What’s New With Group Meetings in Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades
PICTURE PERFECT MEETINGS & EVENTS IN FLORIDA’S PARADISE COAST
Naples, Marco Island & the Everglades
Naples, Fla.— Meeting planners are increasingly sold on Florida’s Paradise Coast as a location for meetings, conferences and incentive gatherings. The beauty of the destination and its diverse range of locations, services, support and activities for attendees set the stage for picture perfect events. The Naples, Marco Island and Gulf Coast Everglades area provides the perfect backdrop for groups, conferences, association meetings and more. Planners are attracted to the many values available at the area’s excellent hotel and resort-based conference facilities, and the area’s small city charm is enhanced by world class amenities often found only in much larger destinations.
White sand beaches, golf, fishing, boating, kayaking, nature preserves and wildlife are all in abundant supply, and serve as perfect backdrop for leisure activities or for team building scenarios. There is also an excellent choice of shopping, dining, attractions, and world-class arts and cultural offerings to occupy meetings attendees and their families. Combine all that with the area’s top-notch selection of meeting and conference facilities, and it’s easy to understand why the area is coming on strong as an increasingly popular meetings destination.
Convenient Air Service at Southwest Florida International
Air service via most major air carriers is available to Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Ft. Myers just north of Naples. There are 48 non-stop destinations on 19 different carriers.
CVB Provides Info for Meeting Planners
The destination’s website has a Meeting Planners section, www.paradisecoast.com/meetings, devoted to information on resort and hotel-based conference facilities, service providers and nearby off-site group activity venues. Visit now for a look at group specials and rates at area hotels and resorts, and to access the useful Group Attendance Push (GAP) tool set to reduce the gap between meeting bookings and attendance. Tools include photos, video clips, banner ad templates, and links for ordering maps, guides and other collateral materials.
Contact the CVB’s sales and marketing team for personal assistance with submitting RFP’s, to review destination information and more. Contact Debi DeBenedetto at 239-252-2379 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the toll free meeting information line at 1-800-830-1760.
Excellent Resort-Based Meeting & Conference Facilities
There are excellent resort and hotel-based meeting and conference facilities on Florida’s Paradise Coast and most of them are located on or near the beaches of Naples and Marco Island. All provide access to some of the world’s top golf courses, and provide a wide range of group facilities and services.
Top properties in Naples include The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, located directly on the beach; The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, located four miles inland from the beach property; Naples Grande Beach Resort; The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club; LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort; Hilton Naples; GreenLinks Golf Villas at Lely Resort; The Inn on Fifth; Bellasera Hotel; Naples Bay Resort; DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Naples; and numerous name brand and boutique properties that can handle smaller group functions and overflow from the larger conference hotels.
Top meeting and conference properties on Marco Island include the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa (the Paradise Coast’s largest meeting and conference facility with over 225,000 total sq. ft. of indoor/outdoor space); the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa; and Marco Beach Ocean Resort.
Port of the Islands Resort & Marina, located halfway between Naples and Everglades City (the Gulf Coast's gateway to Everglades National Park, has a 1,000-square-foot indoor event space and an outdoor tiki hut, the Angler’s Cove restaurant and bar, a beautiful pool deck and charcoal grills, billiards and fitness rooms, and a full-service marina with boat slips. Easy access to many tours and activities including fishing, manatee sightseeing tours, sporting clay and skeet shooting, paddling and hiking provides unique team building opportunities.
Top Meetings-related Paradise Coast Hotels
The Ritz-Carlton, Naples beach resort features guest rooms that resemble a luxurious, residential beach home. The effect brings the beauty of Naples’ coastal environment indoors with warm blues, greens and grays inspired by the Gulf of Mexico and its surrounding landscape. The Ritz-Carlton’s sophistication plays into the design with clean lines and upscale fabrics that appeal to both traditional and modern tastes. On the culinary front, Dusk, a sushi bar, features an extended terrace that provides outdoor seating with Gulf of Mexico and sunset views. Dusk’s interior incorporates cozy areas as well as an open space that's ideal for small events and entertainment. Terrazza, an Italian eatery serving three meals a day sports a glass atrium with fully retractable doors and a seaside café feel with indoor and outdoor seating. The Grill steakhouse and specialty restaurant is a classic establishment with contemporary decorative accents and a menu with selections of dry-aged beef and fresh seafood, and a collection of international wines. The Ritz-Carlton, Naples is a favorite wedding destination and, as such, the resort’s Artisans “princess ballroom” features soft silvers, whites and light grays that resemble an elegant jewel box. An expansive floor plan helps enhances access to the resort’s numerous outdoor event venues.
