by Michael C. Lowe | November 01, 2013
Why Here?
Orlando is abuzz with meetings-friendly projects. Among the developments are a $1.2 billion expansion of Orlando International Airport, a $187 million renovation of the Orange County Convention Center and a rebranding of the former Peabody Orlando (above), which now flies the Hyatt Regency flag.

Local Partner
In September, Fred Shea was promoted from vice president of strategic partnerships to senior vice president of convention sales and services for Visit Orlando (

Number One
Orlando was named America's top meetings city in Cvent's annual city rankings.
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Earlier this year, Hyatt Hotels Corp. acquired the Peabody Orlando for $717 million and, in October, rebranded it the Hyatt Regency Orlando. The property features 1,641 guest rooms, a 22,000-square-foot spa, three swimming pools, several dining options and 315,000 square feet of function space, the most of any Hyatt hotel.

The 315-room Westin Orlando Universal Boulevard is adding a 5,576-square-foot conference center and event space that will open in February 2014. The addition will give the property a total of 13,685 square feet of function space upon completion.

The 2.1 million-square-foot Orange County Convention Center achieved LEED certification for existing buildings in October, becoming the largest convention center in the world to do so. The facility also currently is undergoing a $187 million improvement project that is scheduled to finish in 2018. Enhancements will include new furniture in public concourses and a new flexible ballroom space.

Orlando International Airport recently announced plans for a $1.2 billion expansion and renovation that will be completed over the next five years. The project includes the addition of a 16-gate terminal complex, a 3,500-space parking garage and a cell-phone waiting lot.

The Orlando World Center Marriott wrapped up a five-year, multimillion-dollar renovation in July. Enhancements included a revamp of all North Tower guest rooms and meeting space, the Hall of Cities meeting rooms, all pool areas and the Siro restaurant. The 1,890-room property has 450,000 square feet of meeting space.

Grand Lakes Orlando, comprised of a 582-room Ritz-Carlton and a 1,000-room JW Marriott, currently is undergoing a renovation of its more than 150,000 square feet of meeting space. The work is set to finish in late 2014.

Meeting Hotels
To find and compare hotels in Orlando and elsewhere, and to send RFPs, go to

Convention Center
Orange County Convention Center; exhibit space, 2.1 million square feet; number of meeting rooms, 74; (407) 685-9800 or (800) 345-9845;

Airport Transit
Orlando International Airport, about 13 miles southeast of downtown Orlando and 14 miles east of the Orange County Convention Center/International Drive. Transfer cost by taxi, $26 to downtown, $33 to the convention center/International Drive; by shuttle, $16 to downtown, $17 to the convention center/International Drive

Orlando/Orange County: room tax, 6%; sales tax, 6.50%; total taxes on hotel rooms, 12.5%

Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orange County: room tax, 6%; sales tax, 6.5%; total tax on hotel rooms, 12.5%

Disney properties in Osceola County: room tax, 6%; sales tax, 7%; total tax on hotel rooms, 13%

Group Venue
Casa Feliz, a restored Spanish farmhouse in historic Winter Park, offers a rustic space complete with century-old exposed bricks, vaulted ceilings and a tiled interior courtyard, all evoking 19th-century Spain. The venue has several meeting spaces and can accommodate up to 120 people for special events. (407) 628-8200;

Visit Orlando, (407) 363-5872 or (800) 972-3304;