Plan Your Meeting in Florida’s Paradise Coast

Meetings News for 2016 in Naples, Marco Island & the Everglades
Beach Meeting
By JoNell Modys

Plan Your Meeting in Florida’s Paradise Coast
Meetings News for 2016 in Naples, Marco Island & the Everglades

Naples, Fla. (February 18, 2016) – 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, incentive groups 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 well-established as a beautiful and popular meetings destination.

Convenient Air Service
Air service via most major air carriers is available to Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Ft. Myers just north of Naples. There are 47 non-stop destinations on 17 different carriers, with a good selection of new routes recently added.   

Elite Airways has initiated weekly non-stop service between Naples Municipal Airport (APF) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), as well as several additional routes to Newark with one stop. Other new routes out of Naples include service to Portland, Maine, as well as in-state flights to Vero Beach and Melbourne.

CVB Provides Info for Meeting Planners
The destination’s website has a Meeting Planners section,, 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, or call the toll free meeting information line at 1-800-830-1760. 

Hotel News

The new Hyatt House Naples/Fifth Avenue on the picturesque Gordon River section of Naples Bay is targeted for opening mid-March 2016. Naples architect Matt Kragh designed the 183-room property with an Old Florida feel with modern touches, featuring an off-white exterior plus parapets and cornices. The hotel has 3,315 sq. ft. of meeting space and a large waterfront restaurant/bar. Online reservations for individual and group stays are now able to be booked online from April 2016.

The Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa has completed the first phase of a $250 million transformation that will ultimately result in its rebranding to the first JW Marriott Beach Resort in the continental U.S. The resort now has 716 newly renovated and enhanced guestrooms, new dining options, a re-imagined lobby and lots of amenities while work continues on a new resort tower. When all work is complete, the resort will debut on January 1, 2017 as the JW Marriott Beach Resort Marco Island. The new tower will feature celebrity chef driven restaurants, new meeting space, a luxurious new pool deck and much more.

A new four story hotel is now open at the Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee located 40 miles northeast of downtown as part of a major expansion. The hotel provides welcome accommodations for regular players and visiting groups at the gaming and entertainment complex owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The Seminole Casino Hotel is the first upscale hotel to open in or near Immokalee. The 99-room hotel features 19 suites and 80- deluxe guestrooms on four stories, plus a swimming pool with adjacent private Seminole Chickee cabana huts and more. Adjacent to the hotel is the Seminole Center, a new 800-seat indoor and 3,000 seat outdoor entertainment and event venue with state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems. A new high limit room featuring 73 new slot machines, 10 Blackjack and 2 Midi Baccarat tables and an exclusive jackpot payout room has opened along with the new Seminole Poker Room as part of the expansion. Open 24/7, 365 days a year, Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee is Southwest Florida’s premier gaming destination.

The Edgewater Beach Hotel recently completed a full property renovation and has also introduced a new custom-designed Serenity Suite. The Serenity Suite is a supremely comfortable luxury accommodation with custom amenities intended to create a tranquil, soothing and transformative experience. The suite offers a view of the Gulf of Mexico, is equipped with serene lighting on dimmer switches and includes exclusive features such as a PranaSleep® mattress, a NutriBullet Pro® juicer; an in-suite massage table and yoga mat; a selection of meditation, yoga and wellness CDs, DVDs and books; and complimentary set of aromatherapy lotions and oils.

The Gulf-front resort has 2,600 sq. ft. of event space and can accommodate groups of up to 80 guests. For over 30 years, the Edgewater Beach Hotel has welcomed guests to an intimate all-suite hotel that embraces the casual luxury of Naples. Nestled on a seven mile stretch of white sand beach on the Gulf of Mexico, the intimate retreat features 125 elegantly-appointed suites with private balconies, modern kitchens and a host of residential-style comforts.

The resort formerly known as the Waldorf Astoria Naples has rebranded as Naples Grande Beach Resort and with a change in ownership and management, has completed an $18 million makeover of guestrooms, meetings space and dining options. A new signature restaurant, Catch of the Pelican, is focused on fresh, local seafood. The resort’s Naples Grande Golf Club continues to offer guests excellent options for group tournaments and recreational outings for resort guests.

LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort has announced that the million-dollar overhaul to their world-class meeting and event space is officially complete. The overhaul included extensive enhancements to both the Vanderbilt and Bayview Ballrooms and Terraces, community spaces surrounding the conference center, as well as the restrooms and famous “lantern lane.” No details were spared revamping the resort’s extravagant event space, boasting spectacular waterfront views, while protecting the legacy and charm of this luxury beachfront resort.

The Ritz-Carlton, Naples beach resort emerged October 1, 2013 from an unprecedented re-mastering of the entire resort. New guest rooms will 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, three of the resort’s restaurants were fully re-mastered by New York-based design agency Blue Plate. The Ritz-Carlton, Naples is a favorite wedding destination and as such the resort’s Artisans “princess ballroom” were brightened with soft silvers, whites and light grays to resemble an elegant jewel box. Taking a cue from diamond wedding bands, new chandeliers were added to the space and a restructuring to areas of the floor plan helps to expand the room while enhancing access to the resort’s numerous outdoor event venues.

