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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real Estate Florida.)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL-Holiday Inn is building a $35-million, 323-room hotel within the Walt Disney World Resort west of Orlando. The hotel is scheduled to open Nov. 15, possibly in the midst of a tourism slump within the nation’s second-largest hospitality market.

The 14-story hotel will be within walking distance of Downtown Disney Marketplace, which features a broad range of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. It will be geared toward adult travelers who have their own memories of staying at a Holiday Inn while visiting Disney World, which began with the Magic Kingdom in 1971 and now encompasses three other theme parks.

Despite its direct connection to Disney, the new Holiday Inn could open at a challenging time this fall, with Orlando hotel occupancy down nearly 12% over the past year, according to Smith Travel Research. At least 3,700 rooms in 18 hotels are expected to unlock this year, adding 3% to current local capacity, followed 5,600 more rooms in 15 projects next year, according to Lodging Econometrics.

However, John Merkin, senior vice president with Holiday Inn Brands, the Americas, believes the new hotel will benefit from its mid-scale status as a modern and clean choice for travelers seeking value and efficiency. “Mid-scale is a very resilient segment in a down economy,” Merkin tells GlobeSt.com.

Merkin also notes that the hotel is part of Holiday Inn’s $1-billion brand “relaunch” that began in 2007 and aims to create a more contemporary image and increase quality within its 3,200 resort and express hotels around the globe. More than 800 properties have received new signage and related upgrades to date.

The new Holiday Inn at Disney World will feature a glass-ceiling atrium, 11,000 square feet of meeting space and a restaurant catering to families with young children. Other amenities will include a tropical pool, 32-inch HDTVs, and customized music and scent selections.

The hotel’s location, at 1805 Hotel Plaza Blvd., is eight miles from the Orange County Convention Center and 19 miles from Orlando International Airport. InterContinental Hotels Group Resources Inc., owner of the Holiday Inn brand, will manage the hotel on behalf of its owner, CIG LBV LLC.

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