PDA

View Full Version : Waldorf's new era starts at Disney


crazy4wdw
04-13-2007, 06:29 AM
Waldorf's new era starts at Disney
Owners plan to make the legendary hotel a worldwide brand.

Christopher Boyd | Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted April 13, 2007

The Waldorf-Astoria, which for more than a century has symbolized wealth and power, is about to undergo a major makeover -- Florida-style.

Hilton Hotels, owner of the Waldorf since 1949, plans to turn the hotel into a brand that can be spread around the planet, starting with a project now rising amid the slash pines just outside Walt Disney World.

"We are looking at every major city in the world," said David Greydanus, senior vice president for brand management with Hilton's The Waldorf-Astoria Collection. "Our goal is for people to think not only of the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, but of the Waldorf-Astoria as a brand."

Hilton management came to Central Florida for the Waldorf-Astoria at Bonnet Creek groundbreaking on Thursday. The 498-room Waldorf will be paired with a 1,000-room Hilton Hotel, creating one of the nation's largest resorts when the two open in late 2009.

Hilton officials say the new hotel will bear little resemblance to the one on New York's Park Avenue, where the leaders of nations and industries have stayed when they visited the capital of world commerce.

Some elements of the New York Waldorf will be found in Central Florida -- including some of the hotel's restaurants and a prominent lobby clock.

But Hilton says it will capture the Waldorf's essence -- impeccable service and luxurious appointments that command top-of-the-market room rates. The decision to connect the Waldorf to a slightly less posh Hilton Hotel and to add 125,000 square feet of meeting space rounds out a strategy.

Tom Keltner, Hilton's chief executive officer for Americas and Global Brands, said the resort will appeal to a plethora of tastes and expense accounts, attracting corporate meetings, vacation travelers and group events. And he said the Waldorf name will be the magnet.

"Even if people have never been to the United States, they have heard of the Waldorf-Astoria," Keltner said.

Hilton isn't the first to seize on the idea. The Ritz-Carlton, one of Boston's venerable hotels, is a growing luxury brand. In fact, the inspiration for the pairing of a Waldorf and a Hilton hotel near Disney is remarkably similar to the marriage of Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott at the Grande Lakes resort on John Young Parkway.

For Hilton, which is beginning a push into the rarified high end of the lodging market, the decision to put the Waldorf name to broader use makes perfect sense.

"We have looked at this for quite a long time," Greydanus said. "We looked at what the hotel meant and how it could be used. As a company, we have moved from a company that operates hotels to a company that brands and franchises hotels."

The Central Florida Waldorf is a first step. It will be the second hotel to bear the Waldorf name. But other hotels are already affiliating under an umbrella brand, The Waldorf-Astoria Collection. Hilton has already gathered hotels in California, Hawaii, Arizona and Saudi Arabia into the fold.

Abe Pizam, dean of the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida, said the decision to transform the Waldorf into a brand name is long overdue.

"Why did it take them so long?" Pizam said. "Waldorf has been featured in books, in the movies and in the news. It's a great name. The only risk is that if the brand is extended too far, you risk losing the appeal of the original."

But Hilton said Waldorf will fill a very special, highly elite lodging niche.

John Fox, senior vice president with PKF Consulting in New York, said the company's decision to expand at the high end is well timed.

"We have developed a very sophisticated traveling public," Fox said. "People are traveling more, and they expect more. I think in the consumer's mind, the name Waldorf-Astoria denotes something highly luxurious, and it makes sense that Hilton is making it the name of its luxury group."

Christopher Boyd can be reached at cboyd@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5723.

OrlandoMike
04-13-2007, 07:57 AM
"Hilton Hotels, owner of the Waldorf since 1949, plans to turn the hotel into a brand that can be spread around the planet, starting with a project now rising amid the slash pines just outside Walt Disney World."




Reason number 42 that the Four Seasons will be "inside" of Walt Disney World.

crazy4wdw
04-13-2007, 08:14 AM
"Hilton Hotels, owner of the Waldorf since 1949, plans to turn the hotel into a brand that can be spread around the planet, starting with a project now rising amid the slash pines just outside Walt Disney World."

Reason number 42 that the Four Seasons will be "inside" of Walt Disney World.

I believe the Waldorf-Astoria is being built on property adjacent to the Caribbean Beach and Pop Century. It will be on WDW's doorstep.

