UPDATED: DECEMBER 15, 2015 9:24 AM — Hotel developers and a local nightclub owner are partnering to build two select service hotels and a Las Vegas-style dayclub pool on 8.59 acres across the street from SeaWorld Orlando.
Sanford-based hotel developer Matthew Gillio and Vancouver-based developer Don Fuller are proposing neighboring hotels that total 315 rooms across two parcels totaling 5.18 acres, which lie southeast of the International Drive-Central Florida Parkway intersection.
The northernmost parcel, situated directly behind a KFC restaurant on Central Florida Parkway, is proposed for up to 175 rooms and 13,203 square feet for a hotel flag yet to be confirmed, Gillio told GrowthSpotter on Monday. Plans filed with Orange County note the brand Element by Westin on this hotel.
The second parcel directly south of that is set for a 140-room Cambria Suites, which will be at least five stories and 17,574 square feet overall. Plans for this hotel were announced in late July by a Choice Hotels executive at the Global Business and Travel Association convention, per the Orlando Sentinel, though the property's owner and developer weren't publicized.
"Right now we're trying to finish completing our capital stack so we can move forward to construction drawings on Cambria Suites," Gillio said. "At that time we'll work intensely to figure out what brand we want to go on the second (hotel) pad."
Gillio and Fuller's Development Plan (DP) for the two hotels is under review by Orange County planning staff. The property is already zoned to allow for hospitality and the dayclub pool attraction.
"We've been in control of that property since the mid-2000s with hospitality in mind for it," Gillio said. "That intersection we're at basically offers entrances to all three SeaWorld parks. And we're a mile down the road from the Orange County Convention Center."
If county planning approval moves at the pace expected, construction plans for the first hotel could be filed in March or April, Gillio said. The developers have yet to choose a local general contractor for the project.
Those two parcels are part of a total 8.59 acres that had been bought in September 2005 for $3.2 million by an affiliate LLC of Gillio's, planned at the time for the timeshare project Bella Casa Resort.
Bella Casa Resort had been proposed in the mid-2000s as a luxury resort condominium hotel consisting of three six-story towers totaling 205 units. Infrastructure and entitlements were completed for the property before the project was scrapped due to the economic crisis.
The total 8.59 acres was subdivided into three parcels in October 2014.
The southernmost third parcel, at 3.41 acres, is now planned for a private dayclub swimming pool for adults by Nicholas Virthe, an Orlando resident and former owner of downtown's Senso Supperclub.
A 22-year-veteran of the nightclub industry, Virthe says consumer demand for the industry is changing rapidly, with day-time hours becoming more popular for adults in vacation destinations.
"The whole nightclub segment is dying out worldwide," Virthe told GrowthSpotter. "People are seeking out restaurants and day activities for partying."
With its brand yet to be confirmed, Virthe said his dayclub pool will only be 33 inches deep (waist height), with paid entry to ages 21 and up. The pool will feature 26 cabanas of varied sizes, the largest of which will hold a party of 20 and feature amenities like its own television, safe, bar and food, and private jacuzzi.
"Every day we will have DJs or bands for live music," he said. "It's difficult for adult travelers to cohabitate at many hotel pools with families around. That's the Orlando traveler we plan to cater to."
Virthe expects to begin construction of his dayclub pool in the first quarter of next year, and to hopefully open by mid- to late Summer 2016. He also has yet to choose a general contractor for the project.
The properties will have roadway access to Central Florida Parkway and International Drive. Harry Brumley III of HB Associates out of Altamonte Springs is civil engineer for both projects.
Editor's Note: This story was updated the morning of Dec. 15 to correct the spelling of Nicholas Virthe's last name.