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October 12, 2009updated Feb 07, 2013

Waldorf Astoria Orlando Opens

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

Hilton Worldwide opened the Waldorf Astoria® Orlando and the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek on October 1, 2009. The date of October 1 holds historical significance by marking the debut of the original Waldorf Astoria property, The Waldorf=Astoria in New York, 78 years ago to the day. Florida Governor Charlie Crist, Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty, City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Golf Course Architect Rees Jones were among the dignitaries leading ribbon-cutting events. Known as Bonnet Creek, the 482-acre vacation destination is conveniently surrounded by Walt Disney World® on three sides, yet secluded by a private nature preserve.

“We are delighted to introduce the Waldorf Astoria Orlando and the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek into our global portfolio,” said Paul Brown, President of Global Brands and Commercial Services, Hilton Worldwide. “Orlando has a rich history with our company; we thank the entire Central Florida community for its hospitality and look forward to continuing to contribute to this dynamic destination.”

Themed “A Day of Firsts,” the ceremony celebrated the opening of the first property to share the name Waldorf Astoria with the original New York hotel, which remains the only property with the unique equal sign in its name, The Waldorf=Astoria. The New York and Orlando properties are joined by 18 other hotels that have their own distinct names but are included in The Waldorf Astoria Collection.

Florida native Sergeant Joshua Stephen Cope, who earned the Army Commendation Medal and two Purple Hearts for his military service in Iraq, was named the first guest of the Waldorf Astoria Orlando. The inspirational Lalita Booth, recipient of the H. Truman Scholarship and current Harvard graduate student, was welcomed as the first guest at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek.

The “first ladies of Orlando,” a group of Central Florida women, were recognized and honored by Managing Director Peter Kacheris. The first female Mayor of Orlando Glenda Hood, the city’s first African American female Police Text Box: L to R: Waldorf Astoria Orlando Managing Director Peter Kacheris, City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Hilton Worldwide Senior Vice President Eastern North America Ted Ratcliff, Mayor of Orange County Richard Crotty, Florida Governor Charlie Crist, Owner Representative Bill MacArthur, Waldorf Astoria Orlando General Manager Michael King, Owner Representative Dan Paris, Golf Course Architect Rees Jones, First Guest Sergeant Joshua Stephen Cope, Hilton Worldwide president global brands and commercial services Paul Brown, Owner Representative Eric Siegel.Chief Val Demings and the first female Dean of the University of Central Florida Medical School Deborah German were among the pioneers honored.

“It is an honor for the 700 employees, including myself, to welcome our first guests today and continue the vision of Conrad Hilton by filling the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality,” said Bonnet Creek Managing Director Peter Kacheris.

The Waldorf Astoria Orlando infuses the Jazz Age-elegance of Art Deco from The Waldorf=Astoria in New York, including a stunning lobby clock, with the vibrant ambiance of Florida. Comprised of 497 deluxe rooms and suites, the hotel features signature Waldorf Astoria food and beverage establishments such as Peacock Alley® and Bull & Bear Steakhouse® as well as 28,000 square feet of exclusive flexible meeting space. The hotel’s outdoor facilities feature a formal signature pool, encircled by chic private cabanas and complimented by lush tropical landscaping.

The Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek transcends the hotel experience with 1,000 elegantly-appointed rooms and suites, six distinct dining options including La Luce® by Napa Valley Chef Donna Scala, a two-acre lagoon-style pool with a lazy river and 122,000 square feet of meeting space. Its outdoor venues include BonnetCreekIsland, a private retreat ideal for drinks or storybook weddings.

The centerpiece of the Waldorf Astoria Golf Club is the 18-hole 7,113-yard championship course designed by acclaimed Golf Course Architect Rees Jones. One of the few golf courses in the Orlando area to be free of real estate dotting its greens, the first course under the Waldorf Astoria brand is open to all players – those staying at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando or the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and those who want to experience a piece of history.

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Guests of both properties can also take advantage of exclusive theme-park transportation, the first WA Kids children’s program, the 24,000-square-foot Waldorf Astoria Spa by Guerlain® and the 4,000-square-foot fitness center.

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