Orlando Travel Guide
Hotel Openings / Universal Hotels / Loews Hotels / Orlando Hotels / Family-Friendly Hotels / Hotel News / → All Tags
While Four Seasons is readying their biggest resort to date near the Magic Kingdom, Universal Parks & Resorts and Loews Hotels & Resorts are working on their own massive new resort, adjacent to Universal Studios Orlando, and which is being built specifically with families in mind.
The Cabana Bay Beach Resort, the fourth hotel within the Universal Orlando Resort, will open 600 of its planned 1,800 rooms on March 31st. The first rooms to open will be in the North Courtyard, which consists of three separate buildings. These rooms will also be all family suites which start at 430-sq.ft. and can sleep six people with two queen beds and a queen pull-out sofa bed. There's even a small kitchenette and a bathroom area that partitions the toilet from the sink and the sink from the shower. Especially helpful when all six of you are trying to get ready for you day at the park.
Another 300 family suites and 900 standard rooms (slightly smaller square footage but still with two queen beds) will open later in the year in two other towers. All rooms and suites will feature a retro 1950s and 1960s design, meant to invoke the family resorts and motels of yesteryear.
We toured the hotel site yesterday and it was crazy cool to see something that looks so old school but is totally new from the ground-up. Don't worry, the amenities and services at the hotel will be brand-new with the most modern technology including WiFi and flat-screen TVs.
Themed Suites / Kid-Friendly Hotels / Kids Suites / Loews Hotels / Orlando Hotels / Universal Hotels / → All Tags
If you were around kids on Halloween, then you may have noticed just how popular the "Despicable Me" Minions were for a costume choice. So it makes perfect sense that a hotel would want to cash in on the Minions' moment of fame and build some super cool Despicable Me-inspired hotel suites.
These fun suites just opened at the Loews Portofino bay Hotel at the Universal Orlando Resort. Each of the 18 new suites have two rooms, one featuring a kids' room totally tricked out with Minion-inspired bedding, Minion curtains, custom-designed missile beds and a wall plastered with Minions. The other room is for the adults and features an Italian luxury design. And for safety purposes, the kids' room does not have a door that opens out into the hallway. Instead, there's just a door that runs into the parents' room.
You can also check out how these Minion suites were created by watching a time-lapse video the hotel did of the construction. (Remember they also did this with their other guest room renovations.) And yes, there are some Minions in the video!
Hyatt Hotels has been on a roll lately. They've announced a handful of new Andaz Hotels as well as their new all-inclusive brands, Zilara and Ziva and now they've gone and snapped up the Peabody Orlando Convention Center Hotel.
In a press release, Hyatt announced that they will actually buy the property, worth about $717 million, and turn it into the Hyatt Regency Orlando Convention Center . The sale is expected to go through by October 1st and that's when the official Hyatt rebranding will happen.
Aside from being within 15 minutes of the Walt Disney theme parks and other Orlando attractions and next to the Orlando Convention Center, the Peabody is well-known for its duck parade, known as the March of the Peabody Ducks which happens twice a day at 11am and 5pm. Indeed, when we were in the area this past May, our cab driver pointed out the Peabody Hotel to us and said, "Oh every day here they have a great duck parade!" Here's what happens:
School's out for summer and in Orlando that means the crowds are a-coming. If you're heading to Disney World, Sea World or Universal Studios during peak season (now-August), you know you are going to end up paying more than you'd like for everything from park admission to food and worst of all, souvenirs. You should also be prepared to read the fine print for your hotel stay as several hotels in the area charge the dreaded resort fees.
While not as prevalent as Las Vegas, Orlando does have a fair amount of hotels that charge additonal for services that used to be "free" like pool access and in-room safes.
Below we've rounded up the hotels that charge an all-encompassing resort fee (and not just separate fees for parking or shuttle services.) Some fees include internet and some do not. All of these are also taxable.
Know of a resort fee in Orlando? Tell us in comments!
Hotel News / Hotel Renovations / Econo Lodge Hotels / Florida Hotels / Orlando Hotels / Choice Hotels / → All Tags
A small part of us chuckles that the world's largest Econo Lodge will humbly boast under 300 rooms, but we suppose it's a nice step for the typically small motel chain as far as novelty goes. Perhaps more important than the size of the property is the extra perks that are not normally seen at Econo Lodges such as an on-site delicatessen and free in-room Wi-Fi, coffee makers, refrigerators, and ironing boards. It will also have a partnership with the adjacent YMCA Aquatic Center, allowing guests free access to its three indoor pools, fitness center, and indoor racquetball courts.
The Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando Studios has just finished a major renovation of its guest rooms so it's only natural that they show off the results. But The Loews isn't passing around some fancy, carefully staged, photoshopped photos. No, they've gone above and beyond the call of PR duty to create a time-lapse video that features the transformation of one guest room from start to finish.
