What started as a spring break paradise in the ’60s has evolved into something decidedly more grown-up. The sun, sand, and revelry are all still there, but the destination’s multicultural populace, thriving arts scene, and status as the state’s LGBT+ capital has significantly broadened its appeal. And it doesn’t hurt that Greater Fort Lauderdale is just plain fun. Where else can attendees take a water taxi from their hotel to their convention?
Right now, Greater Fort Lauderdale is going through another growth spurt. Besides a slew of hotel openings and renovations debuting this year, the expansion of the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center is close to breaking ground, according to Ed Simon, senior vice president of convention sales and services for the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB. The $750-million convention center district enhancement project will add more than 500,000 square feet of LEED Gold-certified indoor and outdoor space to the convention center, as well as open a new visitor center and intermodal transit center. Plans also call for an 800-room, Omni-branded headquarters hotel with more than 73,000 square feet of meeting space, adding to the destination’s inventory of 34,000 hotel rooms.
The city’s culinary scene is growing, too. In 2017, chef Geoffrey Zakarian, an Iron Chef and “Chopped” judge, opened Point Royal at The Diplomat Beach Resort, which wrapped a $100-million renovation the same year. The 1,000-room resort, which has 200,000 square feet of meeting space, is also the home of Michael Schulson’s Monkitail, a Japanese izakaya restaurant that USA Today readers voted the best hotel restaurant in America.
But it’s not all sleek and swanky hotel restaurants here. “We certainly have a very diverse dining scene,” Simon said. “And there are a lot of new additions, from smaller bistros with sidewalk seating on Las Olas Boulevard, to edgy brewpubs in downtown Fort Lauderdale and neighborhoods to the north of the city, and dock-and-dine restaurants near the convention center.”
Groups aren’t limited to Uber and taxis when they head to dinner — the Water Taxi makes more than a dozen stops along the Intracoastal Waterway in both Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood. Transit options in South Florida are continuing to increase with the recent debut of Brightline passenger rail service and a planned expansion of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Increased transit options bode well not only for visiting groups, but the entrepreneurs that are flocking to Broward County, which Inc. called “a hotbed for startups,” “We’re seeing a great deal of group business coming from the tech industry,” Simon said, adding that they are also seeing more interest from the pharmaceutical and health-care industries. “We have a cutting-edge workforce, and industries aren’t just bringing their headquarters here, they are choosing to meet here.”
Start planning now with Greater Fort Lauderdale’s Vacation Planner. Visit sunny.org/vacationplanner to browse a wide array of restaurants, water and land activities, accommodations, entertainment, and other ways to have the best meeting ever.
For more information on Meeting Incentives in Greater Fort Lauderdale, visit www.sunny.org/meetingdeals.