East Florida Coast

Even as new properties debut and Proven names reinvent themselves up and down Florida's east coast, even more ambitious programs are in the offing. Watch for a green light on Fort Lauderdale's convention hotel project, and get ready to hit the greens and then the showers at several new spas. But while Florida's mantra appears to be development, redevelopment, and more development, there's more than a little wilderness left.

ESSENTIAL TOOLBOX
Convention Facilities:
JACKSONVILLE Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center, 78,500 sf of dedicated meeting space, with 22 meeting rooms accommodating 5,600 theater-style.
DAYTONA BEACH Ocean Center Convention & Entertainment Complex, 60,000 sf of dedicated meeting space, with 18 meeting rooms accommodating 10,000 theater-style.
FORT LAUDERDALE Greater Fort Lauderdale / Broward County Convention Center, 199,526 sf of dedicated meeting space, with 32 meeting rooms accommodating 6,000 theater-style.
GREATER MIAMI Miami Convention Center / James L. Knight Center, 28,000 sf of dedicated meeting space, with 37 meeting rooms accommodating 5,000 theater-style; Miami Beach Convention Center, 502,848 sf of dedicated meeting space, with 82 meeting rooms accommodating 13,300 theater-style; Coconut Grove Expo Center, 150,000 sf of dedicated meeting space, with 5 meeting rooms accommodating 5,400 theater-style.
PALM BEACH COUNTY Palm Beach County Convention Center, 350,000 sf total space with 23 meeting rooms; Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, with 2,200-seat concert hall, 300-seat theater, and 1,000-seat outdoor amphitheater; Cohen Pavilion, with 10,440-sf ballroom and 5,000-sf rehearsal hall; and South Florida Expo Center, 150,000 sf of total space.
For complete listings, visit Facility Quick Search at www.mimegasite.com
Average Daily Business Travel Costs*:
Fort Lauderdale: Hotel $195.36 F&B $84.80 Car Rental $89.96
Miami: Hotel $219.35 F&B $80.57 Car Rental $79.38
For More Info:
Amelia Island TDC www.ameliaisland.org
Daytona Beach Area CVB www.daytonabeachcvb.org Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB www.sunny.org
Greater Miami CVB www.miamiandbeaches.com
Palm Beach County CVB www.palmbeachfl.com Jacksonville & The Beaches CVB www.visitjacksonville.com
CVB Melbourne, Palm Bay Area www.melpb-chamber.org
*Source: Business Travel News 2006 Corporate Travel Index

The Big News
At presstime, Fort Lauderdale CVB officials are preparing to present a plan for a 700- to 800-room convention center headquarters hotel to the Broward County Commission. "The consultant study [from Convention Sports & Leisure International of Wayzata, MN] essentially supported what we thought to be the case," says Dennis Edwards, VP and director of marketing for the Fort Lauderdale CVB. A convention center hotel has been in the planning stages for years, since the convention center, which offers 200,000 sf of exhibit space and 115,000 sf of meeting space, does not have enough committable rooms near it to support the growing size of the conventions and trade shows that are booking the facility. "We have about 2,500 upscale guest rooms within a couple of miles of the convention center, but in the immediate vicinity of the convention center, we are talking about 1,000 or so committable hotel rooms right now, and that's a limiting factor," says Edwards. Mona S. Meretsky, CSEP, president of area-based COMCOR Event and Meeting Production Inc., and a longtime member of the South Florida Chapter of Meeting Professionals International, agrees that an on-site headquarters hotel would give Broward County a chance to reach a higher echelon. "We have had some great hotel growth in the beachfront area, so a new convention hotel would make a great addition," she says.