The video is just over a minute long and it's actually super cool, especially if you're a renovation nerd like us. It's like we're watching HGTV but for a hotel room!
You see everything that went into the renovation from removal of the old outdated furniture, ripping up the dank rugs, putting new paint on the walls, laying down a new carpet, tons of electrical work and the assembling of the new furniture. (Our heart skipped a beat when we saw brand-new mattresses being unwrapped from the plastic. For real.)
Hotel Woes / Hotel News / Ritz-Carlton Hotels / Orlando Hotels / Florida Hotels / Hotel Crime / → All Tags
Here's one to send your creep-o-meter through the roof: a Florida man has finally been caught after sneaking into the hotel rooms of recently checked-out guests and "extending" their stay. Kind of like Goldilocks, except this guy sounds way less picky.
Guests at multiple hotels, including Ritz-Carlton, Hard Rock and Loews Portofino Bay, were all victims of the hotel freeloader, who apparently had pretty expensive tastes when it came to room service. Too bad it wasn't his credit card that were paying for all the fun.
Hotel WiFi / Hilton Hotels / Gay Hotels / Orlando Hotels / Hotel Deals / Hotel Amenities / Hotel Freebies / Spring Hotels / → All Tags
Did we mention spring was here? Well, along with spring comes a rather important annual event for fun-loving LGBT travelers around the world: pride season!
If you've already got plans to try out the new gay-themed Out NYC in Manhattan, or be shepherded around Miami by the Lords South Beach's specially-themed iPhone app, fair enough. But one other thing you might want to keep in mind: 140 Hilton Hotels are offering a "Stay Hilton. Go Out" package for LGBT travelers celebrating pride, which includes, among other nifty perks, free Wifi.
While the news out today is all about the exercise-obsessed Even Hotels, it's nice to see that at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando, you can still order up a nice, big, fat, juicy Angus burger from the hotel's Cascade American Bistro. But the way they are advertising their burgers is a little unorthodox.
A longtime HotelChatter reader, Brennan Pardee, sent us this snapshot above saying,
I was at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress recently and found this ad stuck on my bathroom mirror. So I guess, "Don't look at how fat you are, come down to the lobby for a juicy burger!" Really?
An ad for a burger stuck on the bathroom mirror? That's definitely something you won't see at Even Hotels. But at least they didn't put the ad on the scale....
OpenThread / Bathroom Tuesdays / Hotel Bathrooms / Hotel Saunas / Hotel Spas / Crowne Plaza Hotels / → All Tags
You may never have given it much thought, but for the seriously wealthy, requesting a hotel room that comes with its own private sauna can be as commonplace as checking to see whether the hotel offers free WiFi. And just like with the whole WiFi issue, certain hotels do a better job of it than others.
Like, for instance, the Crowne Plaza Orlando Downtown (we're talking about saunas now, not WiFi). A local news channel ran a piece on which Orlando hotel suites are favored by the area's richest clients, and why. Not exactly the type of article that makes you feel good about your own finances, but fun to read nonetheless. Lo and behold, on the hotel's fourteenth floor, inside the Presidential Suite, is an en-suite sauna (above), included along with a steam shower, wet bar, and spare bedroom.
Now, how much would you pay for the luxury of a sauna two steps from your bed?
Orlando Hotels / Theme Park Hotels / Family Hotels / Hard Rock Hotels / Hotel WiFi / Hotel Boats / → All Tags
Here's why Hard Rock Orlando is a great home base for a visit to Universal Orlando: The vibe is "cool parents", at least that is what we liked to tell ourselves while we were on the grounds.
The giant pool, complete with sand and water slide is such a hit with kids it may be hard to drag them away from the pool and get them to the parks, so save the pool for an end of day activity.
Real rock music, not "Kid's Place Live", permeates the lobby and the common spaces, as it does at all Hard Rock's, however, as expected, this property is far more family friendly than some of the other Hard Rocks. Aside from the pool, kids will also be treated to magic tricks at dinner (Thursday nights) if you eat at Kitchen, the on site restaurant. Oh, and most important? Your room key serves as an express pass at the parks allowing you to avoid the lines -- sweet.
The mouse has a new fancy house--The Four Seasons.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that the luxury hotel chain has just finalized a deal to build a 444-room Four Seasons resort down in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The hotel will feature a rooftop restaurant with views of the Magic Kingdom as well as a lazy river inside its pool scene and guest access to the Disney Osprey Ridge golf course.
The hotel will also include up to 90 Four Seasons residences and about 40 Four Seasons time-share units. As for the guestrooms, there's not much info on that yet but you know how Four Seasons likes to stick with what they know.
Construction will start on the hotel in December and it's expected to be completed sometime in 2014. While we're not so deep-pocketed we can splurge on Four Seasons when we travel, there are a lot of wealthy families out there who can. So a Four Seasons will probably be a relief for those who dread the idea of a night in a kitschy Disney theme resort. Just make sure to get a room for the nanny!