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Create Memorable Meetings On The Paradise Coast
August 31, 2010
Top-rated resort meeting space facilities, unique venues and exciting activities make the Paradise Coast the ideal meetings destination.
(September 1, 2010) – Meeting planners that have discovered Southwest Florida’s beautiful Paradise Coast as a location for meetings, conferences and incentive gatherings are quickly sold on the beauty of the destination and its diverse range of locations, services, support and activities for attendees. The Naples, Marco Island and the 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 40 non-stop routes available.
CVB Provides Info for Meeting Planners
The Naples, Marco Island, Everglades CVB has a Meeting Planning Guide filled with information on area meeting and conference hotels, off-site venues, activities, services and more helpful information for planners. The CVB has also developed a CD video presentation for meeting planners showing the delights of the destination. To receive your free copy of the guide or CD, contact tourism sales manager Debi DeBenedetto directly at firstname.lastname@example.org; (239) 252-2379; or call the toll free meeting planner line, 1-800-830-1760.
To facilitate meeting and conference planners, the destination’s visitor information Web site 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.
Excellent Resort-Based Meeting & Conference Facilities
There are excellent resort and hotel-based meeting and conference facilities on the 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 for meetings in Naples include The Ritz-Carlton, Naples; The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples; Naples Grande Beach Resort – The Waldorf Astoria Collection; Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club; LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort; Hilton Naples; Greenlinks Golf Resort & Conference Center; The Inn on Fifth; Bellasera Hotel, the Hotel at Naples Bay Resort, and numerous name brand and boutique properties that can handle smaller group functions and overflow from the larger conference hotels.
Top meeting properties on Marco Island include the newly renovated 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 event space); the newly renovated Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa, the elegant Marco Beach Ocean Resort; and Olde Marco Island Inn & Suites.
For meetings in Everglades City, the Ivey House B&B has capacity for small group meetings and their in-house guide service specializes in canoe and kayak tours of the Everglades region for unique team building activities. There are also several other outfitters and guides services for group wilderness experiences. Port of the Islands Resort & Marina, located halfway between Naples and Everglades City, has 900 sq. ft. of meeting space, a full service marina and easy access to many tours and activities including fishing, manatee sightseeing tours, paddling, hiking and more.
The Hotel at Naples Bay Resort is an 85-room hotel that opened in 2008, part of the Naples Bay Resort mixed use development on the Gordon River and Naples Bay with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico. Naples Bay Resort also includes condos, a spa, vacation cottages, a marina, the Olio on Naples Bay and Bonefish Grill restaurants and shopping.
A new Fairfield Inn & Suites
is located next to the Springhill Suites just off I-75 at Collier Blvd. (Exit 101), the gateway to Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades. It has 109 rooms and suites, an outdoor heated pool, complimentary hot breakfast and high-speed internet access.
The new SpringHill Suites Marriott Naples
opened in November 2008 and features all studio suites, a complimentary hot breakfast buffet, free high speed Internet, a 24-hour business center, a 24-hour snack shop, a guest fitness center and a guest laundry room. The 102-suite hotel is located just off I-75 at Collier Blvd. (Exit 101), the gateway to Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades.
Hotels Going Green in Collier County
Hotels along the Paradise Coast continue to achieve designation as Green Lodgings by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Seventeen properties have received their official Florida Green Lodging designation to date with five properties, the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa, the Hilton Naples, Doubletree Guest Suites, Naples and both The Ritz-Carlton, Naples and The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples having achieved the Two Palm designation due to their elevated level of conservation and other green initiatives.
The Florida Green Lodgings in the region are
: Naples area: Bellasera Hotel; Courtyard by Marriott Naples; Doubletree Guest Suites Naples; Greenlinks Golf Resort & Conference Center; Hampton Inn & Suites, Hilton Naples; Inn at Pelican Bay; Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club; Naples Grande Beach Resort; Ramada Inn Naples; The Ritz-Carlton, Naples and The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples. 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 luxury timeshare resort. Everglades City: Ivey House Bed & Breakfast.
Several of the hotels have initiated innovative practices to conserve energy. Hilton Naples has planted a rooftop Confederate jasmine vine garden atop its ballroom, to reduce heat absorption. The DoubleTree Guest Suites Naples has a designated parking space for hybrid vehicles right outside the front door.
