Destination: Orlando

Destination: Orlando

By:Susan B. Barnes
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Known around the globe for its world-class theme parks, Orlando is much more than rollercoasters, magical moments and wizardry wonder. The City Beautiful is also filled with charming neighborhoods, cultural attractions, and plenty of opportunities to get outside and explore the natural side of the Sunshine State. 

Originally inhabited by the Timucua and later Seminole peoples, the city’s population boom started after the 1950 development of Cape Canaveral and the 1971 opening of Walt Disney World. Today, more than 2.63 million people live in the Greater Orlando area, and upwards of 75 million people visit annually. Needless to say, there’s something for every meeting planner and attendee in this popular destination.

Why Orlando?

  • Ranked #1 U.S. meeting destination by Cvent, a leading meetings, events, and hospitality technology provider.
  • The average daily temperature is 72°F.
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO) is accessible from 95 domestic and 28 international destinations. The airport recently achieved GBAC STAR Accreditation, the cleaning industry’s only outbreak prevention, response, and recovery accreditation.
  • More than 5,000 restaurants are ready to serve attendees delectable dishes.
 

What’s New in Orlando?

  • Dezerland Park is 800,000 square foot of teambuilding fun, from axe throwing and bowling to pinball machines and trampolines.
  • The Cornell Fine Arts Museum is transforming into the Rollins Museum of Art this fall, relocating to a new, larger facility in Winter Park.
  • Brightline, the rail service that connects Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, is on track to add MCO to its route in 2022.
  • Construction of MCO’s Terminal C is slated for completion in early 2022. The new terminal is the cornerstone of the airport’s $3.82 billion Capital Improvement Program.

There are plenty of options when it comes to sightseeing and teambuilding activities in Orlando, not to mention terrific spots to host power breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Here is a look at a handful in the region.

 


See


winter park

Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour 

Less than 10 minutes from downtown Orlando is the charming neighborhood of Winter Park, featuring canopied Park Avenue, which is lined with boutiques and cafes. Winter Park is also home to Lake Osceola, where attendees can board an 18-person captained pontoon boat for an hour-long cruise through three lakes and two narrow manmade canals. Wildlife is often spotted along the way, everything from cranes to alligators. Private group tours are available.

Dr phillips

photo credit: Matthew Kaiser 7 / Shutterstock.com

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Downtown Orlando is the setting for this state-of-the-art facility that hosts symphonies, stage shows, pop concerts and special events. The complex includes the intimate, 300-seat Alexis and Jim Pugh Theater, 1,700-seat Steinmetz Hall and the 2,700-seat Walt Disney Theater. There are also lobbies, an outdoor plaza and a rooftop terrace, and each space can be customized to suit groups of all sizes. The full-service catering team makes planning easy.

Universal ORlando resort

photo credit: Solarisys - stock.adobe.com

Universal Orlando Resort

When it comes to high-flying fun, soar the skies like Harry Potter on Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Afterward, explore the rest of Harry’s meticulously recreated world in Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, then hop aboard the Hogwarts Express for a ride over to Universal Studios Florida to ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and explore Diagon Alley, complete with fire-breathing dragon. If your group is more into dinosaurs than wizards, outrun the no-longer-extinct creatures on the new Jurassic Park VelociCoaster, Florida’s fastest and tallest launch coaster. VIP group tours are available at both parks for an exclusive experience.

 

For more activities and ideas ask your ALHI GSO about working with Global DMC Partners

 


Do


omni orlando resort

Fore! 

With the number of pro-designed golf courses in the Orlando area, it’s no wonder that several high-profile annual golf tournaments are held here throughout the year. Groups don’t need to be on the pro tour to tee off on any of courses designed by legends Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio and Tom Watson. Play an Arnold Palmer-inspired course at Rosen Creek Shingle’s course, Shingle Creek Golf Club, or at Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, home to two Greg Norman-designed championship golf courses and the David Leadbetter Golf Academy World Headquarters. Amateurs and experts alike can participate in a teambuilding experience at Topgolf Orlando, with its climate-controlled playing “bays" and private spaces for groups of varying sizes.

Airboat Ride

Groups can leave the modern world behind and board an airboat. The classic Florida adventure glides across The Everglades, which stretches all the way to the Orlando region from South Florida. The airboat reaches speeds of up to 50mph, though the expert airboat captain makes the ride feel smooth and effortless, as the hovering watercraft crosses the wetlands. Even at that speed, chances are good to spot native wildlife, including a variety of bird life and even alligators. 

Discovery Cove

Groups can dive into the all-inclusive water park, exploring rocky lagoons, colorful reefs, winding rivers and sandy beaches, all in Orlando. Opportunities include swimming with dolphins, as well as snorkeling and swimming among the thousands of tropical fish and rays in the Grand Reef. Take it easy in Serenity Bay, or ride the current of the Wind-Away River and glide past beaches, through a dense rain forest, beneath the rocky terrain of cascading waterfalls and through an underwater cave. Groups can reserve a VIP cabana where attendees can rest, recharge and get ready for their next adventure. 

 

For more activities and ideas ask your ALHI GSO about working with Global DMC Partners

 


Eat


Big Fire

Bigfire

The newest restaurant at Universal Citywalk puts open-fire cooking center stage. Bigfire’s menu features elevated American fare like steaks and seafood. At the end of dinner, attendees can roast marshmallows right at the table for a summertime favorite dessert, s’mores. The two-story restaurant has the vibe of a lakeside summerhouse, replete with twinkling lights and camp lanterns, as well as an outdoor patio area with fire pits. The space can be transformed for private groups of varying sizes. 

