When The Promenade opens at The Hilton Orlando this November, it will strengthen the resort’s status even further in Orlando’s Convention District. Attached to the Orange County Convention Center via a covered open-air walkway, The Promenade outdoor venue adds 50,000 sf of multi-use areas and lawns to the hotel’s total function space.
The hotel embraces a “GIMI” culture (genuine, inspirational, memorable and innovative) that extends throughout the entire hotel. I had the pleasure of experiencing that culture firsthand during a recent visit this summer.
The food is assuredly innovative and memorable. They had my full attention from the first sip of their signature Pear Berry Lemonade cocktail in the fine-dining Spencer’s for Steaks & Chops. That was followed by nibbles of dishes such as rabbit cannelloni, a plump and juicy ostrich steak that tasted like a cross between Angus beef and duck, and a mac n’ cheese dish of tortellini crowned by caramelized bacon.
Early the next morning, our group of 20 was shuttled to the Lake Meadow Naturals farm for a tour of the family-owned property, which supplies many of the top hotels and restaurants in Orlando with eggs, fruits, vegetables, meats, fowl and honey. We walked among hundreds of cage-free chickens and saw modern technology at work collecting, cleaning and packing those eggs for quick delivery to local restaurants. Then we dined al fresco on ingredients culled from the farms bountiful produce, prepared onsite by the hotel’s culinary staff.
Executive Chef Louis Martorano’s recurring theme throughout the food-focused visit was that he brings in the freshest, locally-sourced food daily. Very little is stored in refrigerators or pantries. Whether a customized locavore menu for 10 or plated dinners for 2,500, “We’re delivering a restaurant experience in a banquet setting. Our level of detail doesn’t change,” says Martorano.
Senior Sales Manager Monique Hunter adds, “Groups can bring in the finest speakers in the world for their events, but if the coffee or the food’s not on point, that’s all they’ll remember.”
Creative menus from Chef Martorano and Executive Sous Chef Thomas Huebner will be a key component of Hilton Orlando’s Promenade. The $2.1 million, 2-acre venue will have a Fountain Plaza enhanced by fire and water fountains, a Sun Garden, a Sky Terrace with paved area for socials, and a Grande Lawn that is tent-ready.
“Our presentation and gastro experience shows our passion and commitment,” Hunter says. “Planners will have lush, natural and landscaped grounds as their backdrop without having to spend their resources on decor.”
Although 80% of Hilton Orlando’s business is corporate, the hotel is a mere five to 15 minutes from the area’s major theme park attractions, including Walt Disney World Resort, SeaWorld, Universal Studios Florida and Pointe Orlando’s many excellent shopping and dining venues.
The hotel’s design allows for easy flow for attendees. I really noticed that when I headed downstairs to the spa for some luxe pampering in one of their 15 treatment rooms. The hotel’s spacious, uncluttered lobby acts as an invisible net separating the meetings side from the onsite leisure amenities. Sheila Bracewell, director of spa and fitness, hit upon a way of incorporating the two.
In the past, planners for a financial group of about 30 wanted to add a fun component to day-long meetings. Bracewell came up with an “Amazing Race”-style competition using the leisure area’s quarter-mile jogging path, lazy river, basketball courts and 9-hole executive golf course. Attendees had to complete a task before moving on to the next station.
“The next day we changed up the vibe with sunrise yoga on the basketball courts,” she says. “The group and the planners totally loved it.”