TORONTO — Experience Kissimmee hosted a lavish penthouse ‘white party’ yesterday in Toronto to remind travel partners about the charm of the destination and surrounding region.
The Experience Kissimmee VIP Partner Appreciation Event, held at the Soho Hotel and hosted by President & CEO DT Minich, dished out the latest news from the destination, known as the ‘Vacation Home Capital of the World,’ with all vacation home product fully commissionable to travel agents.
“Right now, there are about 30,000 vacation homes with about 5,000 more being built or receiving permits now,” said Minich. “One of the misconceptions, I think, particularly with the travel agent community, is that these are Airbnb-type rentals. These are professionally managed homes that work with tour operators and pay travel agent commissions. These homes are all 15-25 minutes from Disneyworld and 30-35 minutes from Universal Studios and SeaWorld.”
Minich noted that in the neighbourhood of Encore alone, there are 800 homes ranging from three to eight bedrooms. In fact, Encore is so invested in tourism that no one actually lives there.
“We call these ‘purpose-built’ homes, which means they’re built to be vacation homes and not for someone to live in them. Every house has its own swimming pool and BBQ, and in the middle of Encore there’s a huge resort complex with waterslides, restaurant, bar, fitness centre and a Disney desk. Clients get all the amenities of a resort while having the niceties of a private home, plus they stay in a three-bedroom home with a pool for the same price of a hotel room. Encore also offers free transportation to the theme parks and outlet malls,” added Minich.
With its proximity to Florida’s major theme parks, Kissimmee offers an ideal hub for travellers, particularly families who are looking for more private accommodations.
“Multigenerational travel is huge in Kissimmee right now. These vacation homes are ideal for multigenerational families and multi-family groups, and there’s no need to eat out three times a day. It’s a very diverse and welcoming destination, and it’s extremely accepting of LGBT.”
“Kissimmee is part of the Orlando area, so a third of Disneyworld is actually in Kissimmee. Orlando and Orange County don’t allow the vacation home product, that’s why they’re all in Kissimmee, ranging from two-bedroom villas up to 20-room mansions. Kissimmee has every type of hotel product too, from budget to luxury,” Minich added.
Among the newest hotel products is Ette, an upscale four- to five-star boutique hotel that centers on wellness, built by a husband and wife duo who previously lived in Toronto. Rooms feature Pelotons, plus the hotel offers a Michelin-starred restaurant and a spa.
Adding that Kissimmee is a great alternative to staying in Orlando, Minich also noted that the destination is the second largest county geographically in the state of Florida. Besides theme parks, it offers great ecological attractions like ziplining over gators and airboat rides in the Everglades.
“There’s a lot of things happening in the Kissimmee market, but also in Florida. One of the really big things we’re excited about is the Bright Line, a new high-speed train that will operate starting in September from Orlando International Airport down to Miami. It only makes five stops from Miami: Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach and then on to Orlando,” said Minich. “We’ve never had high-speed train service in the U.S., just Amtrak. It’s perfect for those who wish to visit Central Florida and then plan to do a cruise out of Miami or Fort Lauderdale, and for day-trippers like golfers, for example, who are trying to play all the different golf courses. It’s really going to change the way people can travel around the state of Florida.”
When asked what kind of winter season he’s expecting, Minich said winter and spring 2024 is looking solid from the Canadian market.
“The Canadian market is our largest international market, second to the UK for inflight arrivals as there are so many Canadians who drive down. Canada is a bread-and-butter market for us, so we’re going to be doing a lot of co-op marketing up here with the airlines and the tour operators for the fall and for winter. We’re expecting a good year from Canada,” he said.
For more information about this interesting and convenient destination, visit ExperienceKissimmee.com.