Guide to Meeting & Event Planning in

Naples

Learn why you should host your next meeting, event or conference in Naples, Florida.

Why Naples for Your Next Meeting or Event?

While the untamed wilderness of the Everglades and stunning Gulf beaches would be enough to recommend this slice of subtropical paradise, Naples and Marco Island also have a sophisticated side: High-end boutiques, luxurious spas, renowned golf courses and an eclectic arts scene ensure that there's something for everyone to enjoy.

Only in Naples

Collier County announced an initiative to enhance the artistic and cultural offerings of the Naples-Marco Island area over the next several months. Funded in part by the Collier County Tourist Development Council, the development of an Arts and Culture Strategic Plan is intended to expand arts-related tourism in and around Naples and Marco Island. 

Naples and Marco Island also have a burgeoning reputation for wellness: The Blue Zones Project, a healthy-communities initiative, spearheaded the inaugural Paradise Coast Wellness Experience this January, which included activities like walks, yoga, meditation and workshops on topics like stress reduction and essential oils.

Transportation in & Around the Area

Naples Airport, three miles from downtown Naples; transfer cost by taxi to downtown, $20.

United Airlines will launch nonstop service between Southwest Florida International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport on Oct. 29. The twice-daily flights are being added as a year-round route. Already launched, Frontier Airlines has added nonstop routes to Albany, N.Y.; Las Vegas; Phoenix; Portland, Maine; Salt Lake City; and Syracuse, N.Y.

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Meeting & Event Venues

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Learn everything you need to know about this coastal locale at Destination Southeast, Northstar's premier event for meetings and incentive pros looking to book biz in the area.

New & Coming Soon to Naples

• The storied Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club was sold to a new developer, the Phoenix-based Athens Group, and will undergo a major redevelopment after the 2020-2021 season that will transform nearly every aspect of the 319-room resort (with the exception of its Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course). This past November, the developers released plans to scale down the resort, add residential condo towers and pare down the existing 34,000 square feet of meeting space.
 
• After getting the green light from the Naples City Council last May, developers began laying the planning groundwork for a brand-new hotel in the city's historic, boutique-lined Third Street District. Officials expect construction to begin on the 109-room Old Naples Hotel next year, with a projected 2021 opening. Amenities are expected to include a rooftop pool, a spa and outdoor dining. 

More Event Venues

• The Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Naples is moving to a new home at 975 Imperial Golf Course Blvd. The facility is expected to reopen later in the summer, and a formal dedication ceremony for the new building will be held on Nov. 10. The new site will feature four exhibit galleries, classroom space, a reflection room and museum staff offices, along with expanded parking.  

• An 18-month project to restore Naples’ Tin City waterfront boardwalk has been completed. Constructed from ipe, aka Brazilian walnut, the same durable hardwood used for the city’s pier and dock, the revamped walkway is now wider and includes covered seating. It connects to the pedestrian underpass to the Bayfront shopping and dining district.

• The Naples City Council approved a key land-use provision to pave the way for the redevelopment of the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club. Local media reports that the 319-room hotel would be replaced by a new 200-room hotel, with a portion of the site going to residential condo construction. Meeting space would be halved from its current 34,000 square feet and updated. The developer, the Athens Group, still has to receive site-plan approval from the Naples City Council and planning board; it hopes to begin construction in 2021 with the goal of completing the project by late 2023.

• A 40,00-square-foot branch of Dave & Busters, the arcade and dining chain, has opened at the Bell Tower Shops complex in nearby Fort Myers. The venue, which can accommodate group events, has 130 video games and some 40 big-screen TVs. It’s the brand’s eighth restaurant in the Sunshine State. 

• The 123-room WoodSpring Suites Naples has debuted. Located east of downtown Naples near I-75, the hotel has full-sized kitchens, including refrigerators and stoves, and offers free WiFi.

• The newly renovated JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort (pictured above) debuted a pair of new venues as part of its head-to-toe renovation that was completed last November. Within the new adults-only Lanai Tower is 10K Alley, a hybrid upscale pub/indoor arcade where groups can congregate over libations or play games including bowling, mini-golf, pool and virtual sports. The tower also has the new Mediterranean restaurant Tesoro, which pairs a chic, breezy vibe with a tapas-style menu, inventive sangrias and views of the Gulf of Mexico. In total, the resort now offers 100,000 square feet of meeting space. 

LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort has marked its 50th birthday with a refresh. The resort recently completed a $30 million renovation that saw improvements across the property, from custom artwork in the lobby to new guest rooms in the Gulf Tower. LaPlaya has 189 guest rooms, 8,000 square feet of indoor meeting space plus another 4,000 square feet of outdoor space, much of which overlooks the Gulf of Mexico. 

• The 310-room Hilton Marco Island Resort & Spa reopened all guest rooms last November after completing a $60 million, propertywide renovation that also included upgrades to its 12,000 square feet of meeting space, lobby and pool deck, which now features Brazilian walnut planking and fire pits.
 
• The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, reopened last September after the 450-room property completed renovations to its exterior facade, meeting space and spa. Renovations to the beachfront Gumbo Limbo restaurant were completed in November.

• The Naples Grande Beach Resort finished a $3 million renovation of its ballroom level and restaurants in September 2018, following an earlier renovation of ground-floor meeting space completed the previous December, when the 474-room resort reopened after sustaining damage from Hurricane Irma.

• At the Marco Island Center for the Arts, a busy calendar of classes, exhibitions and musical performances creates a platform for all kinds of artistic expression. Two connected gallery spaces can accommodate receptions of up to 230, and a trio of studio spaces can hold small meetings.
 
