Atlanta resort operator buys Reunion Resort, plans new hotel + wave pool

Kingwood International Resorts purchased the AAA Four Diamond-rated Reunion Resort on Friday and released an ambitious expansion plan of the Disney-area golf destination.

Specializing in golf-centered clubs and resorts, Atlanta-based Kingwood International currently owns and operates Kingwood Country Club & Golf Resort and Achasta Golf Resort community, both in North Georgia, and the eco-friendly Plantation on Crystal River in Central West Florida.

The seller was real estate investment firm Lubert Adler. 

“Reunion Resort is a perfect complement to our portfolio of upscale golf communities and resorts,” stated Richard Nasser, president of the Kingwood's resort division. “With its varied accommodation options, world-class golf and exceptional amenities, Reunion is known as an ideal resort for guests who want to experience everything Orlando has to offer. Our goal is to enhance the guest experience at every turn and drive awareness to the next level.”

Kingwood announced plans to make significant investments in Reunion Resort, such as the addition of 1,200 rental accommodations, a new 400-room hotel with significant convention and meeting facilities to enhance the resort’s condominium and private home rentals.

Michael Mancke, VP Resort Division for Kingwood, told GrowthSpotter the rental units could be a combination of timeshares, apartments and condos. The 1,200 figure includes building rights for other developers.

The hotel expansion could be located off the back of the Reunion Grande or where the current golf clubhouse is now located. 

"We're doing the feasibility studies now," Mancke said. "You talk about it and plan it, but until you get the keys in hand, you can't really put pen to paper."

He told GrowthSpotter the first improvement will be an expansion of the 5-acre Reunion Resort Water Park, with the addition of a wave pool, new water slide, putt-putt golf and a larger, covered food and beverage offering. Those improvements will be built in conjunction with Encore's new Spectrum+ at Reunion Resort.

CEO Fred Zohouri said the Kingwood International plans to "build upon the successes of Reunion’s leadership and frontline hospitality professionals so we can provide our members and guests with extraordinary experiences.” 

Salamander Resorts & Hotels, which managed the property for Lubert Adler, had been negotiating with Osceola County for a 200-room hotel expansion, valued at $100 milion, in 2017. Salamander was seeking $30 million from the county's Tourist Development Tax fund to help fund a major conference center expansion.

Mancke, who manages the Crystal River property, said Kingwood would install its own resort management team at Reunion. And he said the firm would be seeking TDT investment from the county, as well.

"That will be the next step," he said. 

Reunion Resort features 360 resort-style accommodations ranging from luxury multi-room villas to private three- to 13-bedroom vacation homes, as well as 25,000 square feet of meeting and event space.

Reunion is the only location in the world featuring three signature championship golf courses designed by golfing legends Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson. Amenities at the resort include seven casual and fine dining venues, indoor and outdoor meeting space, six hydro-grid clay tennis courts, a full-service spa, 10 community pools, fitness center and a waterpark.  

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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