What’s Happening with Meeting & Conference Resorts
Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club
opened a new $5 million swimming pool complex in early 2010 with two beachside pools, one a large recreational pool and the other a more secluded quiet pool. The pool complex also includes private cabanas and a bar with food service. This area is also an appealing tropical event space close to the Gulf of Mexico for evening sunset events. The resort also has completed an extensive upgrade of guest rooms and guest bathrooms. For planners, the resort is offering two exciting incentive offers to groups for meetings or programs booked and held by Dec. 31, 2010. The —Check In Meeting Offer” enables groups to receive up to $5,000 toward their program at the club. Additionally, the —Meeting Stimulus Package” includes no attrition for qualified meetings, free daily meeting room rental, a complimentary afternoon break, one complimentary guest room for every 25 paid, free entrance for attendees to the fitness center (with use of the exercise room, whirlpool, sauna and steam room), free wireless Internet access in all guestrooms, 25 percent off audio/visual services and 25 percent off golf greens fees.
LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort
recently refreshed the luxurious guest rooms with new bed linens, decor and fresh paint, including the addition of an accent wall. The poolside cabana furnishings have been completely updated, and upgraded package options are available. The resort's signature fine-dining restaurant Baleen boasts new furnishings including new chandeliers, chairs and a large group dining table. Baleen was recently awarded the prestigious "Award
of Excellence 2009" by Wine Spectator magazine. The Award of Excellence recognizes restaurants that offer a well-chosen selection of quality wine varieties that complement the menu thematically and appeal to a broad spectrum of wine lovers. In addition to updates to the resort’s rooms and restaurant, an extensive landscaping project is in progress to add to the lush tropical landscaping already in place at the resort.
The Marco Beach Ocean Resort
has renovated all 98 of its luxurious guest suites. The resort is located on the beach on Marco Island. The resort offers the rare opportunity for the small group to be the center of attention, and at times the only group on the property.
The Naples Grande Beach Resort
is now a proud member of the Hilton family and the Waldorf Astoria Collection. Formerly known as The Registry Resort & Club, the resort invites guests to discover a chic, newly modernized lobby and sample sophisticated cuisine at the hip lobby restaurant, Aura. The resort brings the first Golden Door Spa to the United States east coast, along with a Strip House steakhouse. The Naples Grande Golf Club continues to offer excellent options for group tournaments and recreational outings. Sister hotel Edgewater Beach Hotel offers reciprocal privileges and helps to facilitates large groups.
The Ritz-Carlton, Naples
beach resort recently unveiled $6 million worth of new venues and enhancements. The Vanderbilt Ballroom, a 10,125 square foot, 941 square meter conference center now features motorized ceilings. vue, or Virtual User Experience, is a state-of-the-art interactive entertainment lounge featuring all of the latest and most popular interactive virtual-reality games played via consoles hooked up to 40” LCD TVs, from Microsoft Xbox 360 Elite® game stations with wireless controllers, to Sony Playstation 3 and the latest from Nintendo Wii. In addition, vue boasts a 63” LCD with Blu-ray player controlled via remote touchpad and a top-of-the-line Bang and Olufsen surround sound system, making it an excellent choice for afterglow events. The new Sushi Bar features a stunning 150-gallon fish tank. The tropical ambiance of the Gulf-front Gumbo Limbo casual restaurant was enhanced by the addition of a roofed area and an expanded boardwalk. The Sand Bar opened with a hip Tiki roof, a custom hand-carved wooden bar and unique cypress-stump chairs for guest to enjoy spectacular Gulf of Mexico views and tropical beverages. Nature’s Wonders offers children an interactive sanctuary complete with eleven aquariums including two touch tanks and a lab complete with microscopes. Once the kids have completed their programs, the space is also available for special events. The Poolside Café has a recently added roof for a shaded, cooler experience to accompany its light fare menu, full bar and six new HD TV’s. The Beach House is a two-story, multi-purpose facility located overlooking the beach, the perfect setting for weddings and corporate and social events. The resort’s traditional Lobby Lounge has been updated with elegant hardwood flooring and new furnishings, and becomes Bites in the evenings, serving globally-inspired small plate cuisine.
Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa
has completed a multi-year renovation that totaled over $200 million. The latest addition is a $2.5 million lobby redesign resulting in the new lobby bar and sushi restaurant, Korals. The luxury property has recently completed the construction of a brand new 24,000-square-foot Balinese spa, redesigned The Rookery Golf Course at Marco and opened a new clubhouse with additional function space, refurbished 32 Lanai suites, restored the Island and Capri ballrooms and redesigned the resort’s lobby. The resort has recently unveiled guest room and penthouse upgrades, a new upscale retail area and a beachfront Italian restaurant. In addition, the Quinn pool has been transformed into a large free-form fantasy pool complete with outdoor function space, tropical landscaping and enticing water features.
