Get Down to Business: Great Hotels for Convention Convenience in Orlando
By A.D. Thompson
Orlando Local Expert
There’s a fine line between wanting a hotel convenient to a primary location – in this case, the 2.1-million-square feet of Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center – and one that fits the bill if you feel like staying the weekend after work is through and there’s time to play. Any of the properties on this list will work for either. Some are more luxurious – take the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes or Hyatt Grand Cypress, for example. The former? If the Ritz-Carlton name isn’t a dead giveaway, add to that cache its world-class Bull & Bear steakhouse, phenomenal green fairways and sprawling, sumptuous spa. If outdoor pursuits are your thing? The Hyatt Grand Cypress’ 21-acre lake offers myriad water sports, not to mention gorgeous lake views. Others, such as the Hilton Orlando, Rosen Centre or Hyatt Regency Orlando are ground-zero for location-based appeal (OCCC attendees could easily go without a rental car at any one of them) but guests will give up little, if anything, in the name of convenience. Meanwhile, the Renaissance Orlando Resort at SeaWorld and Marriott Orlando World Center Resort satisfy any business traveler’s need for ease, but offer prime locations at the doors of Orlando’s biggest theme-park attractions. Whether budget- or luxury-minded, those visiting Orlando for work will find something here that suits.
10 Renaissance Orlando Resort at SeaWorld
Who knew that this prime location -- literally across the street from one of Orlando's premier theme-park attractions -- would also serve the needs of the business traveler, but it does. This Marriott-branded property, with its beautiful pool and on-site water park, is a great choice for families but doesn't forget the needs of those visiting for work; in fact, it boasts more than 96,000 square feet of meeting space. Its on-site business center is fully staffed for maximum convenience and all public areas have complimentary Wi-Fi. Convention center accessibility is excellent, as well; the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld is less than two miles away.
9 Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
Lake views, Disney convenience, 45 holes of golf and a 21-acre lake with all kinds of watersports make this Hyatt property the sort that goes from business to pleasure in as much time as it takes for you to trade sensible shoes and a Bluetooth for Mickey ears and flip-flops. Expert on-site meeting planners will make any hotel-driven functions flow smoothly and sustainable practices will make the boss and bottom line happy, as well. Group rates for golf and other activities make team-building affordable and a full-service FedEx Office business center and complimentary wireless high-speed Internet access mean neither hard copy nor email will escape the business traveler's grasp.
8 Westin Orlando Universal Boulevard
Art deco sensibility and convenient proximity make the Westin Orlando Universal Boulevard a great choice for stylish business travelers looking for easy access to the Orange County Convention Center. But folks in town for a Universal Orlando vacation (or perhaps the many business travelers who allow for some theme-park play amid their work) will love coming back to updated rooms, workout facilities, an expansive pool (and perhaps its on-site Italian restaurant if they haven't filled up at CityWalk). Fancy a jog or walk? Take advantage of the RunWESTIN program and grab a self-guided three- or five-mile route to explore the area around Universal.
7 Marriott Orlando World Center Resort & Convention Center
This resort oasis, located in the heart of Disney territory, isn't just convenient to the Orange County Convention center (less than 8 miles away), it has its own! Event professionals love the Orlando World Center Marriott for clients' convenience; 450,000 square feet of state-of-the-art meeting space means you can bring clients -- even entire companies -- back from OCCC for dinners and other off-site events with ease. Those with families in tow won't worry about what they're up to, the property's stunning Falls Pool Oasis (with multiple water slides and a dedicated splash park) is enough to keep them busy in the Florida sun all day long.
6 Rosen Shingle Creek
With its AAA Four Diamond Designation, the Rosen Shingle Creek is the most upscale of Universal's partner hotels and one of the largest full-service convention hotels in the region. That doesn't mean that couples and families vacationing here can expect less than a world-class vacation. Especially if they're sports-focused. With its 18-hole, par 72 championship golf course, four outdoor swimming pools, two lighted tennis courts, basketball, nature trail and more, that's a ton of space to walk off the huge doughnuts and beer they'll be downing at Springfield inside Universal Studios Florida. In fact, you may even get in extra walks bringing Fido along for the fun; the Rosen Shingle Creek has a number of pet friendly rooms available for its guests.
