ORLANDO (Day one of three) — I love it when hotels make it easy for parents to get a break on vacation. And there’s no place they need one more than Orlando. That’s why I’m a fan of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin that connect to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot via waterway and walkway. (All of you business travelers who stay at Starwood hotels—stay here with your points!)
But it’s not just the location I like. It’s that you can get free organized activities at Camp Dolphin for the kids for two-hours while you have a spa treatment at the Mandara Spa or a grown up dinner at restaurants including Todd English’s BlueZoo (teens especially love the glittery blue décor) and Shula’s Steak House.
Even better, guests here enjoy special Disney benefits reserved for Walt Disney World resort guests like the Extra Magic Hours, package deliveries, and the opportunity to pre-book your Disney experiences like character meet and greets and popular rides 60 days in advance with MyMagic+, the new Disney technology just unveiled.
No worries if you didn’t book your character meals in time. The Disney Character Dining for dinner or breakfast at the Swan and Dolphin’s Garden Grove is an easier ticket—and cheaper too. Even better, the Garden Grove has upped it’s healthy eats menu with “superfoods” like blueberries, spinach, oats and nuts, wheat germ pancakes and assorted smoothies at breakfast and a create-your-own salad at dinner.
In Orlando, you have your pick of more than 116,000 hotel rooms, including some 30,000 at Walt Disney World alone from budget to luxe(I was ready to move in to the new oversized Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, complete with washer, drier and full kitchen—ideal for a well-heeled multi gen family as they sleep up to nine guests.
Across town, the new Universal’s Cabana Bay has just opened with 900 of its 1800 rooms designated family suites (900 of those are family suites). Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World will have 444 rooms when it opens later this summer with its huge kids’ play area and complimentary kids’ activities.
Visiting families can opt for something a little different at the B Walt Disney World which also is opening this summer right near Downtown Disney. The resort is much smaller—394 rooms compared to the gargantuan properties within Walt Disney World. It’s hip, modern with guest rooms that can include bunk beds or sleeper sofas, art from local artists and even a hard-to-resist plush frog named Benson B., whose purchase will help support local conservation efforts. Kids and parents will love the oversized digital concierge stations in the lobby where you can even send a digital postcard or social media message. Introductory rates start at $159 including parking and resort fees: stay on your birthday and get your second night for $1. Nice!
We all know a trip to Orlando can be exhausting—and stressful. All the more reason to stay someplace that will pamper the grownups. You deserve it!