Meeting Destinations in Naples and Marco Island

Florida's Paradise Coast is taking its place among the nation's top meeting destinations with its hotel and resort-based conference facilities with excellent values and a wide choice of price points, green initiatives and activity options.

Media Contacts:
JoNell Modys, CVB, jonellmodys@colliergov.net, 239-252-2425
Maria Sabale, BCF, msabale@boomyourbrand.com, 757-497-4811

PARADISE COAST STORY IDEAS
Naples, Marco Island & the Everglades

Naples, Fla.(August 14, 2009) - The Paradise Coast is taking its place among the nation's top meeting destinations with its hotel and resort-based conference facilities with excellent values and a wide choice of price points, green initiatives and myriad of team building and activity options. The following are story ideas for media consideration. For additional information or free downloadable images, visit the Media Center at www.ParadiseCoast.com.

CVB Gold-Star Service
Quality service is a trait that the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades CVB is known for. Through its special Meeting Planner section on the destination Website, www.ParadiseCoast.com, the CVB offers a number of valuable resources as well as its local insight into the industry. A Meeting Planning Guide is available, which is filled with information on area meeting and conference hotels, off-site venues, activities, services and more helpful information for planners. Visit now for a look at group specials and rates at area hotels and resorts, along with a photo download section to enhance your meeting promotional efforts. For a visual representation of the Paradise Coast, the CVB has developed a CD showing the delights of this premiere meetings destination. To receive your free copy of the guide or CD, contact tourism sales manager Debi DeBenedetto directly at debide@colliergov.net; (239) 252-2379; or call the toll free meeting planner line, 1-800-830-1760.

Find Meetings-Related Value Rates, Dates & Deals
The CVB compiles all of the best group values, rates, dates and deals at the area's meeting and conference properties and posts links on the Meeting Planner page at www.paradisecoast.com/meetings. Planners should check there and also confer directly with the CVB to discuss how to find the best possible value while maintaining the ambience of your meeting event.

CVB Works to Educate the Local Community About the Value of Meetings With Bring Your Meetings Home.
The challenges of today's economy and changing attitudes toward business travel have taken a toll on the meetings industry worldwide. Here in Collier County, meetings and conferences represent a vital part of the tourism industry mix. With corporate, association and other group meetings representing approximately 35% of the annual visitor impact locally, the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) has launched a new grassroots campaign called Bring Your Meetings Homewith hopes of stimulating the meetings business and boosting the local economy.
"With Bring Your Meetings Home, we hope to encourage Collier County residents and business people to spread the word about the benefits and value of holding meetings in Collier County to all of their business and personal contacts through their own association memberships, corporate contacts and social affiliations," said Jack Wert, executive director of the CVB. "Word of mouth is an effective means of selling in today's marketplace, and we'd like to educate the local populace so that absolutely every opportunity is acted upon to suggest our destination for a meeting."
According to Collier County's May visitation research, meeting and business-related travel is down 23% compared to May 2008 with corporate group business hit the hardest. The trend is expected to continue for the next few years and the Bring Your Meetings Home campaign is an effort to galvanize the local community to proactively suggest our area as a meetings destination to all of their contacts, so that local hotels, restaurants, retail and other businesses can keep people employed and remain in business.

Resort-Based Meeting & Conference Facilities
There are excellent resort and hotel-based meeting and conference facilities on the Paradise Coast, and most of them are located on or near the beaches of Naples and Marco Island. All provide access to some of the world's top golf courses, and provide a wide range of group facilities and services. Top properties for meetings in Naples include The Ritz-Carlton, Naples; The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples; Naples Grande Beach Resort; Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club; LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort; Hilton Naples; GreenLinks Golf Resort & Conference Center; The Inn on Fifth; Bellasera Hotel, the new Hotel at Naples Bay Resort, and numerous name brand and boutique properties that can handle smaller group functions and overflow from the larger conference hotels.

Top properties on Marco Island include the newly renovated Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa (the Paradise Coast's largest meeting and conference facility with over 225,000 total sq. ft. of event space); the newly renovated Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort, with a new spa that opened in December 2008; the elegant Marco Beach Ocean Resort; and the charming Olde Marco Island Inn & Suites.