• Some 20 miles north of Naples, the Southwest Florida Event Center in Bonita Springs has 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space, a private room that can host groups of up to 200 and seating capacity for 850.

Naples Meeting Hotels

Things to Do in Naples

Area Excursions

• Between Naples and Fort Myers in Bonita Springs is the 454-room Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa, which was bought by Host Hotels & Resorts last year. Hyatt is still managing the property, which added onto its three-acre water park a few years ago and now has five water slides and a lazy river, as well as an adults-only pool. Don't want to get wet? There's also plenty of lawn games like corn hole, Giant Jenga and Giant Connect Four, plus a rock-climbing wall.
 
• The picturesque white-sand beaches of Sanibel Island — some 50 miles north of Naples — are a mecca of sorts for seashell lovers, and even if you don't have time for a beachfront stroll, there's no shortage of gift shops, galleries and boutiques where you can shop for an ocean-inspired bounty of souvenirs, crafts, jewelry and other seashell creations.

Naples Sports Scene

Baseball buffs can check out the Florida Grapefruit League, spring training for the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins at JetBlue Park in nearby Fort Myers.

Getting Active & Outdoors

• For high-energy team building, head to Defy Fort Myers, a unique venue about an hour north of Naples.  Among the  “extreme air sports” on offer are nearly three dozen trampolines, including several mounted on walls; a rock wall; an indoor zipline trapeze; foam pits, and a host of other ways to get a group bonding over airborne adventures. For adrenaline junkies, Defy’s Ninja Obstacle Course offers even greater challenges.  

• Pack your Nikes: The Naples area offers a wealth of scenic running trails. Great Runs curates the best jogging areas in the destination, including the beachfront trail that begins at Lowdermilk Park. Besides gorgeous Gulf views, the 9.5-mile run offers shady stretches and views of some of the best real estate in town.

• As the host of the Minto US Open Pickleball Championships, Naples has declared itself the Pickleball Capital of the World. An easy-to-learn hybrid of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, pickleball is a great activity for group bonding. The Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida in East Naples Community Park — a 54-court pickleball mecca and the site of the annual championships — offers group lessons and team-building options. 

• There are roughly 90 golf courses in Naples, Marco Island and Collier County, and while most are private clubs or affiliated with resorts, there are a number that welcome the public. Reserve tee time at the Valencia Golf & Country Club, which racked up an impressive four stars from Golf Digest magazine and reopened last November after a massive renovation.
 
• Tucked away in Naples' Tin City shopping and dining complex is Segway of Naples. Sign up for an hour-long tour (Segway newbies, don't fret: There's a safety course first) showcasing the historic district's most famous and picturesque sights.

Naples Annual Festivals

Held each January since 2001, the Naples Winter Wine Festival is a three-day bonanza during which hundreds of oenophiles sip, savor and bid on prized vintages during a big-ticket charity auction, which raised nearly $16 million for the Naples Children & Education Foundation this year.   

Hot Cocktail Spots in Naples

• The white sand and tropical ocean breezes might call to mind rum runners or daiquiris, but this area of Southern Florida has a growing number of excellent craft breweries. Naples Beach Brewery, which opened in 2012, offers 24 house beers in its tasting room. In North Naples are Bone Hook Brewing Co. and Riptide Brewing Co. Bone Hook has up to 20 beers on offer, along with a laid-back pub-grub menu and live music on weekends. Riptide has up to a dozen of its own beers on tap on any given day, and also has guest taps to feature the work of other local craft breweries.
 
• Marco Island Brewery might only have a few of its own beers, but you can sample a curated lineup of local and national craft beers — from bright and hoppy IPAs to full-bodied stouts.
And if you still can't get enough suds, South Street City Oven and Grill in Naples claims to have the largest selection of craft beers on tap in Southwest Florida, and offers up to 40 different draft beers, plus Philadelphia-inspired eats like fried calamari, pizza and (of course) cheesesteaks.
 
• Staying a bit further afield? Check out Momentum Brewhouse in Bonita Springs or Fort Myers Brewing Co. for some great local brews on tap.

To complement your martini, try out one of these Top 10 eateries.

Naples Top 10 Restaurants
  1. Mediterrano - Seafood, Mediterranean
  2. Lima Restaurant and Pisco Bar - Peruvian 
  3. La Trattoria - Italian, pizzeria
  4. Black Forest Restaurant - German
  5. Maria D'anna Cafe - Polish
  6. Bha! Bha! Persian Bistro - Mediterranean 
  7. Rumba Cuban Cafe - Cuban
  8. The European Cafe - Polish
  9. Brooks Gourmet - American
  10. Fuse Global Cuisine - Gastropub 

Extending Your Trip

Consider Everglades City — about 30 miles south of Naples in Collier County — as your base camp for all sorts of adventures in South Florida's expansive natural wonderland, Everglades National Park. Take an airboat ride into the heart of the verdant aquatic ecosystem, or paddle a rented kayak through the tranquil mangrove forests, keeping an eye out for manatees, roseate spoonbills and, of course, alligators. Eat your fill of stone crabs and other local favorites (frogs' legs, anyone?) at a rustic seafood restaurant like the historic, wood-paneled Rod and Gun Club, situated along the Barron River (named for 19th-century advertising mogul Barron Collier — and yes, that's Collier as in the county, as well). From there, it's just a short stroll to the Museum of the Everglades, where you can take in the history and culture of the area, from early Native American inhabitants to the present day.