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28 Unique Venues at Florida Hotels You Must Know About

The Boathouse, Evermore Orlando Resort

Imagine visiting the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa and finding out that John Willard “Bill” Marriott is staying there, too. This 92-year-old business titan and his wife count the hotel among their favorites. The difference is his name is on the door and, in fact, one of the hidden gems inside the hotel, The Engine Room, was developed as an homage to the great man himself.  

Image of USS Randolph hanging at Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach
Image of USS Randolph hanging at Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach

Marriott served as a supply officer aboard U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Randolph from 1954-1956, and a picture of him in uniform at just 27 years old hangs as proof outside this iconic space. Now used as an intimate chef’s table venue or wine tasting room, small groups will delight in the nautical atmosphere of The Engine Room and feel like they’re aboard a navy vessel complete with port holes and ship rigging. For added ambiance, a video streams of a turbulent ocean outside. The hotel has even developed a drink to go with the space: Harbor Beach Engine Room India Pale Ale, a refreshing brew perfect for hoisting one to Mr. Marriott!

The Engine Room is just one example of the truly unique venues that can be found housed at hotels across the state. Read on to discover more hidden gems you can book without leaving your host property.

Wreck Bar, B Ocean Resort, Fort Lauderdale Beach

In keeping with a ship theme, just around the corner from Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa is the B Ocean Resort, Fort Lauderdale Beach, originally built in 1956 as the Yankee Clipper, named for its ship-like structure.  

Word is Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio would stay here and have cocktails at the historic Wreck Bar, home to live underwater mermaid shows. The bar, resembling the inside of a shipwrecked Spanish Galleon, comes with aquariums and large portholes that look out onto the hotel’s pool from the bar. The Wreck Bar was also made famous in the 1999 movie Analyze This in which Robert DeNiro and Billy Crystal filmed a scene at the iconic spot.

VIP Experience Salon, Trump National Doral Miami

VIP Experience Salon at Trump National Doral Miami
VIP Experience Salon at Trump National Doral Miami

Also known as a whiskey lover’s paradise, the newly unveiled VIP Experience Salon at Trump National Doral Miami is ideal for upscale board and VIP events. Designed as an intimate retreat/sanctum for aficionados of the finest whiskey and bourbon, small groups of up to 16 can indulge in private tastings to sample rare single malt scotch that might include an 18-year-old batch of Glenfiddich, or The Macallan James Bond 60th Anniversary Scotch.  

Rare liquors transcending ordinary experiences invite guests to take in these exclusive choices in a sumptuous, warm atmosphere with brown leather chairs and marble tables. Book this room for a private dinner, and the hotel’s expert culinary team will assist you in selecting the spirits you wish to sample and then craft a personalized menu for the dinner. It promises to be a top-notch experience for everyone involved. 

Pier and Sunset Deck, The Opal Key Resort & Marina, Key West

For groups staying at the 178-room The Opal Key Resort & Marina in Key West, take advantage of the pier and sunset deck that can accommodate up to 200 guests. Each of the resort’s spacious guest rooms and suites offer serene views of the ocean or pool.

The Attic, Disney’s BoardWalk Villas, Orlando  

The Attic, Disney’s BoardWalk Villas, Orlando
The Attic, Disney’s BoardWalk Villas, Orlando  

Strictly a special event venue for small groups (about 35), The Attic at Disney’s BoardWalk Villas in Orlando is considered the resort’s best-kept secret by those in the know. This breezy beach cottage space with an A-frame ceiling, whitewashed beams, quaint coastal furniture in charming country prints is warm and welcoming.  

Floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors bathe the room in natural light while allowing sweeping views of Crescent Lake. A furnished, private wraparound deck with views of the lake from the third floor are spectacular at this secluded beach house evocative of summer beach homes.

10k Alley, JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort

bowler bowling at 10k alley at JW Marriott Marco Island
10k Alley, JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort

10k Alley at JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort is part distillery, part arcade and all kinds of fun for attendees. Look for six lanes of Highway 66 bowling, miniature golf, a photo booth and games that include basketball, air hockey and a virtual reality game that has you swatting at charging dinosaurs.  

There’s also a sport simulator with golf, soccer, hockey, baseball, hunting and clay shooting. Attendees never have to leave the property for an adult beverage, light bites and some great games.  

