Miami’s blended population of people from South and Central America, the Caribbean and Europe gives the city a global feel that’s both hip and forward-looking. The largest meeting facilities include the Miami Beach Convention Center and the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Miami Airport Convention Center. Other major convention hotels include the Fontainebleu Miami Beach, Loews Miami Beach and the JW Marriott Marquis Miami. Planners might be surprised to learn that this major convention destination rolls out the welcome mat for small groups. The Greater Miami CVB has a Meetings Express program to handle groups of 100 rooms or less; a wealth of unusual venues and distinctive hotels cater to that market. Affordable transportation options include a free trolley that runs through downtown Coral Gables. You can get around South Beach for 25 cents or get from the airport to South Beach aboard the Airport Flyer in less than 30 minutes for $2.35.
The art deco Savoy Hotel has 75 guest rooms/suites, each different in design and décor and offering a city, pool or ocean view. Its indoor and outdoor meeting/event spaces include an 850-sq. ft. boardroom; the 500-sq. ft. Fendi Room; a 2,000-sq. ft. ballroom; the 3,640 square feet of the Ocean View Sundeck; and 12,000 square feet poolside. The Hard Rock Café Miami has a living museum of rock ’n’ roll memorabilia and three function spaces for music-centric or themed meetings/events, including the 100-person Sanctuary and a 500-person outdoor patio. The entire venue can accommodate up to 525 guests reception-style. Dave & Buster’s offers customizable spaces for groups of 20 to 2,000; private rooms with AV equipment; event planners who to assist you; and numerous team-building and entertainment options. Other options: the 1,567-seat Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts; the 2,461-seat Filmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater; the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center, with flexible seating and a 7,000-sq. ft. projection wall; the 567,000-sq. ft. Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, which can accommodate groups up to 6,000; the 28,000-sq. ft. James L. Knight Center, a multipurpose entertainment complex connected to the Miami Convention Center, with a 5,000-seat theater and a hall that holds 4,000 (reception) or 1,800 (banquet).
Each Miami neighborhoods has a distinct vibe and dining district, which works well for planners who want to do a progressive dinner or dine-around. In Miami Beach, restaurants are concentrated around Lincoln Road and Ocean Drive. In downtown Miami, look at Mary Brickell Village and Brickell Avenue. Coral Gables has its Miracle Mile, and Coconut Grove has Main Highway and Coco Walk. The same districts offer nightclubs for after-dinner entertainment or atmospheric meeting/reception space. Miami is also all about the water, so if you want to add a little scenic drama, schedule your VIP dinner in one of the private rooms at Smith & Wollensky Miami. Most of the eight rooms, from a cigar bar (accommodates 40) to an outdoor deck (150 guests) to the glass-enclosed Park Room. Alternately, stuff goodie bags or decorate buffets with tasty reminders of Miami’s diverse flavors — Cuban pastelitos from El Brazo Fuerte Bakery, Key lime cookies from Floribbean or mango juice from JCS Kitchen. Create a dessert centerpiece with chic cakes or cupcakes from LA Sweets, which offers guava and pina colada flavors alongside more traditional favorites.
Find everything you need and then some at the oceanfront Loews Miami Beach Hotel in South Beach. It has 790 guest rooms/suites, first-class meeting facilities, off-hours entertainment, and activities for spouses and children. The Loews also has 65,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space for groups up to 3,000; a full-service business center; a 900-ft.-wide beach plus an oceanfront swimming pool with a Jacuzzi and cabanas; a spa and fitness center; five dining options, including one poolside; a lobby aquarium wall; the Loews Loves Kids program; and pet-pampering accommodations.
Thriller Miami Speedboat Tours give attendees a view of the city’s mansions, architecture and islands. Coral Castle offers guided tours that explore the architectural achievements of one man who was able to quarry, carve and place mammoth slabs of coral in complex arrangements by himself in the dead of night. Other options: Miami Food Tour walking tours of South Beach, Everglades airboat tours, Biscayne Bay boat tours by yacht or catamaran, art deco architecture tours and bowling parties at Lucky Strike Lanes. Miami also is home to some of the country’s best spas, including The Spa at Doral and Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa, Canyon Ranch and The Spa at the Four Seasons Miami.
Miami has many Florida Green Lodging-certified hotels and a countywide sustainability initiative that aims to conserve water at hotels and restaurants. The CVB has a comprehensive list of eco-friendly venues, activities and initiatives. DecoBike Miami Beach offers an option to shuttles with bikes that let attendees explore nooks of the city inaccessible by taxi or car. GoCar, a certified carbon-neutral company, offers GPS-guided electric cars that deliver customized directions and stories to passengers as they pass significant sites.
The Greater Miami CVB’s Convention Services department can help planners connect with nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity to build playgrounds, beautify neighborhoods, clean up beaches, assemble bicycles for children and more. Miami Tourism 4 Haiti is a citywide program that helps raise money for aid efforts in Haiti.
For more information or planning assistance, contact the Greater Miami CVB.