More Than A Suit
It might be known as a simple convention hotel, suited mostly to business travellers, but the Hyatt Regency Orlando is much more than a destination for stuffy suits.
Situated on International Drive, and connected to the Orange County Convention Centre (OCCC), certainly the hotel has plenty of credentials as a business-friendly destination. but anyone attending a conference at the OCCC would be pleasantly surprised to find they’re staying at such an intriguing and pleasant hotel as the Hyatt Regency.
Constructed in 1986, the hotel was originally called the Peabody Orlando, a brand extension of the well-known Pea- body hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. The hotel was renovated to the tune of $450 million in 2010, with the addition of a 32-storey wing that doubled the number of rooms. The extension tower, standing at 130 metres tall, is the second-tallest building in metropolitan Orlando.
Certainly, the numbers speak of a standard business hotel, but they only tell half of the story. The Peabody actually built its reputation as a hotel where conference goers could unwind in the lap of luxury after a tough day. Not only were the facilities and service fantastic, but the property had something of a sense of humour about it, too. One of its hallmarks was the daily duck march (no, that’s not a misprint). Twice a day, at 11am and 5pm, a parade of ducks marched to and from the hotel’s fountain, guided by ‘duck masters’. The ducks crossed a red carpet leading to a private elevator, linking their lavish rooftop enclosure with the lobby fountain, specifically designed for them.
It was a tradition that took place every day from opening day on 1986. Today, the ducks are gone, thanks to the fact that the property was bought by the Hyatt group in 2013—for a cool $717 million—and renamed the Hyatt Regency Orlando. Hap- pily, though, despite the loss of the ducks, the hotel giant has managed to preserve the property’s warm feeling and sense of occasion.
The hotel features a large, imposing driveway adorned with marble, leading up to an equally large foyer, glass-walled and floored with plush, luxurious carpet. Inside, the hotel uses its size to its advantage – the lobby stretches up for several storeys, creating an airy and refreshing feel. However, the use of dark colours and furniture crafted out of heavy woods balances the light feel, providing a warm and welcoming ambiance—much appreciated when the state’s characteristically heavy rains hit.
The hotel features 1,639 guestrooms, including 192 spacious suites designed for either business traveller or holidaying families. The contemporary décor, made up of pastel-coloured shades, goes well with the amenities, and certainly suit the larger suites. The sophisticated 780-square-foot Metropolitan Suite offers a separate work desk area and floor-to-ceiling views of the grotto or pool, while the 1,357-foot Premier Suite is the ultimate residential-style retreat in Orlando. All of the suites feature 42-inch flat screen TV’s, iPod docking station, and modern spa-like bathrooms with TVs in the mirrors.
The hotel itself is equally well equipped; the Orlando Spa offers a collection of mas- sage, facial, full-body escapes, professional salon services and fitness classes. And the 24-hour fitness centre offers three separate studios for strength, cardio and core conditioning, as well as additional studios for group exercise and indoor cycling.
Elsewhere, there are three sprawling pools, cascading waterfalls, slides, and a Poolside Bar and Grill. The hotel’s luxurious Grotto and Terrace Pools are reserved for hotel guests.
As for dining, the original Peabody was always well known as a destination for fine food, by both residents and tourists. And the Hyatt Regency has happily pre- served that tradition.
The freshest selection of Florida seafood and coastal cuisine is available at Urban Tide, and the Coconuts Poolside Bar serves up some of the state’s finest cocktails. For a more traditional fine dining experience, opt for the Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse, which combines the charm of an authentic Italian restaurant with a refined selection of steaks, chops and seafood—all served in giant, American-sized portions so you can eat until you burst.