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Florida's Paradise Coast Provides the Perfect Setting for Memorable Meetings
November 3, 2011
Florida's Paradise Coast Provides the Perfect Setting for Memorable Meetings - The Perfect Blend of Work and Play in Naples, Marco Island & the Everglades
(November 3, 2011) 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 Paradise Coast 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 cities 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 email@example.com; (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 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.
The Paradise Coast is an excellent destination for eco-minded travelers and now there is a dedicated website for those that want to go green, www.paradisecoast.com/green. Meeting planners will find tips for keeping meetings and conferences green and links to all the area hotels and resorts in the region that are designated as official Florida Green Lodgings
Excellent Hotel & 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 - A Waldorf Astoria Resort
Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club
LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort
GreenLinks Golf Villas at Lely Resort
Inn on Fifth
The Hotel at Naples Bay Resort
There are also 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:
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
Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa
Marco Beach Ocean Resort
Olde Marco Island Inn & Suites.
There are two small and cozy boutique hotels as well as a selection of club, time share and condo properties with individual rooms available on a space available basis.
For meetings in Everglades City properties include:
Ivey House B&B with capacity for small group meetings and an in-house guide service specializing in canoe and kayak tours of the Everglades region for unique team building activities.
Glades Haven Cozy Cabins with space available at the Oyster House restaurant adjacent.
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.
What's Happening with Meeting & Conference Resorts
The Inn on Fifth, located along the prestigious Fifth Avenue South in downtown Naples, is expanding to include 32 all-new suites at Club Level. The expansion will take place in a brand new, three-story building across Fifth Avenue from the Inn's current landmark location. The Club Level suites, which range from 550-900 square feet, will 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 new building will also feature a 1,000-square-foot board room, which will increase the Inn's meeting space to nearly 9,000 square feet. Construction is scheduled to begin on August 1, with a tentative opening scheduled for November 2012. The first floor of the 40,000-square-foot building will feature retail space, including JP Morgan Chase and a national women's retail store.
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 all guest rooms and guest bathrooms.
LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort 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. In addition to updates to the resort's rooms and restaurant, an extensive landscaping upgrade adds to the lush tropical atmosphere at the beachfront 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.
Naples Grande Beach Resort is now a proud member of the Hilton family and is a Waldorf Astoria Resort. 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 brought 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 unveiled $6 million worth of new venues and enhancements in late 2010. 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. 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. The Beach House is a two-story, multi-purpose facility located overlooking the beach, the perfect setting for weddings and corporate and social events.
Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa has completed a multi-year renovation that totaled over $200 million. A $2.5 million lobby redesign resulted in the new lobby bar and sushi restaurant, Korals. The luxury property includes 727 guest rooms, a 24,000-square-foot Balinese spa, the redesigned The Rookery Golf Course at Marco and clubhouse with additional function space, 32 Lanai Suites, and the Island and Capri ballrooms. The resort has recently unveiled guest room and penthouse upgrades, a new upscale retail area and a beachfront Italian restaurant. In addition, the Quinn's pool has been transformed into a large free-form fantasy pool complete with outdoor function space, tropical landscaping and enticing water features.
GreenLinks Golf Villas at Lely Resort 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. Resort accommodations include spacious two and three-bedroom/bath condo-style units, perfect groups interested in home-style accommodations perfect for sharing to hold down attendee costs. The resort is adjacent to the Mustang and Flamingo Island public golf courses at Lely Resort.
Bellasera Hotel 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 one to three-bedroom suites and studios. 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 features 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 Cafe. A luxurious new 10,000 sq. ft. spa debuted in December 2008. Guestroom and penthouse renovations now complete the $15 million project.
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, which 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.
Dolphin Transportation 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. Dolphin operates the Historic Naples Trolley & Sightseeing Tour in an air-conditioned, old-style trolley which is also available for group charters.
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.
Everglades Area Tours serves as a one-stop shop for planning and executing your outdoor team building and recreational experiences. Their specialties include arranging motorboat-assisted kayak tours of the Everglades Wilderness Waterway, the Ten Thousand Islands and Rookery Bay; guided swamp walks in the western Everglades' pristine cypress strand swamps, and a variety of educational and challenging interpretive tours.