The Inn on Fifth, located along the prestigious Fifth Avenue South in downtown Naples, features 32 suites at Club Level. The rooms and meeting facilities are located in a three-story building directly across Fifth Avenue from the Inn’s current landmark location. The Club Level suites, which range from 550-1100 square feet, offer guests a separate check-in, private rooftop hot tub and sunbathing area, as well as buffet breakfast, afternoon tea, afternoon snacks, and evening cocktails and appetizers. The building also features a 700-square-foot board room, which brings the Inn’s meeting space to nearly 9,000 square feet. The first floor of the 40,000-square-foot building features retail space, including JP Morgan Chase and a women’s retail store. The main hotel underwent a $20 million renovation that enhanced guestroom, meeting space and lobby décor.
Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa has completed guest room renovations throughout the hotel. New features include luxurious Hilton Serenity beds, 32” LCD TV’s, Cuisinart single cup coffee makers, adjustable work desks with a digital panel to connect and charge multiple devices at once, cozy lighting, contemporary artwork and in all guest bathrooms, Kohler fixtures, granite countertops, walk in showers and deluxe showerheads.
The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club has completed $50 million in impressive renovations and enhancements over the last few years, which included the installation of beautiful new glass balconies in its main Tower Building in November 2015 to showcase its incredible Gulf views. In 2016, the resort will implement a special redesign of the historic golf course. A recipient of such prestigious meeting industry awards as Successful Meetings magazine’s “Pinnacle Award,” the AAA Four-Diamond resort features 34,000 square feet of first-class meeting space (which includes the Everglades ballroom providing spectacular panoramic views of the Gulf, and the 6,283-square-foot River of Grass Ballroom), plus many picturesque Gulf-side outdoor event venues. The resort is Southwest Florida’s only beachfront resort with an on-site championship golf course, a world-class spa, and an award-winning tennis center. Additionally, the 319-room resort features multiple dining options (such as the signature HB’s on the Gulf restaurant), the popular The Sunset Beach Bar & Grill, and a beautiful beachfront pool complex with two pools.
The Naples Grande Beach Resort invites guests to discover a chic, modern lobby and sample sophisticated cuisine at the hip lobby restaurant, Aura. The resort's luxurious setting is conducive to both work and pleasure, and Naples Grande Golf Club offers guests excellent options for group tournaments and recreational outings.
Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa has added a new pool bar and courtyard to its adults-only pool adjacent to the resort’s spa. The area is perfect for guests seeking to relax away from the resort’s two other pools, including the Tiki Pool with rock waterslide that’s popular with kids. The area is also available as a quiet and secluded event space. Another new addition is the acquisition of the Hammock Bay Golf Course, now available for play by resort guests along with The Rookery at Marco course. Marco Island Marriott constantly strives to raise the bar for itself. Following a major $275 million resort renovation and redesign in recent years, Marco Island Marriott has since invested $1.5 million to upgrade its Fiji presidential suite and just announced a $4 million renovation planned for The Rookery, one of its two Championship golf courses. The Rookery’s upgrades, scheduled for completion by November 2014, are expected to take the resort’s golf product from award-winning to legendary.
GreenLinks Golf Villas at Lely Resort in Naples, a condo-hotel located halfway between Naples and Marco Island, features 2- and 3-bedroom villas located on two championship public golf courses—Mustang and Flamingo Island. An on-site signature restaurant, Sam Sneed’s Oak Grill & Tavern, offers grab-and-go breakfast and full lunch and dinner. GreenLinks has 3,000 square feet of planned meeting space in a beautiful and serene country club environment, and can accommodate groups of up to 100 people. The resort features a heated pool, Jacuzzi spa, complimentary gas grills, tennis, pickleball, bocce, shuffleboard and beach equipment.
Hotels Going Green in Collier County
Hotels along the Paradise Coast continue to achieve designation as Florida Green Lodgings by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Twelve properties have received their official Florida Green Lodging designation to date due to their elevated level of conservation and other green initiatives. One Palm recipients: Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort and Spa; Marriott's Crystal Shores. Two Palm recipients: Bellasera Hotel; Naples Grande Beach Resort; Ritz-Carlton Naples Beach Resort; LaPlaya Beach and Golf Resort; Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort Naples; Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort Golf Club & Spa; Marco Beach Ocean Resort. Three Palm recipients: Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club; Hilton Naples; DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Naples.
