Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Issue: September/October 2013
Meeting At The Beach
By: Solomon J. Herbert II
Major regional medical conventions, hemispheric financial conferences, and international professional gatherings have been held at beachside resorts and venues for years. But increasingly - thanks to the availability of meeting rooms and exhibit space, together with today's modern telecommunications network, frequent airline connections, and unmatched tourist attractions - many of the beach destinations across the world are being recognized as locations of choice for businesses, organizations and professional groups that want to complement the usefulness of their meetings and conferences with pleasure.

Beach Resorts are especially prevalent in Central America and the Caribbean. Closely related to these resorts are convention and large meeting sites. Generally these occur in cities where special meeting halls, together with ample accommodations, as well as varied dining and entertainment, are provided. Typically, in these cities there might be several hotels that are located close to each other, allowing for multiple functions at different spots.

Many of the beach resorts/hotels around the world offer a comfortable and fun environment for functions such as weddings, family reunions, bachelor/bachelorette parties, fraternal organization conferences and many other types of group meetings. Because of the all-inclusive aspect of many of the beach resorts, planners have the option to offer their clients reasonable package deals that could save money in the pocket book in the long run. And we know everyone likes a deal!

Planning a meeting at the beach can be a very exciting venture. The experienced planner has the option to make efficient use of your group's time by interweaving substantive business meetings with entertaining "theme nights," intriguing excursions, visits to cultural attractions and, of course, lots of simple leisure-time fun. Trips to historic sites, natural attractions, championship golf courses, world-class shopping centers, or magnificent beaches, can be easily integrated with the formalities.


Virginia Beach is a meeting locale that rivals any on the East Coast. With more hotels, entertainment, shopping and dining options than ever, it's the ideal place to bring people together year-round. You'll find the perfect balance of coastal charm and big-city amenities. There's a Virginia Beach vibe that's right for your event. The city showcases venues and amenities that appeal to associations of all sizes and rival most metropolitan areas.

Virginia Beach boasts 35 miles of coastline from the Chesapeake Bay, the Resort Area on the ocean coast (including one of the best boardwalks around) and the East Coast beach hideaway of Sandbridge. Tranquil, scenic and the perfect place to relax, Chesapeake Bay Beach offers a low-key alternative to the Atlantic Ocean. Campers, bikers and runners can explore and find adventure in the neighboring First Landing State Park.

At the center of it all is the Virginia Beach Convention Center, the Nation's first convention center to earn LEED® Gold certification1 from the U.S. Green Building Council. It can hold any size meeting imaginable, with over 525,125 gross sq. ft., over 150,000 sq. ft. of column-free exhibit space, nearly 29,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, a ballroom measuring over 31,000 sq. ft. (one of the largest on the east coast), and 2,209 free parking spaces.

Virginia Beach's reputation for being an outstanding sports destination is supported by the multiple first-class facilities offered to national and international sporting associations. The Virginia Beach Sportsplex is a perfect example of the superior sporting facilities offered in the coastal city.

Whether planning spousal activities for your delegates traveling with families, or organizing an incentive getaway program for your corporate client, the city's three beautiful beaches are free and always open to the public.

For booking contact Al Hutchinson and the sales team at (757) 385-6652.


Located in the heart of South Beach, the Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC) boasts over 1,000,000 sq. ft. of flexible space, including; over 500,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, over 100,000 sq. ft. of versatile pre-function area space and 70 meeting rooms comprised of 127,000 sq. ft.  The dynamic and international City of Miami Beach is a unique, sophisticated, urban paradise, offering world-class business amenities and cosmopolitan facilities in a laid-back tropical atmosphere.  Planners who choose the Miami Beach Convention Center will soon discover that combining business with pleasure is as effortless as convening a conference on a waterfront terrace.

