“Groups can ‘rent’ one of our chefs
and we bring in all the food for an Iron
Chef-type event. There’s nothing like it in
Tampa,” said Shawn Routten, front office
manager of the Epicurean.
For a good cigar after dessert visitors go
to historic Ybor City, “The Cigar Capital
of the World”, where tabaqueros have
been rolling cigars by hand along Seventh
Avenue since the late 1880s. Groups can
sample a Cuban sandwich invented in Ybor
City, or try the paella at Florida’s oldest
restaurant, Columbia—great for groups.
For those who want a bit of exercise, the
2.4-mile Tampa River Walk is an ideal spot
for walking or biking. All along the walk
there are myriad restaurants, museums
and parks. Coast Bike Share bicycle rental
has stations along the River Walk.
Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, overlooking Tampa Bay, offers a waterfront setting
for outdoor teambuilding along with its
30,000 square feet of meeting space.
Seeing Tampa and St. Pete, its southern
neighbor, in one day is now easier. New this
year is the 149-passenger Cross-Bay Ferry,
which links the Tampa Convention Center
to St. Petersburg’s historic Vinoy Park Hotel
marina from November to May.
With reference to the Vinoy, Clark said she
likes to give groups a taste of the city’s history.
“We do plain old historic tours of St.
Pete, including a tour of the 1920s-era
Vinoy Hotel. There’s a historian on-site
who provides interesting tidbits about
the hotel,” she said. “There are also lots of
wonderful old photos near the Tea Garden,
a beautiful spot to hold receptions.”
For art buffs, downtown St. Pete is known
for its murals. Recently, the city’s own mural
festival added another 20-plus murals, bring-
ing the total to more than 70. Clark said one
of the excursions she likes to do with groups
is hire a trolley or take a walking tour to see
these original murals by local artists.
For shoppers, especially those who love
antiques, St. Pete’s Grand Central District,
west of downtown, offers an array of restau-
rants, art galleries and antique and collect-
ible shops scattered along Central Avenue.
Also available by trolley tour is Gulp
Coast, exploring the St. Pete/Clearwater
Craft Beer Trail.
“It is one of the biggest things to happen
to St. Pete with the craft beer craze,” said
Suzanne Scully, CDME, director of sales,
meetings and conventions for Visit St.
While groups can kayak or paddleboard
in downtown St. Pete, many groups prefer
to head to St. Pete beach for watersports.
For example, the Trade Winds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach offers a boat-build-ing regatta using minimal supplies provided by the resort. Teams design and build a
human-powered boat capable of racing a
designated circuit in the pool. Each team
names its boat, designates a captain and
first mate, introduces its vessel and performs a team cheer.
“No matter what the activity or group
size, the programs always succeed in bonding groups and bringing out an incredible
amount of creativity,” said Meg Czambel,
director of recreation.
North of St. Pete is Clearwater Beach,
named No. 1 in the U.S. on Trip Advisor’s
list of Top Beaches for 2016.
“It’s all about the beach when you come
to Clearwater, where boating, sailing,
stand-up paddleboarding and other watersports abound,” Clark said.
Using the Gulf of Mexico and Clearwater
Bay as a backdrop, the Opal Sands Resort,
which opened last year, can arrange an
outdoor casino on the 5,500-square-foot
Gulf Lawn. After roulette and blackjack,
groups can enjoy a sunset seated dinner.
Other area attractions include the Clear-
water Marine Aquarium and Pier 60 for fish-
ing, dining and nightly sunset celebrations
with crafts vendors and street musicians.
The Clearwater Marina offers sunset sails,
dinner cruises and dolphin encounters.
Groups can also take in Gulf views at the
newly opened, 343-room Wyndham Grand
Clearwater Beach, offering 22,000 square
feet of meeting space.
As a nod to meeting attendees who want
to bring their families to Florida before or
after the meeting, there are many fun-filled
activities for guests of all ages, according to
Virginia J. Haley, CDME, president of Visit
“As it gets harder and
harder for business
professionals to spend
time with their fami-
lies, meeting attend-
ees are more likely
to bring spouses and
families to meetings held
in a vacation destination,”
Haley said. “Visit Sarasota
has expanded its promotions and
incentives for meeting planners to focus
on providing new and novel experiences
for meeting attendees.”
Sarasota has excellent birding, boating and
bike tours in Myakka River State Park, where
visitors enjoy wildlife viewing from a board-
walk that stretches out over Upper Myakka
Lake. Visitors can also take to the treetops
with a stroll along the canopy walkway.
On Sarasota Bay, “kayaking through
the mangrove tunnels is one of the nicest
things for families and groups to do,” said
Lynn Hobeck Bates, APR, communications
manager in Visit Sarasota County.
And, as Sarasota County is a historic circus
town, visitors can spend a day teambuilding
at the Circus Arts Conservatory.
“The Circus Arts Conservatory offers a
variety of corporate teambuilding events
customized to fit the needs of any organization,” said Beth Graves, marketing manager for the Circus Arts Conservatory. “Our
workshops provide a fun way to get a group
of people to work, play and learn together.
With over 65 years of professional circus
arts training experience, nobody’s better
at teaching your organization to climb, flip
and fly circus-style.”
EPICUREAN THEATRE, TAMPA
CIRCUS ARTS CONSERVATORY, SARASOTA
VISIT SARASOTA COUNTY
VISIT ST. PETE/CLEARWATER
VISIT TAMPA BAY
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