Greater Fort Lauderdale is changing. What once was known almost exclusively as a spring break destination is now a growing tech hub with a thriving arts scene and a diverse range of meeting offerings. The destination, of course, still features the same sun and sand that it always has been known for, but following a major growth spurt, including breaking ground on a massive convention center expansion, Greater Fort Lauderdale offers a lot more than pristine beaches.
Once the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center’s renovation and expansion is complete in 2023, the venue will offer an additional 525,000 square feet of meeting space — including 350,000 contiguous square feet of exhibits and a new 65,000 square-foot waterfront ballroom. The soon-to-be 1.2 million-square-foot conference center, which sits along the scenic Intracoastal Waterway, also will feature new technology integrated throughout the property, original dining concepts, enhanced water-taxi access, and a new waterfront plaza available to the public.
“Outside the building, our waterfront setting will offer multiple event areas, food and beverage venues, an outdoor amphitheater, and boat docks,” Ed Simon, executive vice president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, tells PCMA. “Best of all, this entire complex is just minutes from our airport, our central entertainment district, our beaches, and so much more. Our city’s compact footprint makes it quick, easy, and cost-effective to fit any of our numerous recreational, educational, and entertainment offerings into a group’s meeting agenda.”
Also as part of the convention center’s expansion, there will be a new, connected upscale 800-room headquarters hotel. The proposed Omni Hotels and Resorts property will include a mix of meeting space, accommodations, retail, and dining options, and offer sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean. Plus, the new hotel and convention center are just a five-minute drive from Broward County’s Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and less than one mile from Broward County’s famed Blue Wave beaches. The LEED-EB Gold Certified convention center is also within walking distance of a lot of the area’s top restaurants and activities.
In addition, while Greater Fort Lauderdale has long been a standout destination for marine-focused meetings, it’s a growing tech hub. “We have the talent, facilities, and educational institutions from which our groups can secure speakers, content, tours, and other resources to help enrich the group’s education and experience,” says Simon. “It is a surprise to many, however, that the tech industry has been here for a long time, too. The first smartphone, named Simon, was created here in Broward County. Some big-name tech companies, like Citrix, Chewy, Magic Leap, and Ultimate Software, were born here, and many others are moving and or expanding here.”
With all these new improvements, the southern Florida meetings destination will have even more to offer planners and attendees. Plus, the city is an ideal mix of a bustling downtown urban center offset by the beauty of nature and an endless list of outdoor activities. “Greater Fort Lauderdale offers visitors of all ages spectacular sights and experiences to enjoy throughout their stay,” says Stacy Ritter, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau. “From paddleboarding along the Intracoastal Waterway and riding airboats in the Everglades to snorkeling among coral reefs and kayaking in the mangroves, the city offers plenty of outdoor fun for visitors seeking adventure.”