n real estate, the formula for success
is location, location, location. ChampionsGate, central Florida's
newest destination golf resort, claims to have it.
The $800 million, master-planned ChampionsGate community is
being built on 1,200 acres located five miles from Walt Disney
World Resort's western border and southwest of Interstate 4 and the
site of the area's proposed western beltway.
ChampionsGate's site, in effect, extends the southwest
entranceway to central Florida's tourist corridor one exit closer
to Tampa as the project opens in phases.
Two golf courses and a related David Leadbetter Golf Academy
already are open.
Work is under way on the $150 million, 732-room Omni Orlando
Resort, the first phase of 4,136 hotel rooms planned.
The Omni is scheduled to be completed in late 2002 and will
represent a return to Orlando for the brand.
Omni lost its Orlando franchise last summer when hotelier Harris
Rosen decided to take the former Omni Rosen independent, renaming
it the Rosen Centre.
The $50 million spent on golf facilities and infrastructure
already in place at ChampionsGate encompass two golf courses with
radically different designs, both crafted by Australian golfer Greg
During groundbreaking ceremonies for the 16-story hotel, Omni
president Jim Caldwell said that it will cater to incentive and
"We expect to be at about 80% group business the first year," he
"Of course, we'll take more leisure business if we can get it,"
The Omni will offer 70,000 square feet of meetings space,
including 26,000- and 20,000-square-foot ballrooms and 37 meetings
It also will have six restaurants, a 10,000-square-foot spa and
ChampionsGate was 13 years in development, according to senior
Ira Mitzner of RIDA Development Corp., the project's
RIDA Development Corp. is in negotiations with other hotel
companies, ranging from moderate-priced to upscale chains such as
Four Seasons, for the complex.
Some 1,600 apartment and time-share vacation villas are planned,
with Omni possibly getting into that side of the business.
"While [time-shares are] not our core focus -- all of our
competitors are doing it, and it is time we took a look at it,"
A decision is expected by year's end.
The villas would function to accommodate the overflow from the
hotel during peak season and special events, and the hotel's
restaurant and recreation amenities would be available for villa
If demand warrants it, a third golf course is expected in two