SWB Tourism/I-Drive Resort Area

Maria Triscari serves as president and CEO of the International Drive Resort Area Chamber of Commerce.

Dear Central Florida Residents,

Love is in the air! February is the month for sweethearts, and what better place to celebrate your love than on International Drive? Bring your sweetheart to I-Drive for a weekend getaway. Enjoy a romantic dinner at one of its world-famous restaurants.  Dance the night away at one of the exciting nightlife venues like Mango’s Tropical Cafe, Pointe Orlando or I-Drive 360.

SWB Tourism Update/CFHLA

The Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association held its annual Golden Pineapple Awards Dinner on Jan. 26 at the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive to recognize frontline hourly lodging employees for exemplary service and customer satisfaction. The red-carpet event, attended by nearly 1,000 Central Florida lodging professionals, featured welcoming remarks by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who had the opportunity to take photographs with the award nominees. The dinner was emceed by Fox 35’s Tom Johnson, and awards were presented by CFHLA President/CEO Rich Maladecki.

Ocoee Construction Project Begins and more news …

compiled by Lauren Salinero

Ocoee construction project begins

City Center West Orange in Ocoee will cover 100 acres and is expected to create more than 8,000 jobs.

Developers held a groundbreaking ceremony for the start of construction of City Center West Orange in Ocoee. The $400 million mixed-use destination will be a city-style mix of retail, condominiums, a hotel and office space on 100 acres of lakeside property facing West Colonial Drive, near the junctions of state roads 429 and 408 and Florida’s Turnpike. Construction will commence on the roads and stormwater pond first and should take 10 months before building construction begins. Phase I is expected to be completed by the third quarter in 2019.

Destination Dining: Winter Garden

Sample, Sip & Savor Your Way Through This West Orange Gem!

by Kirsten Harrington

With a weekly farmers market; lively festivals; numerous restaurants; and artisan shops selling gourmet goods like craft beer, chocolate and olive oil, Winter Garden is a food-lover’s paradise. The following is just a small peek at what the area has to offer:

Upcoming Events

• This weekend is a great time to head to Winter Garden for the sixth annual Blues & BBQ (Feb. 18, from 4–10 p.m., at the Downtown Pavilion, 104 Lakeview Ave.). Bring your lawn chair and enjoy the sounds and flavors of the South, with all profits benefiting the American Cancer Society.

A Historical Look at Winter Garden

Cherishing the Past While Progressing Into the Future

by Debra Wood

One of the most successful efforts at embracing history in Central Florida, downtown Winter Garden has become an active, engaging area full of shops, restaurants, a hotel and a theater.

Men, women and children work the fields in the 1900s. (Photo courtesy of the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation)

The city formed a community redevelopment agency in 1992, the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation was created in 1994, and the History Research and Education Center opened in 2015.

Valentine’s Day Wishes

Valentine’s Day is that special time of year when we celebrate the cherished bonds we share with family, friends and loved ones. In honor of the romantic holiday, we asked you to send us your sweet nothings, and the responses touched our hearts.

Read below for outpourings of love from residents across Southwest.