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Marriott Resort to expand meeting space

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The Orlando World Center Marriott Resort & Convention Center, already one of the larger convention facilities in Central Florida, will undergo another major expansion of meeting space, hotel executives said today.

The Marriott will boost its exhibit space to more than 350,000 square feet from 214,000 square feet and create the largest pillar-free resort ballroom in the nation, said sales and marketing director Tim Swan.

When competed in 2007, the new 105,000-square foot Cypress Ballroom will be the largest pillar free ballroom of any hotel-resort nationwide, Swan said.

It will edge past several resort ballrooms in Las Vegas, and give the Orlando resort " a lot more flexibility," said Swan, who made the expansion announcement in Hawaii during a planning industry meeting,

The Cypress Ballroom will connect to the existing Palms Ballroom and offer 160,00 square feet of open, carpeted space for tradeshows and special events.

When all the meeting rooms and 50,000 square feet of existing outdoor space is counted, the Marriott's total amount of flexible meeting space will be about 400,000 square feet, rivaling the giant Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee.

Swan said the latest expansion will cost about $60 million. When other expansions of the property in recent years are counted, Swan said, the total cost of renovations and additions will be about $200 million

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