by Michael C. LoweNovember 1, 2012
Orlando may be world famous for its theme parks, but new restaurants, like Cask & Larder (above), and attractions, such as the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (which will open in 2014), continue to burnish this central Florida city's reputation as a meetings destination.
Eco-friendlyThe Green Destinations Orlando program hopes to make the city a solar-powered beacon of sustainability. High-profile hotel participants include the Peabody Orlando and the Hilton Orlando.
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In January 2013, the 720-room Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate will open a new 55,000-square-foot conference center that will include a 28,800-square-foot ballroom. Once complete, the property will offer planners a total of 128,000 square feet of indoor function space and 52,000 square feet of outdoor event space, along with a spa, two golf courses and an 850-foot-long lazy river.
The 394-room B in the Walt Disney World Resort, the fourth in the B brand, will open here in fall 2013 with 20,000 square feet of function space plus an outdoor event lawn.
The Aloft Orlando Downtown will open next summer with 119 guest rooms, a bar and lounge, a fitness center, an indoor swimming pool and 5,200 square feet of meeting space.
In 2014, the 434-room Four Seasons Hotel at Walt Disney World Resort will open with three pools, a spa and approximately 37,750 square feet of meeting space.
The Ramada Plaza Resort & Suites Orlando opened this past July with 131 suites and 2,775 square feet of meeting space.
The 1,800-room Cabana Bay Beach Resort, a joint partnership between Universal Parks & Resorts and Loews Hotels & Resorts, will open in 2014 adjacent to Universal's Islands of Adventure.
The Alfond Inn at Rollins College is slated for a spring 2013 opening and will include 112 guest rooms and 8,000 square feet of meeting space.
Disney's Art of Animation Resort opened in May at the Walt Disney World Resort, with 1,984 suites and décor inspired by Disney movies such as Cars.
The Sonesta ES Suites Orlando on International Drive recently opened, featuring 146 suites, one 782-square-foot conference room and complimentary shuttles to area theme parks.
The Drury Inn & Suites on Sand Lake Road opened in July with 238 guest rooms, free Wi-Fi, a swimming pool and 4,940 square feet of meeting space.
The 1,641-room Peabody Orlando now has spa-inspired luxury accommodations. The 52-room Loft debuted this past summer within the hotel's Mallard Tower and offers plush blankets, robes and slippers, and Keurig coffee makers.