustine area offers more than 5,800 hotel rooms in properties such as the 301-room Renaissance World Golf Village Resort and 138-room Casa Monica.

Ponte Vedra has the 511-room Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa, 250-room Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and 66-room The Lodge & Club.

For a full listing of area properties, and to compare hotels and send RFPs, visit mcvenues.com.

Convention Center: St. John's County Convention Center; exhibit space, 33,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, five; (904) 940-8632; worldgolfrenaissance.com

Airport Transit: Jacksonville International Airport, 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, 5 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 landmark Villa Zorayda, a mansion built in 1883 and based on the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, is available for private guided tours and events. The venue, a gem of Moorish architecture, is on the National Register of Historic Places and now serves as a museum filled with antiquities from around the world. Receptions for up to 75 guests are hosted, as well as seated dinner parties for up to 30. (904) 829-9887

Contact: St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau, (800) 418-7529