Six years ago, on November 25, 2013, the General Manager of the Marco Island Marriott Resort, Rick Medwedeff would host the first of many informational meetings regarding the plans for a major renovation of their facilities here on Marco Island.
The plan under consideration would increase the total amount of rooms from 726 to 810. More importantly, it would bring the facilities up to 21st century standards regarding meeting space and its configuration, therefore making it easier to book groups into the resort during the off-season and times of reduced usage.
“Our intent is to be able to compete for that business which requires the improved meeting space in regard to ceiling heights, removal of structural pillars which interfere with seating and room layout configurations. We also need to provide the necessary break-out areas which will enhance the meeting space and functionality,” said Medwedeff.
Fast forward almost six years and 320 million dollars later, and what at the time was a concept in nature has become a reality. “All of this would come about after years of planning and listening to both our neighbors, city staff, and residents of the island,” said Amanda Cox who serves as the Director of Sales and Marketing for what is now the J.W. Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort.
When you speak with Cox it quickly becomes evident that the advanced planning necessary to accommodate large conferences requires an enormous amount of coordination, forecasting, and scheduling. A perfect example was the recent conference held for the Texas Roadhouse management personnel from across the U.S.
The planning for that event began over four years ago and entailed what Cox referred to as an “island-wide event.” The event involved the utilization of 1250 rooms, which housed 2,200 participants for the nationwide steakhouse chain headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky.
The “island-wide” concept involved the utilization of rooms from other facilities such as the Marco Beach Ocean Resort and the Hilton Island Resort. This coordination of resources allows the Marriott to work with companies requiring 900 rooms or more for their events in addition to large conference spaces and top of the line amenities.
During Texas Roadhouse’s multi-night stay, one night was designated as a “free-evening,” which gave attendees the opportunity to tour around the island, while visiting island venues for dinner and entertainment.
Cox was also excited to point out the quality of the entertainment which was booked directly by their corporate customer, Texas Roadhouse. “Their corporate planning staff from Texas Roadhouse would bring in some of the best in the entertainment industry, including Darius Rucker and Toby Keith. The weather was perfect, and our guests enjoyed the outside venue, as did islanders who loved the music as they sat out on the beach or on their boats near shore,” said Cox.
The long-range planning for the revamped conference center took into account the need to fill historical “downtime” at the resort which usually occurs from May 1 to October 1. “By doing so, we are able to ensure our professional staff are employed year-round. We have been able to increase our staffing levels to approximately 1150 individuals to fill those needs,” said Cox.
The J.W. Marriott has strategically placed sales specialists around the country to consult with professional meeting planners that are in search of top-tier venues for their clients. The JW Marriott is seeking to provide the best available location around the world for their clients.
The Marco Island J.W. Marriott is the only J.W. branded Marriott located directly on a beach and provides over 120,000 square feet of state-of-the-art conference space. Couple that with the ability to customize the amenities available for guests and you provide those professional meeting planners with a property that is second to none. Cox would also point out that her professional staff is presently booking the Marco property as far out as seven years in advance and the response from those looking at the Marco venue has been overwhelming.
The following event occurred in June when the Florida Cattleman’s Association returned to Marco Island after a three-year absence while the facilities were being renovated. It is estimated that approximately 2,200 guests enjoyed their annual conference once again on Marco.