Planners Create Picture-Perfect Meetings on Florida’s Paradise Coast

By JoNell Modys

Newly renovated hotels for meetings, personal services and natural beauty create meetings magic in Naples & Marco Island.

Naples, Marco Island Everglades Meetings

Florida’s Paradise Coast, including the side-by-side resort cities of Naples and Marco Island as well as Everglades City – the Gulf Coast entrance to Everglades National Park – provides the perfect backdrop for groups, board meetings, conferences, association meetings, incentive groups, and more. Planners are attracted to the area’s newly renovated hotel and resort-based conference facilities, as well as the area’s small city charm with big city amenities.

Before, during, or after meeting agenda activities, Florida’s Paradise Coast offers over 30-miles of beautiful white sand beaches, championship golf, fishing, boating, and nature preserves perfect for hiking, kayaking, and wildlife watching. There are also many excellent choices for shopping, dining, attractions, and world-class arts and cultural centers to entertain attendees and their families.

Combine all of these activities with the area’s top-notch selection of meeting and conference facilities, and it’s easy to understand why planners vote the area as an increasingly popular meetings destination and return to create picture perfect events. And, access to the area is easy from most anywhere with 54 non-stop flights on 15 different carriers to and from Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Fort Myers just north of Naples. Auto access is also easy via I-75 or U.S. 41.

Personal Assistance and Top Notch Tools

Planners can access excellent information about meetings on Florida’s Paradise Coast online at paradisecoast.com/meetinparadise. This is the planner’s go-to location for group specials and rates at area hotels and resorts, plus access to the Group Attendance Push (GAP) tool kit to increase meeting attendee registrations. Tools include photos, video clips, banner ad templates, and links for ordering maps, guides and other collateral materials.

New and Expanded Meeting Facilities and Guestrooms

Planners that haven’t been to the region recently will be amazed at the renovated hotels and resorts that are prime locations for conferences and meetings. Leading the way is Marco Island, where the islands’ guest experience has transformed with major renovations and additions at all three beachfront resort hotels.

Meeting on the beach
The former Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort rebranded as the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort on January 1, 2017 after a $320 million renovation that was fully completed in 2018. The resort now features 810 newly renovated and enhanced guestrooms, new dining options, a re-imagined lobby and all of the amenities and service standards befitting a JW Marriott. The new adults-only Lanai Tower features a Gulf-view restaurant, rooftop lounge, new meeting space featuring beach and Gulf views, a luxurious new pool deck, a virtual entertainment center, and 84 additional rooms. 

Olshan Properties recently unveiled its $40 million transformation of the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa. Upgrades at the boutique style resort with 310 rooms include a new entryway with a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the beach and Gulf of Mexico. The Deck at 560 Restaurant and Bar is a new indoor/outdoor bar and restaurant for everything from breakfast and lunch to casual drinks at the pool and indoor and deck seating for cocktails and dinner. The resort’s 12,000 sq. ft. of meeting space received an upgrade to include patios for pre- and post-event gatherings.

The Marco Beach Ocean Resort completed a comprehensive renovation of its one- and two-bedroom suites, Gulf Ballroom, and pool area. The updated luxury interiors capture the essence of the boutique resort’s beachfront location in a palette of soft blues and mint greens against white and sandy-hued backdrops, with warm and washed wood tones, linen-inspired upholstery, and elegant mirror and satin nickel surfaces.

Top group meeting properties in Naples and Marco Island include:

  • The Ritz-Carlton, Naples
  • The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples
  • The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club
  • Hilton Naples
  • The Inn on Fifth
  • Naples Bay Resort
  • Bellasera Resort
  • GreenLinks Golf Villas at Lely Resort
  • J.W. Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort
  • Marco Beach Ocean Resort
  • Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa

Offsite Event Locations Range from Sustainable to Sensational

Many planners are sold on the Paradise Coast because of the extraordinary quality and choice of offsite event locations for evening receptions and dinners, teambuilding events and leisure activities.

NGALA is an extraordinary private wildlife preserve that provides a fascinating offsite location for a private group event. NGALA (pronounced En-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.

Naples Zoo has accommodations for events of all sizes 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 fichus trees that surround the area and create a perfect canopy. Safari Canyon is available for presentations requiring multimedia support

Artis—Naples, home to The Baker Museum with 15 spectacular art galleries and the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra, 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 Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve has a wonderful interactive environmental learning center. Included in this space is a state-of-the-art auditorium, break out meeting and classrooms, an exhibit area with marine and other interactive displays, 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’s research and 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. 

The Dolphin Explorer cruise boat, with two daily departures from Marco Island 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 educational and fun team challenge opportunities or leisure breaks.

Gulf Coast Clays is an expansive sporting clays, trap and skeet shooting club in the Port of the Islands area halfway between Naples and Everglades City and convenient to both Marco Island and Naples resorts and hotels. Instructors are available and group events and tournaments are easily facilitated.

Pure Florida, 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. 

The Revs Institute for Automotive Research in Naples houses one of the most exclusive, historically important and highly prized private auto collections in the world. The Institute's sprawling 80,000 square foot exhibit space is a unique and memorable venue for both large and small group events. It is also an exceptional option for guided tours that can be tailored to accommodate visitors' interests and scheduling requirements when confirmed in advance.

Focus on Health, Well-Being, and Feeling Good

Naples and all of Southwest Florida is on its way to becoming a Blue Zones Community®. That means residents and business owners alike are focused on improving well-being for them and their neighbors. The community is committed to a healthy outlook with goals of lowering obesity rates, smoking, and chronic disease to create a healthier, happier place to live, work, and play. Many of the area’s businesses including restaurants, attractions, and service-related businesses are becoming certified as upholding the Blue Zones standards.

Representatives of the Blue Zones Project committee are available to address groups about the effort, or offer advice about healthy eating, work-life balance and other topics. The Blue Zones project began with National Geographic fellow Dan Buettner’s research of three communities in the world where people are living vibrant, active lives well into their hundreds, which led to the fully realized community adoption program now underway in Naples.

Many hotel properties have onsite spas, or can refer guests to nearby day spa facilities. 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 Spa 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 by JW at JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort.

Area resort meeting teams are well-versed in incorporating activities to get attendees moving and motivated before, during or after meeting times. From Yoga on the beach to group runs, bike rides, paddleboard, or kayak activities, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Tournaments and Pastimes

Golf is a passion for many visitors to the area, and with so many courses in the region, 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 in the coastal estuaries as well as offshore fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. A large series of new artificial reef complexes off the coasts of Naples and Marco Island has quickly created viable underwater habitat that means there are now more hot spots to fish in the region. Whether your group seeks to organize a tournament, or offer fishing as a recreational option, there are plenty of excellent local charter fishing services to meet your needs.

Let the CVB Guide You to A Perfectly Planned Meeting

For all your group meeting needs, contact the CVB’s sales and marketing team for personal assistance with submitting RFP’s, to review destination information, and more. You can reach group sales manager Debi DeBenedetto at 239-252-2379 or [email protected].