Hilton Orlando preps renovations & new addition to pool-area amenities

Owners of the Hilton Orlando near International Drive are planning a multi-million dollar renovation of the hotel's pool-area amenities, meant to reinvigorate dormant space and capitalize on the corporate travel market. 

The 1,418-room hotel on the corner of Destination Parkway and International Drive is owned by a joint venture of RIDA Development Corp. out of Houston, Ares Management of Los Angeles and Park Hotels & Resorts in Virginia. 

The ownership group will be converting part of a putt-putt course on the south side of the pool area that was not highly utilized into a children's splash pad, and will expand the footprint of an adults-only "quiet" pool. 

"Adding the splash pad area will widen our leisure segment offerings; it's the same thing we did in ChampionsGate that was well received" RIDA senior vice president Marc Reicher told GrowthSpotter. "Opening up the adults pool space will give a more sophisticated experience for those customers, and allow us to create a venue so when we have larger groups we can use the pool as a reception area that we can cater in to, which would have a fire pit and more lounge chairs."

The Hilton's adult pool area is also directly adjacent to the resort's large outdoor kitchen and Bistro restaurant, which will allow for easy service of the expanded space, he said. 

"One of the things that RIDA and Hilton Orlando want to set the pace for is quenching the desire of that business traveler of having a cool experience as part of their meetings and convention," Reicher said. "Providing those venues is essential, and we're in an ever-evolving marketplace for the newest and coolest types of (hotel) offerings." 

Construction plans filed with Orange County in early December call for new hardscape features, walls, cabana areas, sidewalks, landscaping, irrigation, electrical and plumbing. Total job valuation is estimated at a conservative $725,000.

RIDA expects the renovation work on the Hilton's pool-area amenities to be completed by mid- to late spring, Reicher added. 

The Hilton ownership also filed construction permit requests on Tuesday for a new walk-in cooler at its pool bar building, and to expand the Marketplace area in its lobby, projects valued at a conservative $2.05 million overall. 

Sloan Builders Inc. is general contractor on the pool-area expansion work, and Welbro Building Corp. is leading the lobby Marketplace expansion.

RIDA is "stil contemplating" its plans to relocate a stormwater pond from the eastern edge of the Hilton property to land a few hundred feet southeast that it bought in March, Reicher said. It would free up more than 2 acres on the hotel site for new development. 

An active construction permit has been granted from Orange County for that pond in-fill work, though the hotel's ownership has yet to start the project. 

"We're very excited to see the Orange County Convention Center planning its expansion nearby," he said. "Those types of projects excite us to co-invest with private dollars." 

A long-awaited connection of Destination Parkway will activate that property for future development. Construction of this stretch of road is estimated to be complete by June 2018, according to Orange County's latest monthly progress report. 

J.P. Morgan reached a deal in November to supply $475 million of floating-rate debt for the Hilton Orlando, which the hotel's ownership group had been seeking since August to take advantage of low interest rates and fuel future expansion. 

The property's ownership group is expected to use most of the proceeds to pay down $375 million of floating-rate debt that UBS and Wells Fargo originated in 2014. 

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