Spanning four city blocks of palm tree lined streets and located in the heart of the electrifying and historic South Beach/Art Deco District, the Miami Beach Convention Center is a meeting, convention, tradeshow and consumer show paradise.  White sandy beaches, warm ocean waters, terrific shopping, award winning restaurants, cool cafes and exciting nightlife make Miami Beach a premier choice for your next event.  In addition, with over 2,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of the Miami Beach Convention Center and the warm Atlantic Ocean, and only a brief 15 minute drive from Miami International Airport, your group will be sure to enjoy the city's world famous weather and cosmopolitan lifestyle throughout their entire visit.

For all your business needs please visit the UPS Store Business Center and Self Service Kiosks located on the 3rd Floor Skywalk above Halls A and B.   You can go to the Visit Miami Beach - Visitors Center permanently located in the lobby of Hall C for all your information and sundry needs, including motorized scooter and stroller rentals.  Other amenities include four board rooms, cyber cafĂ©, box offices, concierge desks, concession stands, show offices and a uniquely designed skywalk that features a center pod with a buffet & cocktail lounge and an unrestricted view of all four exhibit halls.

For booking, contact Ileana Garcia and the sales & marketing team at (786) 276-2607.


No matter how big or small the event, the service and amenities at the Montego Bay Convention Centre make for memorable meetings. With this venue's ocean front location and breathtaking views, the Montego Bay Convention Centre offers one of the most beautiful settings in the world. The facility is the newest addition to Jamaica's Meetings and Conventions market, with a combined total of 142,000 sq. ft. of meeting, exhibition, ballroom, and plenary space.

World-class facilities have been combined with cutting edge design, giving you and your guest's unparalleled space, flexibility and service in this vibrant Caribbean Island. The Montego Bay Convention Centre can accommodate events that range from intimate gatherings to large-scale expos. The focus is on keeping attendees happy, which will ultimately produce an effective event. Among many options, choose from convenient exhibit space for booths and general assemblies, nine meeting rooms configured for any need, or a Grand Ballroom with a state-of-the-art kitchen.

The Centre's Exhibition Hall is divisible into two areas, accommodating 6,000 persons theatre style. The Banquet Hall is divisible into three sections with a total capacity of 1,600 persons banquet style. Total gross meeting space measures 10,367 sq. ft. and affords the flexibility of conversion into nine meeting rooms. The largest room can accommodate up to 600 persons.

Since Jamaica is a tropical destination it wont be hard to find cool and interesting things to get into while on leisure time from all the business being conducted. Consistently ranked one of the top golf courses in the world, the classic Robert Trent Jones Sr. course is sculpted out of the foothills of the western Jamaican coastline, and has an international reputation for being challenging and breathtaking.

Located on the Walter Fletcher Beach Complex, the Aquasol Theme Park offers activities for the young and young at heart including watersports, go-cart racing and tennis.

For booking, contact Michelle Parkes and the sales & marketing team at (876) 622-9330.


Escape to The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas luxury hotel and leave the world behind with an island retreat immersed in the warmth and incomparable charm of the Caribbean. Nestled within a 30-acre waterfront estate, this pristine resort beckons with dazzling white-sand beaches, perfumed tropical gardens and endless pursuits of happiness as each day goes by. Treat yourself to an unforgettable experience and step into a world of comfort and blissful solitude where time moves slowly and life is as easy and care free as a day spent on the beach. Find peace and tranquility with an unforgettable spa experience or simply kick back and relax in the cool Caribbean breeze with a signature rum punch in hand.

The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas specializes in pairing ideal meeting space with impeccable service. All indoor meeting rooms and event spaces have floor-to-ceiling windows with stunning ocean views, and unique outdoor settings abound. From exclusive board meetings to product launches or corporate-wide celebrations, the natural beauty of the tropics will ensure all your events are memorably excellent.

Discover the many signature features of the hotel's Caribbean meeting facilities, which include 10,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor conference and event space, a 2,500-sq. ft. Great Bay Ballroom, stunning views of Great Bay and St. John, as well as accommodations in meeting rooms for up to 200 guests.