The Inn on Fifth, located along the prestigious Fifth Avenue South in downtown Naples, has expanded by building 32 all-new suites at Club Level. The new rooms and meeting facilities are located in a brand new, three-story building directly across Fifth Avenue from the Inn’s current landmark location. The Club Level suites, which range from 550-900 square feet, offer guests a separate check-in, private rooftop hot tub and sunbathing area with a spectacular view over downtown Naples, as well as buffet breakfast, afternoon tea, afternoon snacks, and evening cocktails and appetizers. The new building also features a 1,000-square-foot board room, which increases the Inn’s meeting space to nearly 9,000 square feet. The first floor of the 40,000-square-foot building features retail space. The main hotel has also undergone an extensive renovation with new guestroom and meeting space décor and a new lobby design, for a total investment of $18 in enhancements.

The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club has completed its latest phase of renovations and enhancements. This $5 million phase includes the opening of a new Gulf-view ballroom that features spectacular panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico.  It also included the complete renovation of the remaining guest rooms in the resort’s Florida Wing, and the complete renovation of the resort’s Gulf-side meeting rooms and pre-function space. With the completion of these guest rooms, all of the resort’s 317 guest rooms and suites have been renovated and remodeled over the last three years. The 125-acre resort, which features 34,000 square feet of first-class

meeting space plus many beautiful outdoor venues, is located directly on the beach with an on-site championship golf course, a world-class spa, and an award-winning tennis center.

GreenLinks Golf Villas at Lely Resort in Naples recently completed renovation of all of their 2- and 3-bedroom villas with a modern design that has a Southwest Florida vibe. The property also has welcomed a new full-service restaurant adjacent to the resort at the Flamingo Island golf club facility – Sam Sneed’s Oak Grill & Tavern.  The restaurant offers grab and go breakfast and full lunch, dinner and banquet menus. GreenLinks has a 3,000 sq. ft. conference center on site with planned meeting space and can accommodate groups of up to 175 people.  The resort is conveniently adjacent to the Mustang and Flamingo Island public golf courses at Lely Resort.    

The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Naples Downtown 5th Avenue was recently acquired, renovated and managed by Canada-based Palm Holdings. This is the company’s first U.S. property. Ground floor meeting space of 1,000 sq. ft. can accommodate corporate meetings, family reunions and more of up to 50 people. 

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. Nineteen properties have received their official Florida Green Lodging designation to date with the following properties having been awarded the Two Palm designation: the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa, Doubletree Suites by Hilton Naples, Bellasera Hotel, The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, and The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples. The Hilton Naples is the first hotel in the greater Naples/Marco Island area to have achieved the coveted Three Palm designation for its elevated level of environmentally-friendly practices.

The full list of Florida Green Lodgings in the region are: Naples area: Bellasera Hotel; Courtyard by Marriott Naples; Doubletree Suites by Hilton Naples; Fairfield Inn & Suites; GreenLinks Golf Villas at Lely Resort; Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham, Hilton Naples; Inn at Pelican Bay; Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club; Waldorf Astoria Naples; Ramada Inn Naples; SpringHill Suites by Marriott; 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. 

Off-Site Venues & Team Building
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 education, fun and team challenge opportunities.

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. 

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. 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 including trips to a private island.

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, 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 is a world-class tropical garden paradise called “Gardens With Latitude” featuring 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. The garden’s new Visitor Center includes the Fogg Café featuring a menu with fresh local ingredients, many grown right at the garden, and a multipurpose indoor space perfect for events and workshops.

Naples Zoo hosts 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.  New features at the zoo include hand-feeding of the herd of seven giraffe, and viewing rare animals including African honey badgers and fosas from Madagascar. 

Artis—Naples, including a concert hall and The Baker Museum (formerly 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 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

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. These large and elegant yachts offer inside seating in spacious air conditioned cabins as well as decks for enjoying the Gulf breezes. 

About Florida’s Paradise Coast
Whether travelers are looking for a romantic escape, family getaway, or a prime meetings destination, Florida’s Paradise Coast — Naples, Marco Island and the western portion of the Everglades — has an array of options year-round. With more than 30 miles of soft, white sand beaches, thriving arts and culture scene, distinctive dining, attractions, and the best of outdoor adventure, the Paradise Coast is truly a destination with it all. Located just two hours from Miami, four hours from Orlando and three hours from Tampa, the Paradise Coast is easily accessible from some of Florida’s largest cities. Travelers outside of the Sunshine State can fly into Southwest Florida International Airport, which provides nonstop service to 47 destinations on 17 different air carriers.

For more information about Florida’s Paradise Coast, call the visitor information line at 800-688-3600 or visit Find meeting planning assistance, guides and support materials online at or by calling the meeting planner hotline at 1-800-830-1760.

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