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Renovation plans focus on boosting event space at Hilton Doubletree at Seaworld

The Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at Seaworld, on South International Drive.
The Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at Seaworld, on South International Drive. (website)

New owners of the Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at Seaworld are initiating a planned $30 million in renovations with new ballroom and outdoor meeting space, emphasizing social and business events as key to future revenue growth, a lead executive with the company told GrowthSpotter on Wednesday.

New York-based investment firm AWH Partners bought the Doubletree on May 19 for more than $54 million. Boosting the property's meeting space from its current 60,000 square feet to as much as 90,000 square feet had been identified as a top priority, Russ Flicker, managing partner with AWH, told GrowthSpotter in early June.

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One of the property's three swimming pools, some small buildings and green space will be removed to accommodate a new outdoor executive courtyard, Flicker said. A 22,000-square-foot addition to the ballroom is also planned on the south of the property.

Forty-seven rooms will be permanently lost in the renovation process, bringing the property from 1,102 keys to 1,055.

"This is all about creating an environment that can better deliver exceptional service and events to group customers, and social catering customers," Flicker said Wednesday. "The new executive courtyard will allow us to host more outdoor events and will connect to the new ballroom extension."

The ownership found that additional meeting space and the opportunity to lure more group events to the hotel offered greater revenue potential than the 47 rooms would, Flicker said.

A development plan for this first round of renovations, currently under review by Orange County planning staff, includes a new fitness center that will involve relocating the current one, and a series of covered outdoor walkways to connect buildings on the 28-acre property.

"For the covered walkway, we wanted to take advantage of the unique benefits we have with such a large resort property that has amenities spread out," Flicker said. "This will help people more easily get from place to place."

AWH Partners is still working through the design process for the new spaces and hopes to be able to start construction in Summer 2016, he said. A general contractor will likely be chosen in the next three months.

Z Development Services is serving as civil engineer on the project, while VOA Associates is the architect.

AWH is an affiliate of Winston Harton Holdings, a New York LLC specializing in acquiring distressed real estate assets through equity and debt, per its website.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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