One hurdle to constructing the hotel is the fact that the convention center property is adjacent to the Port Everglades cruise port, and is part of the port's security perimeter-giving the convention center security requirements just like an airport's. But, says Edwards, "Plans have been made to carve out a separate perimeter that would include a new fence between the convention center and the cruise port, so access to the convention center would not require passing through a security checkpoint." He adds, "We are optimistic that we could be going out to hotel developers with a request for proposals this spring."-Rowland Stiteler Facilities Update FORT LAUDERDALE The 373-unit Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort opened last month, featuring the 22,700-sf Sunrise Terrace, with a pool and private cabanas, four dining options, a European spa, 10,000 sf of meeting space, and children's programs.
* The 637-room Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa recently completed renovations on all guest rooms and suites.
* The 496-room Hyatt Regency Bonaventure Conference Center & Spa recently completed a $100-million renovation, adding the first 48,000-sf Red Door Lifestyle Spa. The venue offers more than 60,000 sf of meeting space. GREATER MIAMI The opened the new $461-million Carnival Center for the Performing Arts in Oct. The 570,000-sf center is an anchor for the area's burgeoning arts district, and features a 2,200-seat theater and a 2,400-seat opera hall.
* Last month, the $25-million Legends ballroom, a self-contained, 60,000-sf facility, opened at the 696-unit Doral Golf Resort & Spa. Up to 2,000 guests can be accommodated in the 24,000-sf ballroom and 36,000 sf of indoor and outdoor pre-function space.
* The 210-room Le Meridien Sunny Isles Beach recently debuted the 925-sf Ocean Room Terrace.
* The 56-suite Marquis Hotel & Spa, part of a hotel condo development, broke ground in Nov 2006; completion is expected in Feb 2009.
* The historic 157-room Colonnade Coral Gables, featuring 23,000 sf of meeting space, reopened as a Westin following a $9.5-million renovation. Miami Beach Construction continues on the 124-room Regent Bal Harbour, which is scheduled to open in late spring. The hotel will include 3,700 sf of conference and banquet space that can accommodate groups of 15 to 110 people.
* The Fontainebleau (currently 462 guest rooms) is in the midst of a tower expansion that, when it is completed in 2008, will boast 58 state-of-the-art meeting rooms, totaling 107,000 sf, in an all-suite hotel.
* The 790-room Loews Miami Beach Hotel opened an Elemis Spa last month. The new 18,000-sf facility augments the hotel's offerings, which already feature several restaurants and 65,000 sf of flexible meeting space that can accommodate up to 3,000.
* The 300-room Newport Beachside Hotel & Resort recently debuted a 4,600-sf, oceanview ballroom. South Beach The 80-suite Regent South Beach, the first new build in SoBe, opened in Nov.
* The 45-room Tides will open in May.
PALM BEACH COUNTY The 339-room PGA National Resort & Spa recently completed a guest room refurbishment that included upgrading all soft goods, light fixtures, and bathroom amenities.
* The 310-room Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach reopened in Dec following a $60-million redesign. 8 Earlier in 2006, the 560-room Breakers completed a $15-million renovation of its five acre beachfront. Daytona Beach The $76-million expansion of the Ocean Center Convention and Entertainment Complex, scheduled to be complete in 2008, is under way. The expansion will add 100,000 sf of exhibit space and 30,000 sf of new meeting space, as well as a refurbishment of existing space and exterior facade.

Groups Should Consider
Groups should consider these recommendations from the Successful Meetings Home Team experts. Top choices include the 424-room Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, 998-room Westin Diplomat, the 327-room Mandarin-Oriental Miami, the 221-room Four Seasons Miami, the 637-room Harbor Island Marriott, the 204-room Lago Mar, the 560-room Breakers, the 210-room Four Seasons Palm Beach, and the 89-room Brazilian Court.

Contributors to this section include Home Team members Michelle DeClerck, CMP; Ann Friess; Eli Gorin; Kim Hester; Marilyn Rocks; and Sharon Wall. Contact them at [email protected]

Golf North and South
As world headquarters for the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour, and home to the World Golf Village and World Golf Hall of Fame, the east coast of Florida offers a dynamic golf scene that is constantly evolving and improving. Up north, the 670-unit Amelia Island Plantation resort recently added the Royal Amelia Golf Club to its course lineup, and now offers 72 holes of golf for guests. A Tom Jackson design, the Royal Amelia weaves through a forest of live oaks, Sabal palms, and pines. The famed TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course at the 508-unit Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Spa reopened in Nov following renovations overseen by Pete Dye, who designed and built the course 25 years ago. The new 80,000-sf clubhouse is slated for early 2007 completion in time for The Players Championship, a PGA Tour event often referred to as the "Fifth Major", which moves from its traditional March time frame to its new dates, May 7-13.
Opened late last year, the Tom Watson-designed Conservatory at Hammock Beach course in Palm Coast features 7,776 yards of golf from Florida's longest tees at a par-72 course.

Highlighting the course are waterfalls, winding creeks, dramatic elevation changes, and 140 bunkers made of coquina shell and white sand. The inaugural Ginn Championship, a new Champions Tour event with a $2.5-million purse, is scheduled for Mar 26-Apr 1, on the new Conservatory layout. As part of a massive, comprehensive, all-property $100-million transformation, the 392-room Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort & Club in Aventura has created a new South golf course. Completely redesigned by Raymond Floyd, the new version features a variety of elevation changes, a spectacular waterfall at the first holes, and exotic landscaping, with more than $100,000 spent on flowers and foliage for each hole. A new pro shop and redesigned men's and ladies' locker rooms also debuted recently. The resort's improved and enhanced North Course and the driving range will open this month.

