By Rachel Christian
Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center, the largest hotel in Kissimmee, is moving forward with a major multi-million dollar expansion after Osceola County commissioners approved an agreement and tax breaks related to the project Monday night.
The project is set to add another 300 rooms and 90,000 square feet of
meeting and event space to the expansive resort. The resort’s existing convention center is 400,000 square feet.
Plans also detail two new parking garages and a $10 million water park expansion including a lazy river. Total project cost is estimated at $150 million.
Construction is set to begin January with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2021.
County commissioners unanimously approved an amended joint marketing agreement with Ryman Hospitality Properties, the hotel’s parent company, as well as financial tax incentives related to the project.
Ryman Hospitality will save $49.6 million in tax breaks from the county through the agreement. Those savings is tourism development tax (TDT) reimbursements, will occur gradually and expire once Gaylord Palms has reached $49.6 million in savings. County officials expect the hotel to reach that mark by
The county is not making a cash contribution to Gaylord Palms, according to the agreement.
The county’s TDT room tax rate is 6 percent on lodging in Osceola County. Per the agreement, Gaylord Palms will keep 85 percent of revenue generated by the first four of the six pennies collected on each dollar spent, while revenues from the fifth and sixth pennies go to the county for other tourism-related expenses.
The second part of the agreement creates a 30-year special assessment tax equal to 1 percent of the room rates generated by the hotel.
Osceola County spokesman Andrew Sullivan said Gaylord Palms will begin charging guests the additional 1 percent tax and use revenue generated from it to help pay for its upcoming expansion project.
Finally, the county agreed to cap all permitting and related building fees at $400,000.
The Gaylord Palms, operated by Marriott, first opened in 2002 on Osceola Parkway in Kissimmee. The convention center and resort has 1,416 guest rooms, which were last renovated in 2015.
Two years ago, the hotel spent $4.2 million on a water park expansion that added waterslides and a surf simulator.