In Everglades City, the Ivey House B&B has capacity for small group meetings and their in-house guide service specializes in canoe and kayak tours (between November and April) of the Everglades region for unique team building activities.

Collier County Goes Green
Hotels along the Paradise Coast continue to achieve designation as Green Lodgings by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Fourteen hotels have received their official Green Lodging designation to date with five properties, the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa, the Hilton Naples, Doubletree Guest Suites, Naples and both The Ritz-Carlton, Naples and The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples having achieved the Two Palm designation due to their elevated level of conservation and other green initiatives.

The Florida Green Lodgings in the region are:
Naples area: Hilton Naples; the Doubletree Guest Suites Naples; Bellasera Hotel; Inn at Pelican Bay; Naples Grande Beach Resort; The Ritz-Carlton, Naples beach resort; The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples; Hawthorn Suites of Naples; Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club; Courtyard by Marriott Naples and Greenlinks Golf Resort & Conference Center. Marco Island: Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa and Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa. Everglades City: Ivey House Bed & Breakfast. Several of the hotels have initiated innovative practices to conserve energy.
Hilton Naples has planted a rooftop Confederate jasmine vine garden atop its ballroom, to reduce heat absorption. The DoubleTree Guest Suites Naples has a designated parking space for hybrid vehicles right outside the front door.

What's Happening with Meeting & Conference Resorts
The newly renovated Naples Grande Beach Resort, formerly known as The Registry Resort & Club, invites guests to discover a chic, newly modernized lobby and sample sophisticated cuisine at the hip lobby restaurant, Aura. The resort brings the first Golden Door Spa to the United States east coast, along with a new Strip House steakhouse. The Naples Grande Golf Club continues to offer excellent options for group tournaments and recreational outings. Sister hotel Edgewater Beach Hotel is offers reciprocal privileges and helps to facilitates large groups. www.naplesgranderesort.com.

The Ritz-Carlton, Naples has added the Naples Beach House, the newest addition to the traditional, elegant and classic Five-Star, Five-Diamond resort located on pristine white sands of the Gulf of Mexico. The $4.5 million dollar beach house is a complete reconstruction of an older structure located at the same site when the landmark resort opened in 1985. The Naples Beach House is a 3,000 square foot, two-story multi-use facility designed to accommodate business and leisure guests with the versatility to stage elaborate dinners, festive receptions, ornate weddings or high-energy parties. The beach house can host 120 people for a sit down dinner or 150 for cocktail receptions on either floor. The Naples Beach House features mesquite hardwood floors, Caribbean wicker ceiling fans and plantation shutters throughout. The first floor Shore Level is conducive for ceremonies, upscale meetings, cocktails or afterglow parties. The second floor Sunset Level, accessible by elevator or stairs, is perfect for sit-down or buffet style dinner events. The upper level also allows for live entertainment and dancing. This state-of-the-art facility also boasts a full service kitchen for on-site catering needs complete with a black granite bar looking out to views of the serene Gulf of Mexico. www.ritzcarlton.com.

LaPlaya Beach and Golf Resortoffers casually elegant tropical decor directly facing Vanderbilt Beach in north Naples. New fire pit seating areas facing the beach add to the ambience for evening social gatherings. www.laplayaresort.com.

Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa emerged last spring after a multi-year renovation that totaled over $200 million. In celebration, the resort is giving meeting planners the gift of a once-in-a-lifetime experience if they book a meeting at the resort between August 1-October 31 2008 or 2009. Planners may choose from the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby, the Masters Golf Tournament and more unforgettable experiences. For more information and to register to win a trip to the resort on Marco Island, log on to www.searching4paradise.com. The luxury property has recently completed the construction of a brand new 24,000-square-foot Balinese spa, redesigned The Rookery Golf Course at Marco and opened a new clubhouse with additional function space, refurbished 32 Lanai suites, restored the Island and Capri ballrooms and redesigned the resort's lobby. The resort has recently unveiled guest room and penthouse upgrades, a new upscale retail area and a beachfront Italian restaurant. In addition, the Quinn pool has been transformed into a large free-form fantasy pool complete with outdoor function space, tropical landscaping and enticing water features. www.marcoislandmarriott.com.

