Unique meetings in the Florida Keys


Unique meetings in the Florida Keys

Monday, 14 Oct, 2023 0

The 125-mile-long Florida Keys & Key West island chain is much more than just leisurely vacations.

It’s your key to doing business or team bonding in style with a subtropical island vibe.

“Resorts throughout the Keys, many providing relaxing and scenic waterfront views, have enhanced their offerings with villas and new facilities for groups,” said Jack Meier, group sales manager for the Keys’ Monroe County Tourist Development Council.

Nonprofit organizations dedicated to environmental conservation and sustainability and historic preservation also offer unique only-in-the Keys venues for small groups.

The Keys are an ideal island destination for meetings, typically of 15 to 100 attendees — providing opportunities to extend mid-week business gatherings with pre- or post- leisure stays.

The island chain is easily accessible from major U.S. cities with more than 20 nonstop flights to Key West International Airport (EYW).

Later this year, United Airlines is to begin operating daily nonstop flights from Newark’s Liberty, Chicago O’Hare, Houston’s George Bush and Washington D.C.’s Dulles airports.

Check the Monroe County Tourist Development Council’s new meeting planner guide and read its Keys Traveler MICE edition for inspiration.  Visit fla-keys.com\kla-mice.

 

Keys Airlift

Airline seat capacity is increasing on flights between several major cities and Key West International Airport (EYW). JetBlue Airways is to resume nonstop service Oct. 29 to EYW from Boston Logan International Airport, with nonstop daily service scheduled in January. On Nov. 5, American Airlines is to add a second daily nonstop flight to EYW from Washington D.C.’s Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Also Nov. 5, Delta Air Lines is to resume its nonstop winter seasonal flight to EYW from New York City’s LaGuardia Airport.

 

Keys Accommodations

Islamorada’s 27-acre oceanfront Cheeca Lodge & Spa — with 243 rooms and suites, 11 stand-alone casitas, a total 70,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor event space — offers a new stand-alone 10,000-square-foot Islamorada Ballroom. Billed as the Keys’ largest, it accommodates up to 1,500 for receptions and 788 for banquet-style dinners. Forty-three new premier oceanfront suites each offer over 550 square feet, a private balcony and open-air spa tub. The Casitas at Cheeca Lodge feature personalized butler service and one- and two-bedroom units from 750 to 2,100 square feet. Casita group buyouts are offered. Visit cheeca.com

 

The Islamorada Resort Collection  offers 376 island-inspired guestrooms,12 dining outlets, 80,000 square feet of meeting space and a fishing fleet. The Collection includes the 110-room Amara Cay Resort, the 52-unit La Siesta Resort & Villas, and an all-new resort and marina at mile marker 84 in 2024. When completed, the new resort will have 214 guestrooms, seven culinary venues including an island-style pizza restaurant and an outdoor venue with Central American cuisine and a full-service marina. The collection’s iconic Tiki Bar is also undergoing renovations. Group activities include offshore and backcountry fishing and ocean adventures by Spray Watersports, with a 26-mile jet ski tour of backcountry mangroves, wildlife preserves and other attractions. Visit islamoradaresortcollection.com

 

The Middle Keys’ newest luxury property, the 199-unit Isla Bella Beach Resort in Marathon, has more than 20,000 square feet of function space including 16,000 of outdoor space and a 2,800-square-foot Hibiscus Event Center. For new groups of 20 or more rooms per night and with a minimum food and beverage purchase, group perks include an “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere” welcome reception, breakfast vouchers at Marketplace, private pool for a day, fee-waived indoor meeting space, and more. The Virtuoso Preferred resort’s offerings include a new Sushi Cabana, opening this winter; on-site charters for fishing, diving and watersports; a spa, five pools and three food and beverage venues. Visit islabellabeachresort.com .

