Celebration Hotel offers a quiet respite for Disney visitors


CELEBRATION, Fla. -- Travel agents booked almost 25% of the guests at the boutique-style, 115-room Celebration Hotel since the lakefront property opened here last November, according to Tony Kraus, director of sales and marketing.

A major reason might be the 15% commission that was applicable on and off and is now reinstated through Sept. 30, he added.

"We've been working closely with the travel agent community," Kraus said.

That effort included mailings to agents in markets such as Atlanta, the Carolinas and the Northeast Corridor.

The Celebration Hotel, a Grand Theme affiliate, pays 15% through Sept. 30. Kraus said the hotel was created as a quiet, upscale getaway for guests who want proximity to Walt Disney World but also a nontourist setting.

"We see it as a real niche in the market. We're a small, boutique hotel with a lot of personal touches," he said. "We're near Disney, but we're a quiet retreat away from the hustle and bustle."

The hotel itself has upscale services including a concierge check-in area, a lobby piano bar and a public Jacuzzi noted for its romantic design.

An attraction unto itself is the small city of Celebration.

Owned and designed by Disney, it is populated by some 2,700 residents, with old-fashioned alleyways and homes designed so that those who walk out their front doors often meet their neighbors.

The design was an attempt to re-create Disney's version of friendly, small-town America.

Guests at Celebration can walk to 20 shops and an AMC Celebration 2 Theatre.

The hotel's lone restaurant, the Plantation Room, is open only for breakfast, but there are four restaurants within a short walk.

The hotel's decor reflects 1920s Florida with its wood frame design with clapboard siding, tabby stucco, shutters, awnings, large tin roofs, low eaves and dormers. Its lighthouse tower is visible from all parts of the town.

The Celebration Hotel features 109 double, queen or king rooms and six deluxe king suites. Most units offer a lakeside view, for which there is a $20 to $30 surcharge.

A highlight is a milelong, lighted walkway with a bird sanctuary located adjacent to the hotel.

The hotel has its own small exercise room with modern equipment, but many guests find it is worth the $10 to visit the nearby 60,000-square-foot City of Celebration Health Fitness Center, which boasts, among other amenities, a rock- climbing wall.

Celebration guests can be driven there in hotel-owned vintage cars, such as a restored 1954 Cadillac sedan.

Rates start at $165 per night for retreat accommodations, described as "great for a romantic getaway." Suites range from $360 to $470. The latter boast separate living areas and have an apartment feel to them.

Almost all rooms have four-poster beds, two-line speakerphones, data ports, large business desks and high-speed Internet access.

The hotel also has 5,000 square feet of meeting space.

Celebration Hotel can handle conventions of up to 125 people, Kraus said, but often hosts two or more smaller groups at the same time.

The ratio of group to FIT sales has been about 45 to 55%, which Kraus said was expected when the hotel opened.

The focus now is to increase independent travel, he said.

A popular amenity for guests is the nearby Celebration Golf Course designed by Robert Trent Jones and Robert Trent Jones Jr. It offers five sets of tees on every hole.

There also is a three-hole junior golf course nearby for children and beginners.

The Celebration Hotel is one of Richard Kessler's Grand Theme Hotels, a portfolio of facilities with individual architecture and interior design.

The town of Celebration will eventually have up to 15,000 residents. Kessler has options to build two more hotels here, although there are no plans for any new facilities.

Celebration is located south of downtown Orlando, just off U.S. 192 and east of I-4. The town is about five minutes from the entrance to Walt Disney World.

The Celebration Hotel
Phone: (888) 499-3800

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