Florida Keys, Fla. — Destination meetings and special events in the Florida Keys can include both high-tech specs and laid-back workloads during a subtropical sabbatical. As outlined here, planners and participants can find new accommodations, venues, social activities and other offerings to help ramp up the next pre- or post-meeting gathering.
The property that was once Islamorada’s iconic Holiday Isle Beach Resort and Marina, located at mile marker (MM) 84 oceanside, has completed an $11.6 million renovation. Now known as the Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina at Holiday Isle, the landmark has evolved into a lushly landscaped, modern tropical oceanfront resort.
Renovations to the guestrooms, meeting space, main lobby and swimming pool area complement extensive landscaping improvements to highlight natural scenic views. Technology upgrades include comprehensive resort-wide Wi-Fi access and flat-screen televisions at the on-site bars as well as in all guestrooms.
The resort’s main restaurant facility, formerly the Sport Fish Grill, has been transformed into the first Shula Burger. Named for legendary Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula, the restaurant offers a full-service bar and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner for everyone in the group to fuel up during a corporate retreat.
Holiday Isle’s famed Tiki Bar, with its hand-carved wood floor, is expected to remain — along with the resort’s claim to have invented the frozen rumrunner cocktail.
For more information, visit www.holidayisle.com.
Visitors to Key Largo, known as the dive capital of the world, now can experience the majesty of the sea without getting their feet wet aboard a 128-passenger paddlewheel boat. Island Time Cruise Co. specializes in 2.5-hour island cruises for lunch, brunch or sunset dinner with food prepared by Steamers Restaurant.
The paddlewheel boat features an all-wood dining room and two bars, and offers spectacular views of Keys waters and wildlife. The company also plans to offer Sunday brunch, murder mystery dinners, wine tastings and live island music aboard the boat.
The Island Time Cruise Co. paddlewheel boat is available for private charters for seminars, gatherings, celebrations and other special events.
The ship departs from Steamers Restaurant, located next to Gilbert’s Resort at MM 107 on Blackwater Sound. Tickets are available at Keys Diver, MM 99.6 bayside.
For more information, visit www.islandtimecruises.com or call 305-453-0001.
The Florida Keys History of Diving Museum, mile marker (MM) 83 bayside in Islamorada, is to dedicate its newest facility, the Bauer Diving History Research Library, on Feb. 29. The unique space is available to book for meetings and events.
Named after the young museum’s founders, Joe and Sally Bauer, the new facility serves as the repository of the Bauer Library Collection, which consists of about 2,500 volumes amassed by the Bauers over four decades. It is one of the most comprehensive collections of rare books relative to the story of undersea exploration.
The collection is focused on titles published prior to the mid-1900s and includes some publications dating back to the 1700s. Included are books, prints, woodcuts, catalogues and photographs illustrating diving history, treasure hunting, submarine warfare, natural history and other aspects of underwater exploration.
Custom archival-quality bookshelves and an art hanging system are part of the new features, as are wireless Internet and audiovisual equipment to make it a functional space for business meetings and events.
The museum is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The research library and meeting room are accessible during those hours.
For more information, visit www.divingmuseum.org.
Marathon’s newest full-service catering company, KarMichael’s, is equipped to cater group functions, luncheon meetings, corporate and other special events with its newly expanded menu of casual, island-style and finger-licking-good barbecue menu items.
Karen Dennis, co-owner of the area’s well-known Stuffed Pig breakfast and lunch eatery at 3520 Overseas Highway, oversees a separate catering staff with more than 25 years’ experience, including an event and wedding planner. KarMichael’s specialties include intimate dinner parties, banquets and functions for up to 300 people.
For a delicious sales meeting incentive, spicy reunion group or added ambiance at a corporate retreat, choose among Keys’ seafood favorites like lobster fritters, pecan crusted mahi mahi and smoked fish dip or Dennis’ marinated pulled pork among many other items. Cakes for all occasions are custom-baked.
Because of their conveniently central location, KarMichael’s can accommodate catered group events and meetings between Key Largo and Key West. For more information, visit www.karmichaelscatering.com.
Once business is complete the fun can begin, and group guests can try their luck aboard the Tropical Breeze Casino, the island chain’s newest casino cruise ship.
