by Kaylee Hultgren | November 01, 2009

Local Update
The Orlando Performing Arts Center, part of the $1.1 billion Project Hometown community development project, now plans to build its three halls in phases, with the first, a 300-seat theater, to break ground in March 2010 and finish in 2013. A 2,800-seat hall will follow. Project investors have decided to delay construction of a third, 1,700-seat hall until the economy improves. The other two Project Hometown developments, which include the creation of a 750,000-square-foot event venue to replace Amway Arena and a major renovation of the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, will announce groundbreakings once financing options have been evaluated.

Completing a three-year revamp, Disney’s Contemporary Resort opened a new 15-story tower in August with 295 villas, to add to the property’s 655 rooms and suites. The resort features 115,000 square feet of meeting space.

In April, the Westin Grand Imagine, a 315-unit condo-hotel, opened across from the Orange County Convention Center with 7,200 square feet of meeting space.

The 400-room Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Hotel & Spa at Bonnet Creek Resort, which broke ground last April next to the Walt Disney World Resort, has pushed back its scheduled first-quarter 2010 completion to the second quarter. The property will feature a 7,000-square-foot spa, an 18-hole golf course and 20,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Orlando/Orange County Conven­tion & Visitors Bureau has restructured its meetings and conventions sales strategy. Dubbed Roadmap 2010, the initiative includes the promotion of Tammi Runzler to senior vice president of convention sales and services and a partnership with the Orange County Convention Center.

The 750-room Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress completed a $65 million renovation this month. Guest rooms received large flat-screen TVs, improved workstations, multimedia plug-ins, designer chairs and Wi-Fi Internet access.

Meeting Hotels:
Downtown Orlando proper­ties include the 341-room Sheraton Orlando–Downtown, 290-room Mar­riott Orlando Downtown and 250-room Grand Bohemian Hotel.

Along International Drive and near the Orange County Convention Center are the 1,500-room Rosen Shingle Creek; 1,334-room Rosen Centre Hotel; 1,100-room International Plaza Resort & Spa; 1,052-room Wyndham Orlando Resort; 1,000-room JW Marriott Grande Lakes; 1,000-room Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando, a Loews Hotel; 891-room Peabody Orlando; 800-room Rosen Plaza Hotel; 778-room Renaissance Orlando Resort at SeaWorld Orlando; 750-room Porto­fino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando, a Loews Hotel; 652-room Holiday Inn Orlando International Drive Resort; 650-room Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando, a Loews Hotel; and 584-room Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes.

Near Orlando International Airport are the 510-room Florida Hotel and Con­ference Center, 486-room Marriott Or­lando Airport, 446-room Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport and 353-room Crowne Plaza Orlando Airport.

In Kissimmee and Celebration are the 1,406-room Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center and 730-room Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate.
In Reunion is the 463-unit Ginn Reunion Resort.

Properties at the Walt Disney World Resort are divided into two categories: Disney-owned and -operated, and third-party properties designated as official Walt Disney World hotels.

Disney-owned and -operated properties include the 1,917-room Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, 1,213-room Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, 867-room Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, 655-room Contemporary Resort and 378-room Disney’s Boardwalk Inn.

Third-party Disney-designated properties include the 1,514-room Walt Disney World Dolphin, 1,338-room Caribe Royale Orlando, 1,014-room Wyndham Palace Resort & Spa in the Walt Disney World Resort, 814-room Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort, 751-room Walt Disney World Swan, 394-room Royal Plaza in the Walt Disney World Resort and 229-room Doubletree Guest Suites in the Walt Disney World Resort.

Bordering Walt Disney World are the 1,000-room Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and the 497-room Waldorf Astoria Orlando.

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

Transfer cost by taxi to Walt Disney World Resort, $60. Disney’s Magical Express shuttle service provides Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests with free airport transfers, luggage delivery and advance airline check-in for participating airlines.

Orlando/Orange Coun­ty: room tax, 6%; sales tax, 6.5%; total tax on hotel rooms, 12.5%

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

Group Venue:
The CityArts Factory on South Orange Avenue in downtown Orlando supports local and regional artists through a variety of community events and art shows. After-hours, the venue’s 8,000-square-foot multipurpose event space, the Eola Capital Loft, can be booked for private use for catered meals, seminars, team-building sessions and more. The events team at CityArts can coordinate guided art tours of the venue’s own galleries in addition to others within a two-block radius, as well as organize glass-blowing demonstrations. (407) 648-7060;

CVB Services:
Greater Or­lando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, (407) 363-5872 or (800) 972-3304;