The Florida Keys is Back in Business

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The Florida Keys is known for its laid back vibe colorful personality, and groups meeting here will undoubtedly want to hit the water and sip mojitos as the sun sets.

But if you think the Keys is just pretty face, you’re sadly mistaken. In Key Largo, the adults-only, all-inclusive Bungalows Key Largo is a 135-unit luxury property will also open early this year as the Keys’ first all-inclusive resort. Most rooms will have their own private outdoor plunge pools or tubs and the resort exudes a “Florida Keys chic” sensibility. In Key West, the 178-room Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina, formerly the Westin Key West Resort & Marina, has refreshed its rooms and suites and offers 16,000 sf of function space, including a ballroom and 9 breakout rooms.

The majority of the Florida Keys hotels will be back in business this year. And when it comes to the Keys’ multifaceted nature, here are a few group experiences that speak to the old adage, the proof is in the pudding.

Culinary Team Building

With a plentiful local fish population—from sweet stone crab claws to Key West pink shrimp to the hardy native-born conch—groups can partake in a catch-and-cook fishing event, with the fish they catch during the day served up grilled, broiled, blackened, baked or fried that evening. An event’s menu might include yellowtail, hog or mutton snapper, hogfish, grouper or mahi-mahi. Or they can try making their desserts of choice on this island chain at the Key West Key Lime Pie Co., which offers group classes for a minimum of 6 attendees.

Mead Tastings

Key West’s newest distillery, the Key West Rum Distillery & Experience Center, will be opening a 1,800-sf event center this year and it also offers self-guided tours and samples in its tasting room. Or for something different, the Keys’ first meadery, Key Meads, offers tours and tastings. Mead is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from honey, water and yeast. The meads are dry, semi-dry or sweet and come in a variety of flavors such as blackberry, blueberry and huckleberry.

Don’t Forget Key Largo

In Key Largo, Ocean Reef Club has 30,000 sf of meeting and function space and many options for groups to soak in nature or play together after hours such as chartering a yacht for a dinner cruise or team building activities for up to 100 attendees at the on-site Cooking School at Carysfort Kitchen.

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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.