Refit continues at Orlando Marriott

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ORLANDO -- It's hard to keep up with the 200-acre Orlando World Center Marriott Resort & Convention Center.

Fresh off a $6 million renovation and redesign of its 110 suites -- the final phase of an extensive, $130 million transformation, most of which was completed in December -- the resort has put the pedal to the metal once again to solidify its position as a leading convention resort in the Southeast.

This summer, it will begin Phase 1 of a $22 million remake of its 214,000-square-foot convention center.

"The project will create one of the premier ballrooms in the nation in terms of its flexibility and design, and opens the convention center atrium to an entirely new level of networking capabilities," said Tim Swan, director of sales and marketing.

A key component, Swan said, will be the addition of new air walls to create additional breakouts when needed. The pre-function area will get a new design, and private offices plus two new cyber cafes will find homes in the nine-story atrium within the resort's lobby. More than 100,000 square feet of pillar-free exhibit space is in the design phase.

More than $6.5 million was invested in remodeling the lobby, which opens onto a large outdoor patio overlooking the pool with the cityscape as a backdrop. A martini bar has been added, as well.

Prior to the redesign of the suites -- including the 6,400-square-foot International Suite, one of the largest in the Southeast -- all of the 2,000 guest rooms were renovated, with upgraded amenities including high-speed Internet access, oversize balconies, custom bedding and in-room safes.

A 500-room tower also was constructed, with 14,000 square feet of dedicated meetings space.

The property houses 10 restaurants and lounges, including the newly designed Hawk's Landing Steakhouse & Grille, which overlooks the resort's golf course, and the redesigned Tuscany, which the management touts as Orlando's only restaurant featuring authentic Tuscan cuisine.

Among the resort's other attractions are a 10,000-square-foot, full-service spa and fitness center; indoor and outdoor pools plus two children's pools; five whirlpool spas; four Har-Tru lighted tennis courts; basketball and volleyball courts; a children's activity center; and the Hawk's Landing Golf Club.

The renovation included work on the 18-hole course, which was lengthened to 6,900 yards.

The hotel is offering packages to golfers through Jan. 4. The 2004 Golf Experience Package includes deluxe resort accommodations and two rounds of golf per day, including greens and cart fees, for $174 to $309 per room, per night.

All bookings are commissionable at 10% to travel agents.

For more information, visit the Web at www.marriottworldcenter.com. For reservations, call (800) 621-0638.

To contact reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].

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