Florida is known for its beautiful sunny days, crystal-clear water, sandy beaches, lazy rivers and swamps, wildlife viewing and theme parks. That is also what makes Florida a popular destination for meetings and conferences. From golfing and boating to swimming with the manatees, these Florida resorts will have attendees excited to come to your next meeting.
Plantation on Crystal River
Surrounded by natural beauty, including seven rivers, Plantation on Crystal River has enough attractions on-site to keep visitors happy, including a vintage 27-hole golf course that was built in 1962 and is shorter and more rugged than today’s championship courses. There’s also a spa and a full-service marina where people can rent kayaks, pontoon boats or paddleboards to observe the abundant wildlife plying the Crystal River. The estuary is full of manatees, and many groups enjoy being with the gentle giants; visitors can swim near them but are encouraged to keep a respectful distance. Groups can also go on a scalloping mission.
An on-site adventure center helps meeting planners organize boat excursions for fishing, diving and snorkeling. And because the resort is right on the Kings Bay Estuary on the Crystal River, groups can explore more than 40 named springs in the area. The resort property has an activities lawn complete with horseshoes, shuffleboard courts and croquet. Groups can also challenge themselves to a match with the property’s giant checkers and chess sets.
The resort has 196 guest rooms and 12,000 square feet of indoor meeting spaces, including three ballrooms. The Magnolia Ballroom is the largest, with 3,000 square feet. It can host 225 people for banquets or 300 for receptions or theater-style. The Sable Ballroom has 2,776 square feet and can host banquets of 200 people, and the Palm Room has 2,304 square feet. Any of the ballrooms can be split into smaller spaces, and outdoor venue options abound.
By the Sea Resorts
Panama City Beach
In Panama City Beach, By the Sea Resorts is an enclave of 11 resort hotels and two retreat centers — all but three of which sit on the white sand beach — as well as five restaurants. Meeting planners looking for a plethora of indoor and outdoor meeting venues plus lodging to fit any budget will find that at By the Sea Resorts.
The resort works with visiting groups to offer hotel combinations, meeting spaces and discounts to some of the area’s best attractions, such as SeaWorld Orlando and WonderWorks. Groups can host an outdoor reception at The Green at Beachcomber, which has 33,000 square feet of beachfront lawn, or a conference at Travelodge by Wyndham Sports and Events Complex, with 25,000 square feet of event space. It includes a banquet facility that can host 300 people and a 4,700-square-foot auditorium with a built-in stage and several breakout rooms.
The beachfront Travelodge is the largest hotel in the resort community, accommodating up to 1,000 people in both lodge and dorm facilities. It has two outdoor pools, basketball and volleyball courts and a coffee shop. The facility is close to shopping, dining and entertainment at Pier Park mall, dolphin and sea lion shows at Gulf World Marine Park and sporting events at Frank Brown Park.
The Radisson Panama City Beach-Oceanfront has 139 guest rooms and a small meeting room that can accommodate 40 people theater style. It offers a more intimate setting and easy access to the white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. Attendees can head to St. Andrews State Park, take a dolphin-watching tour or visit the undeveloped shoreline of Shell Island in their free time.
Reunion Resort and Golf Club
At the headwaters of the Everglades, Kissimmee ticks all the boxes for meeting planners. It is minutes from Orlando’s theme parks and attractions but is also a premier outdoor destination. Meeting planners that book the Reunion Resort and Golf Club can choose from vacation homes, condos or more traditional lodge rooms. The 2,500-acre property has 275 vacation rentals and 270 lodge rooms.
With 25,000 square feet of meeting and event space, Reunion can comfortably host groups of 300 people. Eleven, a rooftop restaurant on the 11th floor of Grande Tower, has 6,400 square feet of rentable space with a pool, a deck, a fireplace and stunning views. The facility offers an excellent vantage point to watch Walt Disney World’s nightly fireworks show while sipping cordials and cocktails or eating dessert and can hold up to 130 guests.
The 8,160-square-foot Grande Ballroom can be split into five breakout rooms, and meeting planners have access to an on-site registration office to help them seamlessly run their event. The Heritage Ballroom provides over 4,000 square feet and can host groups of up to 460. Groups can also put up a tent and host events for up to 350 people on the Grand Falls Lawn behind Grande Tower, overlooking the driving range and the stone waterfall fountain. The waterfall can be branded with the meeting group’s logo. Smaller spaces are also available.
For free time, the resort has a water park with a waterslide and a lazy river, five swimming pools, an on-site spa, three championship golf courses and a tennis center with pickleball courts. There’s also a dedicated course for footgolf, which is played like golf but with soccer balls that participants kick into the holes instead of using clubs, as well as a miniature golf course.
Omni Amelia Island Resort
Amelia Island is on the northeast coast of Florida, about a 35-minute drive from the Jacksonville airport. The Omni Amelia Island Resort sits on 1,300 acres and is part of a private community on the south end of the small barrier island, which more closely resembles Charleston or Savannah, with large oak trees and hanging Spanish moss, than a typical Florida vacation spot. The resort has 402 oceanfront guest rooms and more than 300 one-, two-, and three-bedroom villas.
The Omni has 80,000 square feet of meeting space, including some unique outdoor locations. The resort has two large ballrooms and several smaller breakout rooms in the main conference center, which is connected to the hotel by a breezeway. There is a smaller ballroom in the hotel building and four additional meeting rooms in the Racquet Park Conference Center, where the tennis center is located. Groups can host events on Magnolia Terrace and Garden, which is outside the conference center, or hold a reception on the lawn next to the greenhouse at the Sprouting Project. The project includes an organic garden; an apiary with 2.5 million bees that produce 5,000 pounds of honey; chicken coops; and the barrel room, where the chefs age honey, ferment hot sauce and infuse specialty vinegars.
Oak Marsh, an 18-hole golf course, is a great place to blow off steam, and another 10-hole course is set to open in October. The in-house recreation department works with groups to plan team-building activities, like local service projects and scavenger hunts. The resort also has a tennis center with 23 tennis courts, a full health and fitness center with an indoor lap pool, and a spa.
Southernmost Beach Resort
The Southernmost Beach Resort sits on one end of Duval Street, Key West’s famous main drag with restaurants, the world-famous bar Sloppy Joe’s and kitschy museums like Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium. And even though it is close to the most happening areas of this trendy vacation spot, the resort is just far enough away to embrace the natural tranquility of the Keys.
The resort caters to groups of 25 to 200 people. Its 262 guest rooms are spread throughout the six-acre resort property, which has four bars and four meeting spaces. Two meeting rooms are under 1,000 square feet and can hold groups of up to 40 people each. The resort’s 2,488-square-foot poolside space gives any cocktail reception or awards ceremony a tropical feel with its lush vegetation and six-foot-high privacy walls. The space can hold 50 guests, and catering is provided by the Southernmost Beach Café.
Beachside, meeting planners can hold events for up to 200 guests with catered meals that include round tables, white padded folding chairs, linens, votive candle centerpieces, the group’s choice of a plated meal and coffee service.
The property has three pools, two beaches and a tanning pier that extends out into the ocean. Key West’s beaches are rocky and thick with seaweed; the pier allows guests to walk out past the rocky shore and straight into the crystal-clear waters. Near the tanning pier, guests can escape the heat at the Sand Bar Pavilion and private beach. In their free time, groups can participate in yoga sessions or wine and beer tastings. There’s also live music every week Tuesday through Sunday.
The resort relies on local companies like Fury Water Adventures to help keep attendees entertained with sunset cruises, jet ski tours, fishing, diving, dolphin watching, snorkeling, glass-bottom boat rides and ecotours.