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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.
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Ok, so technically, Mickey didn’t make an appearance in this video of the under-construction Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World, but we would have appreciated the reference (if slightly on-the-nose) had the iconic character popped up.
Rather, it is Thomas Steinhauer, Regional Vice President and General Manager of the hotel, who dons his hard hat and walks you through the 434-room resort – the largest Four Seasons resort in the world – as it progresses towards a summer 2014 opening.
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!
For many Winter Park Florida doesn't ring a bell on the Google map meter. In the publishing industry, it's home to the well-known Bonnier Company and as of a week ago, the new Alfond Inn, a 112-room property part of the Preferred Boutique Hotel portfolio.
In all honesty, the Alfond Inn is aware it may be a bit of a hard-sell for those who are Orlando bound, especially those who have plans on hitting the theme parks. But they are counting on attracting a primarily adult market content with their location 15 minutes from downtown Orlando and 30 minutes from Walt Disney World and Orlando International Airport. Anyone who has driven in this area knows it's a hop-skip to anywhere you want to go.
This isn't some towering, overwhelming kiddified resort, so keep that in mind. Instead, you'll find that this Spanish Mediterranean revival style inn built with a $12.5 million grant procured by the owners of the co-ed liberal arts Rollins College, fosters an environment of rest and relaxation--welcome after a day at SeaWorld, perhaps? It's a 20th-Century throwback to the Old South with arches, columns, wrought iron and flowering trellises.
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:
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Well, color us surprised. Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World might still be a year away from opening, but hot on the heels of its GM appointment, the apparent interest in the 434-room resort is already so significant that a first series of rates for meetings and groups has been released. Talk about planning ahead.
We’ll get to those rates in a second, but alongside there’s an indication what us normal people will be paying to live it up with Mickey. Unfortunately, the same seems to hold true here as it does for Disney itself these days: bring your wallet. Rooms will start at $595 in September 2014, going up to $645 from October onwards. Family packages aside, with a room and one-day admission for four, you’re looking at a grand a day just like that. Eeeek.
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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We've started a series of what’s trending in hotels these days: What’s Out, What’s In. Do we like what we see? Think it's a dud? You be the judge!
What's Out: Farm-to-table concepts at restaurants
What's In: Farm-to-table concepts at spas
With “natural” and “local” now part of the modern lexicon for restaurants, hotels have decided that it’s not just your tummy that should get all that organic goodness. We present to you... (drumroll please) farm-to-face.
A Relais & Chateaux Resort, the Hotel Caesar Augustus is perched on a cliff on the languid isle of Capri. In this idyllic setting you can find an equally idyllic spa garden. The goods from the garden - infusions made with the oils from basil, sage, rosemary, and marjoram as well as lemons and oranges - can be used in various massage treatments they offer at the hotel. The truly wonderful thing is that the massages can take place in the midst of all of those blooming orange and lemon blossoms.
The Guerlain Spa at the Waldorf Astoria New York is launching a “Milk, Honey and Herb” Mani and Pedi using its own “Top of the Waldorf Rooftop Honey” from six beehives installed on the 20th floor roof. The unguents and creams also include herbs grown from the hotel’s newly-installed rooftop garden and, while you’re waxing poetic about the treatment, you can sip on the hotel’s signature Wax Poetic cocktail featuring the house-made honey.
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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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The idea of a luxe Four Seasons hotel at Disney World might seem sacrilegious to some, but as we first reported well over a year ago, it will be happening next year in Orlando. Wealthy Four Seasons fans have kids too, you know.
That 2014 opening hasn’t changed – this is a from-the-ground-up construction after all – so imagine our surprise when we stumbled on a dedicated website for the hotel, even though it’s not yet listed among upcoming properties over at Four Seasons, let alone in the list of destinations. So what’s there to know about Four Seasons at the Magic Kingdom?
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When we posted your hotel check-in rituals, some commented on Twitter and Facebook that ordering room service is the first thing they do when settling in. We're a bit nosy, so we asked a few hoteliers and Food & Beverage folks what y'all are ordering--hoping there would be some extreme weirdness going on like anchovies on PB&J. But, bearing a little skepticism about the guest who asked for live tarantulas, you're just like us! You love a simple club sandwich. You crave a grilled cheese! Our mini-survey shows your faves.
Hyatt Regency Atlanta: Folks love to order the strawberry-stuffed French Toast, a breakfast dessert that is a Southern quiet riot made with brioche, toasted pecans, fruit, and sea salt.
Beau-Rivage Palace, Switzerland: Europe can be such a complex place, and this Lausanne, hotel shows us that their guests demands are no different! The most popular items? The pricey duck foie gras terrine at CHF 39 ($40.10) and on the complete opposite spectrum, chicken nuggets at CHF 18 ($18.50)!