The Elevate Skye Bar & Lounge, Opal Grand Resort & Spa, Delray

In Delray, The Elevate Skye Bar & Lounge just opened at the Opal Grand Resort & Spa and is a great space for private events. The rooftop venue overlooks the beach and bustle of Atlantic Avenue—a truly elevated experience. Featured menu items include an artisan cheese board, Gold Coast ceviche, BBQ short rib tacos, heirloom tomato salad and more. Specialty cocktails available include mojitos, sunset spritz, ginger-pear martini, beers, wines and bubbles.

Soff's Lobby Lounge, JW Marriott Turnberry Resort & Spa, Aventura

Soff's lobby lounge, JW Marriott Turnberry
Soff's Lobby Lounge, JW Marriott Turnberry

Located in the lobby of the JW Marriott Turnberry Resort & Spa in Aventura, Soff’s lobby lounge evinces a speakeasy vibe. Known to host the glitterati of Hollywood (including Elizabeth Taylor, Elton John, Frank Sinatra and James Caan), today, the Jazz & Martini Thursday nights event draws hotel guests and locals alike.  

The grand veranda surrounding the bar offers spectacular views of the property’s tropical grounds. This is an idyllic spot for a nightcap to help digest your dinner from the resort’s Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak, the property’s award-winning steakhouse with a wood-burning grill that serves impeccably prepared cuts of steak, fresh seafood and over 1,000 fine wines.

The Boathouse, Evermore Orlando Resort

The Boathouse at Evermore Orlando Resort offers stunning floor-to-ceiling views of Evermore Bay. Just opened in January, the 2,500-square-foot Boathouse includes a private foyer, lawn and wraparound deck. Different seating arrangements can accommodate 200 theater, 120 classroom, 130 banquet and 250 for a reception. 

Stadium Club, Caribe Royale Orlando

Stadium Club, Caribe Royale Orlando
Stadium Club, Caribe Royale Orlando

The Caribe Royale Orlando resort just opened Stadium Club, the resort’s high-tech and immersive experiential sports and dining destination. Guests can view their favorite teams on a 110-foot-long, ribbon-display television allowing for 360-degree game time viewing.  

The two-floor venue spans over 9,000 square feet with audio and visual that provides a riveting viewing experience no matter where you are. Home to the most simulators in the Southeast, Stadium Club allows sports enthusiasts to test their skills by driving a golf ball on one of 48 virtual courses or engaging in a football quarterback challenge to compare their passing accuracy to the pros. Touchdown for meeting professionals!

Harbor Yards Food Hall, Sunseeker Resort, Charlotte Harbor

Harbor Yards Food Hall at the new Sunseeker Resort in Charlotte Harbor with 180-degree waterfront views and indoor and outdoor seating is perfect for large groups with varying tastes. Restaurants include Arezzo Craft Pizza Kitchen, Taqueria Puerto, Charlotte Parlor for gelato and Daikon Asian Kitchen, among others. More than 200 menu items will leave attendees spoiled for choice.  

Sunseeker Resort, which is located on Florida’s southwest Gulf Coast between Sarasota and Fort Myers, features 785 guest rooms including 189 luxury Sunsuites, 20 dining options, two pools, a golf course and more. It's the first new-build, large-scale resort to open in Southwest Florida in over a decade. The hotel also opened the Allegiant Stadium restaurant and bar with 30 beers on tap and more than 60 TVs for game day viewing. 

Jack's Place Restaurant, Rosen Plaza Hotel, Orlando

Orlando’s Jack’s Place Restaurant inside Rosen Plaza Hotel is not only an award-winning steakhouse, but it also has an artsy history all of its own.  

Owner Harris Rosen put his father’s name on the door in tribute and because all of his art is displayed throughout this steakhouse. The art includes caricatures of celebrities and world leaders Jack drew when he worked at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. He would do two drawings per subject: one he would present as a gift to his subject, the other he would ask them to autograph and would keep for himself.  

Jack’s Place is covered with autographed caricatures from Jack Rosen. And here’s a twist—guests who come in on Friday and Saturday nights get a special treat. An artist at the restaurant draws caricatures of dining guests (at no cost!) which they get to take home.  

Chip's Sports Pub, Luminary Hotel & Co., Fort Myers

Chip’s Sports Pub in the Luminary Hotel in downtown Fort Myers combines top-drawer drinks and dining with the area’s first Topgolf Swing Suite, delivering a one-of-a-kind simulation that is great entertainment for golfers and newbies alike.  

