[ON LOCATION] LAUREL HERMAN
Set on 24 acres in the mid-Florida Keys with a mile-long waterfront, Isla Bella Beach Resort & Spa is ideal for meeting or incentive groups looking for a full-service, four-diamond property with a relaxed and serene vibe. Located in Marathon, right in the heart of the Florida Keys, this 199-room and -suite resort, which opened in 2019, features accommodations that offer spectacular sunrise and sunset views.
Planners will find over 20,000 sf of toes-in-the-sand, oceanfront venues, including a 3,600-sf conference and event center with available AV equipment. There are also many places for outdoor receptions and teambuilding activities—the one we found most inspiring is Pelican Point, which is framed by lush palm trees and offers sweeping views of the ocean. Here, groups up to 200 for a cocktail reception and 120 for dinner can be accommodated. There are also four oceanfront pools, strung along the 3-story accommodations wing, each separated for privacy.
The resort takes its architectural inspiration from Greece and The Bahamas, with all-white facades, terraces and plenty of sugar-fine white sand for digging one’s toes in. We adored the beach bar area with seating around numerous firepits, making it ideal for relaxing gatherings. Adjacent to this space is the resort’s main dining venue, Mahina, offering both indoor/outdoor seating that can accommodate groups. The Polynesian-inspired menu offers everything from Hawaiian-style ahi poke and marina conch chowder to grilled churrasco steak marinated in Korean ginger pear soy and lobster-crusted mahi-mahi. There’s also an extensive banquet menu for breakfast and lunch buffets, receptions and dinners.
The resort’s onsite activities concierge can help arrange fishing and other watersport activities such as jet-skiing, paddleboarding, kayaking, parasailing and scuba diving, all right from the private marina. Additionally, the spa offers a range of treatments, plus the resort can arrange yoga classes for groups. Groups can also book the 40 onsite bikes and ride across the adjacent Old Seven Mile Bridge to Pigeon Key. “It’s possible to buy-out the resort, with the ideal time being fall; if not a complete buyout, groups can book 40 to 60 rooms per night,” says Jennifer Tacey, sr. sales manager for Isla Bella Beach Resort.
Minutes away from the resort one finds the Dolphin Research Center and the Turtle Hospital. At the Dolphin Research Center, groups up to 140 can use the meetings facilities and concurrently attendees can meet the center’s dolphin family and participate in an interactive program. Groups can set up outside in the dolphin areas by special arrangement and food can be brought in from outside caterers. Teambuilding for groups up to 200 can be arranged with activities throughout the day and even a buyout of the venue. While these encounters are meant to be entertaining, the mission is to build a connection with these animals, which the center hopes will then inspire people to care not only for the center’s animals but for the ones out in the wild. The non-profit center conducts marine mammal research and provides a sanctuary to dolphins, sea lions, birds and tortoise.
The Turtle Hospital, while not a meetings venue, also offers an enriching and educational group experience. Here, attendees will learn about the various sea turtle species and man’s impact on them, including how plastics and boating impact these beautiful sea creatures. The hospital treats injured sea turtles and returns them to the oceans when possible.
islabellabeachresort.com; fla-keys.com; dolphins.org; turtlehospital.org