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As we move forward with plans to meet again, we know the experience will be different. New safety practices and procedures have already become a way of life. New trends point to smaller meetings becoming more popular, increased interest in outdoor activities, buyouts of space and venues to create a “bubble” atmosphere and possible integration of some virtual elements. In collaboration with the destination partners, Visit Sarasota County is prepared and eager to host in-person meetings. As a Gulf Coast beach destination, we offer planners looking for their next small meeting destination several benefits suitable for this new era. Here are six to consider:
- New Safety Standards
The entire destination has been working to establish new procedures and protocols to address visitors’ wellbeing from the moment they arrive, throughout their stay. From the airport, to hotels, attractions, event venues and restaurants, each has implemented these new practices. Planners seeking an overview of the variety of safety procedures can visit VisitSarasota.com.
- More Direct Flights into SRQ
Even through the pandemic, Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport continues to add more direct flights from their top airline partners. Unlike many smaller cities, Sarasota-Bradenton airport provides direct flights from more than 40 cities, including New York, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Atlanta, making it an especially convenient destination to consider.
- Ways to Save
For many in this economy, budgets are tight. In consideration of this, Visit Sarasota encourages groups to take advantage of incentive offers for qualifying groups. For those looking to try a new destination, or considering a smaller destination to suit a smaller program, Visit Sarasota County offers their Meeting Incentive Program for first-time Sarasota groups or those that haven’t visited within the last three years. For organizations already in the area and looking to stay close to home, the Bring It Home Incentive provides savings for those within Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties in Florida.
- Outdoor Activities Galore
Outdoor activities have remained popular as people look for safe ways to get out of their homes. For attendees, opportunities to get outdoors will remain an attractive and important component to a program. Sarasota County offers an abundance of ways to relax and team build while enjoying nature. Not only are there miles of beautiful white-sand beaches, including the top-ranked beach in the US by TripAdvisor, Siesta Beach, but there is kayaking through mangrove tunnels of Lido Key; an enjoyable combination of art and nature on display at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens; and the wonderful nature tours and unforgettable Canopy Walkway at Myakka River State Park. For golfers, there are an array of scenic and challenging courses perfect for group bonding.
- Evolving with New and Unique Experiences
The destination has continued to evolve to offer groups new and exciting experiences and opportunities. The Resort at Longboat Key Club, recently named a top Florida resort for 2020 by Travel + Leisure, is completing a major renovation which refreshes every guest room and adds two new restaurants, including the upscale Latitudes, which features its own private dining room. One-of-a-kind experiences which showcase Sarasota’s vast natural resources, arts and culture have also recently been introduced. Yoga with Tigers at Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary is now available for private corporate and group events. Combining relaxation and fitness while surrounded by the sounds of big cats and other 150+ animals (all of whom are safely inside their enclosures), this unique option is sure to be memorable for attendees. The newest gallery offers groups a chance to learn the innovative artistry of Alexis Fraser, commonly known as Lipstick Lex, as she uses lipstick as her medium; or use of the fun and eclectic 2,600 square ft venue for an event of their own.
- Options Across the Board
Even with its small-time charm, Sarasota offers a wide range of accommodation options, from the budget-friendly to the top end of luxury. From the stylish Aloft Sarasota and Art Ovation Hotel, both in Downtown Sarasota, to the resort luxuries of the Lido Beach Resort and The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, there is an option for practically every group.
To make it all as easy to plan as possible, we recently launched a completely redesigned the Visit Sarasota meetings website, so that planners have a one-stop location to help plan their Sarasota Meeting.