GreenLinks Golf Resort & Conference Centerin Naples opened their new conference center in early 2008 with 3,000 square feet of planned meeting space. The resort now handles direct booking of golf play at the neighboring Mustang and Flamingo Island courses. www.greenlinksnaples.com.

Bellasera Hotelwas recently named by TripAdvisor.com as among its "Top Ten Hidden Gems in the U.S." Visitors rave about the better than home comfort, appointments and amenities they find in Bellasera's 100 studio and one to three-bedroom suites. The flexibility of Bellasera's design makes it a popular choice for meeting groups. Its 4,000 sq. ft. of function space seats up to 200 in a classic Italian setting. Verde, the Bellasera's new spa, uses all organic products and the spa's philosophy complements the hotel's new status as a certified Florida Green Lodging.


Hilton Marco Island Beach Resorthas completed an expansive upgrade and renovation project to its meeting space, lobby and restaurant areas featuring floor-to-ceiling windows in the main entrance lobby of the hotel and new scenic ambiance and a revamped menu at the Paradise Cafe. A new spa debuted in December, 2008. Guestroom and penthouse renovations now complete the $15 million project. www.marcoisland.hilton.com.

The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Clubcompleted guestroom renovations in late 2007, which complement the property's new $5 million lobby. A majority of the lobby's back wall was replaced with large glass panes to provide guests with a spectacular view of the Gulf of Mexico. A new lobby bar takes advantage of the view. The new lobby completes a full property renovation including the addition of a new conference center, golf clubhouse and spa. www.naplesbeachhotel.com.

The Inn on Fifth, Old Naples' elegant boutique hotel, features a rooftop pool and terrace perfect for events along with The Spa on Fifth. The boutique hotel property in the heart of downtown Naples has just completed room renovations. The Spa on Fifth is shaped by Feng Shui elements and mixes Asian influences with tropical accents, providing an extensive array of anti-aging and rejuvenating treatments. The Inn on Fifth has meeting and banquet space both indoors on its rooftop pool deck. www.naplesinn.com.

As a complement to the sophisticated meeting facilities at Marco Beach Ocean Resort, a glass-walled ballroom is now overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, offering an exceptional venue for general sessions, banquets, and receptions. www.marcoresort.com.

Team Building
Great relationships, confidence and morale make great team members, and the Paradise Coast offers several activities that promote team building among groups. An example is Adventure Training Concepts, an adventure-based team training facility utilizing authentic U.S. Army strategies to facilitate curriculum-based training, team spirit, fitness and bonding experiences for corporate, youth and other groups. ATC now has a public ropes course and training facility located near Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary between Naples and Immokalee, and also stages various event scenarios throughout the surrounding area. Indiana Jones and Survivor themed-events are growing in popularity. www.adventuretrainingconcepts.com.

The Dolphin Explorercruise boat, with departures from Marco Island and Naples, allows teams of participants to serve as citizen scientists dolphin researchers. Teams work with a naturalist on board to collect data, photograph and log activities of the resident bottlenose dolphins that live in the estuaries surrounding Naples and Marco Island. This rewarding and challenging experience provides education, fun and team challenge opportunities. www.dolphin-explorer.com.

Out'nback Nature Tours specializes in non-motorized outdoor activities with minimal impact on public recreational areas. The company has a walking tour of the Old Naples historic area using handheld GPS that can be turned into a team activity with progressive clues. This tour can accommodate five teams of up to ten members each, with a GPS unit for each team. The company also can arrange Everglades Guided Walking Tours and bicycle tours in both downtown Naples and the Everglades for groups of up to 30 cyclists. 239-455-4611.

