SeaWorld Orlando’s highly-anticipated Mako roller coaster – touted as the longest (4,760 feet long), fastest (73 mph) and tallest (200-foot drop) in coaster crazy Orlando – is scheduled to open June 10. For those who want a front row seat, there’s no better place to stay than the DoubleTree by Hilton at SeaWorld hotel.
Spread over 28 acres, the 1,004-guestroom hotel, adjacent to SeaWorld, is a great headquarters for all things Shamu and beyond. Featuring three swimming pools, six F&B outlets, including the terrific Laguna restaurant (a favorite for breakfasts and dinners), the DoubleTree by Hilton at SeaWorld is one of Orlando’s better one-stop shops for families and business groups.
In regards to business groups, the hotel is adding 20,000 square-feet of meetings space and currently renovated its existing meetings space.
“It will update the property and give it a much more modern look and feel,’’ said Steven Green, director of sales and marketing at DoubleTree by Hilton at SeaWorld. “And we’re adding a nice outdoors events space – an artificial turf area – designed for weddings and events like that.’’
Green said added walkways also are being added to keep guests dry as they move from one building to the next. The hotel’s fitness center is moving to the first floor of the Tower, which will make it more centrally located for guests.
“It’s been a long time coming for us to do some renovations to the property and add more space.’’
At the same time, Green said, the hotel is upgrading some of its guestrooms, which are housed in low-rise buildings and one high rise tower. To the average traveler, that combination makes the property appear as if it were more than one hotel in the past, but that’s not the case.
“It’s always been one hotel since it opened in the early 1980s,’’ Green said. “It was the only hotel by the park. The original entrance was on International Drive.’’
The hotel’s current entrance now is just off International Drive – the main street of sorts for Orlando’s bustling theme parks area – and close to the massive Orange County Convention Center, Interstate 4 and the Beeline Expressway that takes guests directly to the Orlando International Airport.
The Tower features 304 rooms and the 700 rooms of the low-rise resort units make the DoubleTree by Hilton at SeaWorld the largest non-gaming DoubleTree Hotel in the world. But don’t let the size fool you – the property is easy to navigate, thanks in large part to the paved walkways throughout the resort. And despite the number of rooms, DoubleTree’s 28 acres gives guests the feeling that the resort is never crowded.
Here’s a hint: If you’re looking for a larger room, ask for one in the low-rise resort buildings because they were built at a time when guestrooms were larger than most average guestrooms today. The Tower (built in 1989) has slightly smaller rooms, but each room in the Tower and resort buildings basically has the same layout.
“The property is unique. It’s not your typical high-rise hotel,’’ Green said. “We have a lot of repeat clients and business that come back because it’s different. It’s not like staying in some of the other (Orlando) hotels. This hotel gives you a nice Florida feel because of the grounds and multiple pools.’’
Back to Mako. The DoubleTree by Hilton at SeaWorld is a preferred partner of the theme park, meaning guests get many of the SeaWorld perks. For example, guests who purchase tickets at the hotel receive early access into SeaWorld, a Quick Que pass and 10 percent off shopping and dining at the park.
The hotel also has complimentary shuttle service to SeaWorld, as the Disney and Universal theme parks a few miles away.
“You can walk from here to SeaWorld and Aquatica, which is pretty cool,’’ Green said. “We have a lot of guests who do that.’’