Here’s the latest on 5 planned I-Drive Orlando Hotels
Five new hotels planned to be built off International Drive will open in time to welcome guests when Universal Orlando Resort's future Epic Universe theme park debuts in 2023.
Greenville, South Carolina-based Auro Hotels has a portfolio of hotels in the works on nearly 4 acres between I-Drive Orlando and Universal Boulevard for a mix of Marriott and Hilton flags. The hotel project will bring online a total of 766 hotel rooms over the next three years.
The first phase of the project includes a 164-room Home2 Suites by Hilton and a 155-room Hilton Garden Inn on 1.9 acres. The timeline on those hotels is to break ground in the second quarter of this year with an opening in third-quarter 2021.
The second phase will involve a tri-brand Marriott property with a 140-room Residence Inn by Marriott, a 152-room AC Hotels by Marriott, and a 155-room Courtyard by Marriott. That combined property sits on 2 acres and will begin construction in the first quarter of 2021 with completion by third-quarter 2022.
"These five assets will be special for their brands. We look at Orlando and the theme parks and future growth plans being viable and good — something [Auro Hotels] wants to be part of," Kirby Smith, vice president of sales and marketing for Auro Hotels, told Orlando Business Journal.
The development team includes American Civil Engineering Co. in Winter Springs as the engineer, and Overcash Demmitt Architects in Charlotte, North Carolina, as the architect, according to documents filed with Orange County.
Amenities at some of the properties are still in design, but early plans are to include patio bars and up to 10,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, said Smith.
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The cost to build hotels of these sizes historically ranges from $20 million to $30 million or more, depending on amenities and other features.
It's no surprise to see Auro Hotels working to have its properties ready for the surge of traffic once Universal debuts its new theme park, said Paul Sexton, vice president of HREC Investment Advisors, a hotel brokerage firm.
"We are getting fewer developable parcels for hotels, but everything ongoing in the I-Drive market is great — we need a new product. Auro has had this site for several years intending to build it, and there's no reason to overthink it - they are developing it because of [Universal's Epic Universe]," he told OBJ.
New hotel properties are good news for the region, as they help accommodate the growth of the region's $75.2 billion tourism industry, which welcomed a record 75 million visitors in 2018, the most recent data available. The number of visitors grows each year as theme parks continue to invest millions into new attractions, shows and more. Tourism supports 41% of the region's workforce, at more than 463,000 jobs.
The metrics for hotels in Central Florida are strong for both occupancy and average daily room rates, based on Visit Orlando data through October 2019, the latest data available. The average hotel occupancy rate in metro Orlando was 76.1% and average daily room rates reached $126.23 for the 10 months through October.
Orlando’s hotel market is experiencing a boom with new properties coming online regularly. One of this year’s largest properties will be Universal Orlando Resort’s Dockside Inn & Suites, a 2,050-room hotel that is part of the Universal’s Endless Summer Resort property. That hotel is set to open in March and will mark one of the largest hotels to be built on the International Drive corridor in many years.
Orlando has more than 520 hotels with a total of roughly 130,000 guest rooms, according to Visit Orlando and STR Inc.