F&D Destination: Florida

Pelican Grand Beach Resort

Nestled in the heart of Fort Lauderdale and located seven miles from the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, the family owned and operated Pelican Grand Beach Resort is an award-winning luxury retreat perfect for a meeting/incentive trip combined with a little relaxation. The resort has the only lazy river in Fort Lauderdale, a world-class spa, beach, zero-entry pool and multiple restaurants.

Apart from its robust recreational offerings, the hotel has a variety of both lodging and meeting space. Its 156 guestrooms include 111 suites and 132 rooms with beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean. Meeting groups have at their disposal more than 4,000 sq. ft. of indoor space, including the 2,055-sq.-ft. Oceanview Ballroom and 1,400-sq.-ft. Atlantic Ballroom, as well as 4,000 sq. ft. of outdoor space, including terraces, a verandah and pool deck.

While staying in paradise one naturally expects delicious food, and the Pelican Grand Resort delivers with two full dining restaurants and an ice cream parlor. OCEAN2000 is an upscale sophisticated waterfront dining experience that focuses on new American fare. Available for meetings and group dining, it includes a lounge that features small plates with bold flavors accompanied by a mixology program of “Classic Reinvented Cocktails.” For casual fare, meeting attendees can take advantage of the resort’s various poolside and beachside dining options. For offsite group dining, F&D staff recommends 15th Street Fisheries, which has been one of South Florida’s most popular waterfront eateries for over 35 years, and La Dolce Vita, which serves authentic Italian food.

Fort Lauderdale is a place to relax, and at the Pelican Grand meeting attendees can enjoy spa services overlooking the ocean. The resort’s PURE Spa opened as part of a recently completed renovation. The luxury spa features an extensive array of services including customized facials, massage, make-up application and more. (The famous organic Swedish line Maria Akerberg is used in a majority of the spa services.) Rooftop yoga, snorkeling and various watersports round out the options for group wellness activities. —Rachel Kapur

MIAMI

Be it cuisine or music, architecture or arts, Miami marches to its own unique beat. It is a melting pot of sorts, with a rich culture influenced both by immigrants and migrants alike. Yet another selling point is its great weather. “Miami is the only major [U.S.] city with a tropical climate,” noted Barry Moskowitz, Vice President of Convention Sales at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, during a conversation at PCMA’s Convening Leaders 2017, at which he provided updates on the city’s offerings.

For planners interested in a “green” Miami meeting, many of the city’s upscale properties are great partners. One example is the Four Diamond Palms Hotel & Spa. A member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts, the 251-room property is situated on a city block on Collins Avenue, about one mile from the Miami Beach Convention Center. The beachfront resort is a member in the Florida Green Lodging program and boasts 5 Green Keys — a rank achieved by fewer than 4 percent of hotels participating in the global eco-rating program.

Representative of the green focus, new chef Julie Frans has introduced both wellness and ecological awareness into the resort’s menus. A “Slow Food” movement advocate, Chef Frans stands opposed to what she calls the “rise of fast food and fast life.” Her menus emphasize farm-to-table products straight from the hotel’s own garden, as well as foods sourced from local farms and fishermen that practice sustainable methods. Aside from the food being fresher, by cutting out the middleman, there is an environmental benefit in reducing the transportation of commercially farmed foods from a distance. When arranged in advance, guests can join the chef on an excursion to some of the local farming communities.

Groups can also take advantage of canoeing and kayaking at Oleta River State Park, a half hour north of the hotel. There, a wide variety of local and migratory birds can be spotted, creating an experience whereby attendees will forget they are in a major metropolitan area.

The hotel offers its own way for attendees to remain in touch with the outdoors: its terraces, poolside areas and South Lawn can all be used to stage events under the stars. Those spaces complement the Palms Hotel & Spa’s 8,000 sq. ft. of indoor meeting space, including its largest ballroom, the Royal Palm, which accommodates up to 350 guests. —Rosa Laufer

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