Offering a Sense of Place, Great Meeting Space, Attractions and Easy Accessibility
CHARLOTTE HARBOR & THE GULF ISLANDS, Fla. (June 20, 2014) – Meeting planners seeking an accessible yet out of the mainstream locale for their next conference or incentive program need look no further than Southwest Florida’s quaint Gulf side communities that comprise Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands. Not familiar with their meeting facilities and accommodation/dining/activities offerings? Let us inform you!
In historic downtown Punta Gorda, Fla., the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center (http://www.charlotteharborecc.com) opened in 2009. The facility offers 44,000 sq. ft. of event space and rises against azure skies to the south and the shimmering waterfront to the north, making it a compelling gateway to historic Punta Gorda.
When opened, the $19.7 million facility was the capstone of area recovery and revitalization after Hurricane Charley swept through in 2004, and ushered in a new category of tourism for the region -- group meetings. Outfitted with the latest technology, the state-of-the-art facility has attracted diverse meetings and conferences from instate organizations and is now poised to host regional and national organizations as well. It is also a great venue for entertainment, sports, cultural, and educational events.
The Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center has seen a growth in bookings, event days, and revenue since opening and is on track in 2014 to beat budgeted projections.
To accommodate out-of-town attendees, three hotels are within walking distance: Four Points by Sheraton Punta Gorda Harborside, Punta Gorda Waterfront, and the Wyvern Hotel; while the Fishermen’s Village Resort Villas are a short distance down the street. Recent meetings held at the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center include:
- Florida Association of Pupil Transportation—June 2013
- Eastern Outdoor Reps Association Summer & Winter Shows—July & Dec. 2013
- Florida Winter National Wood Art Expo—Jan. 2014
- Florida Anthropological Society—May 2014
Three conference halls offer space for 112 exhibit booths or 1,500 people in theatre-style seating. While additional meeting rooms can accommodate 388 attendees theatre-style.
To meet visitor needs and expectations, other developments to the tourism infrastructure over the past few years have included:
• Expanded air service from 23 markets into the Punta Gorda Airport via Allegiant Air;
• More than 600 hotel rooms added since 2008;
• Expanded restaurant selections ranging from casual to gourmet;
• Tampa Bay Rays Spring Training and the Charlotte Stone Crabs, the High A Affiliate to the Rays.
Of special note, Punta Gorda is solidifying itself as the arts and cultural center of the area with a bevy of local galleries and artists and respected theatre and symphony companies. New art galleries are on the scene, and a series of 27 building-size murals depicting the area’s rich history offer a great walking tour.
Beyond Punta Gorda, the surrounding collection of eight charming coastal communities portrays authentic Florida intertwined with artsy enclaves welcoming nearly 300,000 visitors annually, and is a meeting and incentive destination worth a look.
From Englewood Beach south to Punta Gorda, the communities in Charlotte County include Boca Grande, Don Pedro Island, Cape Haze, Englewood, Knight Island, Little Gasparilla Island and Manasota Key. Each has its own enticements and distinctive personality with features such as a picturesque lighthouse, miles of white sandy beach, quaint shops, an historic fishing village, a playground of Presidents, accessibility via ferry, state park amenities, and world class tarpon fishing.
Of particular note is the Palm Island Resort, accessible only by car ferry; and once there the primary means of transportation are golf carts, bicycles and walking. Set amid white sandy beaches and lush tropical foliage, there are few meeting spots that compare with Palm Island Resort’s ambiance. Due to their size, you will most likely be the only group convening at the time and will not have to compete with other or larger groups for attention, service or facilities. And you will capture the undivided attention of your attendees by not competing with the distraction common to mainland venues.
Indoor and outdoor facilities offer varied settings and can accommodate up to 120 people. Big or small, their service staff and culinary team provides attentive service in a relaxed, island atmosphere yet ever-mindful that your event is what memories will be made of. At the Palm Island Resort they regularly schedule group programs for meeting attendees such as “Survivor” themed team building activities, stand up paddleboard races, and crab boils. Plus daily the following programs are available for guest to enjoy: Paddle Board and kayak lessons and tours, nature tours with bird and turtle identification instruction, shark tooth hunts and crafts with their resident Pirate Red Beard (for kids of all ages)! Boogie boards, rafts, kayaks, fishing equipment, bicycles, golf carts and more are available to rent. Of course, there are always fishing charters too! The resort staff will book back water, tarpon and off shore fishing excursions, and fresh caught "eating fish" can be brought back to the resort's restaurant and prepared just the way the guest likes it. http://www.palmisland.com/.
