The hotel/resort building boom in Orlando shows no signs of letting up anytime over the next several years with new projects underway or on the drawing boards across Central Florida.
Up first will be Universal’s Aventura Hotel. When it opens in August, the 17-story, 600-room hotel will join Portofino Bay, Royal Pacific, Hard Rock Hotel, Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Sapphire Falls in the Loews Hotel’s Universal Orlando portfolio.
“From the lens of Loews Hotels & Co, we are excited to be part of the unprecedented growth ongoing at Universal Orlando Resort,” Loews Hotels’ Chairman and CEO Jonathan Tisch told Hotelinteractive.com.
Tisch, Chairman Emeritus of the United States Travel Association, was a featured speaker at a recent Visit Orlando gathering of hospitality leaders and executives that celebrated the city’s 72 million visitors in 2017. Visit Orlando, the region's official destination tourism and marketing organization, said the city is the first U.S. destination to reach that milestone. The 72 million visitors, according to Visit Orlando, was a 5 percent increase over 2016.
That number is likely to increase this year and over the next few years with openings of additional parks and attractions at Universal Orlando (including a Nintendo-themed land), Disney World (Star Wars-themed hotel) and Sea World, as well as new and renovated hotels on and off theme park properties.
With the opening of Universal’s Aventura Hotel, Loews will have 6,200 rooms in Orlando. Stephen Cummings, managing director of Universal’s Aventura Hotel, calls it a “prime value” hotel.
“It’s a modern and stylish resort with rooms and suites designed for fun and affordability,” Cummings said. “It will feature our destination’s first rooftop bar, a modern food hall in the lobby and is located just steps away from all three Universal Orlando theme parks—Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Universal’s Volcano Bay. It will offer tech-savvy accommodations, including in-room tablets, plus a virtual reality game room.”
Not far behind Aventura Hotel will come Universal’s Endless Summer Resort. Scheduled to begin opening in 2019 and be fully open by 2020, Endless Summer Resort will boost Loews’ guest room count to 9,000 in the Orlando market. It will be located on land that for years was occupied by the Wet ‘n Wild waterpark, which Universal Orlando closed at the end of 2016.
Endless Summer Resort, Tisch said, is Loews Hotels’ largest investment to date in a joint venture with Universal Orlando that began nearly 20 years ago.
“Decisions about hotel concepts, their designs, amenities and price points are all made in concert” with each partner, Tisch said.
Endless Summer Resort, which takes its name from the 1966 surf documentary, will feature two properties—Surfside Inn and Suites and Dockside Inn and Suites.
Endless Summer Resort is being touted as an “extra affordability” resort, with the lowest rates of any Universal Orlando Resort hotel. Room rates, for example, are expected to start as low as $73. Its 2,800 rooms (combined) will make it the largest Loews hotel at Universal Orlando. Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, which opened as a mid-priced property in 2014, has 2,200 rooms.
How have the Loews properties at Universal Orlando helped create and/or define the Universal Orlando experience over the past 20 years?
“We know the hotel experience, and for that matter, guest expectations in an immersive destination like Universal Orlando, are incredibly different,” Tisch said. “All of our Orlando properties were built to be attractions unto themselves. We’ve re-created an Italian seaside village at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and a rock star’s mansion at Hard Rock Hotel. We built a Caribbean-inspired getaway at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort and a retro, ‘60s themed hotel with Cabana Bay Beach Resort—so the hotel is as much of an attraction as the theme parks.
“We also know that a vast majority of guests say that staying on-site improves their theme park experience. When you consider the exclusive benefits that our guests receive by staying with us it all comes together to create this truly unique and memorable experience. Whether you’re traveling to Orlando or the other side of the world, we believe that’s what guests are really looking for—an experience they cannot find anywhere else,” Tisch noted.