GreenLinks Golf Resort & Conference Center
in Naples opened their new conference center in early 2008 with 3,000 square feet of planned meeting space and can accommodate groups of up to 175 people. The resort now handles direct booking of golf play at the neighboring Mustang and Flamingo Island courses.
was recently named by TripAdvisor.com as among its —Top Ten Hidden Gems in the U.S.” Visitors rave about the better than home comfort, appointments and amenities they find in Bellasera’s 100 studio and one to three-bedroom suites. The flexibility of Bellasera’s design makes it a popular choice for meeting groups. Its 4,000 sq. ft. of function space seats up to 200 in a classic Italian setting. Bellasera recently opened the Esterra Spa adjacent to the pool area.
Hilton Marco Island Resort & Spa
has completed an expansive upgrade and renovation project to its meeting space, lobby and restaurant areas featuring floor-to-ceiling windows in the main entrance lobby of the hotel and new scenic ambiance and a revamped menu at the Paradise Café. A luxurious new 10,000 sq. ft. spa debuted in December 2008. Guestroom and penthouse renovations now complete the $15 million project.
The Inn on Fifth,
Old Naples' elegant boutique hotel, features a rooftop pool and terrace perfect for events along with The Spa on Fifth. The boutique hotel property in the heart of downtown Naples has just completed room renovations. The Spa on Fifth is shaped by Feng Shui elements and mixes Asian influences with tropical accents, providing an extensive array of anti-aging and rejuvenating treatments. The Inn on Fifth has meeting and banquet space both indoors on its rooftop pool deck.
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.
Make Getting there a Party with the Marino Group
The Marino Group has added all sorts of fun packages to their area transportation services. There’s the
Marino Casino, which is a game table and dealer on board a VIP limo coach. You can have a Scavenger
Hunt with all maps, lists and prizes provided fit to any theme. The NonCash NonCab has been very popular.
Similar to the television game show, you must answer questions correctly to win coupons, gift certificates and
other noncash prizes. You can also let everyone know what a big deal you are with the new Star Treatment.
When you sign up you get a limo, "bodyguards", and "paparazzi" for your grand entrance to anywhere, with
the whole experience captured on video.
provides a full range of transportation options for conference and corporate groups, as well as a range of specialty tours. They provide regular coach service to the Seminole Casino Immokalee and other area locations.
Adventure Training Concepts is an adventure-based team training facility utilizing authentic U.S. Army strategies to facilitate curriculum-based training, team spirit, fitness and bonding experiences for corporate, youth and other groups. ATC now has a public ropes course and training facility located near Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary between Naples and Immokalee, and also stages various event scenarios throughout the surrounding area. Indiana Jones and Survivor themed-events are growing in popularity.
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.
Out’nback Nature Tours specializes in non-motorized outdoor activities with minimal impact on public recreational areas. The company has a walking tour of the Old Naples historic area using handheld GPS that can be turned into a team activity with progressive clues. This tour can accommodate five teams of up to ten members each, with a GPS unit for each team. The company also can arrange Everglades Guided Walking Tours and bicycle tours in both downtown Naples and the Everglades for groups of up to 30 cyclists. 239-455-4611.
Naples Tomato features a Pasta Cooking Class experience for groups of up to 10 people. A chef works with the group to prepare multiple fresh made pastas and sauces, paired with wines. The restaurant also added a mozzarella-making class where groups learn how to make several varieties of fresh mozzarella cheese. Everyone shares in the reward by savoring the results of their efforts.
Off-Site Venues Provide an Exotic Array of Choices
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, a private wildlife preserve with a luxurious tented facility where live African animals, fine food and spirits, music and adventure bring your group dinner functions to a whole new level of unforgettable experience. New at NGALA is Walter the white rhinoceros. In addition to providing camel rides and giraffe feeding experiences NGALA Wildlife Preserve is now also providing the unique opportunity to pet a white rhinoceros. —Walter” a 3-year old Rhino is only half grown and already weighs 2,800 lbs. When full grown he will weigh 7,000lbs be 6.5’ tall and 14’ long. Guests are always amazed when they put their hands on him and realize what a gentle giant that he is. NGALA Wildlife Preserve is one of a select few facilities in the country that has obtained special permission from the government to allow this activity. In addition to the African Safari theme, an Everglades adventure theme is also available for events at NGALA, as well as custom team building scenarios.
