What do you do when your main pool is shut down for emergency maintenance, yet many guests are arriving in a few weeks for a busy holiday weekend? The answer from the Orlando World Center Marriott (the largest Marriott in the world) was to install a portable 18-hole miniature golf course from Adventure Golf & Sports (AGS) on the property. While that may have initially been a response to a crisis, Kamiya Woodard, Director of Recreation at the hotel adds “We are continually looking for experiential offerings for families and the mini golf course provided the perfect option for an outdoor family friendly activity.
“We looked at an array of activities but felt miniature golf would truly capture all ages of our leisure guests. And we had the perfect outdoor location for it…We definitely wanted something portable to move in and out because of so many events and activities taking place outside.”
Besides conducting online searches for portable mini golf courses, Woodard says she “… also did some calling around to some other Marriott properties that have added mini golf courses as well, and it ended up that Adventure Golf and Sports came up as a top resource.”
According to Woodard, “I requested three proposals and selected Adventure Golf because of their customer service. Heather (Simpson), my account Rep, was quick in response time and worked through every detail with me. I made it very clear what we were looking for. The turnaround time, communication and professionalism were greatly appreciated.”
AGS proposed the hotel install a MiniLinks course, which is designed for portable indoor and outdoor use and comes in a full size and junior version. Both versions are installed using patented, interlocking modular panels that are permeable for efficient water drainage. Says Woodard, “We were looking for something portable and durable…After looking through the specs, MiniLinks was the best option for our operation.”
Given that a holiday weekend was fast approaching, Woodard says, “We needed to have (the MiniLinks) arrive in a short period of time. I gave Heather our budget and said ‘This is what our budget is. Can you work with this?’ I was definitely hounding her on time constraints.
“It really was just timing, shipping and we were good to go at one point, and then my bosses realized they could have a different color of turf. They didn’t necessarily like green turf on a green lawn. They wanted something that popped. We wanted our course to stand out. We wanted the guest to see it, be drawn to it and come on down to start playing. AGS already had blue turf in stock, so that didn’t affect shipping time… We wanted it up and running within three to four weeks and AGS was able to make that happen.”
The result? “People love it,” says Woodard. “All ages have enjoyed it and we normally have a line waiting to play on weekends.”
Although the 18-hole full-size MiniLinks course requires only a minimum of 3,000 square feet, the Orlando Marriott had abundant space and was able to spread the course over 7,800 square feet directly below the hotel’s main lobby on their activity/event lawn. Woodard reflects, “We knew re-opening after COVID that we had to accommodate social distancing and we knew this would be an easy enough activity where we could execute that… When guests come out to the course, they don’t start until someone is at least two holes ahead of them, and then it’s a nice flow all the way around.”
The MiniLinks course now joins other attractions the Orlando Marriott uses to entice and retain guests. According to Woodard, “Our water slide tower and splash zone were added to the Resort in 2013 and have proven to be great enhancements to our offerings. We want to expand that even further, which is why we are building an additional water slide tower and a lazy river which is scheduled to open in spring 2022.”