Elsewhere in Miami-Dade County, the 693-room Doral Golf Resort & Spa (among Golf Digest's "75 Best Golf Resorts in North America" for 2006) will host the prestigious World Golf Championships-CA Mar 22-25. The 205-room Don Shula's Hotel & Golf Club in Miami Lakes recently spent a half-million dollars renovating its Senator Course, and opened its new Aveda Spa this summer. In Palm Beach County, the North Palm Beach Country Club municipal public access course recently completed an extensive makeover by local resident Jack Nicklaus that transformed it into a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. The PGA National Golf Resort & Spa hosts the PGA Tour's Honda Classic Mar 1-4, and the Old Course at Broken Sound in Boca Raton hosts the Champion's Tour Allianz Championship Feb 9-11.-Ed Schmidt Jr. The West Palm Beach Story In recent years, massive redevelopment in West Palm Beach has produced a $600-million entertainment/ shopping/ residential showplace called CityPlace and an $84-million, 19-acre, 350,000-sf convention center with banquet facilities for 2,500. Across the street from the convention center, construction is beginning on a $300-million hotel/condo complex. And within walking distance, the Norton Museum recently completed a $20-million-plus addition, making the art museum Florida's largest, and establishing West Palm Beach as a major cultural center. The impetus for West Palm Beach's renewal came in 1992, when the $68-million glass-and-steel Kravis Center for the Performing Arts opened in what had been a neglected neighborhood near the heavily trafficked intersection of Interstate 95 and Okeechobee Road. Named after the late Palm Beach philanthropist Raymond F. Kravis, the center brought an impressive lineup of Tony-award-winning Broadway road shows, celebrity entertainers, and internationally acclaimed performing artists. A $31-million addition to the three-stage showplace for young performers and artists was completed three years ago.

On Clematis Street-a five-block, palm-tree-lined section of trendy outdoor cafes, jazz and rock joints, art galleries, and an intimate modern theater featuring off-Broadway-type shows. Nearby, Donald Trump has built a 241-acre, $30-million golf course in the city adjacent to the Palm Beach International Airport. A free, 10-minute ride in an open-air, vintage-style trolley on wheels connects CityPlace to Clematis Street. On almost any day you'll see young, pedal-pushing entrepreneurs taking tourists around town in pedicabs. -Si Liberman

On Site: Jacksonville
From Pharaohs to iPods
Jacksonville's tree-shaded neighborhoods are some of the prettiest in Florida. In the early 1900s monied northerners settled there and donated art as well as a museums to display it. When visiting Jacksonville recently, I went to one of my favorite small museums, the Cummer Museum of Art, to see "Temples & Tombs: Treasures of Egyptian Art" from The British Museum (through March 18). The exhibit showed how incredibly long and well objects can last in a desert-4,000 years, and you can still read the expression on the face of a sandstone pharaoh, still see the red grid that helped a sculptor size figures correctly. It's all due to climate and geography.

The St. Johns River enters Jacksonville's downtown and makes a lazy turn toward the east. The lights of the bridges reflect aqua and purple. On the river's edge are popular restaurants. Scan the menu items and realize local fishing ships netted the shrimp for the gumbo; Florida ranchers grew the key limes for pies. Right on the river two miles from the museum, the 966-room Hyatt Regency Jacksonville takes full advantage of its ideal location. There is a full wall of windows in the pre-convene area outside the 28,000-sf Grand Ballroom. Several meeting rooms open to 15,000 sf of outdoor space overlooking the water. One block west is the group-friendly Jacksonville Landing, with dining, entertainment, and nightclubs like the Twisted Martini. And two blocks north is the Florida Theater, where Elvis once did a concert,and where you can do a special event.

The Hyatt completed a $15-million renovation in Oct, including lobby, restaurants, and health club. It's elegant and chic; guest rooms have the Hyatt Grand Bed, with pillowtop mattress, iPod docking stations, and a chocolate and bronze color scheme. The hotel has more meeting space (110,000 sf) than the convention center. And on its rooftop, taking advantage of climate and geography, a turquoise pool sparkles. -Julie Barker

Great Places for Group Meals in East Florida
The restaurants below have group facilities and were selected from the Zagat Survey of the East Florida area. The order was determined by Zagat's food and service ratings of 25 and above and a price of up to $65 per person (without alcohol):
Name, Location, Type of Food
La Brochette Bistro, Cooper City, Mediterranean
11 Maple Street, Jensen Beach, American
Cafe Maxx, Pompano Beach, American
Chef Allen's, Aventura, New World
Cafe Chardonnay, Palm Beach Gardens, New American North One 10, Biscayne Shores, Italian
Siam Palace, South Miami, Thai
Eduardo de San Angel, Ft. Lauderdale, Eclectic / Int'l Mark's on South Beach, South Beach, New American Josef's, Plantation, Italian (Northern)
For more information on these and other restaurants in the East Florida area, please click on www.zagat.com

Readers Recommend
Our subscribers gave Pinnacle Awards to the following:
Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB
Palm Beach County CVB
Amelia Island Plantation
Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay
Boca Raton Resort & Club
Sonesta Beach Key Biscayne
Ritz-Carlton, South Beach
Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa
For complete listings, visit Quick Facility Search at www.mimegasite.com