Orlando-based Xenia Hotels & Resorts filed plans on Thursday to expand its ballroom space at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Lake Buena Vista by more than one third, fulfilling a promise last year to make the property more competitive for group travel.
Xenia's Development Plan filed with Orange County proposes a 25,000-square-foot expansion to the hotel's ballroom, which will end up as 31,818 square feet when including new back- and front-of-house area like restrooms and storage.
The Hyatt Regency currently has more than 65,000 square feet of ballroom event space, including 9,100 square feet ofprefunction space and 16,642 square feet of exhibit space divisible into nine breakouts, along with 45 meeting rooms.
Former owner Hyatt Hotels Corp. didn't invest in expanding that event space to keep up with market demand. So when Xenia Hotels paid $205.5 million for the property in May 2017, it promised investors money would go in to renovations, meeting space and a new ballroom.
There is also long-term expansion potential for the hotel, as Xenia acquired an adjacent 8 acres in the land deal that is currently a nine-hole golf course.
Expansion plans for the Hyatt Regency join a growing number of full-service hotels and resorts in Orlando's tourism corridor that have focused on new meeting space in the past two years.
This past Wednesday, California-based owners of the Caribe Royale Orlando hotel filed plans to double the property's convention center space.
In May 2017, owners of the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld filed plans to expand that hotel's ballroom-area meeting space by nearly 40 percent.
Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate concluded more than $40 million in investments last year made over 17 months, which included a 100,000-square-foot expansion at the adjacent Osceola County Conference Center.
A business-traveler focused expansion was being considered for Reunion Resort last year. And in 2016, new owners of the Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld initiated a $30 million renovation project that included new ballroom and outdoor meeting space.
The wave of investment by full-service properties in meeting space supports the notion that the group sales market is still strong in Orlando, even as national figures show it softening elsewhere, said Paul Sexton vice president of HREC Investment Advisors, a national brokerage offering consulting, development and asset management services to the hotel industry.
"It's important because they can make more money off of a group traveler than a transient one, typically with a higher rate booked and the ancillary revenue of meeting space rental and food and beverage," he said. "Everyone is recognizing the same thing in this market, and it makes sense to invest from that income perspective."