OrlandoMike
04-13-2007, 08:36 AM
But NOT part of Disney. Disney realized that with the addition to the Waldorf and Ritz in Orlando, they needed to jump on this "four star bandwagon". Hence the deal with the Four Seasons.

DC7800
04-13-2007, 10:50 AM
I believe the Waldorf-Astoria is being built on property adjacent to the Caribbean Beach and Pop Century. It will be on WDW's doorstep.

The Waldorf will, of course, appear to some guests to be inside WDW when it really is not (Disney has never owned that parcel of land; Arguably it might have been preferable it they had managed to acquire it), given the awkwardly located entrance to Bonnet Creek is inside WDW.


Reason number 42 that the Four Seasons will be "inside" of Walt Disney World.

We don't yet know all the details of the Four Seasons deal, or how it will or will not be integrated with WDW, but if the property has actually been sold, it may not be any more a part of WDW than Crossroads is.

doconeill
04-13-2007, 01:01 PM
I thought Bonnet Creek had started a while ago? Is this a rebranding, or are they building in the same area?

Looking at Google Earth, is it that oval-shaped area across the road from CBR and northeast of POP? Looks like two buildings complete, one in progress, but the images are probably from some time ago.

Horace Horsecollar
04-13-2007, 01:42 PM
I thought Bonnet Creek had started a while ago? Is this a rebranding, or are they building in the same area?
On this board, people have mistakenly called the timeshare resort "the Bonnet Creek Resort," but that's the name of the overall development, not the name of the timeshare resort.

The Bonnet Creek Resort is a master-planned resort with a large timeshare parcel, several hotel parcels, a golf course, and a conservation area.

The development is bounded on the north, south, and west by Disney property, and on the east by I-4.

The access road (Chelonia Parkway) is from Buena Vista Drive, between the CBR and Epcot Center Drive. At first, that seems strange, but it's actually the most logical -- in fact, the only logical -- access to the property.

The first project at the Bonnet Creek Resort is the Wyndham Bonnet Creek timeshare resort, which was originally branded as the Fairfield Orlando at Bonnet Creek.

Since then, three hotels have been announced: a regular Hilton, a Waldorf-Astoria (high-end Hilton), and a Wyndham hotel (which will co-exist with the Wyndham timeshare). There's still land left for more hotel development.

raidermatt
04-13-2007, 02:27 PM
Part of the confusion comes from the entire area, including both on and off property portions being referred to as Bonnet Creek, or the Bonnet Creek area.

The Osprey and Eagle Pines courses were at one time called the "Bonnet Creek Golf Club". They are still listed as such in some places, but I'm not sure if Disney actually still calls it that. I haven't played there in about 4 years, and I can't find a mention of that phrase at Disney's website.

I'm guessing they are trying to distance themselves from the name because of all the non-Disney activity going on. But "Bonnet Creek" was even used in the Sentinel reports to describe the area being developed by Four Seasons.

But NOT part of Disney. Disney realized that with the addition to the Waldorf and Ritz in Orlando, they needed to jump on this "four star bandwagon". Hence the deal with the Four Seasons.

That alone just not justify Disney "jumping on the bandwagon". There's lots of bandwagons outside WDW that Disney hasn't jumped on, and shouldn't.

Nor does it justify the manner in which they are jumping on this bandwagon, by selling/leasing to a third party.

But that's been debated ad nauseum on the Four Seasons thread.

TheRustyScupper
04-13-2007, 03:20 PM
1) This is gonna be tough.
2) I frequent both The Four Seasons and The Waldorf Astoria.
3) I may have to split my time when at WDW.

PERSONAL NOTE: It will so nice to have 5-star hotels and true concierge service at Disney.

DancingBear
04-13-2007, 03:34 PM
Mr. Scupper, I'd be interested in your perspective as a consumer of these hotel products--what do these guys do that Disney doesn't? And in your mind, is there any reason why Disney couldn't?

mrsR123
04-13-2007, 04:14 PM
My first thought was-- and maybe this is covered in t he four seasons thread which I haven't read-- do people who prefer the Waldorf actually go to Disney World? (All Eisner musings aside.)

Apparently Mr. Scupper is my answer. (Please assume no ill will whatsoever.)

Perhaps it's just my inability to think outside my own experience, but sweaty theme park days or water parks and luxury/5 stars just don't make sense in one trip. NOt that I'm trudging out to the all stars, either. I'm perfectly happy at OKW, thank you.