Café Tu Tu Tango

Food, art and fun blend for an unforgettable dining experience at this locally owned restaurant, which has been serving visitors and locals alike for more than 30 years. The tapas-style, small-plates menu tempts the taste buds, with a drinks menu that features art-inspired craft cocktails. In fact, art is all around at Café Tu Tu Tango, with resident artists working their crafts as guests dine. The restaurant’s event spaces can accommodate intimate groups of 14 at the Chef’s Table, 30 in Van Gogh’s Garden, 70 in Wonderland, and up to 400 when the entire restaurant is reserved. 

The Ravenous Pig

James Beard-nominated chefs James and Julie Petrakis have created a devoted following at their popular restaurant in Winter Park. The gastro-pub’s menu features inventive, seasonal dishes for lunch and dinner, with extensive cocktail, craft beer and wine selections. One dish to be sure to order is the house-made charcuterie. A private room is available for intimate dining, and the 6,000-square-foot-space can be transformed for larger groups.

 

For more activities and ideas ask your ALHI GSO about working with Global DMC Partners

 


Stay / Meet


 

Caribe Royale Orlando

Caribe Royale Orlando

The newly renovated, all-suite Caribe Royale Orlando spans 60 acres, so there’s plenty of space to spread out. Take the 220,000-square-foot Grand Caribe Convention Center for example: four ballrooms, 29 breakout rooms, outdoor space and meeting planner offices can accommodate groups of up to 5,000. Additionally, the resort’s two-bedroom villas are ideal for group breakouts and intimate gatherings of up to 14 people. At the end of the workday, the 1,215 redesigned one-bedroom suites provide ample space to relax, recharge and get ready for the next day. 

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort

Travel to the Mediterranean seaside resort village of Portofino, Italy without leaving the U.S., at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort. More than 42,000 square feet of flexible meeting space is at the ready to accommodate groups of up to 1,400. When the sun sets, groups can take the event outside on Harbor Piazza overlooking Portofino Bay, the Villa Lawn overlooking the Villa Pool, or Citrus Piazza and its secluded courtyard for an evening under the stars. Italian style flows through the resort’s newly renovated 750 guestrooms and 45 suites, designed with tones of creamy white and teal, and marble and velvet details. 

Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando

Loews Royal Pacific at Universal Orlando Resort

Inspired by a South Pacific island paradise, Lowes Royal Pacific’s grounds are filled with lush tropical plants and palm trees. With more than 132,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space, the resort is the largest meeting hotel at Universal Orlando. All of the indoor meeting space is flexible to accommodate groups of up to 4,000. Groups can also opt for an outdoor evening event in the private Wantilan Pavilion, complete with lava rock fire pit and tiki torches. The 1,000 stylish guestrooms and 51 suites are decorated in an “island chic” style, equal parts contemporary and laid back. 

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando

Loews Sapphire Falls at Universal Orlando Resort

The Caribbean meets Orlando at Lowes Sapphire Falls at Universal Orlando Resort. The grounds are filled with lush landscaping and waterfalls, while the sounds of steel drums in the distance lend a sense of place. Ballrooms, meeting rooms, meeting planner offices and pre-function space comprise the resort’s 115,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. What’s more, an enclosed, air-conditioned walkway to Loews Royal Pacific Resort joins more than 247,000 square feet of contiguous meeting space. Back at Sapphire Falls, the resort’s island-inspired charm extends to its 1,000 guestrooms and 83 suites. 

Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate

Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate

Surrounded by 36 holes of Greg Norman-designed golf, the David Leadbetter Golf Academy, and more than 15 acres of pools and recreation, the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate is close to the region’s attractions, yet worlds away from distractions. The resort’s catering and conference services team can help to create an event to remember within the resort’s 248,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor meeting and event space. When it comes to accommodations, attendees can relax in the 720 spacious deluxe and premier guestrooms and suites, and 49 luxury two- and three-bedroom villas. The new Sunset Lodge and Suites offer 93 upscale accommodations in studio suites and connecting guest rooms. 

Rosen Centre Hotel

Rosen Centre Hotel

Rosen Centre Hotel, ranked a Top 100 U.S. meeting hotel by Cvent, is right in the heart of the action. Connected to the Orange County Convention Center by a skybridge, the hotel has more than 150,000 square feet of state-of-the-art, sophisticated meeting space of its own. Rosen’s innovative and attentive team works with planners to ensure outstanding events that exceed all expectations. When it comes to accommodations, the 1,334 guestrooms and suites are decorated with soothing, soft décor to create a peaceful oasis. 

Rosen Shingle Creek

Rosen Shingle Creek

Some 230 acres at the headwaters of The Everglades set the scene for Rosen Shingle Creek, just 10 minutes from the Orlando International Airport, yet seemingly a world away. For meeting planners, the resort’s 524,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor event space serve as a blank canvas for any meeting needs. And when it comes to teambuilding, Rosen Shingle Creek has groups covered, from sand volleyball and yoga to basketball and tennis, and even a fun 5k run. Afterward, attendees can relax in one of the resort’s 1,501 elegant guestrooms and suites, each with sweeping views of the golf greens, crystal-clear swimming pools or native cypress trees.

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