The conference is held on the campus of the New College of Florida, the honors college of the Florida state system. The college, located on Sarasota Bay, is adjacent to the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport (code SRQ) and about 4 miles north of downtown Sarasota.
For 2016, we have arranged blocks of rooms at three different hotels. All have pools and free wifi, and the negotiated prices include breakfast. Rates are valid until 15 February 2016, but due to high retail demand, we encourage all attendees to make their hotel arrangements as early as possible.
Update, 22 February: All block rates have now expired, and the Marriott and Holiday Inn are entirely full, but rooms are still available at retail prices at the La Quinta Inn.
1) The Marriott Courtyard (850 University Parkway), at $169/night. The Marriott is within walking distance of the Sarasota Airport and the Sudakoff Center, but also runs a local shuttle. Please note, this block only officially covers Thurs-Sat nights, but if you book early enough that they have availability on Wednesday night, they will honor the conference rate for that as well. Click here to book online.
2) The Holiday Inn Sarasota Airport (8009 15th Street East), at $169/night. The Holiday Inn is 2.5 miles from the Sudakoff Center (around the other side of the Sarasota Airport, so generally not within walking distance), but maintains a local shuttle that can get you to or from the airport or the conference venue. It also has an internal restaurant. Click here to book online. (You can also call the hotel directly at (941) 355-9000, and ask for the New College Med/Ren Conference rate.)
3) The La Quinta Inn Sarasota (1803 N. Tamiami Trail), at $189-209/night. The La Quinta Inn is 2.5 miles south of the Sudakoff Center along Tamiami Trail/Route 41, in the direction of downtown. It does not have a shuttle, but a conference shuttle will run between it and the Sudakoff Center during peak hours. It is also directly along the #99 bus route to/from campus (see below). To make reservations, either contact the hotel directly at (941) 366-5128, or call the National Group Desk at (800) 642-4239 (option 1), and ask for the special rate for the New College Conference.
You are of course free to make your own housing arrangements; guidebooks and online resources provide many alternatives to those listed above. March is high season in Sarasota, however, and demand is very high, so early booking is recommended.
Getting To & From Sarasota
Flights are also available into Tampa International Airport (TPA); however, Sarasota is an hour's drive from Tampa, so if you are flying into Tampa we recommend that you plan on renting a car as public transport connections are poor. Alternatively, van service from Tampa Airport to the Sarasota area is available from SuperShuttle at a cost of $65 per person one way; another option is a car service such as Five Star Airport Service (approximately $85 one way, for up to 4 people).
Getting around Sarasota is easiest with a car; reasonably-priced rentals are available at both Sarasota and Tampa airports. For those without a car, route 2 and route 99 of the Sarasota County Area Transit run directly between New College and downtown Sarasota for a one-way fare of $1.25 (but please note that the last bus from downtown back to New College departs at 9 pm). For taxis, try Yellow Cab of Sarasota (941-955-3341) or DownTown Taxi Service (941-536-7855); Uber also functions fairly well in Sarasota.
While You're Here
Sarasota is noted for its beautiful public beaches, theater, art and music. Average temperatures in March are a pleasant high of 77F/25C and a low of 57F/14C. The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, next door to New College, offers tours arranged for conference participants. A few further local attractions are listed below; as above, guidebooks and online resources will quickly supplement this list.
The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
If you are visiting with young children, the Ringling Museum has a great playground (and does not charge admission simply for admission to the grounds). We also recommend the classic Jungle Gardens and Smuggler's Cove Mini-Golf (both right in the neighborhood of the College). With older kids (or none at all), you might also enjoy kayaking the mangrove tunnels of South Lido Key—several local companies offer equipment and/or guided tours out of Ted Sperling Park.
Special Note for 2016:
The Sarasota Opera, in the final season of its Verdi Cycle (a multi-year endeavor to perform all of Verdi's operas), will be presenting the little-performed Battle of Legnano (1849), set during Frederick Barbarossa's conflict with the Lombard League, on the Tuesday evening before the conference (March 8), and the Saturday afternoon of the conference (March 12). Click here for tickets and more information.