 

The  311-room Casa Marina Key West, Curio Collection by Hilton, has unveiled extensive renovations including a new 5,000-square-feet oceanfront event lawn, adding to its existing 11,000 square feet of indoor event space. New elements include  four new food and beverage outlets and upgraded piers utilized for watersports. Group activities include scavenger hunts, jet ski tours, private snorkeling trips and golf tournaments. All guest rooms are renovated. Nine event spaces accommodate from 10 to 500. Visit casamarinaresort.com

 

Keys Attractions

In Key Largo, The Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) offers The Interpretive Center for small groups, providing educational experiences about fish identification, lionfish or mangrove ecology. REEF’s headquarters is in a classic conch-style house, known as the oldest building in the Upper Keys still in its original location. An all-new onsite $5 million, 4,000-square-feet, two-story Marine Conservation Center features an ocean exploration gallery and three centers for discovery science, ocean outreach and program planning is targeted for completion in 2025. It will provide space for groups of up to 80. Visit reef.org/mccproject

 

In Islamorada, the Florida Keys History & Discovery Center is a 7,500-square-feet facility on the north side of the oceanfront Islander Resort. It focuses on the Keys’ maritime history, the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad and exhibits about the island chain’s reef ecosystem. A second-floor 35-seat theater screens documentaries. The center’s first floor showcases Upper Keys history including First Nation people, early Spanish treasure hunters and pirates. A Coral Reef Exploration Exhibit has three aquariums, interactive kiosks and views on monitors of coral reef ecosystems. Visit keysdiscovery.com

 

In the Middle Keys at Dolphin Research Center, groups can meet dolphins and participate in memorable interactive experiences including team-building exercises with the marine mammals. It offers two separate meeting rooms, each with a full-screen monitor and Wi-Fi, and hosting up to 70 attendees theater-style or 44 for dinner. An airy 378-square-feet outside porch hosts smaller breakouts or an ‘al fresco’ meal. Visit dolphins.org/events .

 

In Marathon at Crane Point Hammock Museum & Nature Trails, the midcentury 2,500-square-feet Crane House is unique to the Keys and can host up to 70. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, an antique 84-foot-long red railroad car provides space for 25 to 30 attendees. Crane Point is preserved by the Florida Keys Land and Sea Trust as one of the Keys’ most sensitive environmental and archaeological sites. It has a museum, historic Bahamian-style Adderley House, “fish pedicures,” gift shop and nature trails. Crane Point is also the new home for the Marathon Wild Bird Center, with new educational bird enclosures, hospital and rehabilitation facility to treat sick and injured wild birds. The facility houses more than 40 non-releasable birds and continues to treat about 750 birds annually. Visit cranepoint.net

 

At Mote Marine Laboratory’s Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research & Restoration, groups can book a private tour of the land-based coral nursery, with outdoor research and indoor labs. The facility has classroom space for 25, and continental breakfasts and bag lunches can be arranged. It also offers private group tours and interactive coral experiences at its satellite coral nurseries at Reefhouse Resort & Marina in Key Largo, and at Bud N’ Mary’s marina in Islamorada. Visit mote.org/locations/details/international-center-for-coral-reef-research-and-restoration/islamorada-coral-nurseryredirect

 

On Key West’s Truman Waterfront, the state-of-the-art 6,000-square-feet Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center offers new contemporary exhibits highlighting Florida Keys mangrove, coral and seagrass habitats. A freestanding main exhibit focuses on the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. There’s also an exhibit on shipwrecks and maritime history. A conference room seats 30 and there’s access to a small kitchenette. Visit floridakeys.noaa.gov/eco_discovery.html

 

Keys Tours

In Marathon, the Pigeon Key Visitor Center and Pigeon Key Express train offer daily tours departing from the Pigeon Key Gift Shop. The colorful train, with a locomotive front and two 30-passenger coaches, travels along a 2.2-mile restored span of the Old Seven Mile Bridge. Lying beneath “Old Seven,” the tiny island of Pigeon Key was a camp for workers building the bridge in the early 1900s and features restored buildings and a museum. Visitors can swim, snorkel, fish and shop. Train tours can be booked online 14 days in advance. Visit pigeonkey.net

 

Keys Podcast

Meeting and incentive planners and event attendees can explore the Keys’ unique heritage through a new 30-episode documentary-style Florida Keys Traveler podcast that showcases 200 years of the island chain’s history. The podcast features local personalities, attractions and venues in each of the Keys’ five districts: Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key and Florida’s Lower Keys, and Key West.

Visit fla-keys.com/podcast/.



Learn more about :   Florida Keys & Key West ( N. America )  



 

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Editor for TravelMole North America and Asia pacific regions. Ray is a highly experienced (15+ years) skilled journalist and editor predominantly in travel, hospitality and lifestyle working with a huge number of major market-leading brands. He has also cover in-depth news, interviews and features in general business, finance, tech and geopolitical issues for a select few major news outlets and publishers.



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