While staying at the Ritz guests are encouraged to take advantage of the unique location near both St. John and the British Virgin Islands while never leaving the comfort of The Ritz-Carlton. (i)Lady Lynsey(ei), the resort's luxury 53-ft. catamaran, picks you up right from the resort's beach and is the most magnificent way to explore this alluring destination. There are a variety of sailing excursions for you to enjoy, including half- and full-day trips with snorkeling, sunset sails, full-day St. John beaches and snorkeling excursions, pirate treasure hunts, dinner sails to St. John, as well as private charters for up to 49 guests.

For booking contact (340) 775-3333.


Ft. Lauderdale's conference facilities provide a great venue to host your conference, meeting or event. The location of the Greater Fort Lauderdale / Broward County Convention Center is irresistible. This Florida convention center is nestled on the Intracoastal Waterway, and surrounded by all that South Florida has to offer. The Fort Lauderdale Convention Center will help you through each step, from event booking and planning to exhibitor setup, ensuring a great conference, trade show, company meeting or event.

The high-tech 600,000 sq. ft. three-level meeting and exhibit conference facilities feature state-of-the-art technological services, including teleconference facilities, high-speed wireless Internet access, digital phone lines and business grade telephonic services. The conference venue technical service team is able to provide you with the latest in technology to ensure your conference or event runs as smoothly as possible.

In the near vicinity of the convention center conference attendees have many options of outdoor fun in the sun activities. Plunge into a culture as deep as the ocean which frames the city. Experience a culture characterized by Seminoles and Broadway shows. Tasty jazz and art festivals fill the city streets all year round. And like the horizon here, the list goes on and on and on. Be sure to check out the concert schedules at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in the downtown Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District, Hard Rock Live in Hollywood and the BB&T Center in Sunrise.

The Best Boat Club offers travelers a boating experience they will never forget! Rent for the day, or join the club and save year-round! Captain your own boat as you navigate South Florida's waterways and see firsthand why it has been dubbed the "Venice of America." Choose from the largest fleet in Broward to Ski! Fish! Dive! or simply relax the day away.

For booking contact Twee Vuong at (954) 765-5900 or


The Waterside Convention Center is located in the downtown waterfront area and is attached on three floors to the Waterside Marriott Hotel. The center contains 36,365 sq. ft. of function space, 19 meeting rooms, and is elegantly decorated with fine furnishings and antiques. The largest exhibit hall is 14,400 sq. ft. and can accommodate 2,400 guests in a reception, 2,000 in a theater set-up and 1,400 for a banquet.

Located on the picturesque Elizabeth River waterfront, the Waterside Marriott Hotel provides ample lodging for conference attendees in Norfolk. From its convenient connection to the Waterside Convention Center to the nearby Children's Museum of Virginia, Norfolk Naval Station or the Virginia Zoo, this Marriott location is ideal for business or leisure guests.

Conference attendees and leisure travelers alike can enjoy the beautiful seas of Norfolk by simply boarding the (i)American Rover(ei) Norfolk Harbor Sailing Cruise. Set Sail with the friendly and experienced crew of this 125 passenger Sailing Schooner. This service offers daytime and sunset harbor cruises under sail on the smooth waters of the Elizabeth River and the Port of Virginia. Help hoist the sails, take a turn at the helm, or just relax as the captain points out the sights of the historic Norfolk Harbor.

Just one town over in Alexandria, visitors can explore the some of Virginia's rich history at The African-American Heritage Park. This natural habitat was designed to co-exist with the original landscape of the cemetery and preserves the interesting and varied plant life on this site. The park's innovative plan also sustains a wetland area that provides a home for mallards, painted turtles, beavers and crayfish in their natural habitat. The focal point of the park is a sculpture group of bronze trees called "Truths that Rise from the Roots Remembered" by sculptor Jerome Meadows. This formation acknowledges the contributions of African-Americans to the growth of Alexandria.

