Outlook: Sunny and Bright
Fort Lauderdale, Miami, The Palm Beaches and the Florida Keys are growing meeting destinations
By JT Long
Tourists and groups are breaking records for flocking to South Florida, a destination consistently rated as one of the most popular in the country for its fabulous weather, unique, luxury venues and proximity to the East Coast. From expanding convention centers in Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale to a push for a second headquarter-hotel in The Palm Beaches Convention Center district and new and renovated resorts in The Florida Keys, there is always something fresh to discover.
Local Expert Tips: “South Beach is crushing it by all measures, but in addition to being the greatest leisure destinations, our goal is to have the number one convention center partly because of what happens beyond those four walls.” –David Whitaker, president and CEO, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau
“Leverage the intellectual capital around sustainability, wellness and diversity via a Discover The Palm Beaches program called Destination Champions.” –Kelly Cavers, Chief Sales Officer, Discover The Palm Beaches
5 Reasons Meeting Profs Love South Florida
Green Resources: Planning a sustainable event in a destination focused on maintaining its stunning scenery and wildlife is as easy as asking. The entire City of Miami achieved LEED Gold certification partly due to its abundance of green spaces and has pledged carbon neutrality by 2050. In The Palm Beaches, 4ocean works with volunteers to remove trash from beaches, open waters and reefs. That same CSR approach enhances meetings on the beach at recently remodeled Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa in Manalapan.
Holistic Wellness: The city of Boca Raton is the headquarters for Orangetheory Fitness, the reigning champ of HIIT workouts. Founder Ellen Latham is a powerful keynote speaker. Miami Beach County Convention Center led the way with enhanced health and safety upgrades such as EPA-registered disinfectants, touch-free surfaces in bathrooms and a high-efficiency air purification and filtration system. A $620-million makeover and expansion unveiled a 60,000-square-foot ballroom along with an 800-room Hyatt headquarters hotel still to come. MBCCC is actually a cultural campus with a botanical garden and museums 3 blocks from the ocean.
A World of Edible Culture: From authentic Cuban food in Miami’s Little Havana and upscale sushi at Nobu Miami in Eden Roc Miami Beach Resort to an underwater mermaid (and merman) tiki-themed dining experience in Fort Lauderdale and conch fritters at Playa Largo Resort & Spa, An Autograph Collection, Florida is awash in memorable meals.
The Art of Meeting: Miami’s fresh Wynwood Arts District accessible from Kimpton Epic Miami is known for its colorful murals and artistic graffiti at Wynwood Walls, an open-air museum of sorts. Trump National Doral Miami makes meeting an art with four championship golf courses, Har-Tru tennis courts, a Royal Palm Pool and stately surroundings. Key West Film Festival at the historic Tropic Cinema is an invitation to celebrate the islands on the big screen.
Water Ways: From airboat races in the Everglades to yacht receptions in Miami, just add abundant water for team building that is a breeze. Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach (a Rentyl Resorts property) is the easy way to arrange post-meeting access to deep sea fishing at nearby North Beach. The Florida Keys is home to the United States only living coral barrier reef, making it an ideal scuba diving destination. From pristine, shallow coral reefs to epic wreck dives, the Keys offers something for every level of diver.
5 Fantastic Places to Meet
Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center
A $1.3 billion expansion will nearly double the size of the previous exhibit hall to a total of 1.2 million sq. ft. by the end of 2025. Access to a water taxi, outdoor dining and 800-room headquarter Omni Fort Lauderdale Hotel add to the beachfront resort vibe.
New 65,000-square-foot ballroom facing The Intracoastal waterway; total of 350,000 sq. ft. exhibit space when completed
Renovations to the 37-floor, all-suite Tresor Tower play up the glamour of the past while looking forward to a sunny future. Art throughout the suites have been updated to include vibrant new pieces reminiscent of the James Turrell pieces in the hotel’s expansive lobby.
110,000 sq. ft. of meetings space; 1,504 guest rooms
Trump International Beach Resort
Designed for health-conscious travelers, this Sunny Isles Beach resort includes in-suite kitchens, laundry facilities and outdoor areas for dining and playing. Luxury starts in the newly renovated lobby and continues in destination spa and ocean-view meeting spaces.
20,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; 360 guest rooms
The Diplomat Beach Resort Hollywood, Curio Collection by Hilton
The largest hotel convention space in south Florida includes the most expansive ballroom south of Orlando. Ask about group beach events and branding opportunities at this oceanfront classic venue.
209,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; 1,000 guest rooms
This legendary Biscayne Bayfront property is built around Henry Moore’s Spindle sculpture, marking the arrival to Magic City. Guests will feel they have arrived, especially after a luxury reimagining for guest rooms and suites rolls out this year.
101,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; 653 guest rooms
This article appears in the March 2023 issue. You can subscribe to the magazine here.