For more than 35 years, the Orlando World Center Marriott has been a landmark property in Orlando and Central Florida. Located 1.5 miles from the entrance to Walt Disney World, the resort’s hotel towers are almost as familiar as the Mouse himself. But the 2,010 room property – largest in the vast Marriott portfolio – hasn’t been resting on its laurels.
“We have reinvented the property many times with additions of amenities, changing the restaurant concepts and really focusing on the experiences and activities we offer, to provide a world class experience and build on the loyalty and reputation we have established,’’ said World Center General Manager Robert Bray.
The 200-acre resort’s latest reinvention comes twofold: One, with the March 19 opening of River Falls Water Park; and Two, the recent renovation of the Hawk’s Landing Golf Club, with three completely rebuilt holes, including the signature finishing hole 18th, which is now a par 3 with an island green. Although Hawk’s Landing (6,200 yards, par 70) has been a popular amenity for years, the renovation now gives the World Center one of the better resort courses in Central Florida.
“The redesigned course has created a local buzz and truly is busier than ever before,’’ Bray said. “Golf is a tremendous value to the resort and to have the redesigned course, which is challenging and fun, has been wonderful. Golf has had ups and downs over the past decade and right now it is amazing how much demand there is for golf.
“To have this as just a short walk out the front door of the hotel just adds to the many offerings we provide without ever leaving the resort. In addition to the great golf course, we also have the Orlando Golf Academy on site, which can help both the beginner learn the game and the low handicapper improve on their skills.’’
Meanwhile, the River Falls Water Park joins the newly renovated Falls Pool Oasis and offers three new inner tube water slides and a 575-foot zero-entry lazy river. The three new water slides tower 50 feet in the air and accommodate one and two people per tube, depending on the slide.
Boomerango is a 425 foot long fast-paced slide that propels guests before boomeranging them into the air as gravity swings riders left and right toward the plunge pool. Aquasphere is a 498 foot long slide that starts with a slight dip that thrusts riders down the slide through twists, turns and closed spheres before dropping them down the twirling ride. Tailspin is the longest slide at 525 feet long and is perfect for thrill seekers – with open tubes providing glimpses of daylight before funneling riders into a tailspin and dropping guests into the plunge pool.
For young children, an aqua playground includes bubbling nozzles and two vertical leaf spraying elements.
The combination of the River Falls Water Park and Falls Pool Oasis puts the Orlando World Center Marriott on the front lines of Florida’s “water park wars,’’ as more resorts across the Sunshine State are adding water park amenities to create and drive business.
“This is a huge win for both our true leisure guests as well as for our group customers and their families, which in many cases is causing extended stays for our future group attendees,” Bray said. “We are really seeing groups come in at their expected number in many cases and to the historical attendance. ‘’
To help with that increase in group business, the resort in May will debut an additional 24 meeting rooms with 30,000 square feet of function space, called “Magnolia.’’
“The changes we have made – going back to the reinvention of the golf course to make way for the meeting space expansion – the all new guest rooms and suites, the new lobby bar, adding in a sushi bar, the new front desk, redesigned Falls Pool, and now River Falls Water Park, have built on the world class experience we continue to offer,’’ Bray said. “It is about providing something for everyone and creating experiences and memories. These changes and additions have allowed us to create a destination where our guests can curate their own experiences during their stays. That has been a tremendous demand generator and guest satisfaction.
“We have a loyal following. With that, we need to always focus on how we can improve our world for the guests – and not only what the guests wants now – but also what will they want in the future.’’