The Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee will aim to compete with some of the region’s largest hotels with a major expansion project adding more guest rooms and convention space.
The $150 million project will bring 303 more rooms to the 4-star resort and 90,000 additional square feet to its convention center. Once complete in 2021, Gaylord Palms will sport a total of 1,716 guest rooms and approximately 490,000 square feet of “convention, meeting and pre-function space.”
While this expansion wouldn’t put Gaylord Palms into the same class as the Orange County Convention Center’s 7 million square feet of space, it would match the size offered to conventions at the Rosen Shingle Creek. It would surpass other convention hotels in Central Florida, including several Walt Disney World properties which cater to larger meetings.
“We believe this expansion will allow us to meet the increasing demand we are seeing from large group customers seeking additional high-quality meeting space in a way that takes full advantage of our existing resort infrastructure,” said Colin Reed, chairman and chief executive officer of Gaylord Palms owner Ryman Hospitality.
Convention upgrades have been commonplace in recent years as hotels compete for corporate customers. The DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld recently opened its expanded 100,000-square-foot convention space while Disney is building a new tower at its Coronado Springs Resort focused on attracting executives who want more upscale accommodations than the hotel typically offers.
The enhancements aren’t solely for conventions. The project will begin with the construction of a new multilevel parking garage later this year. Once that’s completed in spring 2019, work will begin on expanding the resort’s pool area with a new lazy river and events lawn along with the additional rooms and convention space. The whole project is expected to be done in 2021.
Gaylord Palms has already invested in its pool area several times over the past decade. It added the Cypress Springs Family Fun Water Park as part of $50 million renovation to the resort in 2012, followed by a $4 million expansion with new sides and a surf simulator two years ago.
As part of the expansion project, Gaylord Palms has extended its pre-existing tax arrangement with Osceola County. While Ryman said no cash contribution will be made by the county to the resort, a portion of the project’s cost will be covered by the proceeds of a 1 percent hotel tax special assessment beginning in July and continuing for 30 years.