New & Coming Soon to Tampa
Bay is welcoming meetings back with expansions, upgrades and new safety and cleaning protocols,
and carefully thought-out spacing. The destination's
hotels have implemented new standards of cleanliness to ensure the safety of visitors by adding mobile check-in, enhanced hospital-grade cleaning protocols, and PPE for staff. Following are Visit Tampa Bay's latest updates, sources and news for planners:
- Visit Tampa Bay has added a Tampa Bay Prepared web page that details steps being taken at Tampa International Airport, the Tampa Convention Center, area hotels and other venues to ensure safe, productive meetings post-COVID. Planners can also view a video to see these protocols, procedures and precautions in action at the Tampa Convention Center.
- Visit Tampa Bay has launched "On the Horizon," a new video
series highlighting the destination's most anticipated upcoming hotels,
attractions, and restaurants. The series kicked off with an update on the
development of Casa Santo Stefano, the brainchild of Richard Gonzmart,
fourth-generation owner of Columbia Restaurant Group.
Housed in a former 1925 Ybor City macaroni factory, the restaurant pays tribute
to the food Gonzmart ate every Sunday at his best friend's Sicilian household
and homage to the wave of Sicilian immigrants who helped build the Tampa and
Ybor City community after arriving in the U.S.
- Learn about the
destination’s diversity and adventurous spirit in a new video from Visit
Tampa Bay. Another video produced by the CVB,
“We Are Tampa Bay…We Are Tourism Strong,” offers messages from Visit
Tampa Bay’s tourism partners, including hotel operators, restaurant operators,
and attractions. The CVB has several other new offerings: a
“Tampa L.I.V.E.: Learning and Interacting Virtually With Expedia” webcast, is available on demand; a diversity page with information about minority-owned planner resources, including restaurants, transportation services and more and a toolkit to help local businesses reopen safely after closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Visit Tampa Bay celebrates outstanding members of the region’s tourism industry with its Memory Maker video series.
Many of the individuals spotlighted work on the front lines and have a
direct impact on visitors’ experience in the destination, while others
work behind the scenes. The most recent video in the series, an up-close
visit with Mike Conlee of Tampa’s Urban Kai Stand Up Paddle Board Shop, can be viewed here.
- Visit Tampa Bay has launched a Hybrid Meeting Grant
(intended to help offset unexpected expenses due to technology needs
spurred by COVID-related restrictions).
• Tampa Bay is rebounding from the pandemic. During Destination International's CEO Summit, which took place in May at the JW Marriott Tampa Water Street, it was revealed that hotel
occupancy was currently 77 percent and the CVB received 66 RFPs for
events in April alone. During a session with mayors, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor reiterated her support of tourism and the CVB. “We have added 2,000 hotel rooms this year alone," she said. "Our
convention center is almost back to prepandemic numbers; hotel occupancy
is almost back to prepandemic, and our future is brighter and
• Set to open this year is the newest roller coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, called Iron Gwazi, which will plunge riders from a 206-foot-tall peak into a 91-degree drop while reaching speeds of up to 76 miles per hour.
• In Tampa’s burgeoning Midtown neighborhood, the dual Aloft/Element
Midtown Hotel is now open. The 111-room Aloft Midtown Tampa is distinguished by the
brand’s signature bold colors and sleek interiors, while the 115-room
Element Tampa Midtown has a more minimalistic design. Featuring a central lobby, a
restaurant serving small plates, plus a rooftop terrace, pool and
lounge, this dual property shares 5,000 square feet of meeting and
prefunction space and is surrounded by myriad dining and shopping
• The 519-room JW Marriott Tampa Water Street debuted in February 2021. The five-star hotel features a four-story atrium lobby lounge with hanging art and a floating conference room dubbed the Skybox. Guest rooms are open and spacious, featuring soft, natural color palettes and materials inspired by the surrounding waterfront. Located next door to both the Tampa Convention Center and Amalie Arena, the property has 100,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
• A dual-branded Hyatt property has opened. The 17-story project includes a 230-room Hyatt Place and a 115-room Hyatt House.
Planners can choose from five A/V-equipped event spaces, including an
outdoor terrace, for a total of 3,603 square feet of flexible space.
Also on-site are 3,200 square feet of retail space and a 220-space
parking garage. The hotels are across from Tampa City Hall with easy
access to the downtown area, the Tampa Convention Center and neighboring
Riverwalk attractions, such as the Florida Aquarium and Amalie Arena.
• The Tampa Convention Center
adding 18 new meeting rooms overlooking the Hillsborough River; the center recently completed upgrades to its breakout rooms and ballrooms.
The center has also initiated a number of health and safety protocols including
screenings upon entry, physically distanced room sets, hand-sanitizing stations,
frequent touch point cleaning, and food & beverage service safety measures.
