Orlando Travel Guide
And even though we'd normally stay away from the humidity of Orlando in August, we find ourselves practically crossing the days off on the calendar. Here are five reasons why we're hoping the Four Seasons Orlando will make all our dreams come true.
1. The Adult Pool. The adult pool (separated from the family pool) will have cabanas, cocktail servers and specialty services like "sunglass cleanings." We hope massages are on that list too. #serenitynow
2. Firework Chandeliers in the Lobby. Night time is ruled by fireworks at Disney World but we're loving this cool chandelier of "fireworks" above the lobby's grand staircase.
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As we told you last fall, the Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Studios would be opening on March 31st and today, the property lived up to its promise as the resort's first guests began checking in.
You can learn more about what the guest rooms have to offer here but for now, check out this dive tower water slide that drops you out into the 10,000-sq.ft. zero entry pool in the Cabana Courtyard ("Castaway" is the name of one of the guest room towers.)
The hotel will also unveil a lazy river experience, a first for the Universal Orlando Resort hotels, on June 16th (along with Hideaway Bar and Grill, the Tower family suites and standard rooms.)
Right now the hotel is offering a special opening offer for a family suite at a standard room rate. Rooms were sold-out this weekend but we did find a family suite for $239 a night next weekend. That room can sleep up to six people (it is kind of cramped, you've been warned) and it gives the family early access to Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction, along with a few other benefits.
[Photo: Cabana Bay Beach Resort]
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Orlando's newest hotel, The Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Studios, is in the midst of putting the finishing touches on its sprawling 1,800 room resort. Just last week, the hotel's 52-foot tall retro sign went up, signaling not only that the hotel is close to opening but also giving passerby's a hint of what to expect--a themed resort inspired by the beach resorts of the 1950s and 60s. Notice the promise of "color TV" and "cold air."
You'll get a feel for that theme mostly in the guest rooms which feature mid-century furniture and decor. But don't worry, there will be flat-screens and free WiFi in the rooms too. On-site there will also be two outdoor pool complexes, including a lazy river; a retro bowling alley, game room and several dining options. There's even a Starbucks too! But despite the name, there's no actual beach at this beach resort.
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Way back in 2010, It was announced that the world would be getting more Planet Hollywood Hotels (the first and only being the one in Vegas of course.) The expansion would be helped along by Wyndham Hotels.
Then the following year it was announced that actually China, Panama and Qatar would get the new PH Hotels first. Well, here we are on the edge of 2014, and no new Planet Hollywood hotels exist anywhere. But it looks like one is very close to opening and close to home too.
We stumbled across some new Planet Hollywood trademarks the other day--one for Phabulous and another for Phamous, two PH-branding concepts that are loosely used by the Vegas resort (mostly in promotions and on social media.) The owner of the trademark is listed as Planet Hollywood in Orlando and not Caesars Entertainment (which owns the property in Vegas.) The trademarks are both listed as for "hotel and resort hotel services." Sounds promising! But does this mean there's an actual hotel site in Orlando laying around for the Planet Hollywood brand? Yes, actually there is.
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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!
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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.)
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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.
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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.