It may have taken 10 years to plan and more than two years to build, but the Peabody Orlando’s $450 million expansion project is finally complete. The project added a 32-story tower with more than 700 guest rooms; a state of the art conference center; a 22,000-sq. ft. full-service spa; and new dining and recreational areas. The hotel now has 300,000 square feet of state-of-the-art meeting and event space, including a pillar-free 54,652-sq. ft. grand ballroom and an airy 75,000-sq. ft. rotunda for networking and registration that features floor-to-ceiling windows and a skybridge to the Orange County Convention Center. Existing guest rooms and public spaces were renovated to match the new look and feel of the property additions.
“This is not just an expansion, this is us recreating ourselves,” said Alan Villaverde, president of Peabody Hotels Division and managing director of the Peabody Orlando, during a hard-hat tour of the property last fall. As the 15th-largest non-gaming hotel in the country, the now 1,641-room property also is one of the largest Forbes Four-Star, AAA Four-Diamond hotels outside of Las Vegas. New guest room amenities include mini-LCD TVs embedded in the bathroom mirrors, and complimentary in-room refrigerators and Wi-Fi Internet access.
“This $450 million expansion was the largest privately funded project in the state of Florida,” Villaverde said. Originally scheduled for 2001, it got sidelined for seven years because of 9/11, and narrowly escaped another delay two and a half years ago.
“We got funding in March 2008; had it been 30 days later, it may not have happened because of the economic crisis,” he explained. “But, if you want to build a project of this size and complexity, you want to build it during the down time.”