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Sun and sand meet luxurious accommodations on Amelia Island, where the finest in full-service resorts and historic bed and breakfast inns provide elegant options for places to stay and meet. Delegates meeting on Amelia Island will feel like they're a world away from the big city despite being only 45 minutes from downtown Jacksonville and only 30 minutes from the city's airport.

Amelia Island Plantation is the island's largest resort, with 657 guest rooms and more than 56,000 square feet of meeting space. This summer, the plantation will complete a project that will expand its popular Walker's Landing event building from 3,300 to 5,500 square feet. The expansion also will include a 1,000-square-foot, screened-in porch and new decking overlooking the scenic Intracoastal Waterway and salt marsh.

Another island resort with facilities to accommodate a wide range of groups is the 449-room Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island with more than 35,000 square feet of event space, including a 13,350-square-foot ballroom. A resort perfect for smaller meetings is the Summer Beach Resort, which offers an exclusive 2,200-square-foot Executive Retreat Center.

With 15,000 hotel rooms and a diverse mix of meeting and exhibit space, Jacksonville offers big-city amenities in a destination full of natural beauty. Planners have lots of options, including the new Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena that opened in November. Various spaces throughout the 16,000-seat arena are available for private events, including luxurious executive suites.

Another new option is the Ribault Club at the Fort George Island Cultural State Park. The historic facility was completely restored and now offers 6,000 square feet of space within five contiguous rooms that can be joined into one large facility. Guests also can arrange for outdoor activities, such as kayaking or boating, as part of their meetings.

The largest meeting facility in Jacksonville is the Prime Osborn Convention Center, which offers a 78,500-square-foot exhibit hall and 40,000 square feet of carpeted meeting space, including a 10,000-square-foot ballroom.

Several large, meetings-oriented hotels are located downtown. Northeast Florida's largest hotel, the 966-room Adam's Mark Jacksonville, recently installed high-speed Internet access in all 110 guest rooms on the 16th and 18th floors that supports Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections and provides T-1 service. The hotel's 110,000 square feet of meeting space already offers high-speed access and plans are to switch all guest rooms to high-speed from dial-up access in the near future.




Other major hotels in downtown Jacksonville include the 292-room Hilton Jacksonville Riverfront, the 354-room Omni Jacksonville, and the 322-room Radisson Riverwalk Hotel Jacksonville, which offers a 25,000-square-foot conference center.

As America's oldest city, St. Augustine is a delicious diversion in the heart of St. Johns County. A cultural treasure, St. Augustine showcases an 11-block, pedestrian-only historic district lined by 18th-century, Spanish Colonial houses and boutiques offering amazing antiques and works of art. Among the jewels of the old city is the Casa Monica Hotel, the circa 1878 property that underwent a $17 million restoration in 1999. The 137-room Casa Monica opened a new 2,000-square-foot ballroom in December, bringing its total event space to more than 12,000 square feet, including the 4,000-square-foot Casa Monica Ballroom. The elegant hotel also has a 160-seat fine-dining restaurant and a three-bedroom suite with a panoramic view of St. Augustine.

Twenty miles north of St. Augustine is Ponte Vedra Beach, home to two of the finest resorts in the United States. Surrounded by 99 holes of championship golf, the 508-room Sawgrass Marriott Resort is home to the PGA Tour's TPC Stadium Course. The Marriott, which is undergoing a $30 million expansion, offers 46,000 square feet of event space. Tennis is king at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, which has 15 courts and a ranking among the top three U.S. tennis resorts by Tennis magazine. The 221-room resort also has 36 holes of golf and more than 25,000 square feet of meeting space. The resort's neighbor, the Lodge & Club, has 66 luxurious guest rooms and suites and more than 10,000 square feet of meeting space.
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Title Annotation:Florida; convention centres
Publication:Association Management
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Apr 1, 2004
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