The Florida Green Lodgings in the region are: Naples area: Bellasera Hotel; Doubletree Suites by Hilton Naples; Hilton Naples; The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club; Naples Grande Beach Resort; The Ritz-Carlton, Naples; The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples; LaPlaya Beach and Golf Resort. Marco Island: Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa; Marco Beach Ocean Resort; Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa; and Marriott’s Crystal Shores.
A popular and fun way to ‘navigate’ between several of downtown Naples’ top dining and shopping areas is the Naples Bay Water Shuttle. This convenient water taxi provides passage for only $7 per person between popular waterfront spots including Tin City, Naples City Dock, Bayfront, Naples Bay Resort and more. If you like, you can stay on for the entire “loop” tour during the day (use it as a shuttle during the busy evening hours) – it’s Naples’ most inexpensive boat ride!
Naples Food Tours provides visitors an opportunity to enjoy tastings at a variety of restaurants, markets and artisan shops throughout the area. These guided, three-hour tours allow guests to indulge in tastings, interact with chefs and proprietors of locally-owned restaurants, visit specialty food shops and hard-to-find markets and more. Groups of up to 14 people travel by air-conditioned mini-bus. Custom tours and dine arounds are also available for private groups.
Naples Transportation, Tours & Event Planning has a full range of transportation and event planning services that makes them a convenient full-service choice for assisting with meetings and conferences in the Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades region. They also provide an extensive range of tours and activities for groups and for the public.
Dolphin Transportation provides a full range of transportation options for conference and corporate groups, as well as a range of specialty tours.
The Dolphin Explorer cruise boat, with daily departures from Marco Island and advanced reservation group departures from Naples, allows teams of participants to serve as citizen scientist dolphin researchers. Teams work with a naturalist on board to collect data, photograph and log activities of the resident bottlenose dolphins that live in the estuaries surrounding Naples and Marco Island. This rewarding and challenging experience provides education, fun and team challenge opportunities.
A Paint and Party with Masterpiece Mixers in Naples fosters team building and creative thinking, and provided a variety of flexible options for your event. Your group of 30 or less can come to the studio, or they can come to you for on-site activities or larger groups. They supply all the artistic materials and give professional, fun and engaging step-by-step instruction and guidance to all participants. They have over 2000 masterpieces to choose from or they can create a custom one just for your event.
Off-Site Venues Provide an Exotic Array of Choices
C'mon, the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples is a 38,000 square foot cultural institution devoted exclusively to child’s play and discovery. Located in North Naples Regional Park, the Museum includes 10 state-of-the-art interactive exhibits and hosts traveling exhibits from across the country. The Museum also features a healthy Café and a Museum Store. One of the few children’s museums in the country that has a permanent collection of art and artifacts, C’mon helps children experience the global community through the Loos Arts Gallery and the World Café, featuring the O’Connell Collection. Hailed as one of the finest children’s museums in the United States, C’mon is the first physically accessible, barrier-free children’s museums in the nation.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has long been a leading family attraction in Naples. The attraction’s Nature Center has recently reopened after completing a major renovation and state-of-the-art sustainable facility enhancement, making the Conservancy one of the greenest nature attractions in the country. Spaces are available for group functions and events. Renovated and new buildings on the campus meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards and the center utilizes an integrated energy consumption approach through geothermal cooling, solar, LED lighting and "smart buildings" technologies. The Conservancy’s campus provides the perfect setting for green-themed meetings and events.
Within convenient reach of Naples and Marco Island’s hotel-based conference facilities, there is an eclectic array of off-site group function venues. One of the most striking is NGALA, an extraordinary Wildlife Preserve that provides a fascinating offsite location for a private group event. NGALA (pronounced n-yala) combines the exclusive opportunity to encounter exotic wildlife with authentic entertainment and fine dining under luxurious canvas tents. Strategically placed wildlife offers guests the opportunity to experience exotic animals close up. Knowledgeable animal handlers interact with guests and ensure their safety and provide a personal and interactive experience. NGALA offers something for everyone: spectacular architecture, rare and tropical foliage, antiques, artifacts, living-art animal encounters (which include touching and petting Walter a 6,000 lb. White Rhinoceros), authentic entertainment, and a superb menu. The NGALA experience is custom-created and can be presented in either a casual format or as a more elegant affair. NGALA has the flexibility to create intimate function space for groups ranging in size from 10 to over 1,000 guests.