Dining and Offsite Recreation
Locally harvested food is big here, as many chefs, restaurateurs and anglers make their living and livelihood from the bountiful Gulf of Mexico. From the quintessential Florida cracker crab shack where blue crabs pile high atop newspaper covered picnic tables at Peace River Seafood year round, to contemporary dishes that top retro, stainless steel tables set amidst a wash of riotous color at acclaimed Trabue, the dining options in Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands are as abundant as the fresh catch. At Fishermen’s Village waterfront shopping and dining complex, they welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors annually and it is one of the area’s designated “Clean Marinas.”
Long recognized for its expansive offerings as a premiere Southwest Florida Gulf Coast eco-tourism destination, after business sessions attendees can explore all that Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands offers, including sunset harbor cruises, world-class trophy fishing, wilderness and wildlife eco-tours to see the original Florida up close, and more. At the heart of the area’s tourism appeal lies 28 miles of welcoming, uncrowded beaches, prime deep-sea and inshore fishing waters, as well as nearly 200 miles of navigable (canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding) Blueway Trails along Charlotte Harbor and the Peace and Myakka rivers.
Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands offers over 20 golf courses, from executive to championship levels, but what truly separates it apart from the pack is its location. Right on the Gulf Coast of Florida, nestled between Sarasota and Fort Myers, Charlotte Harbor literally offers golfers a natural backdrop for their game. Boasting two Audubon sanctioned courses, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands was named the third best place in America to live and play golf by Golf Digest.
The beauty and bounty of the area is highly accessible. Punta Gorda Airport , which unveiled a $5.5 million terminal in 2007, is served by Allegiant Air from the following 23 markets:
Allentown, PA; Asheville, NC; Bangor, ME; Cedar Rapids, IA; Cincinnati, OH; Columbus, OH; Des Moines, IA; Fort Wayne, IN; Greenville/Spartanburg, SC; Knoxville, TN; Lexington, KY; Long Island, NY; Moline/Quad Cities, IL; Niagara Falls, NY; Peoria, IL; Portsmouth, NH; Rockford, IL; South Bend, IN; Springfield, IL; Springfield/Branson, MO; Plattsburgh, NY; Toledo, OH; and Youngstown, OH.
Many major domestic and international airlines offer direct service into Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Fort Myers, located 38 miles from Punta Gorda and Sarasota-Bradenton (SRQ) Airport both under an hour’s drive away. For more information about group meetings in Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands, contact Sean Doherty, Sales & Sports Marketing Manager, Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau, Sean.Doherty@CharlotteFL.com or Tel: 941-743-1900.
About Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands
Located halfway between Tampa and Naples on the Southwest Florida Gulf Coast, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands is a charming collection of nine coastal communities surrounding the state’s second largest harbor. Florida’s premier year-round eco-tourism destination, the area offers a pristine unspoiled beauty. In 2014 Port Charlotte has been named the top U.S. Best Value Destination by trivago.com, the world’s largest online hotel search site, and the Charlotte Sports Park, spring training home of the Tampa Bay Rays, was voted “Best Spring Training Facility” by readers of USA TODAY. A haven for outdoor enthusiasts, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands has been named one of SAIL magazine’s “10 Greatest Places to Sail in the United States,” ranked by Golf Digest as “Third Best Place to Live and Play Golf in America,” and rated by MONEY magazine as one of the “Best Places to Live in the South.” Englewood was named second of the Top Ten emerging travel destinations in the U.S. by TripAdvisor.com. The area is served by five airports: The Punta Gorda Airport (PDG) with private and charter air service, Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), Southwest Florida International Airport, Ft. Myers, (RSW), St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) and Tampa International Airport (TPA).
For more information on visiting Charlotte Harbor visit www.CharlotteHarborTravel.com or call1-800-652-6090.
Tourism Public Relations Manager Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau
Mary Jane Kolassa / Cindy Dobyns
Above Water Public Relations & Marketing
(407) 463-0040 / (239) 596-9149
MJKolassa@AboveWater.com / CDobyns@AboveWater.com
Charlotte Harbor Visitor
& Convention Bureau
18500 Murdock Circle, Suite B104
Port Charlotte, FL 33948
941-743-1900, FAX: 941-764-4932