Hilton’s contemporary luxury Conrad hotel brand is setting up shop next to Disney, as part of Dart Interests’ massive Grand Cypress redevelopment plans that have been quietly in the works for several years.
The 433-room Conrad Orlando hotel will be accompanied by a series of first-class vacation home rentals — all developed and owned by Dart Interests and centrally managed by a single entity.
In addition, the roughly 1,100-acre resort community will feature a 20-acre beach complex flaunting lush tropical landscaping, as well as an eight-acre crystalline water amenity by Crystal Lagoons called Evermore Bay.
David Pace, president of Dart Interests Florida, told GrowthSpotter the first phase of Evermore will consist of the hotel, a multitude of vacation homes and a robust list of amenities.
Bars will sit near swim areas peppered with cabanas and firepits. Evermore Orlando Resort will also have an aquatic amenity area with a waterslide, rope swing and water sports. Dart Interests also plans to open a new 18-hole Nicklaus Design golf course, a two-story “Boathouse” that will serve weddings and private events.
Other amenities include a food hall, gourmet market and casual restaurant overlooking the golf course and bay.
“No matter who you are, a typical theme park vacation can be tiring. It’s hot, it’s relentless, the lines are long, the traffic when you get out is tough … We have designed this project above all else to be an oasis from that experience,” Pace said. “It’s a place you look forward to coming back. It’s a place you regret leaving in the morning because there’s so much to do.”
About 1,500 bedrooms will come online as part of Evermore’s first phase, slated to be complete summer of 2023. Those include guest rooms in the hotel, as well as a mix of vacation single-family homes, villas and flats. A breakdown of plans estimate the developer will deliver 69 houses ranging in size from five to 11-bedrooms; 76 four-bedroom flats; and 41 two- and four-bedroom villas.
At full buildout, the resort will comprise roughly 10,000 rooms and will represent an equity investment “in excess of $1 billion,” according to the developer. DART Interests filed the hotel construction plans and began the infrastructure work last summer as it worked through the details and agreements with Hilton.
Evermore Orlando Resort will be a trailblazer in the vacation home rental market, Pace said. Unlike a traditional large-scale vacation home community, all the vacation homes at Evermore will be centrally-owned by Dart Interests.
A representative of the company said the firm is still discussing whether it will be self-managing the properties or teaming up with a professional hospitality company.
Prior to the start of Evermore’s infrastructure work, the massive property, generally located east of Walt Disney World Resort, was made up of the now-closed 146-room Villas of Grand Cypress Resort and its 45-hole Jack Nicklaus signature golf course.
Pace said the Grand Cypress Resort was a leading travel destination competing with nearby resorts like the Fours Seasons and the Ritz-Carlton hotel. In 2012, the Dallas-based company acquired a majority of the property.
“That’s when our owner, who is very intellectually curious and not one to take unnecessary risks, allowed us to explore the opportunities within our land use plan amendment,” he said. “We began to look into what can we do within that.”
Several iterations were made before plans were finally filling out, he said.
“Big companies that dip their toes in building vacation homes really quickly dip their feet out of the water,” Pace explained. “Big brands really couldn’t stomach what was happening when the decision of keeping its integrity fell on individual owners that didn’t have the wherewithal and in some cases the desire to put the kind of investments they needed to keep it up.”
Vacation rentals at Evermore Resort Orlando will share the same hospitality services offered to guests at luxury resorts.
“We believe one of the outcomes of COVID will be a higher potency to travel within state bubbles,” Pace said. “People will feel more comfortable possibly not having housekeepers come into their room every day.”
He adds Dart Interests began planning the vacation home project in 2018 to follow market trends that he says now fall in line with a new desire, from a safety standpoint, to be in control of your environment.
“It will be a real value, but our position in the market is not trying to be a price leader,” he said. “We’re trying to be a quality leader, both in service and the quality of the facilities.”