World Equestrian Center announced this week it has started construction on a second hotel at its Ocala property.
The five-story, 400-room hotel will be located on WEC — Ocala’s equestrian and multipurpose facility park — and is expected to open in June 2024.
The new pet-friendly hotel is designed for extended-stay customers and will feature larger suite-like rooms. Plans also include an 80,000-square-foot restaurant complex adjacent to the hotel.
A WEC news release said, “The hotel will cater to busy guests with a large grab-and-go marketplace featuring fresh, convenient food products. A fitness center and on-site washer/dryer amenities will be available. Outdoor recreation amenities will include a pool and feature lawn game activities. A special fenced dog park will be available for canine guests.”
The World Equestrian Center — Ocala is the largest equestrian complex in the United States. In addition to the 378 acres the park currently occupies, WEC has set aside 300 acres for future development.
The facility aims to bring the “ultimate horse show experience to exhibitors and vendors, combining quality facilities with exceptional service.”
On Wednesday, WEC announced that it had reached an agreement with the United States Equestrian Federation to offer horse shows sanctioned by the national governing body.
Under the agreement, World Equestrian Center — Ocala will run hunter/jumper horse show dates sanctioned by the organization starting in June. The facility currently hosts national level dressage events sanctioned by the USEF as well, and plans to reintroduce CDI and FEI-level events in the near future.
Announcements with more detail on specific show ratings are forthcoming.
Ocala is known as the “Horse Capital of the World.” The city and surrounding areas in Marion County are home to more than 1,200 horse farms, including 900 thoroughbred farms. The area also is home to the 500-acre Florida Horse Park, the official training site for the U.S. Equestrian Team.
Horses bred in the Ocala area have won numerous major trophies. Among the most celebrated is Affirmed, which won the Triple Crown in 1978.