Orlando Destination Guide

Why Here?
Orlando saw a record 57 million visitors last year, making it the most visited destination in America. To keep up with the influx of travelers, the city's convention center (above), airport and numerous hotels are undergoing major renovations and/or expansions.

After Hours
Visit Orlando has launched a new campaign to educate planners on the city's varied neighborhoods and their unique offerings. To learn more, visit orlandodistricts.com.

Click Here
Zagat recently launched an Orlando city guide: zagat.com/c/orlando-fl

For the inside scoop on Disney happenings, go to orlandosentinel.com/the-daily-disney

Orlando Eats
The Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek's Deep Blu Seafood Grille, known for its sustainable seafood, has received Orlando Magazine's Readers Choice Award for Best Hotel Restaurant. bit.ly/19CiXwA

Local Update
In June, Orlando International Airport announced plans for a $1.2 billion expansion and renovation over the next five years. Plans include the addition of a 16-gate terminal complex, a 3,500-space parking garage and a cell-phone waiting lot.

Later this year, the 2.1 million-square-foot Orange County Convention Center will begin work on a $187 million improvement project that is expected to finish in 2018. Enhancements will include new furniture in public concourses, and a new flexible ballroom space.

The 1,417-room Hilton Orlando has begun work on a new outdoor event venue called the Promenade, spanning 50,000 square feet. The property currently offers more than 225,000 square feet of function space.

The Aloft Orlando Downtown is on schedule  to open next month with 118 guest rooms and a total of more than 7,000 square feet of function space.

The 1,800-room Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort will open in 2014 with two pools and a 10-lane bowling alley.

In 2016, Downtown Disney will be transformed into Disney Springs, with double the amount of shopping, dining and entertainment options. The new area will be split up among four lakefront "neighborhoods."

The 434-room Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort is set to open in December with several dining venues, a spa, a golf course, a 37,750-square-foot conference center and two event lawns.

The 394-room B in the Walt Disney World Resort will open this fall just a few steps from Downtown Disney. The resort will include more than 25,000 square feet of function space.

A 55,000-square-foot conference center opened in January at the 720-room Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate. The resort now has more than 180,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space.

Earlier this year, the Orlando World Center Marriott completed a renovation of its North Tower guest rooms, meeting space and outdoor event areas. The resort has 2,000 guest rooms and a total of 450,000 square feet of meeting space.

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando finished a $14 million renovation in April that gave its 750 guest rooms a Mediterranean-inspired design. The property has more than 42,000 square feet of meeting space.

The 613-room Wyndham Orlando Resort is undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation due to finish in October. Already upgraded is the resort's 60,000 square feet of meeting space.

Meeting Hotels
Downtown 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 1,641-room Peabody Orlando; 1,334-room Rosen Centre Hotel; 650-room Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando, a Loews Hotel; and 584-room Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes.

Near Orlando Inter­national Airport can be found the 510-room Florida Hotel and Conference Center, 483-room Marriott Or­lando Airport, 353-room Crowne Plaza Orlando Airport and 287-room Holiday Inn Orlando International Airport.

In Lake Buena Vista, near Walt Disney World Resort, are the 2,000-room Orlando World Center Marriott, 1,497-room Bonnet Creek Resort, 1,497-room Caribe Royale All-Suite Hotel & Convention Center, 750-room Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress and 489-room Sheraton Safari Hotel and Suites.

In Kissimmee and Celebration are the 1,406-room Gaylord Palms Hotel & Convention Center, 718-room Radisson Resort Orlando-Celebration and 300-room Embassy Suites Orlando-Lake Buena Vista South. In Reunion is the Ginn Reunion Resort with more than 2,000 rental units.

Properties at 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 1,921-room Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, 1,197-room Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, 877-room Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and 372-room Disney's Board­walk Inn.

Third-party properties include the 1,502-room Walt Disney World Dolphin, 1,014-room Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa, 1,014-room Wyndham Palace Resort & Spa in the Walt Disney World Resort, 814-room Hilton Orlando Resort, 756-room Walt Disney World Swan and 394-room Royal Plaza in the Walt Disney World Resort.

To find and compare hotels, and send RFPs, visit mcvenues.com.

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; occc.net

At Universal
• Earlier this summer, a new Simpsons park opened at Uni­versal Orlando, featuring themed rides and specially brewed Duff Beer.

• In summer 2014, the latest Harry Potter theme area, Diagon Alley, will open at Universal Studios, offering themed rides, food and shopping.

• In June, Universal Studios debuted Transformers: The Ride-3D, which drops attendees into a battle between the heavily armed robots. The attraction can be used in tandem with events held in the park's New York area.

• For a full list of event spaces within Universal, visit uomeetingsandevents.com.

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
Attendees can escape the hot Florida sun and cool down at Ice Bar Orlando, which features some 50 tons of ice formed into sculptures, drinking glasses and the bar itself. The 4,000-square-foot space also includes a stage and an outdoor patio. (407) 426-7555; icebarorlando.com

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

Kissimmee Convention & Visi­tors Bureau, (407) 847-5000 or (800) 831-1844; meetinkissimmee.com

Walt Disney World Resort, (321) 939-7129; disneymeetings.com