It’s just a few short steps from Tampa Convention Center to upscale hotels, museums, restaurants and two picturesque bays along Tampa’s famed Riverwalk. That’s a significant selling point for planners seeking a walkable, waterfront location for their conference.
“We’re a resort-like setting in a professional downtown urban environment,” says Alex Kaptzan, vice president of convention sales for Tampa Bay & Co. He says that proximity proved an advantage when Tropical Storm Isaac interrupted the Republican National Convention last year. “We had 50,000 delegates and media suddenly looking for something to do. It was an opportunity to showcase our destination to them and to planners who may not have considered us before.”
Offsite venues along the Tampa Riverwalk include the new Tampa Museum of Art, The Florida Aquarium and the Tampa Bay History Center. Connected to the Convention District by streetcar, Ybor City is the former “Cigar Capital of the World” and birthplace of the Cuban sandwich. Ybor is one of three national historic landmark districts in Florida, which showcases Tampa’s rich history and vibrant culture.
Seven years of renovations and a name change later, the Floridan Palace Hotel reopened last year. Listed on the National Register of Historical Places, the 213-room boutique hotel built in 1927 has been restored to opulence, using many of the original design elements. The Epicurean, a 137-room boutique hotel, opens in Tampa’s Hyde Park historic district, in November 2013. It will cater to incentive groups and foodies with a large culinary classroom, high-end bistro, wine shop, rooftop lounge and spa. The Epicurean will be the first new-build to join the Marriott International Autograph Collection. Additionally, the City of Tampa received a $14 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to extend the Riverwalk, which will soon be underway.