Guests can book from two simulator bays offering games such as a simulated Topgolf virtual experience, baseball pitching and zombie dodgeball, to name a few. Individual bays hold up to eight players, ideal for company teambuilding sessions or special events in the private game suites and accommodating groups of 12 to 60.

Adjacent to the Luminary is Bay Street Yard, Fort Myers’ newest central al fresco hot spot boasting seating for over 300 guests, including a VIP area on the second level. Bay Street Yard offers food trucks that serve up mouthwatering delights and a full bar to complement the live entertainment on its covered stage, complete with an impressive LED TV screen for listening to live bands and viewing such events as the Kentucky Derby and March Madness.

The Vue, Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, Orlando  

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando offers The Vue, located at the resort’s newest property, the Swan Reserve. The event space (for up to 455) spans the entirety of the property’s top floor and is comprised of a spacious ballroom, reception foyer and outdoor terrace. Nightly firework shows are spectacular with floor-to-ceiling, 360-degree views of all four Walt Disney World Resort theme parks and both water parks. Capacity is 250 for the ballroom, 125 for the terrace and 80 for the foyer.  

Monkitail, The Diplomat Beach Resort, Hollywood

Monkitail dining room, The Diplomat
Monkitail dining room, The Diplomat

The Diplomat in Hollywood opened in 1953 and was known to host personalities such as Judy Garland and Sammy Davis, Jr., among others of the Rat Pack generation. And while the original venue was razed in the ‘90s, the resort continues its nostalgic retro vibe.  

Monkitail, the resort’s restaurant, is available for groups of up to 100 and feels a world’s away from the light, bright lobby and its towering palm trees. In contrast, dark wood paneling with dark leather seats provides an upscale Polynesian hangout atmosphere, and groups can work with the hotel’s chef to create their own customized, curated menu. Adjoining Nokku lounge welcomes groups of up to 75 for lush libations and features five adjoining karaoke rooms so your attendees can really belt tunes out.

American Gator Club, Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa, Ponte Vedra

In Ponte Vedra, American Gator Club is a seasonal bar/restaurant for private functions located just off the lobby at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa. Florida's remarkable indigenous wildlife is on full display at this casual restaurant overlooking the lagoon and 13th hole at The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. Popular with golfers for hosting the PLAYERS Championship each spring, the 1,900-square-foot restaurant can cater for groups of up to 250.

[Related: 3 Major Meetings Trends in Florida, According to Hospitality Industry Experts]

Fred's Cellar, The Vinoy Resort & Golf Club, Autograph Collection, St. Petersburg

Fred's Cellar, The Vinoy Resort & Golf Club
Fred's Cellar, The Vinoy Resort & Golf Club

St. Petersburg’s The Vinoy Resort & Golf Club, Autograph Collection, features the distinguished Fred's Cellar, named after Frederick Guest II, the visionary behind The Vinoy's 1980s restoration. With a past as a speakeasy, this versatile indoor/outdoor space is reminiscent of the Roaring ‘20s with a nod to The Vinoy’s 1925 opening.  

Maxed out at 100 guests, Fred’s Cellar serves such mouthwatering cocktails like The Bee’s Knees, prepared with St. George Botanivore, honey and lemon; or the Mary Pickford with Koloa Rum, pineapple juice grenadine and maraschino liqueur.  

Perspective Rooftop Pool Bar, Art Ovation Hotel, Sarasota

Perspective Rooftop, Art Ovation Hotel
Perspective Rooftop, Art Ovation Hotel

Nestled in the heart of downtown Sarasota is the upbeat, breezy ambience of the Perspective Rooftop Pool Bar at Art Ovation Hotel. Groups of up to 108 can host an après meeting cocktail party at this spectacular fifth-floor bar with tempting cocktails such as The Aristocrat, blended with Ford’s Gin, cucumber, mint, lemon and lime; or the Oye Como Va created with tequila, Aperol, lemon and pineapple juice.

Room 901, Hyatt Centric Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale

Your unmarked key and the secret password are all you need to gain entry into Hyatt Centric Las Olas, Room 901, located in the center of the Las Olas business district in Fort Lauderdale. You'll feel like you stepped back a century when you enter this mysterious spot in downtown Fort Lauderdale. A private bartender ensures you can enjoy the vibe without a crowd. Reservations are a must with no more than six people at one time.

Mini Golf, Ocean Sky Resort, Fort Lauderdale  

Mini golf at Ocean Sky Resort
Mini golf at Ocean Sky Resort

Ocean Sky Resort in Fort Lauderdale features its own nine-hole miniature golf course for group merrymaking, but it’s also a lovely spot to shoot a round and sip an Arnold Palmer alongside the sunset casting its magical glow over the Atlantic Ocean.

