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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Fishing for ideas? Think Florida for your meeting

By Vickie Mitchell and Steve Winston

Courtesy Sarasota and Her Islands

Three coastal Florida towns — Daytona Beach, Naples and Sarasota — can add more than sun and sand to a meeting itinerary.

In Daytona, an expansion of the city’s Ocean Center has opened the door to larger conventions and sports competitions. The new center is almost twice the size of the old, with about 200,000 square feet of meeting space. Already, groups that liked the beach community but couldn’t quite fit into its meeting space are booking the center.

Naples is known for its resorts, and a number of them have recently made interesting upgrades. A new pool complex at the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club not only provides more options for free time but adds new venues for cocktail hours or sunset dinners. The Ritz-Carlton Naples has added an entertainment lounge, packed with virtual-reality games. And new companies offering tours in the Everglades and military-inspired team building add to an already long list of after-hours options.

Sarasota continues to draw small groups that are attracted to a trio of downtown hotels within steps of one another and Sarasota Bay. Groups from Baltimore are expected to be drawn to the city, now the winter home of their beloved Baltimore Orioles. New direct flights to Baltimore from Sarasota should help seal the deal.