Hotels & Hospitality Development News in Central Florida

Hilton plans new hotel across from Legoland

A new extended-stay Home2 Suites hotel will rise on the site of the former K-mart store across from Legoland.

A Miami attorney is developing a 106-room Hilton Home2 Suites in Winter Haven across from Legoland, the second hotel planned in the city near the theme park in the past 8 months.

Bruce Hermelee of Hermelee Law submitted a site plan to Winter Haven and the Southwest Florida Water Management District under the company KM WHC LLC to build a 4-story hotel on property once occupied by a Kmart on Cypress Gardens Boulevard and Legoland Way SE. Hermelee law specializes in real estate transactions and business litigation. The Kmart closed in 2014 and was demolished after a large sinkhole opened up in its parking lot.


Home2 Suites is one of the fastest-growing hotel brands in industry history, according to HospitalityNet, after the brand opened its 500th hotel 10 years after it was introduced. The Winter Haven site is the fifth new Home2 Suites announced for Central Florida in the last year, following Mount Dora, ChampionsGate, Winter Garden and Lake Mary.

An outdoor lounge area with firepit is one of the amenities featured at a prototypical Home2 Suites hotel.

The brand is a midscale, extended-stay product. Guest suites feature separate sleeping and living areas, with a kitchenette equipped with full-sized appliances. Induction burner cooktops are available upon request at no extra cost. The hotels typically include a 24-hour fitness center with an integrated laundry room, a saltwater pool and other amenities.


The Winter Haven site plan, by Lakeland-based Chastain-Skillman, Inc. shows an outdoor lounge. Planning Manager Sean Byers told GrowthSpotter the staff is reviewing the Home2 Suites site plan along with a site plan for a Glory Days restaurant to go into a former Perkins restaurant located in front of the hotel site. There are no zoning issues for either plan, and once approved, both developers can begin applying for permits, he said. The approval process probably will take another month to 60 days, he said.

Cypress Gardens Boulevard has become Winter Haven’s latest growth hotspot due to Legoland’s expansions. In February, it will open the world’s first Peppa Pig theme park.

Meanwhile, Best Western Plus is under construction behind a Golden Corral restaurant and a Wells Fargo Bank; and there’s a pad ready for another hotel adjacent to a Courtyard Mariott about a quarter-mile east of the Home2 Suites site, Byers said.

“Commercial certainly has had an uptick in the last quarter of the year,” Byers said. “This hotel, restaurant and several little, smaller projects downtown. Residential continues to be hot. Single-family is still going at record pace. We’re starting to see more interest in multifamily.” Byers said planners recently approved apartments being developed by CG27 at the corner of U.S. 27 and Cypress Gardens Boulevard. They also are reviewing plans for Village at Cypress Gardens, a 270-unit community being developed by A.I.A. and Associates LLC.

Winter Haven’s population has been increasing by about 1,500 people a year for the past several years with a current population of 51,000, Byers said. “Right now I don’t see anything that is going to slow that rate down at least for the next couple of years.”

Legoland is attracting growth, and so is the recently completed Florida Can Manufacturing plant, Byers said. Florida Caribbean Distillers bought Winter Haven surplus property in 2020 and built a $120 million aluminum can production plant. FCD, owned by Miami-based CC1 Companies, expects to start manufacturing with a capacity of 1.6 billion cans and 2.4 billion ends (lids).

“They are going to have a significant workforce out there that are going to cause some housing needs,” Byer said.

Also across from Legoland, Texas-based Forestar is developing a 1,100-lot master-planned community for D.R. Horton on 350 acres known as Harmony on Lake Eloise. Forestar paid $24 million in 2020 for the land. Finished lots for Phase 1 are expected to be available for home construction this year.


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