The 10,000-square-foot casino area is a gamers’ dream, offering blackjack and craps tables with buy-ins as low as $5, poker and mini-baccarat tables as well as several slot machines.
The floating casino also features two full bars, a restaurant and a top viewing deck perfect for stargazing, dolphin watching or simply enjoying the ride.
The Tropical Breeze Casino cruises Keys waters Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and nightly from 6 to 11 p.m. departing from Key West Harbour Yacht Club, 6000 Peninsular Ave. on Stock Island. Tickets are $20 and reservations are required. Patrons must be at least 18 years old.
Key West’s Old Town Trolley will transport casino patrons from four of its centrally located stops to the Key West Harbour Yacht Club.
For more information, visit www.tropicalbreezecasino.com or call 305-294-3990.
A historic U.S. Coast Guard cutter is now available as a unique setting for events ranging from corporate gatherings to business or personal celebrations. The 327-foot Ingham, when retired in 1988 after 52 years of service, was the oldest serving and most decorated naval vessel.
Now a floating museum and a registered National Historic Landmark, Ingham is docked on Key West’s Truman Waterfront. Its historic significance, nautical ambiance, large deck space and unobstructed view of the island’s famed sunset over Key West Harbor makes it an ideal venue for cocktail parties and catered dinners, military reunions, weddings and receptions, fundraising events, corporate functions and more.
Launched in 1936, Ingham is one of only two preserved Secretary-class cutters. According to Coast Guard historical records, it is the only cutter ever awarded two Navy Presidential Unit citations.
The ship served during World War II, the Korean Conflict and Vietnam War. In 1980, when thousands of Cubans fled Mariel, Cuba, the vessel performed search-and-rescue missions in Florida Keys and South Florida waters, and saved many Cuban lives.
Ingham visitors can tour areas ranging from the ship’s radio room and engine room to the mess deck and commanding officer’s quarters.
Artifacts on display in the exhibit room include code bags for transporting classified messages, telescopes, weapons, uniforms and helmets, navigational equipment and photographs documenting Ingham’s construction and long years of service.
Event pricing varies based on the type of gathering. For more information, contact Katie Powell at 305-896-5338. For overall information about Ingham, visit www.uscgcingham.org/.
The historic and architecturally unique Casa Antigua was the first place Ernest Hemingway resided in Key West, where he worked on “A Farewell to Arms” in 1928. Recently, the building’s ground level and open-air garden atrium have become available to the public for private event rentals.
Located at 314 Simonton St., Casa Antigua was once the Trev-Mor Ford dealership. Hemingway meant Key West to be a stopping-off point when he arrived in 1928 by sea from Paris, but the Ford car that should have been waiting at the docks was delayed — so the car dealer persuaded Hemingway and his wife Pauline to stay at the Trev-Mor Hotel above the dealership.
Their extended stay sparked Hemingway’s fascination with Key West and led to his decade-long sojourn on the island.
Today, the property is fully restored to feature the Pelican Poop Shoppe, offering Caribbean gifts, and a luxuriant atrium garden. Its attractions include 80 orchids, star fruit, palm trees and other foliage, a pool and fountain — all surrounded by the brickwork of the building whose private rooms, hugging the exterior walls but leaving the center open to the sky, make up the most unusual home in Key West.
Casa Antigua can be booked 365 days a year for afternoon and early evening events serving up to 200 guests.
For more information, call Lee at 305-849-3473 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay Virtually Connected
Small and large groups traveling to the Florida Keys & Key West now can “visit” the destination prior to traveling or “revisit” it afterward to spark subtropical memories. Located on each region’s home page of the Keys’ tourism website at www.fla-keys.com are brief television news–style video overviews. Shot in high definition, the mini-features spotlight enticing, quirky and informative aspects of each of the five regions from Key Largo to Key West.
Segments showcase attractions, activities, cuisine, festivals, water sports and the rich creative offerings of each district.
These mini-features address the continuing demand for multimedia and streaming video content to provide business and leisure travelers a window on the Keys.
Each mini-feature also is uploaded to a YouTube channel at YouTube.com/FloridaKeysTV, bringing a taste of the Keys to the Internet-savvy audiences that frequent this popular social media–sharing site.
Florida Keys information: www.fla-keys.com or 800-FLA-KEYS (800-352-5397)
Group travel information: www.fla-keys.com/traveltrade/meetingplanners.cfm