September 16, 2014

Tourism

Building Boom for Orlando Resorts

Diane Sears | 11/1/2009
Connet Creek resort
The Bonnet Creek resort includes a Waldorf Astoria and a 1,000-room Hilton

Orlando’s tourism corridor experienced its worst summer on record for hotel occupancy this year, but a flurry of projects opening or under way reflects the industry’s bet on a brighter future.

One of the most prominent is the Bonnet Creek resort, which includes a 500-room Waldorf Astoria and a 1,000-room Hilton. The complex opened Oct. 1 along Interstate 4, just outsideWalt Disney World and Epcot. It employs 800.

Universal - Harry Potter
Universal’s Harry Potter attraction is scheduled to open in 2010.
“When you talk about a project of this magnitude, it’s not built for a short time period. It’s built for a long time,” says Peter Kacheris, the resort’s managing director. “We know the economy is going to bounce back, and we know there’s a demand for this kind of premium product.”

Building during a recession actually had its advantages, Kacheris says. The complex easily found workers for the construction and then for the permanent staff. “When we went out hiring, we were absolutely pleased with the talent we could get,” he says. “We got
some pretty seasoned individuals.”

The Bonnet Creek complex opened just as Walt Disney World announced plans for a redesign of Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, its largest renovation in 38 years, set for completion in 2013.

Meanwhile, Universal Studios Florida opened its Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster and continued construction on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, set to open next year.

Also new to the mix:

» A 1,400-room Hilton opened in September as the first hotel with a sky bridge to the Orange County Convention Center.

» A 1,094-room Doubletree opened in September adjacent to SeaWorld after a $35-million renovation that converted it from the International Plaza Resort & Spa.

» A Four Seasons resort and golf course is taking shape on Disney property with a 2012 opening date.

» A $420-million expansion at the Peabody Orlando by the convention center is set for completion in late 2010.

Tags: Dining & Travel, Central, Housing/Construction

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