32819 Travel Guide
There’s bad behavior by normal hotel standards, and there’s bad behavior by Hard Rock standards. And when you factor in a good old British lout, you know bad behavior for the ages is on the cards.
Last week, a 41-year-old man from Hampshire, Andrew Wood, was on the trip of a lifetime to Universal Orlando. He got drunk. He went back to his room at the Hard Rock Universal Orlando. Except on the way (maybe he got caught short, maybe he didn't want to soil the sexy new rooms) and peed into an ice machine.
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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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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.
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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.
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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.
Fortunately, this story has a happy ending but it doesn't change the fact that a 16-month old girl slipped and fell from the balcony of the Econolodge in Orlando, one of the biggest Econolodges in the world and also the same miserable property that got poor marks during the Undercover Boss episode back in September.
Miraculously, the toddler was saved by a British tourist who noticed the baby hanging from the fourth-floor railing and ran to catch her before she hit the ground. The girl hit a third-floor railing on the way down but didn't even suffer a bruise or scratch and was even described as happy afterward.
The next time the boss sends you to a convention in Orlando, just think: you're really going to Napa. Kind of. You can at least drink yourself into thinking so if you hit up the Peabody Orlando hotel's new Napa Valley-themed restaurant and bar called, um ... Napa.
You may be familiar with this hotel if you've ever set foot in the gargantuan Orange County Convention Center, right across the street. It's one of the few Forbes Four-Star, AAA Four Diamond hotels in Orlando, and it's about to unveil a $450 million expansion next Thursday.
We're thinking that this bar--and another new lounge at the hotel called Rocks--may just be the best thing to hit Orlando since Britney. (Who, incidentally, might like the hotel's new pool cabanas.)
Stay at a hotel in a city, and you've got very little chance of hopping into a pool. Stay in a hotel in a vacation destination in Florida however, and you not only are almost guaranteed a pool, but typically you've got your choice of pools.
This is the case at Universal Studios' Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, which sports both an "adult" pool and a "family pool." The latter is where we found all the action when we visited the hotel for a few days recently, and yet no one was at all interested in the quieter, more refined adult pool.
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Yea, we totally snapped this photo and the best moment between storm and sunset
You may arrive to your hotel by limo, taxi, subway or even helicopter, but nothing beats the romance of gliding up to a magnificent hotel by boat. Naturally, when you think of hotel boats, your thoughts first turn to Venice's gondolas and the Hotel Danieli or the tender out to the W Maldives, but we found something a little bit closer to home.
As part of the attempt to inject Universal Studios' Loews Portofino Bay Hotel with all the charms of Italy, the hotel boasts its own water taxi for direct transport over the Universal CityWalk area, which you don't need to have a ticket to the amusement park to enter. Okay okay, so the other two Universal HotelsLoews Royal Pacific and The Hard Rockalso have this, but only the Portofino actually tries to make it look like you're off the Italian Riviera. Oh yea, and it's free.
While some hotels are all about flaunting their Top Chef winners (ah hem Affinia Chicago and Marcus Samuelsson of C-House), others stick with the already established names, like Wolfgang Puck or Emeril Lagasse. You'll find the latter dominating the in-room coffee trays of Universal Orlando's three resortsLoews Portofino Bay Resort at Universal Studios Orlando, Loews Royal Pacific and Hard Rock Hotelwith Emeril-branded "Jazzed Up Decaf" and "Big Easy Bold" paired with a Keurig coffee machine.
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Are we in Italy right now? Nope, but this hotel is pretty convincing in its Italian-ness, if only it could decide exactly what part of Italy it wants to be. We're talking about the Loews Portofino Bay Resort at Universal Studios Orlando, aka our base camp during the opening days of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park at Universal's Islands of Adventure.
Although Steven Spielberg initially conceived of making this hotel in the spirit of the Italian Riviera town of Portofino after spending his honeymoon there, a wander around the grounds reveals that it's smushed a bit of Venice, a dash of Tuscany, a dollop of Sicily and a pinch of Naples together to form a complex that exudes more La Dolce Vita than actual hotels in Italy. And if you guessed that last night, the plaza was serenaded by an opera singer performing "O Sole Mio" from a terrace, then you'd be correct.
Looking to say goodbye to the craptastic year that was 2009 and still in need of a hotel room somewhere? We've already told you where to book in Miami, New York and the important timezones but we'll be hitting up more cities today for New Year's Eve. Did we miss a city? Want a better deal? Let us know and we'll help you out.
There's no contest on where to go for Orlando's coolest New Year's Eve party. Made of more than 50 tons of ice, Icebar Orlando is decorated with ice sculptures and frozen thrones, where you can sip libations from ice glasses. There's actually only one section completely made of ice, but don't fret about freezing in your skimpy NYE dress; the bar lets you borrow a parka and gloves so you can enjoy your drink in the 27-degree frostiness.
For New Year's Eve, the bar will host the Ice Ball, which includes live entertainment, some vodka—which doesn't freeze—in the icy section of the bar, bubbly at midnight and a breakfast buffet at 1 a.m. for $75 or $150 per couple. If you can't shake the cold in the bar's regular-temperature section, the Fire Lounge, book a room at the Homewood Suites Orlando-International Drive/Convention Center.