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Quintessential Group Experiences in Florida’s Palm Beach and Treasure Coast

National Croquet Center event at night

Known for their opulence, historic hotels and celebrity residences, Palm Beach, Florida and the Treasure Coast are the quintessential go-to destinations for meeting professionals who want to dazzle their attendees with creative recreation, delicious and diverse dining, and memories that last.

In 1876, Elisha Newton “Cap” Dimick moved his family from the Great Lakes of Michigan to sun-drenched Palm Beach. There, he built a home for his family that was converted into the Cocoanut Grove House in 1880. Hotel guests supped on the finest local cuisine: venison, green turtle, fish and vegetables for $1.50 a day, $6.00 a week.

In 1893, while Henry Flagler was at work extending his Florida East Coast Railroad to Palm Beach, he stayed at the Cocoanut Grove House. No doubt it was here he cooked up plans for his Royal Poinciana Hotel that opened in 1894. While the Royal Poinciana no longer exists, Flagler’s second hotel, The Breakers, built in 1896, remains a thriving and iconic homage to the Gilded Age. Over the years, its guest register has been a verifiable who’s who: Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, Rita Hayworth, Clark Gable, President Kennedy and First Lady Jackie, and Sir Elton John are just of the few of the glitterati that brought glitz to this historic property.  

Widely regarded as a playground for the rich and famous, Palm Beach itself is much more. There are 178 hotels at a variety of price points, pristine Atlantic Ocean beaches and restaurants with chefs at the ready to work with planners to create menus to please every palate, and you'll be hard pressed to find anywhere else on the map that offers so much for every taste in group activities.

Did we mention the seemingly endless sunshine?

“We offer ease of accessibility and diversity without the density,” said Kelly Cavers, chief sales officer for Discover The Palm Beaches. “This means you can have those high-level experiences typically associated with larger-sized destinations, but without the crowding.”  


National Polo Center
The National Polo Center

One of the high-end, go-to activities, according to Cavers, is polo, a favorite pastime in the area since the ‘70s, typically played from January through April. The National Polo Center hosts some of the most prestigious polo tournaments in the country.

“Polo is always a hit,” said Erin Branham, president and founder of Fort Lauderdale-based A2 Events. “As the winter equestrian capital of the world, you can watch a few matches over champagne and hors d’oeuvres in a private area. We’ve enhanced the experience for clients by adding beautiful rental furniture decorated with the company logo. Guests also love to get out on the field for some divotstomping fun. We’ve even had events where a polo player will talk with the group about what goes on behind the scenes at a competition.”

[Related: Group-Friendly Outdoor Activities in Palm Beach County]


“We’re also getting some great restaurants, as well,” Branham said. Consider Konro, a West Palm Beach restaurant in the Flamingo Park Neighborhood run by a two-star Michelin husband-and-wife team. Dinner is a very high-end experience for groups of up to 10, presented with a 10-14 course tasting menu made from the finest ingredients sourced from Japan and delicacies from other parts of the world.  

“That was probably the best meal I’ve ever had in my life,” Branham said. “They also create the perfect atmosphere and unique moments for groups to share.”  

Konro sets an elegant stage with fine art, velvet seats in an intimate U-shaped counter and VIP access to the open kitchen where guests can watch in awe as the chef prepares and describes each dish.

“It’s more than a meal; it’s an unforgettable experience,” Branham said.


Worth Avenue in Palm Beach
Worth Avenue in Palm Beach

Groups to Florida should take advantage of the water, too.  

“We charter a 55-foot ocean sailing catamaran cruise for a casual, relaxing two-hour sail with the crew serving snacks and beverages,” Branham said. “Add-ons include kayaks, wave runners and other water toys. We can even hire a DJ or small band to play on board.”  

If history and culture with a bit of outdoor exercise is on the agenda, A2 Events will take groups on bikes along a verdant trail by Lake Worth and past notable estates while a certified historian dishes about old Florida. The tour then pedals to the Grand Promenade and the historic Breakers Hotel and ends at Worth Avenue for shopping, or a cocktail at one of the many cafes hidden in the vias, or small courtyards.

Another A2 excursion is the Palm Beach Brewery Tour where groups will visit three unique breweries, creating a curated Brew Crawl. “Tours are led by a certified Cicerone who speaks about trends in the craft beer industry. Visits may include Civil Society Brewing Co., Steam Horse Brewing Co. and Ookapow Brewing Company,” she added.


National Croquet Center
National Croquet Center

“Wear your whites or Palm Beach brights,” said Paget Kirkland, president and owner, Lake Worth-based Kirkland Event & Destination Services, in reference to the customary attire when participating in a group event at the National Croquet Center. The space is home to the world’s largest croquet facility, spanning four acres with a 19,000-square-foot clubhouse. The Southern style wraparound porch is idyllic and perfect for sipping cool cocktails in the shade.  

“We can do teambuilding events, afternoon tea or evening functions, such as our Mallets and Martinis function that serves every flavor and style martini, or a local favorite, vodka and basil lemonade,” Kirkland said.  

