05 November 2018
FLORIDA KEYS – Meetings in America’s Caribbean – with authentic indigenous experiences, healthy cuisine and relaxed itineraries – provide a rich 125-mile-long island chain backdrop for trends with meetings of all types. The Florida Keys’ eco-attractions, offshore fishing and a legacy of fascinating history provide engaging, interactive experiences.
 
In Key Largo, Ocean Reef Club’s partnership with the Coral Restoration Foundation allows groups “to contribute by taking either a snorkeling or SCUBA diving trip to a coral nursery and helping to plant coral on the reef,” said Michelle Simpson, director of sales. “These teambuilding events allow groups to be a part of this nonprofit conservation organization while putting life back into the ocean.” oceanreef.com.
 
Key Largo’s Playa Largo Resort & Spa is targeting travel groups, executive board meetings and retreats, “because of our resort’s location and the caliber of service we offer,” said Kelsey Pfleiderer, catering and sales manager. playalargoresort.com.
 
Planners booking Islamorada Resort Co.’s four properties -- Amara Cay Resort, La Siesta, Pelican Cove and Postcard Inn in Islamorada -- strive to create memories.
 
“No more of the cookie-cutter classroom-style meetings. Planners want specialty menus, customized meeting packages, intimate dining, things that can make their attendees’ experiences memorable,” said Mark Calibo, area director of sales. islamoradaresortcollection.com.
 
At Islander Resort, A Guy Harvey Outpost, “we see a lot of smaller groups. They do a combined trip of a meeting and incentive activities,” said Karly Campbell, director of sales. islanderfloridakeys.com.
 
At nearby Cheeca Lodge, dining requests include current foodie trends of Asian noodle bowls and poke dishes. Teambuilding activities with wine, beer, rum and liquor tastings are included in activities such as paint-and-sip classes or museum nights with a local artist.
 
“Creating these types of experiences allows us the opportunity to make a meeting or event truly destination-specific, and infuse some authentic Islamorada and Florida Keys flavor,” said Rhonda Whitfield, Cheeca’s director of sales and marketing. cheeca.com.
 
Marathon’s Faro Blanco Resort and Yacht Club, a Hyatt Place Resort known for its signature landmark lighthouse built in the 1950s, offers yacht excursions. “You can choose a private charter boat to host a board meeting on the beautiful waters of the Florida Keys,” said Ashley Keeney, area director of sales and marketing. faroblancoresort.com.
 
Marriott Key West Beachside offers about 10,000 square feet of meeting space with a 5,675-square-foot ballroom on the 2-by-4-mile island of Key West.
 
“Having the largest ballroom in Key West, we enjoy good demand year-round,” said Alan Beaubien, Beachside’s director of sales and marketing. beachsidekeywest.com.
 
At Casa Marina, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, with 22,600 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, groups are “quickly immersed in the Key West lifestyle with teambuilding and breakout activities from sand sculpting workshops to sunset cruises and snorkel tours,” said Andrew Rosuck, director of sales and marketing. casamarinaresort.com or reachresort.com.
 
The Margaritaville Resort & Marina can stage receptions for groups up to 80 in its Paradise Cottage at Sunset Key Cottages on a private island just 500 yards offshore, accessible via an eight-minute boat ride.
 
Indigenous culinary offerings a whole fish grouper taco carving station.
 
“The whole island is a unique experience for active guests seeking relaxation or for a welcome reception,” said Jackie Herbst, Margaritaville’s director of group sales.
 
Margaritaville features 6,000 square feet of meeting space. margaritavillekeywestresort.com.
 
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Florida Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS
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11/18

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