Daytona Beach
Daytona Beach
The breeze sweeps in off the Atlantic as the fresh shellfish simmers in spices over an open fire on Daytona Beach. A fun informal beachfront dinner and the intimacy of a shared bonfire at sunset is a simple yet effective way to bring people together and break down barriers. During the event, we met Suzanne Altamare, world champion sand sculptor, and Michael Brothers, who showed up with a raptor from nearby Mary Keller Seabird Rehabilitation Sanctuary. Brothers shares with us his vast knowledge about the fascinating bird perched on his gloved hand, and then we eagerly dig into the traditional clambake-style feast.

It’s a little oasis here in Daytona—a place where land, sea and sky meet, and where 20 paces bring you from the ocean surf to a surprisingly large and green conference center.

Floor to ceiling, you’ll see sustainable choices throughout Ocean Center. These include: polished terrazzo floors without nasty chemicals and waxing; no petroleum-based wool carpeting; natural light through thermally insulated glass combined with high efficiency lamps in low energy fixtures; reflective exterior elements and coatings; extensive computer-controlled lighting and sound systems; advanced internet/technology capabilities; and smart load-in/out conveniences such as dimmed lighting, significant waste reduction, reclamation, reuse and recycling.


Flexibility is paramount in this multi-use, hi-tech facility with 32,000 sf of meeting space, 36 breakout rooms, an executive suite and boardroom, and 173,000 sf of indoor exhibit space. And they have an additional 100,000 sf of outdoor event real estate.

I was especially impressed by Ovations in-house catering and their delicious and extensive F&B offerings. Sustainability efforts range from local menus to biodegradable disposables.

Surrounding the Center, the self-contained Ocean Walk Village area along the beachfront boardwalk offers fun F&B outlets and shops from the Mai Tai Bar to Maui Nix Surf Shop. There are over 1,000 hotel guestrooms just steps away, plus another 11,000 in the area.

The 744-room Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort is directly across the street from the Center and right on the beach in this breezy, low impact enclave. With ocean views from its pre-function spaces and panoramic outdoor terraces for private events, the views are among the hotel’s strongest selling points for groups up to 2,000 pax. For green meetings, Hilton has a Florida Green Lodging designation and iStayGreen Good Rating of 2 Eco-leafs. It’s 100% non-smoking and there is 60,000 sf of indoor meeting space.

A few people in our group raved about jumping out of a perfectly good plane with Skydive DeLand. Newbies are hooked up with an instructor, and together you leap out at 14,000 feet and reach up to 120 mph.

And together, we all attended a wildlife release with hundreds of locals and other visitors. Animal handlers drive onto the beach with rescued seabirds and turtles who were rehabbed at the nearby Marine Science Center. Everyone cheers like crazy to encourage the creatures as they make their reentry into the waiting ocean and open skies.

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Katherine Manfredi, CMM calls upon 20+ years event management experience to bring creativity with a dose of practicality to her features. Her dedication to advancing sustainable events, green meetings and CSR is expressed through her writing, presentations and training, as well as in her current event management role with a third party meetings and incentive company. She is a founding board member of the local Green Meeting Industry Council chapter, co-chair of the GMIC sustainable meetings conference 2012 & 2013, and actively supports MPI and sustainable event standards development. Katherine is presently earning an MBA in Sustainability.