F&D Destination: Florida

The Resort At Longboat Key Club

Situated on 410 lush acres on Longboat Key, this 35-year-old property is known for its world-class tennis facility (sign up for lessons with Sammy Aviles), golf courses (the 18-hole Harbourside and the 18-hole Links on Longboat), dining (especially Portofino), and more. It’s a one-stop shop for groups.

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The Resort At Longboat Key Club houses 12,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. Throughout the years, the National Association of Flavors and Food Ingredient Systems (NAFFS) has used everything from the John Ringling rooms, which total 5,896 sq. ft. of space, to the 2,250-sq.-ft. Island House. “When it comes to exceeding expectations, The Resort At Longboat Key Club hits the mark every time,” says Diane Davis, Associate Director of NAFFS. “From the moment you arrive, you know you have chosen the right resort because you are immediately greeted by attentive staff who are clearly devoted to making your stay enjoyable.” She adds that “Our annual conference has been held here for more than 20 years and it’s no surprise that they vote to keep coming back.”

For teambuilding, groups can opt for a 90-minute stand-up paddleboarding lesson with John Kurz, the owner of What’SUP. A kayaking tour through the mangrove tunnels of Ted Sterling Park is also available. Orlando Cano and Josh Taylor, owners of Paradise Adventures, will get first-timers acclimated to Sarasota Bay in no time.

Groups that prefer sightseeing on dry land can take a trip to The Ringling. Left to the public by Ringling and his wife, Mable, the State Art Museum of Florida showcases the famed Circus Museum (try squeezing into a tiny clown’s car!) and The Museum of Art, where Ringling’s personal collection of paintings, art objects, antiques and more take center stage. And if your group desires more culture, a new modern art museum is scheduled to open within the next few years, according to Hobeck.

Other attendees might want to get some R&R at Opal Spa. Options include the 50-minute traditional classic massage and the 80-minute Tranquility Ritual, which consists of a scrub with essential oil blend. After the treatment, a walk along the marina at sunset can be quite therapeutic.

“Sarasota’s mix of small-town charm and big-city amenities, combined with unparalleled natural beauty, provides an intimate setting for corporate retreat groups,” says Shelby Connett, Meetings and Group Sales Manager at Visit Sarasota County. “Attendees can experience the personal attention that is often harder to find in larger meeting destinations, but still have ample options for activities and things to do — all while enjoying the relaxing benefits of an oceanfront setting.”  —Laura Janelle Downey

MARCO ISLAND

Located about 18 miles south of Naples, Marco Island is home to the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa, which held its grand reopening in January following a $40 million transformation. When guests enter the redesigned lobby, they are greeted by a dramatic floor-to-ceiling window on the Gulf of Mexico. The project upgraded the hotel’s 310 guestrooms and added 16 brand-new one- and two-bedroom suites. The property’s 25,000 sq. ft. of meeting space has been revamped as well; a new beachfront event lawn will open in the fall. In addition, the resort has introduced The Deck at 560 Bar &
Restaurant, an expansive space featuring a rare Brazilian hardwood deck. The venue offers 174 indoor dining seats and 102 outdoor seats.

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