Activity Options
Shopping
Shopping is an art form in Naples and Fifth Avenue South, known as Naples MainStreet, offers boutiques, galleries, jewelry and wine shops, restaurants, bars and more. www.fifthavenuesouth.com. Nearby, Third Street South provides the world's only full time street concierge to provide information and assistance amidst the old Naples Historic District, featuring upscale shops, art galleries and restaurants. www.thirdstreetsouth.com. Elite Personal Shoppers is a personal shopping service in Naples providing customized shopping excursions based on an individual's or group's needs. Navigate your way through Naples' many upscale designer boutiques, interior design stores, galleries, restaurants and more. Contact Bernie Gant at 239-290-2335 or eliteshopping@comcast.net.
Waterside Shops at Pelican Baycontinues to evolve with the opening of new luxury retail stores, including Tiffany & Co., Cartier, Hermes, Gucci and more. Mall managers will work with groups to create unique shopping themed experiences, scavenger hunts or other activities, or assist with events at one of the five restaurants on site. A Nordstrom's department store opened in Fall of 2008. www.watersideshops.com.
Arts & Culture
If culture is your focus, there are over 100 art galleries in Collier County headlined by the Naples Museum of Art at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, as well as a variety of fascinating historical and cultural museums. In fact, Naples has recently been named the Number One Small Art Town in America. From the many retail galleries downtown to centers including the von Liebig Art Center and Marco Island Center for the Arts, there are many programs with art as a backdrop that can be developed for groups. www.uaccollier.com.

Adventure Travel
When the meeting is over, the Paradise Coast is the perfect getaway for adventure lovers and thrill seekers.
Golfis a passion for many visitors to the area, and with nearly 90 courses, the choices are many and varied. All of the major meeting and conference hotels are affiliated with top courses - so planning a golf tournament or golf-themed event is convenient and a perfect fit for many corporate events.

Fishing in the Naples, Marco Island, Ten Thousand Islands and Everglades areas is world-class, and includes adventurous backcountry fishing as well as deep-sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Visit the fishing section of www.ParadiseCoast.com for a list of charter captains and guide services. One of the fastest growing segments of saltwater fishing is kayak fishing. Capt. Charles Wright in Everglades City offers custom guided kayak fishing and kayak eco adventures through Everglades Area Tours within the saltwater portion of Everglades National Park. Capt. Wright is able to put kayaks and passengers in his "mother ship"the Yak Attak, which ferries passengers and kayaks to areas perfect for catching snook, redfish, tarpon, permit and other popular gamefish. If fishing doesn't appeal, just book it for a group eco paddling experience. Groups of six are ideal - call to arrange for larger groups. www.evergladesareatours.com.

You And A Kayakis a kayak guide service providing customized tours departing from City Seafood restaurant in Everglades City between November and April. Half day, full day and multi day trips are offered at all skill levels with extensive interpretation of the natural environment. Two of the more unique trips are the Cowgirl Kayakers half and full day trips for women, along with the women-only Cowgirl Kayakers Camping expedition, with all equipment and instruction supplied for a 2-day, 1-night camping and kayaking adventure. www.YouAndAKayak.com.

Pokeris the latest craze with the advent of numerous televised poker tournament events. The Seminole Casino in Immokaleenear Naples recently expanded its poker playing area to accommodate the growing interest in the game. Frequent public poker tournaments are held at the casino, and the staff will develop customized poker tournament for groups to include transportation and refreshments. The casino also just added blackjack tables and Las Vegas style slots to its gaming lineup! www.theseminolecasino.com.

Naples Water Toursoffers guided small boat tours of Naples Bay departing from the Charter Club Resort on Naples Bay, www.napleswatertours.com.

Naples Transportation, Tours & Event Planningoffers full group transportation and event planning, as well as several popular local tour options. Everglades Excursions are guided half or full day Everglades guided van tours; the Naples Trolley has public stops throughout the greater Naples area, and trolleys are available for charter for private events; and the new Naples Segway tour zips participants throughout the downtown area. www.nttep.com.

Marco Island Ski & Watersportshas a 49-passenger power catamaran, the Calusa Spirit, perfect for group shelling trips to nearby deserted islands or private cocktail receptions and buffet dinners onboard. The company provides a unique, eco-friendly guided Waverunner tour of the Ten Thousand Islands mangrove forest, departing from the beach in front of the Marco Island Marriott and Hilton Marco Island. www.marcoislandwatersports.com.

The Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau is the official tourism marketing and management agency for Collier County, Florida, funded entirely by the Collier County tourist development tax. The CVB provides meeting planning assistance, guides and support materials online at www.ParadiseCoast.comor by calling the meeting planner's hotline at 1-800-830-1760.

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