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 7,000 lbs. and will be 6.5’ tall and 14’ long. Guests are always amazed when they put their hands on him and realize what a gentle giant 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 is open to the public as a world-class tropical garden paradise called Gardens With Latitude and features the plants and cultures found along 26-degrees latitude North and South. The attraction includes cultivated gardens of Brazil, the Caribbean, Asia and Florida, a water garden 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. 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.
Naples Zoo 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.
Opening in February 2012, C'mon, the Golisano Children's Museum of Naples is an inspiring environment where children and their families play, learn and dream together. Located at North Collier Regional Park in Naples, the 30,000 sq. ft. museum features ten spectacularly-designed, child-scaled exhibits to invite sensory and intellectual exploration. The entire museum, as well as specific rooms at the facility, are available for group events in the evening.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida's Nature Center has long been a leading family attraction in Naples. The Nature Center reopens in early 2012 for a soft opening, but when the full campus reopens after completing a major renovation (expected reopening in fall 2012), it will be part of a state-of-the-art sustainable facility enhancement at the Conservancy campus, making the Conservancy one of the greenest nature attractions in the country. As they create three new buildings and renovate three others, each will meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards and the center will utilize an integrated energy consumption approach through geothermal cooling, solar, LED lighting and smart building technologies.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida's Nature Center has long been a leading family attraction in Naples. The Nature Center reopens in early 2012 for a soft opening, but when the full campus reopens after completing a major renovation it will be part of a state-of-the-art sustainable facility enhancement at the Conservancy campus, making the Conservancy one of the greenest nature attractions in the country. As they create three new buildings and renovate three others, each will meet the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED standards and the center will utilize an integrated energy consumption approach through geothermal cooling, solar, LED lighting and smart buildings technologies. Some meeting facilities are available now, with more coming online over the next year.
Tastebuds Custom Catering has partnered with a Naples organic farm to stage farm-to-table dinners at the farm location, a first for the Naples area. Menus are based on fresh, seasonal, organic ingredients and can be customized to suit group preferences. They can also arrange the popular Sip n' Sail wine tasting cruises that combine an educational wine tasting experience with the beauty of a Naples sunset cruise.
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.
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.
Sea Excursions is all about fun on the water. The experienced Sea Excursions team will put together all of your group's on-the-water activities. Let them organize a team building sailing or dolphin research experience, a fishing tournament, or a relaxing sunset cocktail cruise to unwind after a long day of meetings.
Cruise Naples offers guided backcountry and offshore fishing trips for small to medium sized groups, as well as sightseeing and wine tastings aboard a 149-passenger double deck boat.
North Collier Regional Park is the newest and largest sports league facility in Southwest Florida, with state-of-the-art soccer and softball facilities. It is also home to the Sun-N-Fun Lagoon water park and has exhibit space available for groups with a total of 5,400 square feet of space.
Edison State 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, Marco Island 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.
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. Mercato in north Naples is increasingly popular as a shopping, dining and nightlife destination, perfect for a free evening for group attendees, an afterglow event at a nightclub or a dine around.
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 been named the Number One Small Art Town in America. From the many retail galleries downtown to centers including the von Liebig Art Center, the Marco Island Center for the Arts and many area historical museums, there are many programs with art or local history 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. Naples is home to the first PGA Tour Superstore in Florida. This facility includes golf simulators and pros on staff to create a fun, interactive golf-themed experience for your group.
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.
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 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 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 Gliding Adventures at the Naples Extreme Family Fun Spot is another company providing 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 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.
For more meeting or destination information on Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades - The Paradise Coast, call 1-800-830-1760 for a free Meeting Planner Guide or go at the area's official visitor information website meeting planning page, www.ParadiseCoast.com/meetings. Follow @ParadiseMeeting on Twitter and "Like" the destination Facebook page, www.facebook.com/theparadisecoast.