Naples Botanical Garden re-opened to the public as a world-class tropical garden paradise called —Gardens With Latitude,” in November 2009, featuring the plants and cultures found along 26-degrees latitude North and South. The attraction includes cultivated gardens of Brazil, the Caribbean, and a hands-on interactive Children’s Garden along with 90-acres of beautifully restored natural Florida habitat with hiking trails and a birding tower. In November 2010 the new cultivated gardens of Asia and Florida will be complete. Naples Botanical Garden is available as a venue for meetings, conferences, receptions and dinners. The lush backdrop of the beautiful garden with vibrantly colored flowers makes a picturesque tropical paradise backdrop, all just ten minutes from downtown Naples. The newly remodeled Windstar Garden Room, a 4,000 square foot air-conditioned space, can accommodate up to 125 guests. Also available is The Garden Lecture Room that can accommodate up to 60 guests.
is building a resume of corporate and social group functions that incorporate the property’s extensive botanical gardens as well as the AZA-accredited zoo’s animals and programs. Set up a tent for a formal dinner event in Rain Forest Grove, or provide a ride aboard the zoo’s Primate Expedition Cruise, with four pontoon boats that tour the zoo’s cage-free primate habitats on islands within Lake Victoria. Safari Canyon is available for presentations requiring multimedia support. The recently opened Leopard Rock exhibit features glass walls that allow visitors to be eye-to-eye with the big cats. The new fosa exhibit displays two rare fosas, a native predator from the island of Madagascar, and the new Black Bear Hammock is the largest black bear habitat on the east coast.
The Philharmonic Center for the Arts,
including a concert hall and the Naples Museum of Art, offers culturally significant events and exhibits as well as an interesting choice of unique meeting venues. 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 new 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.
Edison College’s Collier County Campus just east of downtown Naples has a conference center that accommodates 234 people with several breakout rooms on site. This site is very convenient to Marco Island as well as Naples. Call 239-732-3707.
There are numerous museum facilities that offer interesting locations – such as the four Collier County Museum locations in Naples, Everglades City and Immokalee.
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
has a wonderful interactive educational 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.
Vine Resource Productions will resume its two popular weekly Sip N’ Sail wine tasting sunset cruises beginning in October. Cruises depart one hour before sunset from Tin City on board the double-decker Double Sunshine on Thursdays and from Cocohatchee Nature Center on Fridays through July 4, and then resuming in October 2010. Tickets include the opportunity to taste five different wines along with expertly paired cuisine selections. Each month the wines are themed. Sip n’ Sail’s certified sommelier pours the wine and provides interesting education information. Vine Resource Productions also stages wine dinners and special wine-themed events for groups. Special charters and group events may still be booked throughout the summer.
The Naples Princess and Marco Island Princess
yachts are available for group charters or for public sightseeing or dinner cruises. This elegant large yacht offers inside seating in spacious air conditioned cabins as well as decks for enjoying the sea breezes.
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., Cartier, Hermes, Gucci and more. Mall managers will work with groups to create unique shopping themed experiences, scavenger hunts or other activities, or assist with events at one of the five restaurants on site. A Nordstrom’s department store is the main anchor at the center.
Arts & Culture
If culture is your focus, there are over 100 art galleries in Collier County headlined by the Naples Museum of Art at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, as well as a variety of fascinating historical and cultural museums. In fact, Naples has recently been named the Number One Small Art Town in America. 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.
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
www.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 Attak, which ferries passengers and kayaks to areas perfect for catching snook, redfish, tarpon, permit and other popular gamefish. If fishing doesn’t appeal, just book it for a group eco paddling experience. Groups of six are ideal but larger groups can be arranged.
Additionally, there are many individual and group charters available in the Naples and Marco Island areas. Cruise Naples offers guided backcountry and offshore trips for small to medium sized groups, as well as sightseeing aboard a 149-passenger double deck boat.
You and A Kayak
is a kayak guide service providing customized tours departing from City Seafood restaurant in Everglades City between November and April. Half day, full day and multi day trips are offered at all skill levels with extensive interpretation of the natural environment. Two of the more unique trips are the Cowgirl Kayakers half and full day trips for women, along with the women-only Cowgirl Kayakers Camping expedition, with all equipment and instruction supplied for a 2-day, 1-night camping and kayaking adventure.
Poker is the latest craze with the advent of numerous televised poker tournament events. The Seminole Casino 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 also just 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 van 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 Segway Adventures
is another company providing guided Segway tours throughout the downtown Naples area. They offer special group experiences and team building activities.
Marco Island Ski & 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 and Hilton Marco Island.
The Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau is the official tourism marketing and management agency for Collier County, Florida, funded entirely by the Collier County tourist development tax. The CVB provides meeting planning assistance, guides and support materials online at www.ParadiseCoast.com or by calling the meeting planner’s hotline at 1-800-830-1760.
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