Where is Hollywood, Fla.?
Between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, the seaside town of 140,000 is Florida’s 10th-largest city. It’s been named an All-America City by the National Civic League and one of the “100 Best Communities for Young People.” Home to Port Everglades, one of the busiest ports in the country, Hollywood is a departure point for 50 cruise ships.
How do we get there?
The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is less than 10 miles from Hollywood Beach; it offers 300 daily departures to some 100 destinations. Miami International is 25 miles south. Interstate 95 is a few miles to the west. In town, visitors can use the Hollywood Trolley to get around downtown and the beach from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday; there are more than a dozen spots to hop on and hop off, and trips costs $1.
What types of meetings best suit Hollywood?
The city is versatile, with more than 5,000 hotel rooms. For meetings on the large side, there is the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa. For those on the small side, there are a number of beachfront inns that are members of Superior Small Lodgings and boutique hotels like the Marriott Hollywood Beach.
• A performing-arts pavilion that opened this month at the ArtsPark at Young Circle will be available for private bookings. The amphitheater and the lawn can seat up to 2,000.
• Hollywood will be home to the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, a Jimmy Buffet-inspired property expected to open in 2014. Leases have been signed for a six-acre city-owned site on Hollywood Beach to accommodate a 349-room resort with 23,000 square feet of meeting space, a 15,500-square-foot spa, restaurants and retail shops, pools, outdoor bars and events lawns. On the intracoastal side will be a dock where guests can take ecotours, rent kayaks and canoes or take sightseeing, fishing, and dive boat excursions.
Tell me about the main meeting hotels.
One of Hollywood’s newest hotels is also its largest, the 1,000-room Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa. It has 209,000 square feet of meeting space. The area’s other sizable property is the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, with 500 guest rooms and 36,000 square feet of meeting space.
Other convention hotels include the 311-room Crowne Plaza Hollywood Beach Resort, with 10,000 square feet of meeting space; the 229-room Hollywood Beach Marriott, with 6,600 square feet of meeting space; and the 150-room Holiday Inn Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Airport, with a 2,100-square-foot ballroom.
Tell me about some off-site venues.
• A 6,000-square-foot hall in the Anne Kolb Nature Center in a community park is a relaxed setting for meetings or celebrations; a 250-seat outdoor amphitheater is an option for lectures.
• At the 10-acre Artspark at Young Circle, an enclosed art pavilion, where local artists are often at work, gives cocktail parties a cultural twist.
• All you need is a permit to have a barbecue or a volleyball competition along Hollywood’s oceanfront Broadwalk, called America’s best beach boardwalk last year by Travel and Leisure.
How can I spend my free time?
• Nighttime is the right time to explore the outdoors on full-moon kayaking trips and sea turtle excursions.
• Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki means “to learn” in Seminole, and that’s exactly what you’ll do at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Museum on the Seminole Reservation. In addition to historical films, rare artifacts and educational tours, there’s a living village with arts and crafts.
• Downtown Hollywood knows how to celebrate food and music with monthly Artwalks and live music most evenings at outdoor cafes and the ArtsPark. Downtown’s brick-lined streets are fronted by boutiques, art galleries and Zagat-rated restaurants.
Where should we dine to get a true taste of Hollywood?
Sitting seaside adds to any meal, and Hollywood doesn’t shortchange in the waterfront dining department. The nightly yacht parade along the Intracoastal Waterway adds relish to seafood specialties at Billy’s Stone Crab, where a private dockside dining area seats 40.
At Sugar Reef, the tropics meet France in a bistro on the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk. GG’s Waterfront Bar and Grill, a Rat Pack hangout in the 1950s and 1960s, is remodeled and updated, with a menu that encompasses all the expected standards, from surf and turf and lamb chops to twin lobsters and Florida red snapper.
Sage Oyster Bar and LaPiazza Pasta Cafe hold down prominent street corners. Sage is a French bistro known for its fresh fish and award-winning chef; LaPiazza is a restaurant/bar with a lively look, from the twinkling lights on its sidewalk patio to the leopard prints in its lounge. Northern Italian is its niche. The restaurant’s wine room is popular for private dinners of up to 25.
The menu changes with the season, and every element of every dish is prepared in house at Lola’s on Harrison in downtown Hollywood.