Culture Trends Q+A 2011: Sara Gray, Omni Amelia Island Plantation

Prevue asked Sara Gray, Omni Amelia Island Plantation’s manager of conference services, her thoughts on key Omni Amelia Island Plantation culture trends for 2011. 

Q: What are examples of highly creative and/or culturally themed group events that highlight the destination?
A: The Omni Amelia Island Plantation plays off the history of the island with pirate-themed group events complete with décor and culinary treasures; you can even have pirates invade the event!

As we’re located on the green marshlands of the Intracoastal Waterway, we feature a marsh-themed event with natural décor and food specialties that showcase the South from gator tail to a low country boil. And for entertainment we can bring in an alligator exhibit to showcase Florida’s species.

Q: Which museums or other cultural venues are popular for visiting groups?
A: Local cultural venues include the Amelia Island History Museum, Fernandina Ghost Tours through the historic district and the State Park of Fort Clinch. Our Nature Center also provides tours of Cumberland Island or groups can enjoy visits to Kingsley Plantation or White Oak Plantation.

Q: Are there certain festivals during the year that can build in ROI for a group program?
A: The first weekend in May is the Annual Amelia Island Shrimp Festival which draws thousands of people to the area for a three-day event and all the shrimp one can eat! Amelia Island also hosts a Jazz Festival and Film Festival, among others.

Q: What are some examples of local cuisine that tie into local culture?
A: Our local area is the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry, so we utilize shrimp in a variety of our culinary dishes. Amelia Shrimp & Grits showcases locally caught shrimp with a Southern flair. Other local cuisine our culinary team can use includes flounder, snapper or any fresh catch from the neighboring waters.

Q: Are there cultural/creative teambuilding experiences popular with visiting groups?
A: Our outstanding Group Recreation team assists with teambuilding with a Jimmy Buffett Scavenger Hunt that takes guests throughout our 1,350-acre property with an activity at each location.

Other popular activities include an Amelia Island Survivor event or a Beach Luau complete with a bonfire on the beach!

Q: What are some popular cultural components you can add to meeting breaks and receptions?
A: The most popular way to add local culture is through food and beverage by featuring items from specific regions or nationalities. Specialty drinks reflective of the various cultural influences here could include Sangria (Spanish), Mojitos (Cuban) or Bellinis (Italian).

The Isle of Eight Flags, one of Amelia’s popular reception dinner menus, offers a food dish from each of the eight countries that have ruled Amelia Island.