UPDATED: March 2, 2018 9:35 AM — The former International Palms Resort & Conference Center, one of International Drive's oldest hotel properties, is set to reopen as soon as next week after a year of extensive renovations and rebranding by Brazilian property owner Brasif.
Acquired in October 2016 for $26 million, the 652-room hotel has been repositioned as the independent Avanti Palms Resort and Conference Center following a multi-million dollar renovation led by Paramount Hospitality Management, Brasif's owner-representative and property manager in Orlando.
The property lies on 13.64 acres at 6515 International Dr., southwest of the former Wet 'n Wild water park site.
Now 38 years old, the former International Palms on I-Drive had a complete renovation made over the past year of the guest reception building that includes new food and beverage outlets like a cafe and marketplace, a lobby bar, and the hotel's 20,000 square feet of meeting space.
The hotel's count of 652 guest rooms was not reduced, which were fully renovated with new flooring, bedding, furniture, fixtures and equipment, like the addition of 55-inch TVs, mini-fridges, microwaves and coffee makers, Paramount president Marco A. Manzie told GrowthSpotter.
The swimming pool was renovated and given a zero entry, with a children's playscape and outdoor bar and grill added.
Arguably the most striking change was made to the hotel lobby, Manzie said. Previously, the lobby's front desk was on one lower level, and then a flight of stairs led guests to the rest of the lobby at ground level. Now all the service and waiting area has been moved up to the same level.
Paramount previously led Brasif's conversion of an aging Econo Lodge on I-Drive into the independently branded Avanti International Resort, after the Brazilian investor bought it in 2012.
The new Avanti Palms' meeting space was a key draw for Brasif's renovation investment in order to position the property to compete for group and association travelers, which the other hotel doesn't attract as easily without meeting space.
Brasif had previously announced plans in December 2015 to build a 21-story UNIQ Hotel on 3.05 acres of the Avanti International's southern end. Initial targets to begin small-scale demolition and construction on that tower passed in late 2016 and 2017, and the project remains on hold indefinitely, Manzie said.
"Our attention was diverted" from the UNIQ Hotel while carrying out renovation of the former International Palms, said Manzie, but "as soon as that is digested we will refocus on the UNIQ project."
Manzie declined to elaborate on any progress made with the UNIQ tower's value engineering or construction documents, saying "it's all open-ended."