South Florida Beaches - A Successful Meetings Destination

The city of Miami is singing a collective "bravo!" about its new $461-million Miami's new performing arts Center that opened in October. In Palm Beach County, the long-awaited, exciting news is the recent announcement of a headquarters hotel for the Palm Beach Convention Center. And in Fort Lauderdale, approval for a headquarters hotel for the Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center gains ground. Meanwhile, several signature resort properties have retooled and are open for business. All in all, it's a great time to bring a meeting to Southern Florida. By

Essential Tool Box
Dedicated Convention Facilities: FORT LAUDERDALE Greater Fort Lauderdale / Broward County Convention Center, 199,526 sf of dedicated meeting space.
GREATER MIAMI Miami Convention Center / James L. Knight Center, 28,000 sf of dedicated meeting space; Miami Beach Convention Center, 502,848 sf of dedicated meeting space; Coconut Grove Expo Center, 150,000 sf of dedicated meeting space.
PALM BEACH COUNTY Palm Beach County Convention Center, 350,000 sf total space; Florida Expo Center, 150,000 sf total space.
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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
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*Business Travel News 2006 Corporate Travel Index

The Big News
Miami opened the new $461-million Carnival Center for the Performing Arts in Oct. The 570,000-sf center, which will serve as an anchor for the area's burgeoning arts district, features a 2,200-seat theater and a 2,400-seat opera hall.
GREATER MIAMI The Miami Seaquarium reopened in Feb, following post-Hurricane Wilma renovations.
* In downtown, the Mary Brickell Village, a 5.2-acre multiuse project, debuted recently with an array of new shops and restaurants, including a P.F. Chang's and Blue Martini.
* Slated to debut this month at the 696-unit Doral Golf Resort & Spa is the $25-
million Legends ballroom, a self-contained, 60,000-sf facility that features both indoor and outdoor prefunction space.
* Opening early 2007 is the new 15,000-sf, $11-million spa at the 790-room Loews Miami Beach.
* The 300-room Newport Beachside Hotel & Resort recently debuted a 4,600-sf, oceanview ballroom.
* The 80-suite Regent South Beach, the first new build in SoBe, debuts in Nov, featuring a 750-sf meeting room.
PALM BEACH COUNTY At press time, the Palm Beach County CVB is undergoing scrutiny due to a scandal involving misappropriation of funds.
* 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 reopens this month following a $60-million redesign. A 28,000-sf spa opens next year.

Groups Should Consider these recommendations from the Successful Meetings Home Team experts. Top choices include the 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 Ann Friess; Eli Gorin; Marilyn Rocks; and Sharon Wall. Contact them at [email protected]

Nothing Like The Classics
With the steady arrival in the past few years of new, high-end hotels and resorts in South Florida, rest assured that the Old Florida classic properties do not sit on their laurels.

In recent years, resorts like The Breakers in Palm Beach, Boca Raton Resort & Club in Boca Raton, and The Biltmore in Coral Gables have all embarked on aggressive refurbishment, renovation, and expansion programs. The Breakers has invested more than $250 million since 1990 and recently completed a $15-million redevelopment of its five-acre beachfront. The Boca Raton Resort & Club recently completed a multimillion-dollar upgrade of its 26,000-sf Great Hall. The Biltmore opened a 12,000-sf spa last year and has expanded its meeting facilities in recent years to 76,000 sf.

On Miami Beach, two venerable meeting and incentive properties, the Eden Roc and Fontainebleau resorts, are looking to the future. Built in 1956, the Eden Roc has undergone a property-wide restoration described by hotel officials as "a contemporary interpretation" of architect Morris Lapidus' original design. Down the sands, another Lapidus creation, the 51-year-old Fontainebleau, closed in early 2006 for a $500-million renovation and expansion project set for completion mid-2008. All of the meeting and conference space is being totally remodeled, and following the completion of a 37-story all-suite tower, 1,504 rooms and suites will be available to groups as well as 107,000 sf of meeting space, 40,000 sf of prefunction space and 50,000 sf of outdoor function space.

Aventura's Fairmont Turnberry Isle reopens this month following a $100-million renovation that includes all 392 guest units, both 18-hole golf courses, the 40,000-sf conference center, and other amenities. And in the Fort Lauderdale area, the Bonaventure Resort and Spa, first built in '80s, emerged in September from a $100-million renovation with 504 guest rooms, the first-ever Elizabeth Arden Lifestyle Spa, and a Hyatt flag. -ES

Sports-Centric Palm Beach
Mention Palm Beach and the first sport that comes to mind for many is polo. Palm Beach County is the national winter capital of polo. Top international teams from 30 countries converge every year for the winter polo season in Palm Beach County, attracting royalty and celebrities who join in the festivities of the sporting events. In addition, one of the leading equestrian sporting events in the world, the Winter Equestrian Festival, is staged from mid-January to mid-March in Wellington. The competition includes dressage, jumping, hunter, and equitation, with more than 4,000 horses and 6,000 participants.

For golf enthusiasts and companies seeking to design incentive programs around the white dimpled ball, the region hosts the PGA Tour's Honda Classic in March at Mirasol and the LPGA's season-ending ADT Championship in November at Trump International Golf Club.

Palm Beach is also recognized as the U.S. capital for the game of croquet. The National Croquet Center, a 10-acre venue featuring a 19,000-square-foot clubhouse, 12 full-sized courts, and the world's largest dedicated croquet lawn, hosts major events such as the recent MacRobertson Shield World Series, where the United States, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand competed for the world title. Guests to the center can participate in croquet lawn parties, receive basic instruction, or join in tournament competition.

Another participant sport widely popular in Palm Beach County is tennis. There are more than 1,100 private and public tennis courts in the region and exclusive tennis programs and facilities at all major resorts and hotels. The 8,200-seat Delray Beach Tennis Center, which has hosted the Davis Cup competition, will be the site of the ATP International Tennis Championships from January 29, 2007 to February 4, 2007. -ES

10 Great Places for Group Meals in South Florida
The restaurants below have group facilities and were selected from the Zagat Survey of the South 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
Pierre's, Islamorada, Eclectic / Int'l
Antonia's, Key West, Italian
Michaels, Key West, American (Traditional)
Eduardo de San Angel, Fort Lauderdale, Eclectic / Int'l
Pisces, Key West, American
Josef's, Plantation, Italian (Northern)
For more information on these and other restaurants in the South Florida area, please click on

Readers Recommend
Our subscribers gave Pinnacle Awards to the following:

Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB
Palm Beach County CVB
Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay
Boca Raton Resort & Club
Marco Island Ocean Resort
Marco Island Marriott, Golf Club & Spa
Sonesta Beach Key Biscayne
Naples Grande Resort & Club
Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club
Ritz-Carlton South Beach
Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa
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