Newly renovated Hilton Ocala helps guests find their unbridled spirit.
One of the best things about returning to a favorite place is that you know what to expect.
During its recent multi-million-dollar renovation, the Hilton Ocala maintained the aspects patrons loved most, while introducing exciting, new amenities. The result is an incredibly updated location for dining, celebrating and getaways.
It’s the Hilton Ocala you know—only better.
“Our multi-million-dollar renovation touched every inch of the hotel. From our flexible 40,000 square feet—which includes meeting space, 196 luxurious guest rooms, corridors and public space—to our jazzy new Market Kitchen and Bar, the hotel stands alone in its class,” notes General Manager Rich Larkin. “We are most proud of the design and reconstruction of our new entrance, which features an eye-catching, floor-to-ceiling glass centerpiece lit from above and below that looks as though it’s suspended in mid-air.
“We’ve embraced a new culture of being ‘unbridled,’” adds Larkin. “It’s about expecting the unexpected and creating heart connections with each and every guest.”
The “unbridled” concept fits perfectly with Ocala’s horse country and the Hilton’s commitment of going the extra mile to let patrons know they are valued.
That was certainly the experience for a couple from Detroit who’ve made this their destination every March for more than 25 years. They stay at the Hilton Ocala for 30 days each visit and are well-known by the staff.
During their most recent visit, the management team decided to surprise the couple and invited them to dinner at the new Market Kitchen and Bar in the lobby.
“When they stepped off the elevator a carriage ride with resident Clydesdale Buddy, complete with champagne toast, was waiting just outside,” says Pete Lynch, food and beverage director. “When they returned from the carriage ride and sat down to dinner, Chef Randall White greeted them and created a special meal. We just wanted to give them a great unbridled experience and thank them for their business.”
Market Kitchen And Bar
Gone is the old school, traditional hotel dining experience. It’s been pleasantly replaced with a hip, gastro pub. Chef Randall White, a bona fide local legend in Ocala, is back in the kitchen, bringing his own unique culinary approach to the entire Market Kitchen and Bar menu.
The redesigned sunken lobby dining and bar area has a decidedly cosmopolitan atmosphere with its sleek marble, wood and tile accents, while service is attentive and personal touches abound. Lunch and dinner are served here daily, while a la carte breakfast and buffet are available in Arthur’s Bistro every morning from 6:30 to 11am.
Keeping with the push for farm to table, Chef White uses only Florida-raised meats obtained through local purveyor Florida Fresh Meats. In addition to purchasing locally sourced ingredients, the Hilton Ocala supports farmers who use humane practices, including free-range chickens and cage-free eggs.
Chef White enjoys taking those ingredients and elevating simple dishes. For example, guests rave about his “Say Cheese Crunch,” a grilled cheese sandwich like no other. Fresh gouda and fontina cheeses from local Cypress Point Creamery are nestled between slices of Texas toast, which is dipped in beaten egg and then rolled in crushed Cheetos for a decadent adult version of the beloved childhood favorite.
Hand-crafted cocktails are a signature specialty, featuring freshly squeezed juices, homemade mint simple syrup and herbs plucked right from the garden.
“Beyond the lower pool deck, you’ll find a garden where we grow herbs and vegetables here to use in our cocktails and dishes,” says Lynch. “I recently showed the garden to a guest who picked a handful of the mint, which I used to make her mojito. It doesn’t get fresher than that; it’s also fun and engaging for our guests.”
Amenities To Explore
Should you stay on the top floor, you’ll experience exclusive amenities and keyed access to The Club on Nine, which offers breakfast every morning and an hors d’oeuvres reception every evening, plus culinary and cocktail demonstrations.
“There are also three big-screen TVs and a private outdoor balcony overlooking the city where guests can enjoy a cocktail from the tallest building in Ocala,” says Lynch.
“First and foremost, we are a full-service destination, featuring 7,000 square feet of banquet and catering space with additional outdoor space, including the Pavilion and the six-acre Reserve, complete with fitness trail and exercise stations,” notes Larkin. “We partnered with one of the top audio-visual companies in the nation and invested tens of thousands of dollars in technology and infrastructure to deliver the look, feel and technology that meeting planners would expect. We provide everything for the business traveler, as well as someone looking for a getaway.”
To top it off, no other hotel in town has its own resident carriage horse. Buddy’s driver, Cindy Tellier, is a wealth of information about the handsome Clydesdale and horse country in general. Spend a few minutes on a complimentary carriage ride serenaded by the clip-clop of Buddy’s enormous hooves, and you’ll come away more appreciative of why this truly is the “Horse Capital of the World.”
Hilton Ocala › 3600 SW 36th Avenue, Ocala › (352) 854-1400 › hiltonocala.com