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Industry Briefs

Groups looking for a Florida meetings experience can enjoy a unique combination of charm and culture in Sarasota, Florida.  Tucked into Florida’s Gulf coast, just 60 miles south of Tampa, Sarasota offers 40 miles of coastline encompassed by six barrier islands. The destination boasts big-city amenities in a sophisticated small-town setting, giving groups diverse offerings - from the coast, to the circus to rich African-American culture. 

Not to be confused with The Florida Keys, located at the southernmost point of Florida, Many of Sarasota’s barrier islands are referred to as “Keys.”  Each island boasts beaches with distinctive charm, from Longboat Key, the northernmost and longest island along Sarasota's coast to the affluent and secluded Casey Key, home of noted names such as author Stephen King. 

A unique facet of the destination is its circus history, thanks to the legacy of circus magnate John Ringling of the Ringling Brothers Circus who moved the circus’ winter headquarters to Sarasota in 1927. Today, Sarasota is known as the “Circus Capital of the World,” with many offerings designed to honor the past, present, and future of the circus in a sprawling Ringling campus. 

With 37 meeting hotels, 40 special event venues and 110,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, the destination is ideal for groups up to 400 people.  The Hyatt Regency offers the largest inventory of guest rooms, with 294, while the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota offers the largest meeting space at 26,000 square feet.  Small groups may opt for the destination’s smallest meetings hotel, the Sarasota Modern Hotel with  89 guest rooms and 1,200 sq. ft. of meeting space. 


The rich African-American culture adds an additional dimension for groups to enjoy.  An ideal complement to any program would be a tour of the Newtown African American Heritage Trail. The trail marks the history of the namesake African-American community’s people, places and events that greatly contributed to the development of Sarasota. A 2-hour Sunday Gospel Tour of Historic Churches provides guests firsthand access via trolley. Guests will enjoy  presentations from local historical figures, enjoy a “raise-the-roof praise service” and learn about Sarasota's civil rights history from a local community scholar and song leader. Planners interested can learn more at

With a delicate balance of bustling and charming, Sarasota is an ideal destination for a meeting, reunion or incentive. As an added bonus, qualified groups may be eligible for destination incentives on dining, transportation, wellness programs and cash rebates. Interested planners can contact the destination at

The destination is accessible through the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, which now offers nonstop flights to and from 30 cities in the U.S. and Canada, serviced by: Air Canada, Allegiant, American Airlines, Delta, Elite Airways, Frontier, Jet Blue and United Airlines. 

Sarasota offers groups a unique taste of Florida, punctuated by its rich African-American heritage.