Groups Experience the ‘Rosen Difference’ in Orlando

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Orlando Meetings
Rosen Shingle Creek

Family-run properties create memorable Orlando meetings for meetings and incentives attendees.

Just a 10-minute drive from Orlando International Airport and we were already approaching the perfectly manicured grounds of Rosen Shingle Creek. Designed to reflect 1900s Spanish Revival-style architecture, the hotel is set on 255 acres of lush Florida landscape and magnificent cypress trees. Each of its 1,501 guest rooms looks out over this green expanse and its pretty creek, nature trails, rolling golf course and resort pools. Shingle Creek is one of the northernmost headwaters of the Florida Everglades. In the early 1800s, settlers and cattle barons would log cypress trees along its waterway to a nearby mill where they were fashioned into roof shingles. The hotel’s name pays homage to the old Florida frontier and communicates something of its historic landscape to Orlando convention-goers who pass through this busy meetings hub.

Customizable Contracts

“Planners have come to realize the many advantages of working with an independent hotel company such as ours, affectionately dubbing these qualities the ‘Rosen Difference,’” says Leslie Menichini, VP of sales & marketing for Rosen Convention Hotels. “We are able to customize our contracts to meet a planner’s needs. No cookie-cutter meetings or events here. This is a huge advantage for groups that have special requests or who want to create unique experiences.” Our tour began with a look at the property’s 524,000 sf of meeting and event facilities. The largest space is the Gatlin Grand Ballroom, offering 95,000 sf of column-free space with 31-ft ceilings. It is accompanied by two smaller ballrooms, 99 breakout meeting rooms, a 40,000-sf outdoor space and an abundance of smaller informal spaces that make good use of the ample Florida sunshine. Outside, we took a look around the four outdoor swimming pools, two hot tubs, tennis and basketball courts, and the Shingle Creek Golf Club. This 18-hole, par 72 championship course was recently redesigned by the Arnold Palmer Design Company, and boasts its own golf academy and a 2,000-sf pavilion that can be used for events. A nature trail circles the property, inviting groups to explore its flora and wildlife, and anglers can enjoy seasonal fishing. After the tour we had dinner at A Land Remembered, the hotel’s AAA Four Diamond steakhouse. The restaurant is named after Patrick D. Smith’s historical novel about pioneer Florida, with decor that reflects this time period. We shared a sampler plate of goat cheese fritters, jumbo lump crab cakes and bistro steak bruschetta, followed by a real taste of Florida in the form of an alligator stew.

Convenient for Convention Center

The following day took us on a tour of the other Rosen convention hotels in Orlando, starting with breakfast at the Rosen Plaza. The 800-room property is connected to the Orange County Convention Center via a raised covered walkway, providing attendees with seamless access to meetings and events. It also boasts more than 60,000 sf of meeting space, including a 26,000-sf grand ballroom. 3NINE is an innovative entertainment venue at the property, which is available for private events and buyouts. It features state-of-the-art sound, intelligent lighting and lasers, color-changing columns, programmable flat-screens and stylish decor. The Rosen Centre is also connected to the Orange County Convention Center via covered walkway. The property has recently undergone a renovation of all 1,334 guest rooms with new furnishings, a calming teal and gray color palette, and tech integrations. The hotel has 150,000 sf of event space, including an 18,000-sf ballroom and 35 breakout rooms. We stopped for lunch at Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill, a casual indoor-outdoor venue serving Cuban-Caribbean fusion cuisine and tropical drinks. Harry’s Poolside Bar is named after Harry Rosenofsky, the grandfather of Rosen Hotels & Resorts founder Harris Rosen, who left the Ukraine in the early 1900s in search of a better life in America. He ran a restaurant in New York’s Lower East Side, which was frequented by the likes of Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky. Groups will find nods to the Rosen family history woven into bar and restaurant concepts.

Family Ownership

On our final night, dinner was at Jack’s Place at Rosen Plaza, named after Harris Rosen’s father. The restaurant is lined with caricatures of celebs such as Alfred Hitchcock, Neil Armstrong and Marilyn Monroe, which his father drew during his decades of employment at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. We tried an appetizer of sesame-crusted tuna followed by Jack’s filet & lobster. “The hotel industry has changed dramatically over the last 50 to 60 years,” explained Rosen. “It used to be that families were involved in ownership. The families have disappeared, and hotel ownership is now in the hands of large hedge funds and big corporations. So we’re different, because we are a family. We don’t have shareholders, so we can do whatever we want. I have no board of directors, so it’s very easy for us to make decisions.” Our tour concluded with a visit to Rosen’s Tangelo Park and Parramore programs, where we could see firsthand how Rosen’s family ownership and values make a tangible difference in Orlando. The charitable initiatives provide early childhood education and college scholarships for two local communities, and have resulted in soaring high school graduation rates from around 50 percent to virtually 100 percent, as well as a 65 percent decrease in crime rates for the two communities. “We’ve been heartened by the huge response from groups to support these initiatives,” says Menichini. “Charitable endeavors are at the heart of Rosen Hotels & Resorts. We are ideally positioned to assist groups with creating successful CSR activities and always warmly welcome the opportunity to serve in this capacity.”

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