With groups split into teams of two, instructors seamlessly introduce guests to the game of golf croquet, while hors d’oeuvres and cocktails are served to the guests on the lawns. After Croquet, guests can sit along the wraparound porch and indulge in the culinary concoctions created specifically for each group.  

“It's a very relaxing, fun activity for groups,” she added. “With golf, you have to find players at the same level. With croquet, it’s different. Anyone can play at any level. It’s fun and a very Palm Beachy thing to do.”  

Local Experiences

Trolley drives by Tiffany & Co. on Worth Avenue
Trolley drives by Tiffany & Co. on Worth Avenue

The Colony Hotel in Palm Beach is another must see. It first debuted in 1947 and has welcomed famed guests including Sophia Loren and Frank Sinatra. Designated a Historic Landmark by the Town of Palm Beach in 2020, its recent restoration makes it a hotel with all the modern amenities while keeping its old-world allure. Some of the original furniture, in fact, still graces the hotel.

“The Colony is charming. We’ve taken groups to the hotel for a luncheon, then by 1920s-style Molly’s Trolley, we head to the famed Worth Avenue to Tiffany for some bling or to Lilly Pulitzer for shopping, champagne and rose,” Kirkland said. “We also work with some elegant men’s and women’s shops for a personal shopping experience to elevate this experience even more. We have done a fashion show in some of the shops on Worth for attendees, which they loved, and some of the guests had the opportunity to model the fashions.”  

For a real local experience, Kirkland likes to set up an art tour with renowned artist, Bruce Helander, whose unique collages have been seen in The New Yorker magazine and Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach. Kirkland recently held an event with Helander at his private art studio along Worth Avenue where guests had a private showing, art talk and champagne and light bites followed by dinner at the hot spot Le Bilboquet.

“The opportunity for guests to meet Bruce Helander and having him talk about his work makes for a really interesting tour with a very colorful character,” Kirkland said. For some of Kirkland’s groups, she has had the artist create a one-of-a-kind artwork highlighting their company.  

Taking advantage of the temperate weather in Palm Beach, a buyout of Clematis Street downtown for a financial company was a great way to network with the more than 5,000 guests, Kirkland added.  

“It was a really phenomenal experience as attendees could wander in and out of Roxy’s Pub, O’Shea’s Irish Pub, Lucky’s Local and a host of other local watering holes for a cold one and snacks throughout the evening.”

[Related: On the Scene: All Aboard the Brightline to South Florida]

Nature, Naturally

When international groups come to Florida they want to see flora, fauna and learn about the history of the area, explained Stuart Gardner, president of Florida Meeting Services based in Fort Lauderdale.  

“One of the tours we do is ‘An Encounter with Florida’s Sea Turtles,’ where we explore and educate folks on one of the most endangered, endearing and fascinating animals on the planet,” he said. The excursion includes a trip to Blowing Rocks Preserve on Jupiter Island, a barrier island that houses sea turtles. The Loggerhead Marinelife Center is also on the tour where guests can witness sick or injured sea turtles being cared for in hospital before being released back into the wild.

To capture the beauty of the area, Florida Meeting Services has an exclusive “Nature Photography Expedition-Palm Beach” activity, where budding photogs can search for truly wild and real photographic subjects like wood storks, otters and herons.

Groups will be enamored seeing the Wakodahatchee Wetlands, or the Grassy Waters Preserve capturing Florida’s natural beauty by an expert nature photographer.  

“We’ve seen frogs, ibis, a large variety of birds and even some alligators on these excursions. Our guests love it, and they have a piece of Florida to take home with them,” Gardner said.

Another excursion is “The Peanut Island Kayak Adventure,” a trip through the Lake Worth Lagoon Estuary gliding across waters and over stingrays. The hidden gem on the island is a secretly created bunker built by a naval construction battalion to protect President John F. Kennedy in the event of a nuclear attack on the U.S.  

“This historic tour is a must,” Gardner said.

A favorite venue of Branham’s that is centered around nature is the new White Trail Club: A Flower Farm in Jupiter.  

“It’s a newer venue, sort of Restoration Hardware meets the country, with a beautiful barn used for catered events, and we can also create a variety of fun activities for group outings, such as flower arranging or yoga in the garden,” she said.

Treasure Coast Must-Sees

Some adventures on the Treasure Coast, which comprises Indian River, Martin and St. Lucie counties, include:

  • Vero Beach Museum of Art, where groups can see paintings from Andrew Wyeth and contemporary works from Louise Nevelson—or have an elegant, private event inside.
  • Jensen Beach Park, known for its pristine baches and crystal-clear waters.
  • McKee Botanical Garden, an 18-acre tropical paradise with guided tours to view orchids, waterlilies and other exotic plants.  
  • Johnathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound, for mountain biking, boating, swimming and horseback riding.  

[Related: Ideal Florida Bleisure Destinations for Rest and Relaxation]

Case Study: CTAA Hosts Annual in West Palm Beach

Palm Beach Convention Center and adjacent Hilton property
Palm Beach Convention Center and adjacent Hilton West Palm Beach

For the first time in years, the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) decided on Florida for EXPO 2024. While the association looked at several locales in the state, West Palm Beach won out. EXPO 2024, a mix of tradeshow, educational sessions and networking, will take place June 9-12 at the Palm Beach Convention Center and its host hotel Hilton West Palm Beach.  

