By Brendan Spiegel with additional reporting by D. Channing Muller Posted December 29, 2009, 10:00 AM EST
ORLANDO 1. Walt Disney World led the new hotels rush in 2009, with three new properties, including Treehouse Villas, which debuted in June at the Saratoga Springs Resort. Sixty three-bedroom luxury tree houses each have two baths and sleep nine. Saratoga Springs includes three restaurants that can be booked for events, along with a private pool, Lake Buena Vista Golf Course, and boat transportation to the rest of Disney World.
2. For a more traditional hotel option at Disney, the Holiday Inn Walt Disney World, scheduled to open in January, is one of the first hotels to debut with Holiday Inn’s more upscale rebranding. The $35 million property features 323 guest rooms with free Wi-Fi and 32-inch LCD TVs, while 11,000 square feet of meeting space includes a ballroom with a capacity of 450.
3. Just outside Disney World, the 176-suite Lake Eve Resort opened in November 2008. One-, two-, and three-bedroom suites range from 794 square feet to 1,464 square feet. The hotel offers a 900-square-foot meeting room, as well as complimentary shuttle service to the Disney World parks.
4. Three years in the making, the Waldorf Astoria Orlando opened in October. Twenty minutes from the airport, the 497-room hotel has 28,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, and the 25,000-square-foot Bonnet Creek Island is available for outdoor events for as many as 2,500. The property’s four dining options include the 159-seat Bull & Bear Steakhouse, daytime spot Oscar’s, small plates restaurant Peacock Alley, and poolside grill Aquamarine. The par 72, 18-hole golf course is available for private tournaments.
5. In another highly trafficked area for meetings, the 1,400-room Hilton Orlando opened in September, connected by a walkway to the Orange County Convention Center. More than 175,000 square feet of function space includes the Orlando Ballroom, which holds 4,640. Dining options include the 248-seat Bistro, which has an outdoor veranda and fire pit, and 152-seat Spencer’s steak house, which has a private room for 12.
6. Twenty minutes away, the Westin Lake Mary Orlando North opened in November. About halfway between Orlando and Daytona Beach, the 253-room hotel offers 14,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 500-seat ballroom and a 16-seat boardroom overlooking a landscaped courtyard.