[ON LOCATION] LAUREL HERMAN
Located on Florida’s west coast and just steps from Clearwater Beach’s white sandy beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, the four-diamond, 343-room Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach hotel offers a contemporary and coastal vibe, making it an ideal place for groups to meet, team-build and revitalize.
When we visited recently we found thoughtfully appointed and spacious guestrooms, all with views of either the ocean, intracoastal or both—with 50 directly facing the ocean—such culinary offerings as the Asian-fusion restaurant Ocean Hai, an array of wellness opportunities at the Pallavi spa and new 1Team Fitness offerings.
Miguel Diaz, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing, says, “Clearwater Beach is [quite] popular because of its amazing beaches, the expanding [hotel landscape] and the ease of getting here, with only a 30-minute drive time from the Tampa International Airport.”
The resort’s meeting area, offering state-of-the-art technology, is situated in such a way that groups enjoy their own space away from the leisure guests. The 22,000 sf of meeting space includes seven meeting rooms on the second level as well as the 10,632-sf Dunes Ballroom on the main level, divisible into five (this makes for a total of 12 meeting rooms). The ballroom holds up to 720 and has LED lighting that changes color to your group’s liking. This area also has a wraparound pre-function space with floor-to-ceiling windows and outdoor terraces with water views. Diaz says, “Our sweet spot for groups is 150-200 rooms.”
The lobby area features high ceilings and lots of light, and it’s great for gathering and connecting with tables to plug in if working or when grabbing a drink at the lobby bar eSKPades. Events are also held at the pool deck, located right outside the lobby and overlooking the ocean. Groups can also meet at Ocean Hai, which has an outdoor covered patio for up to 75. Food here is crazy good with offerings that range from poke bowls to sushi rolls and main entrees such as gulf grouper to Wagyu sirloin.
Groups can take advantage of the hotel’s new partnership with 1Team Fitness. Says Taylor Eckard, the hotel’s sr. marketing manager, “We can offer programs for groups and customize breaks as they wish, from one hour to half- and full-day sessions, incorporating different workouts, kayaking and biking. We can also offer breaks in the meeting rooms such as stretching sessions.”
Eckard explains that teambuilding programs are easily arranged to help attendees relieve stress and find new ways to bond. With the beach steps away, activities for groups on the shoreline, including beach yoga, are popular. She adds, “We incorporate our F&B as well with healthy options. And our wellness offering includes a unique amenity: Recess CBD sparkling water, offered solo or in both cocktails and mocktails. At the 6,000-sf spa, groups can take advantage of a myriad of wellness treatments plus enjoy the serene relaxation lounge and eucalyptus steam.”
“Lots to experience in the area with the majority of groups staying in the beach area,” says Diaz, adding that there’s a marina across the street from the hotel where a dinner cruise on one of the yachts is popular. He also recommends a dinner offsite at one of the area’s restaurants such as Bob Heilman’s Beachcomber, an iconic dining institution. There are also local breweries for group events, from 3 Daughters Brewing in Clearwater Beach to nearby Dunedin Brewery, Florida’s oldest microbrewery.
The beaches in Pinellas County, home to Clearwater Beach, are annually ranked among the top in the country. They offer numerous amenities and easy access to accommodate all types of groups, no matter the size, says Brian Lowack, CEO and president of Visit St Pete/Clearwater CVB. “Also, beyond the beaches, the St. Pete/Clearwater destination boasts a booming arts and culture scene anchored by The Dali Museum.”