“Our members are thrilled to be coming to West Palm Beach. We were looking at another city in Florida, but when we came to West Palm we were blown away. The walkability for our attendees from the hotel to the convention center, The Square with shops and restaurants is close to the convention center and it’s just a dynamic place. It’s shaping up to be one of our best conferences yet,” said Loreal Lance, director member services, business development and events for the Washington, D.C.-based CTAA.

Having the conference in June has allowed Lance to negotiate great rates for meeting space and hotel guest rooms for attendees to extend their trip, so attendees can bring their children and spouses, calling it “the family effect”.

“For some families it’s their big trip of the year,” Lance said. “Members are extending their trips because in June the price point for the Hilton West Palm Beach hit the sweet spot. We’re tracking 150 more attendees from last year’s event, and we still have two months to go.”

The Palm Beach Convention Center was also the right size for the CTAA tradeshow, said Lance, which showcases over 200 vendors including bus manufacturing companies, bus seat manufacturers, bus mirror companies, cleaning supply companies, designers of bus stop shelters and tech companies that help cities’ transit systems’ routing, keeping the buses safely on track.  

“The more than 1,000 attendees who are responsible for their city’s transit systems want to see the latest and greatest when it comes to making their transit systems tick,” Lance said.  

The convention center’s smaller meetings will be used for deep-dive workshops and educational sessions like “Ridership Recovery Success Stories” and “Winning Grant Writing for Smaller Transit Agencies,” while the larger rooms will be used for general sessions and meals.  

The Beach Bum Bonanza at the Hilton’s ballroom and pool area will be a great networking event where Lance has put together a “Caribbean-Chic” party including mermaids serving frosty drinks while a juggling pirate roams around the pool. There will be a costume contest and entertainment will be a Junkanoo band from The Bahamas to get the party started.  

At the end of the day, this conference is all about learning, networking and transportation. so each year the Roadeo Competition, which will be held this year at the Palm Beach Fairgrounds, highlights the best bus drivers from all over the country.

“This culminates into an awards night where Driver of the Year is named. It’s a very big deal,” Lance said.  

Plus: Openings and Renovations in Palm Beach and Treasure Coast (2024)

The Singer Resort view from the beach
The Singer Resort
  • Tideline Palm Beach Ocean Resort and Spa has been reimagined to the tune of $20 million, paying tribute to the beachfront location. The refurbishment has touched all areas of this resort, including the pool entrance, grand lobby and outdoor dining patio offering stunning views alongside a private beachfront. The hotel has nearly 6,000 square feet of meeting space.
  • The Renaissance Boca Raton recently debuted in midtown Boca Raton after a new multimillion-dollar renovation including the addition of a 30,000-square-foot resort-style pool deck with a waterfall backdrop, a “WET by Meat Market” tiki bar to service pool and VIP cabana guests, and updated guest rooms, lobby, corridors, meeting space, club lounge and fitness center. The resort has about 8,500 square feet of meeting space.
  • The Hilton West Palm Beach has debuted a $25 million renovation with 400 refreshed guest rooms, including 43 suites, four enhanced dining destinations, a new pool deck and six newly constructed cabanas. In addition, there is a new lobby bar and a variety of wellness activities such as meditative sound healing, poolside sessions and weekly fitness classes. The hotel has 25,000 square feet of meeting space.
  • The Breakers has debuted a renovation of the Flagler Club, the luxury, private-access boutique hotel nestled within the top two floors of the hotel, with a new modern aesthetic extending throughout 21 guest rooms and suites, as well as its lounge and terrace. The hotel has more than 48,000 square feet of meeting space.  
  • The Singer Resort  is set to debut this spring after a multimillion-dollar renovation and conversion to a Curio Collection by Hilton property. The hotel will offer 223 freshly renovated guest rooms and suites (all with private outdoor balconies), a vibrant culinary program with three new concepts, including the island’s only beachfront bar, Top Shell; signature restaurant Caretta Caretta; and grab-and-go style gourmet retail at The Market at Singer. The hotel has approximately 8,000 square feet of meeting space.  
  • Amrit Ocean Resort & Residences is expected to open in the summer on Singer Island with 155 guest rooms, featuring over 100,000 square feet of spa and integrated health services across four floors, including the only indoor-outdoor Aayush hydrothermal experience of its kind. This health-centric resort will feature four food and beverage options, each focusing on health and wellness, including the plant-based restaurant AYRE by celebrity chef Matthew Kenney. The hotel has 10,000 square feet of meeting space.  
  • Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa  will unveil a multimillion-dollar renovation later this year, which will elevate the luxury resort's modernized yet warm coastal design. The resort's new layout will boast an open space concept throughout sections of the property, and the renovation will include the restaurant, lobby, marketplace, bar and lounge. The hotel has 3,800 square feet of meeting space. 

Read more meeting and event news in Florida.

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Jennifer Juergens | Contributing Content Developer, Florida and Caribbean