5 Hyatt Place Orlando/Convention Center
Located just three blocks from the convention center -- and three miles from SeaWorld -- the Hyatt Place Orlando Convention Center makes it easy for guests to work and/or play. Late meeting or event? Grab a quick, made-to-order snack at the 24-hour Guest Kitchen (which also serves complimentary continental breakfast each morning). If you have a little time for retail therapy amid your business schedule, visit any number of minutes-away shopping attractions including the Mall at Millenia, Florida Mall and the Premier Factory Outlet. World-class dining and -- of course -- theme-park venues mean bringing family along for a before- or after vacation isn't just easy, it's fun!
4 Rosen Centre Hotel
The Rosen Centre might be just 12 minutes from the airport, but with convenience and comfort like this, it's doubtful you'll be in much of a hurry to leave. Convention-goers will enjoy connected convenience via covered walkway alongside some great sit-down and fast-service eateries including the Banshoo Sushi Bar, Everglades Restaurant, Cafe Gauguin and 98Forty Tapas and Tequila. Its on-site IKON business center allows for easy copying, faxing and related administrative needs and when, sadly, it does come time to leave, the Rosen Centre's B.A.G.S. program, a remote airline check-in service -- ensures boarding passes and luggage tags are printed and jets your bags to the airport ahead of schedule. No need to drag them along on your last day in town.
3 Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes
Prepare for full immersion in tranquility at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, where proximity to the city's world-class excitement is paired with the signature opulence this brand's many proponents have come to expect. Enjoy Southern-inspired cuisine at the hotel's brand-new dining experience, Highball & Harvest, brilliant views and mouthwatering meals at chef Norman Van Aken's namesake dining experience or slip into the Florida sun and all its serenity with a frozen poolside drink from Bleu. When you're through nourishing your belly, nourish the rest of your body at the property's posh, relaxing spa. Mickey and pals are nearby, but worlds away, making the Ritz-Carlton the very best of both worlds.
2 Hyatt Regency Orlando
This new Hyatt -- formerly the Peabody Orlando -- sits practically (if elegantly) on top of the Orange County Convention Center; it's located directly across the street from its main entrance. More than 1,600 guest rooms and roughly 300,000 square feet of meeting and event space make it an attractive home base away from the trade show floor, as do its three swimming pools, 22,000-square-foot spa and sumptuous dining and lounging options, Rocks, Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse and Napa among them. The latter's farm-to-table California-inspired dining is lauded, drawing locals as often as visitors with its inspired offerings. The 24-hour B Line Diner makes mom's cooking available any hour of the day or night -- convenient for trips with long-running meetings and other business engagements. Each guest room includes premium-cable and network TV, a television embedded in the bathroom mirror, wireless internet, luxurious bath robe and the wonderfully soft Peabody Dream Bed. The property offers numerous dining options ranging from the quick breakfast spots to lavish dinner reservations. Lastly, ensure you get a peek at the March of the Peabody Ducks promptly at 11am and 5 pm daily.
1 Hilton Orlando
Convenience to the Orange County Convention Center takes center stage for Orlando business travelers, but the Hilton Orlando offers myriad amenities for just about any visitor. For those hitting the convention or trade show floor, the Florida weather -- though mostly beautiful -- is a non-issue. The Hilton is connected directly thereto. And for those with family in tow, an abundance of amenities including two sparkling pools, a lazy river sure to delight all ages and an on-site steakhouse that's perfect for pitching deals or woo are just a handful of features its guests enjoy. Free shuttles to SeaWorld and proximity to the culinary delights of Orlando's Restaurant Row are two more reasons to check it out.
About A.D. Thompson
A.D. Thompson has spent more than 20 years as a professional writer and roughly 15 as a Floridian. The words, she has found, come easier with bare feet and rum. A roller coaster enthusiast, A.D. readily admits there is fun to be had amid the madness of the theme parks, but has found there is magic, as well, in the outer-lying reaches of Mickey’s long shadow. She is delighted to share with you the spoils of her adopted city. Visit her colorful compendium at www.amydrewthompson.com.
Read more about A.D. Thompson here.