Omni Orlando Resort execs foresee big payoff from expansion set to open in May

Executives at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate are expecting a big payoff from their $40 million expansion set to open on Memorial Day. 

 "We project that within two years, we will be running at above 70-percent occupancy," Marketing and Sales Director Jean Spaulding said on Friday. "That would be an increase of several points."

Spaulding and Omni Managing Director Robert Stanfield discussed the expansion project first reported by GrowthSpotter in January 2016. Jointly funded by Osceola County, the project includes a 100,000-square-foot expansion at the adjacent Osceola County Conference Center, a new villa building that adds 93 guest rooms and suites, and a host of new amenities, including a wave pool.

Spaulding said the villa rooms bring the hotel's room total to 862, allowing her to market to larger conventions and corporate clients, which generates the highest revenue per room night. 

"As far as the return on investment, we will have improved rates," Spaulding said. "We believe our new product will drive occupancy and rates. And we've increased our leisure assumption because of the new pools."

Orlando and Tampa comprise the resort's two largest leisure markets, and Stanfield said the Omni wanted to provide a swimming and golf experience unique within the highly competitive market where every hotel has a lazy river and water park.

"When you look at the competition, slides have become popular, and a few have added FlowRiders," Stanfield said. "But we'll be the only hotel with a wave pool. We're also adding a new kiddie pool area, which is something we didn't have before."

The hotel is also adding 16 new poolside cabanas (bringing the total number to 24) and 400 more lounge chairs on an expanded pool deck.

"There's nothing that drives people crazy more than going down to the pool and not being able to get a chair because someone came down at 8 a.m. and spread towels over 14 chairs and then went back to their room," Stanfield said. "That won't be an issue here. Our guests will be able to sleep until 11 and still get a chair." 

The hotel also added a miniature golf course and a new patio terrace just off the Italian restaurant, Trevi's, that allows for al fresco dining and has an outdoor bar and fire pit. It's one of two new dining spaces added as part of the expansion. The other is a market-style restaurant with grab-and-go prepared foods at the conference center.

The conference center expansion includes a new ballroom specifically designed for destination weddings. It has bride and groom suites and opens to an outdoor venue with an event lawn, terraced gardens, a fireplace and patio space.

The hotel expects to grow its wedding business by more than 50 percent, Catering Director Michael Hiltabidel said. "We did about 70 weddings last year. We're getting to a point where we'll be able to do two or three every weekend."

The conference center expansion completes the second phase envisioned in the original agreement with Osceola County. Spaulding said there are no plans at this point for any future expansion at the facility or the hotel, but the resort still has entitlements that would allow for more rooms.

"The original master plan for the resort called for two hotel towers," she said. "This one and another one with 500 rooms, so there are still hundreds of hotel room entitlements available." 

The resort's master developer, RIDA, has been expanding the dining options at the main entrance with the addition of Miller's Ale House and Red Robin - first reported here in February 2016

A new 308-unit class-A apartment complex is expected to open in April. It's fronted by even more retail and dining options, including a Tijuana Flats that opens this weekend and a new Jersey Mike's.

Last month, Vantage Properties bought a Regions Bank building at Downtown ChampionsGate and filed preliminary plans to raze the building and add two more restaurants in its place. 

Homebuilder Lennar, approved for 3,000 homes at ChampionsGate, is adding more than $50 million in new construction per year at the resort. A $50 million active adult community with assisted living on Ronald Reagan Parkway and Portofino, a 120-unit affordable housing development, are also under construction.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407)420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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