Naples Botanical Garden is a 170-acre world-class garden paradise that also functions as a premier event location. It features the plants and cultures of the tropics and subtropics between the latitudes of 26 degrees North and 26 degrees South including Brazil, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and Florida. The hands-on interactive Smith Children’s Garden along with 90 acres of beautifully restored natural habitats, walking trails and a Butterfly Garden offer educational entertainment and enjoyment for people of all ages.Kapnick Hall provides the ideal location for a meeting or special event. Featuring 3,000 square feet of air-conditioned space, a state-of-the-art audio visual system, and a spacious covered outdoor deck overlooking the tropical Water Garden and providing views of the LaGrippe Orchid Garden, Kapnick Hall offers both style and comfort in a picturesque setting.
Naples Zoo has accommodations for events of all scales, from private dinner parties to groups up to 1,000. The venue incorporates the property’s extensive botanical gardens as well as the AZA-accredited zoo’s animals and programs. Rain Forest Grove creates a lovely atmosphere with banyan and ficus trees that surround the area and create a perfect canopy. Safari Canyon is available for presentations requiring multimedia support. Features at the zoo include hand-feeding of the herd of five giraffe, camel rides, and viewings of rare animals, including an endangered Florida panther and honey badgers. A pair of beautiful cheetahs have recently been spotted at Naples Zoo and they are now on exhibit.
Artis—Naples, home to The Baker Museum and the Naples Philharmonic, offers more than 450 culturally significant events and exhibits each year on its 8.5-acre cultural campus as well as an interesting choice of unique meeting venues for groups from 30 to 1,500. The Naples Art Association’s von Liebig Art Center at Cambier Park in downtown Naples has free public art galleries along with classes and workshops. The art center’s facility is also available for special functions.
North Collier Regional Park, home to the Sun-N-Fun Lagoon water park, also has exhibit space available for groups. This facility in north Naples has two exhibit halls for a total of 5,400 square feet of space with half and quarter hall divisions available. There is a kitchen to accommodate catering and dining tables and chairs are available. The park also has a full complement of state-of-the art softball and soccer fields available for league play.
Florida SouthWestern State College’s Collier County Campus just east of downtown Naples has an auditorium that accommodates 234 people with several breakout rooms onsite. This site is very convenient to Marco Island as well as Naples. Call 239-432-6700.
There are numerous museum facilities that offer interesting locations – such as four of the five Collier County Museums locations in Naples, Everglades City, Marco Island and Immokalee. The four locations that have meetings facilities are: the Naples Depot, Everglades Museum, Roberts Ranch at Immokalee Pioneer Museum and the Collier County Museum.
Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, located at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve has a wonderful interactive educational learning center. Included in this space is a state-of-the-art auditorium, break out meeting and classrooms, and reception spaces with views of the mangrove estuary surrounding the Reserve. Nature walks and boat tours of the reserve are available, as are volunteer opportunities to participate in reserve maintenance. All this makes this center an excellent choice for nature related and ecologically-themed events.
The Naples Princess and Marco Island Princess yachts are available for group charters or for public sightseeing or dinner cruises. The two elegant large yachts offer inside seating in spacious air conditioned cabins as well as decks for enjoying the sea breezes.
Pure Naples, based at Tin City in downtown Naples, offers group experiences on-the-water, including sightseeing tours for large or small groups, thrill rides on the jet boat ODIN, group fishing charters, as well as boat and jet ski rentals. Pure Naples recently teamed with Sea Excursions to provide a one stop shop for planning and executing the perfect on-the-water and island experiences for groups in the region.
Shopping is an art form in Naples and Fifth Avenue South, known as Naples’ MainStreet, offers boutiques, galleries, jewelry and wine shops, restaurants, bars and more. Nearby, Third Street South provides the world’s only full-time street concierge to provide information and assistance amidst the old Naples Historic District, featuring upscale shops, art galleries and restaurants.
Waterside Shops continues to evolve with the opening of new luxury retail stores, including Tiffany & Co., Gucci and more. The upscale escales, PARIS boutique recently opened and is the first and only location in the United States. Saks is the main anchor at the center.
