Considering that Orlando is one of the most-visited destinations on the planet and one of the most popular for meetings, you might not expect that it holds hidden gems. However, if you’ve not yet discovered the Caribe Royale All-Suite Hotel & Convention Center, you might be in for a surprise.
For one thing, its extensive meeting space is all on one floor, and moving from registration desk to general session to breakout to lunch is quick and easy—or, as Senior Sales Manager Kimberly Bester says, “you won’t get a lot of exercise.” (Unless you want it, of course: In 2005, the hotel added a two-floor, loft-style fitness center with plenty of cardio and weight machines, plus free weights, exercise balls and mats, chilled towels, and headsets. “It was the biggest request from corporate guests,” Bester notes.)
Meeting space is contained in the Grand Caribe Convention Center, steps from the three guestroom towers, and includes the pillarless 40,000-square-foot Grand Sierra Ballroom, directly across a wide hallway/prefunction space from 20 breakout rooms ranging from 1,000 square feet to 4,000 square feet, plus an executive boardroom and permanent registration desk. Also in the convention center is the 26,000-square-foot Caribbean Ballroom and executive boardroom. “We could have a 1,000-person group on one side and 400 people on the other side, and they would never overlap,” Bester says. And if you need more room, you can book the 26,000-square-foot Pavilion, a seasonal meeting space.
All 1,338 suites (1,218 one-bedroom suites in three towers plus 120 two-bedroom villas) were completely renovated in 2009, and all include coffee-makers, refrigerators, flat-screen TVs, and microwaves among their amenities. Those amenities (and parking) come with no resort fee, Bester notes. The villas also are commonly used as meeting space. The resort does charge for Wi-Fi. Groups are assigned their own information services manager for the duration of their programs.
Try it once and you might be hooked: According to Bester, an impressive 70 percent of groups bring back repeat business. Employees tend to stick around as well. A recent 10-year anniversary luncheon celebrated 114 staffers. And Director of Sales John Murray is just one of those who have been with the hotel since it opened in 1996.
Add a commitment to sustainability (the resort is a member of the Florida Green Lodging Association) and an award-winning restaurant (the four-diamond Venetian Room) and this could be Orlando’s best-kept meeting secret.