Ocean Gazebo, The Reach Resort Key West, Curio Collection by Hilton  

The Reach Resort Key West, Curio Collection by Hilton offers the Ocean Gazebo specializing in gatherings with nearly 5,000 square feet of meeting space on Key West's only private natural-sand beach. Meetings and breakouts float above the sea in a secluded gazebo jutting over the Atlantic Ocean that can be set up for gatherings and special events.

[Related: How Florida Destinations Can Help You Incorporate Unique Wellness Activities Into Meetings]

Pier Top Bar, Pier Sixty-Six Resort, Fort Lauderdale

Set to open in October on Fort Lauderdale’s Intracoastal Waterway, Pier Sixty-Six Resort is part of a $1 billion luxury redevelopment. The rotating Pier Top Bar, a 17th-floor observation deck showcasing 360-degree panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, will be a hot spot for groups. Known as the original fuel dock for Phillips 66 Petroleum more than 60 years ago, the complex will include 325 rooms and suites and one of the largest superyacht marinas on the eastern seaboard.  

Casa Marina Hotel & Restaurant, Jacksonville Beach

Casa Marina Hotel & Restaurant meal
Casa Marina Hotel & Restaurant meal

Looking for historic charm? The 23-room Casa Marina Hotel & Restaurant in Jacksonville Beach features a third-floor rooftop bar and restaurant that promises one of the most radiant views of the north Florida coastline. The hotel’s culinary team will create a seasonal “cart du jour” of popular dishes accompanying a wildly creative bar and martini menu. Dip into a charcuterie board with a signature Melon Madness with Ketel One vodka infused with fresh melon, lime juice, melon liqueur and guava puree.  

Floating Glass Cube, The Ray Hotel Delray Beach, Curio Collection by Hilton

The Floating Glass Cube at The Ray Hotel Delray Beach, Curio Collection by Hilton is a 22,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor event venue bringing modern sophistication into the heart of downtown Delray Beach and Pineapple Grove Arts District. This event venue gives the illusion of a floating glass cube.  

Other open-air spaces to choose from include The Garden at Rosewater, Rosewater Rooftop and The Plaza at the Ray.

Epicurean Theatre, Epicurean Hotel, Tampa  

Epicurean Theatre demonstration
Epicurean Theatre class at Epicurean Hotel

Epicurean Hotel prides itself on having a state-of-the-art culinary classroom known as the Epicurean Theatre, a great place for chef demonstrations and classroom-style meetings in a unique setting. With Wolf appliances and Sub-Zero refrigerators and freezers, this is a best-in-class kitchen. Classes have been given by well-known regional and national chefs. The 1,000-square-foot space can host 60 reception, 32 classroom.

[Related: The Latest Meeting News in Florida]

The Grotto Pool, The Island Resort at Fort Walton Beach  

The Grotto Pool at The Island Resort at Fort Walton Beach is not only known as the only swim-up bar on the Emerald Coast, but is also a cave-like bar located under a waterfall that is the perfect unique venue where colleagues can enjoy cold cocktails during a company happy hour or cocktail mixer. The best part? You can walk into the Grotto Bar completely dry, without having to swim up!

Oyster River, Palmetto Marriott Resort & Spa, Bradenton

In Bradenton, the Palmetto Marriott Resort & Spa will soon open Oyster River rooftop bar overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. It’s an exclusive, reservation-only venue for viewing Florida sunsets. It will serve fresh seafood and craft cocktails for up to 80. 

Freddy's, InterContinental Miami

Freddy's at InterContinental Miami
Freddy's at InterContinental Miami

Freddy’s at the InterContinental Miami, for up to 12, is a secret hideaway accessible only by prior arrangement. Named for famed 19th-century Polish composer and virtuoso pianist Frédéric François Chopin—whose name adorns the street the hotel is located—the venue offers an exclusive experience. Every Friday and Saturday guests will be provided with instructions on how to access Freddy’s and will be escorted to the hidden location where a secret knock will ensure admission. Try a Four Ballads made with Casa Noble infused with cilantro, Cointreau, fresh lime and simple syrup.  

Catch up on all the latest news in the Sunshine State and read the 2024 edition of Meetings Today Florida

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About the author
Jennifer Juergens | Contributing Content Developer, Florida and Caribbean