Other shopping options include the Village on Venetian Bay, Bayfront, the Naples Design District – filled with thrift, consignment, and arts and design shops, and the growing Mercato center in North Naples.
Arts & Culture
If culture is your focus, there are approximately 100 art galleries in Collier County headlined by The Baker Museum on the Artis—Naples campus, as well as a variety of fascinating historical and cultural museums. From the many retail galleries downtown to centers including the von Liebig Art Center and Marco Island Center for the Arts, there are many programs with art as a backdrop that can be developed for groups.
Spas & Wellness
Several of the area’s resort-based spas are large enough to handle the spa needs of group, and are open to the public even if you are not a guest at that resort. Examples include, The Spat at Naples Grande Beach Resort, The Spa at Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, The Spa at Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa and The Spa at Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort.
Simply Faces is a spa service providing both pampering and healing facial, skin and relaxation treatments. Services include cleansing facials that increase oxygen flow and melt away stress, the ancient Ayurvedic Shirodhara treatment, anti-aging eye treatments, back facials and make up lessons and application.
Hobbies & Pastimes
Golf is a passion for many visitors to the area, and with nearly 90 courses, the choices are many and varied. All of the major meeting and conference hotels are affiliated with top courses – so planning a golf tournament or golf-themed event is convenient and a perfect fit for many corporate events.
Fishing in the Naples, Marco Island, Ten Thousand Islands and Everglades areas is world-class, and includes adventurous backcountry fishing as well as deep-sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Visit the fishing section of paradisecoast.com for a list of charter captains and guide services. One of the fastest growing segments of saltwater fishing is kayak fishing. Capt. Charles Wright in Everglades City offers custom guided kayak fishing and kayak eco adventures through Everglades Area Tours within the saltwater portion of Everglades National Park.
Capt. Wright is able to put kayaks and passengers in his “mother ship” the Yak Attack, which ferries passengers and kayaks to areas perfect for catching snook, redfish, tarpon and other popular gamefish. If fishing doesn’t appeal, just book it for a group eco paddling experience. Groups of six are ideal.
Additionally, there are many individual and group charters available in the Naples and Marco Island areas. Pure Naples offers guided backcountry and offshore trips for small to medium sized groups, as well as sightseeing aboard a 149-passenger double deck boat, and rides for up to 23 passengers on the exciting new jet boat ODIN that is a fun thrill ride combined with sightseeing.
Poker is still a craze with the advent of numerous televised poker tournament events. The Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee near Naples recently expanded its poker playing area to accommodate the growing interest in the game. Frequent public poker tournaments are held at the casino, and the staff will develop customized poker tournament for groups to include transportation and refreshments. The casino has also added blackjack tables and Las Vegas style slots to its gaming lineup along with several new dining and entertainment venues.
Naples Transportation, Tours & Event Planning offers full group transportation and event planning, as well as several popular local tour options. Everglades Excursions are guided half or full day Everglades guided mini coach tours; the Naples Trolley has public stops throughout the greater Naples area, and trolleys are available for charter for private events; and the Naples Segway tour zips participants throughout the downtown area.
Naples Extreme Family Fun Spot provides guided Segway tours throughout the downtown Naples area. They offer special group experiences and team building activities that can be staged at various Naples locations or brought to your location for conference breaks. They are also a one-stop-shop for arranging both land and sea activities with an extensive menu to choose from.
Marco Island Watersports has a 49-passenger power catamaran, the Calusa Spirit, perfect for group shelling trips to nearby deserted islands or private cocktail receptions and buffet dinners onboard. The company provides a unique, eco-friendly guided Waverunner tour of the Ten Thousand Islands mangrove forest, departing from the beach in front of the Marco Island Marriott, Hilton Marco Island and Marriott's Crystal Shores. Capt. Ron’s Awesome Everglades Adventures also offers guided Waverunner tours, departing from the Caxambas Pass boat ramp on the southern tip of Marco Island.
The Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau is the official tourism marketing and management agency for Collier County, Florida. The CVB provides meeting planning assistance, guides and support materials online at www.paradisecoast.com/meetings or by calling the meeting planner hotline at 1-800-830-1760.
Follow @ParadiseMeeting for news about meeting and conference facilities and events in the area. For destination news, follow @Paradise Coast, and www.Facebook.com/TheParadiseCoast.