• The 178-room Hotel Haya has debuted in Ybor City. The boutique property offers 7,300 square feet
of meeting space, including 6,000 square feet of indoor meeting space and 1,300
square feet of outdoor space. The hotel has two restaurants, a bar and lounge.
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• Castlerock Asset Management has acquired the 244-room Westin Tampa Bay. The property has 10,101 square feet
of conference space spread among nine rooms, the largest of which can
accommodate up to 250 attendees.
• The Yuengling Brewing Co. will build a hotel near its headquarters in Tampa, as part of an extensive expansion of its grounds. Along with the hotel, plans call for a restaurant, concert
pavilion, gift shop and outdoor beer garden will be built on the the grounds. The project is slated to debut in 2022.
• The five-star, 172-room Tampa Edition will be co-located with the JW Marriott as
part of the massive Water Street Tampa project’s 26-story tower. It will open in 2021 across the street from Amelie Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning ice-hockey team.
• Marriott’s new 175-room AC Hotel Tampa Airport is in the West Shore District, near International Plaza’s upscale shopping and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Raymond James Stadium and, of course, Tampa International Airport. The hotel has four flexible meeting rooms with a total of 2,400 square feet of space.
• The Westin Harbour Island underwent an $18 million renovation and is now the 309-room Westin Tampa Waterside with a new waterfront restaurant, Blue Harbour, and 18,032 square feet of flexible meeting space, all just a few blocks from the Tampa Convention Center.
• A $50 million renovation to downtown’s largest hotel, the 727-room Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina, is complete.
The property, which has been renamed
Tampa Marriott Water Street, has 89,909 square feet of total
event space spread among 45 rooms, the largest of which spans 6,815 square
• The newly renovated 277-room Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel features 12,500 square feet of meeting and event space, as well as an ideal location on the Riverwalk and just a few blocks from the Tampa Convention Center.
• The Tampa Midtown’s
$500 million development, with 1.8 million square feet of new retail,
entertainment and hospitality spaces, connects the vibrant Westshore district
with the downtown Convention District.
The Hall at Midtown — from Tampa Bay’s Hall on Franklin
founder Jamal Wilson — is scheduled to debut in early 2021. The
mixed-used development will include an 8,000-square-foot food hall,
where guests can order in a mix-and-match format from seven different
eateries. Other features of the hall will include a private dining room
and kitchen for group events, a 1,200-square-foot patio space with
indoor and outdoor bar areas and a digital golf driving lane.
• Safe reopening and innovation are the watchwords when it comes to Tampa Bay’s attractions. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park, Tampa Museum of Art and many other venues are welcoming visitors. All follow requirements and guidelines set by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Public Health. Check out the most up-to-date information on state measures and guidelines here.
• The Florida Aquarium has
implemented new health and safety initiatives have been implemented at
the attraction, including attendance limits that support physical
distancing, touchless transactions, and enhanced cleaning protocols.
Staff wear masks at all times, and tickets to enter the aquarium must be
purchased in advance. Situated near Tampa Bay’s Convention District,
the aquarium can host groups of 250 to 4,000 people for off-site events.
Individual event spaces include the Coral Reef Gallery, which can
accommodate up to 200 attendees, the Mosaic Center & Rooftop, which
can host up to 650 attendees and the Vinik Channelside room, for up to
• Sparkman Wharf, an outdoor food hall,
beer garden and creative space, is part of the mixed-use riverfront development Water Street Tampa.
Several new restaurants are slated to open over the
next few months here. Topping the list is JoToro, a Mexican restaurant.
• Cigar City Brewing Taproom has opened in a
prime spot between Amalie Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning NHL hockey
team, and the soon-to-open JW Marriott Tampa Water Street.
More Event Venues
• The Tampa Museum of Art's
eclectic permanent collection leans toward modern and contemporary
works, including sculpture, painting, photography and installation art.
The museum, which bills itself as the only such institution in the
country accessible by boat, hosts private events for groups of up to 800
• It’s all about the food at the aptly named Epicurean Hotel, a member of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. This 137-room boutique property offers sumptuous “refined American” seafood and steak dishes from executive chef Adam Hyatt at the Elevage SoHo Kitchen & Bar, while groups of up to 40 can gather in the Epicurean Theatre (actually an uber-equipped kitchen) for private culinary classes and tastings. Special arrangements also can be made for groups to dine across the street at the famed Bern’s Steak House. The hotel is in South Tampa, steps from the Amalie Arena and Hyde Park.
• For a venue with a raw, industrial vibe, consider CL Space.
The versatile 2,088-square-foot industrial loft in the heart of Ybor
City can accommodate up to 200 guests and features brick walls,
floor-to-ceiling windows, skylights and exposed beams. Dining tables,
chairs and cocktail tables are included in the rental price. The
venue has a kitchen, and outside caterers are welcome.