ORLANDO/CENTRAL FLORIDA With the holiday season coming up, these new and recently renovated bars, lounges, restaurants, ballrooms, private rooms, and more—even a gambling ship—in and around Orlando can accommodate corporate groups small and large for company holiday parties of every type.
1. Orlando’s newest hotel has several options for group events. The Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek opened next to Walt Disney World in early October. The hotel’s main ballroom is 8,000 square feet and can accommodate nearly 450 people. Smaller groups can use the 2,640-square-foot Journey Ballroom. The property also has three 1,400-square-foot board rooms—one is on the 14th floor and offers views of the Disney area.
2. Create an interactive holiday party at the Atlantis Kitchen inside the Renaissance Orlando at Sea World. The restaurant opened in late September as part of the hotel’s $35 million renovation project. Guests can join in the meal preparation in the open kitchen or sit back and watch the chefs demonstrate the latest culinary techniques. The venue can accommodate 50 guests inside the kitchen or expand to 200 for receptions. For more traditional events, the hotel also has the newly renovated 5,900-square-foot Discovery Ballroom.
3. Looking for an artsy space for a small holiday gathering? Downtown Orlando’s XL Gallery is a 1,000-square-foot art bar that opened in July. The space has an edgy, urban feel: walls are decorated with graffiti-style, lowbrow artwork from local and national artists, and the floor is painted to look like a city street. The venue has seating for 30 in two lounge areas and at the bar, or it can accommodate 40 for a reception.
4. Downtown Orlando’s Urban ReThink airy loft is a unique setting for a holiday party. The facility serves as workspace for a variety of creative professionals during the day, but since September it is available in the evening and on weekends for private events. The 1,000-square-foot space can host as many as 130 people for a reception. Private groups can use one of the venue’s preferred vendors for food and beverage catering. Facility rental fees support the nonprofit Urban Think! Foundation.
5. The new restaurant from the owners of Luma on Park will be open just in time for holiday gatherings. Prato is scheduled to open November 14 on Park Avenue. The 4,300-square-foot restaurant will have seating for 145 inside and 25 on the front patio and will be available for buyout. The menu features a variety of Italian-inspired cuisine in a rustic atmosphere with exposed brick and wood-beam ceilings.
6. Looking for a venue to host an intimate dinner party? The Table opened in the Dellagio complex in August and can accommodate just 22 guests, all seated around a single, long granite table. With a 22-foot-long custom glass chandelier over the table and a hand-laid slate floor, the 1,000-square-foot space feels like an upscale residential dining room. Dinner begins with champagne and passed hors d’oeuvres in the small bar area, followed by five courses paired with five wines. Private groups can also use the restaurant for a reception with passed appetizers for as many as 40 people.
7. Victory Casino Cruises has special menus and discounts for private holiday parties aboard its new 320-foot gambling ship. Guests can keep busy with more than 600 slot machines, blackjack, roulette, poker, the only craps tables in Florida, and a large dance club. The ship has been sailing out of Port Canaveral since late July and can accommodate 1,200 passengers on four levels.
8. The Rusty Spoon opened on Church Street in April. The rustic, airy venue has seating for 160 in the dining room and lounge area. It can accommodate nearly 200 for a reception. A section in the back of the restaurant can be used for semi-private events with seating for 30. The menu changes daily based on what is available from local farmers.
9. The Abbey in Orlando’s South Eola neighborhood is ideal for parties that involve live entertainment. The 7,500-square-foot lounge opened in April and has a 20- by 30-foot elevated stage with extensive lighting and sound equipment. The 1,200-square-foot hardwood floor in front of the stage can be used for tables or as a dance floor. The left side of the venue has a long bar with seating for 15 and a lounge area with a large faux fireplace. The Abbey also can accommodate holiday happy hours for groups working with a smaller budget.
10. The Mezz opened in January on the second floor of the Sanctuary condominium tower (the same building as the Abbey and the same owner, the Florida Theatrical Association). The contemporary 7,000-square-foot ballroom can seat 240 or hold 300 for receptions. Adjacent to the main room is the Plum Room, an intimate, semi-private space that can accommodate seating for 30. The Mezz has a catering kitchen, which is also used for events at the Abbey.