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Northeast: Productive days, peaceful nights. (Florida).

The Northeast corner's Amelia Island offers a refreshing change of pace for planners of small to midsize meetings. In addition to more than 100,000 square feet of function space found at the island's leading properties, many historic B&Bs recall bygone eras and provide wonderful alternatives for executive gatherings. In all, Amelia Island has more than 2,400 suites, villas, and guest rooms to suit any preference.

The largest of the island's three resorts, Amelia Island Plantation offers luxury accommodations and more than 56,000 square feet of meeting space in the Amelia Island Conference Center and the Amelia Island Racquet Park. The center totals 50,000 square feet including two large ballrooms and multiple meeting rooms ranging from 525 to 1,440 square feet.

Nearby, the Ritz-Carlton features 449 guest rooms and 35,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 13,348-square-foot ballroom, the largest in Northeast Florida. The resort, poised on a bluff overlooking the Atlantic, is the only Ritz-Carlton property on the U.S. mainland to feature an on-site golf course.

Thirty miles down the road, the city of Jacksonville's vibrant downtown, cultural attractions, and natural splendor have transformed it into a popular meeting destination. The River City's largest venue is the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center. Once a regional railway station, the center has a natural capacity for crowds, and its 265,000 square feet of space includes a 78,500-square-foot exhibit hall, 10,000-square-foot ballroom, and 22 meeting rooms. The Skyway Express, an airborne monorail system, links it to hotels, entertainment facilities, and other convention locations, making it easy for delegates to get around.

A $30 million redevelopment of Jacksonville's Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts places it among the Finest facilities in the Southeast. The center's 22,000 square feet of meeting space is distinguished by three distinct performance halls and a gallery great for group receptions. Also refurbished, the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Coliseum multipurpose facility easily transforms from ice rink to exhibit hall featuring two 12,000-foot concourses with combined capacity of 150 8' x 10' booths. The coliseum is located along the beautiful St. Johns River, in the heart of the Jacksonville Sports Complex and within easy distance of the city's theater, restaurant, and entertainment district.

The Adam's Mark Jacksonville Hotel opened last year with 110,000 square feet of meeting space, banquet seating for 2,200, and a full complement of conference amenities. Florida's largest convention hotel features 966 deluxe guest rooms and suites, as well as a spectacular 28,000-square-foot ballroom, 21 breakout rooms, and a 100-booth exhibit area. Smaller groups will find the same level of sophistication offered by the area's larger convention sites at the award-winning Omni Jacksonville Hotel, with function space for up to 650, and across the river, at the Jacksonville Hilton and Towers, with 13,000 square feet dedicated to meetings.

South of Jacksonville is St. Johns County, home to Ponte Vedra Beach, St. Augustine, and a host of cultural treasures. And there's something new in America's oldest city: Old St. Augustine Village was unveiled last year following an 11-year restoration project to refurbish historic homes and gardens dating from 1790.

Meeting space is available in the 40,000-square-foot St. Johns County Convention Center adjacent to the World Golf Village and at the Radisson Ponce de Leon Golf & Conference Center, which features 11,500 square feet of function space. Long a desirable location for dignitaries, the historic Casa Monica Hotel also offers more than 5,000 square feet of meeting space in addition to 137 guest rooms and grand Spanish-style lobby and lounge.

Planners will be pleased to know that a new Web site, www.myfloridameetings.com, launched by the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, and The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau, makes it easy to submit online proposal requests to facilities.
COPYRIGHT 2002 American Society of Association Executives
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Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Association Management
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2002
Words:639
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