You arrive at the Renaissance as you would to any major business hotel. The spacious entrance is all business and efficiency. It is only when you step inside that you begin to experience the full effect of the place, which underwent a $27 million renovation in 2007.
The front desks, accommodating registration, bell stand, and concierge, are backed by large high-definition television screens filled with ever-changing underwater scenes of tropical reefs, which is the resort’s signature theme. The immediate effect is both exciting and soothing. Step past the elevator bank and you are in the resort’s main attraction, a soaring sun-filled atrium that fills much of the hotel’s interior space and rises past the tenth story to a glass roof. Exterior corridors run down the long sides of the rectangular space (this is not a hotel for acrophobes!), while interior rooms on the short sides look out onto the lobby area below.
The blue and white lobby is dominated by eight tall towers that support the skylit roof high above. Four of them in the center of the lobby have been outfitted with blue fabric panels, adding a touch of color and defining the location of a large ovoid structure that serves as the lobby bar. Looming over the bar is a mosaic of sixteen large-screen HD displays that form a single screen on which enormous tropical fish and coral reef creatures appear in a constantly changing show of color and form.
To one side is a casual sports bar, partially hidden behind a waterfall, to the other the hotel’s main dining room, and in between plenty of space for well separated seating areas that offer a bit of privacy for meeting friends.
The Renaissance is located on Sea Harbor Drive, just off Interstate 4, and directly across from Sea World. It is just a seven-minute stroll across the street and through the SeaWorld parking lot to the front gate. I’ve timed it! It’s even possible to walk from here to Aquatica and Discovery Cove, although those are much longer walks.
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