For booking call (757) 628-6501.


Whether you are planning a tradeshow, convention, corporate meeting or special event, the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center is an ideal location.

Located in the heart of downtown Long Beach, the Center is within walking distance to first-class accommodations (more than 5,000 rooms citywide, most within the downtown area), shopping, dining, attractions, sightseeing along picturesque bays and 5 1/2 miles of sandy beach.

The Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center is a spectacular multi-purpose complex - one of the few waterfront facilities nationwide, featuring more than 400,000 sq. ft. of flexible exhibit and meeting space, two theaters, an arena and 34 meeting rooms. The glass concourse and lobby offer expansive views of the scenic harbor and downtown skyline. A pedestrian promenade links hotels, shops, restaurants and attractions with the Pacific Ocean.

The beautiful Terrace Theater, a full production theater that seats 3,051, is an integral part of the convention center complex. The orchestra seating is shaped in a comfortable continental style. There are spaces for wheelchair seating. The Terrace Lobby contains a full glass front with a view of the Terrace fountain. There is an ocean view on the East side of the facility and a downtown cityscape view from the front of the Theater.

Long Beach is one giant playground located right in the heart of Southern California. Conference attendees have many options for entertainment and leisure in this sunny destination. Here you can experience it all from a deep sea adventure at the Aquarium of the Pacific right on the bay and a voyage in time aboard the historic (i)Queen Mary(ei) to lively guided tours through downtown and the colorful East Village. Within an hour's drive, you can explore the fabulous worlds of Universal Studios Hollywood, Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure and every major Southern California attraction.

Visitors are also encouraged to catch a musical masterpiece at the waterside Long Beach Performing Arts Center, home to the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, Long Beach Opera and International City Theater.

For booking contact Allison Lesser and the Sales dept. at (562) 495-8359.


Whether you're planning a conference, meeting, regional or global incentive, Carnival is the perfect choice for your next event. This cruise line can accommodate groups ranging in size from 16 to 3,500 guests.

A program with Carnival offers far greater value, is much easier to plan and is less expensive than a land-based program. This cruise line includes just about everything, a choice of accommodations, meeting space and venues with a/v equipment, all onboard meals plus 24-hour room service, onboard activities and entertainment. Carnival also offers extensive options so that you can customize your program to meet all of your needs, as well as your budget.

Best of all, your group is bound to enjoy your program, while cruising with "The World's Most Popular Cruise Line". The 24 spectacular ships offer a host of resort amenities, an extensive variety of activities and live entertainment including spectacular production shows, delicious dining options plus Carnival's friendly and attentive service.

Planners have a choice of picking from a 3-day, 4-day, 5-day, 6-day, 7-day, or longer program. The cruise line departs from popular destinations including The Bahamas, Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Bermuda, Canada & New England and Europe. There are 15 convenient U.S. domestic departure ports as well.

In addition to your group's agenda and planned onboard events, there's so much to do and experience on a Carnival "Fun Ship." This cruise line offers a variety of activities and recreational pursuits, each and every day.

Travelers can go for a workout at the state-of-the-art Fitness Center or they can treat themselves to a wellness therapy or a restorative treatment at Spa Carnival. Take an aerobics, yoga, tai chi or Pilates class. Folks can get in a daily run or walk on the ship-top jogging track. The list of activities is almost never-ending on a Carnival Cruise.

For more information call (800) 764-7419.

It's obvious that group travel and leisure travel at beachside venues and resorts is definitely an extremely cost effective and convenient method of getting away from it all and still upholding a sense of professionalism all in one location. With the current crisis in the Middle East and an economy struggling to rebound, folks want something to smile and be happy about through it all. Bringing your group to a fun location to hold a meeting could be just that relaxing fix that will put your attendees at ease and give them a chance to escape from it all but still be productive.

Meet Brilliantly