32830 Travel Guide
Happy Holidays! We're leaving you with one last story to
admire read before we head out for the next few days. We'll be off tomorrow and Christmas but we'll back with a full slate of stories on Thursday. Remember, if you're waking up in a hotel on Christmas, we wanna hear about it!
Heading to Disney World for the holidays is a dream for many folks--young and old. But if you're staying at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resorts, your vacation just got a whole lot sweeter.
Laurent Branlard, the hotel's executive pastry chef, constructed a 7-foot tall, 400-pound nutcracker made entirely from chocolate along with an entire Christmas scene made up of another 2,000 pounds of chocolate that includes a life-sized Santa Claus (something the resort is well-known for.)
The scene and nutcracker took 80 hours to complete and both will be on display through December. Best of all, it's entirely edible. However, if you were to consume it all you would be taking in about 4 million calories. On second thought….
The hotel is still open on for Christmas Eve and Day. In fact, they have an entire website up and running for the holidays: www.santasfavoriteresort.com . Rates at the hotel, which is part of Starwood Hotels start at $209 a night.
Disney Hotels / Disney World Hotels / Hotel Openings / Orlando Hotels / Family-Friendly Hotels / → All Tags
While adults will be partying the Memorial Weekend away at the Revel Resort in Atlantic City, families with children will be waiting until May 31st to take their vacation at the new Disney Art of Animation Resort, full of family suites and standard rooms done up in Finding Nemo, Little Mermaid, Cars and Lion King themes.
The resort is still on track for the May 31st opening and rates are going for $395 which is also the going rate for the 2012 Summer Season from June 1-August 4 for a weekend stay. (Disney Resorts have about 11 different "seasonal" rates.) Later in the summer, aka when it's too hot in Orlando, the price drops to $249 a night.
Holiday Hotel Decorations / Orlando Hotels / Sheraton Hotels / Walt Disney World Hotels / → All Tags
So we've been profiling the wonderful, wild and wacky holiday hotel decorations and we think that this holiday display at the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Hotel is all three. That's because they've just unveiled a 1,200-pound life-sized CHOCOLATE Santa Claus accompanied by an armchair, fireplace and Christmas tree, all made out of chocolate!
The sculpture is the creation of the hotel's executive pastry chef and only two-time world champion pastry chef, Laurent Branlard. Here are some stats on the work that went into this:
· Man Hours: 300 hours
· Dark Chocolate: 880 lbs.
· Milk Chocolate: 132 lbs.
· White Chocolate: 154 lbs.
· Cocoa Butter: 120 lbs.
While we haven't stayed here ourselves, it seems from TripAdvisor reviews that there's few better places to stay in Orlando than at Pop Century Resort, which is sort of like I Love The 80's (and in the case of some rooms, 90's) in hotel form.
Seems like last year's $60 million upgrade of the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort wasn't enough to impress all of their guests: now they've taken service to new extremes and you can get your own personal, certified sommelier to take care of your wine drinking while you're staying at the resort, because, of course, that's the kind of thing you have in mind when you book into a Disney hotel.
The resort itself describes the personal sommelier program as an experience "designed to subtly educate guests and elevate the wine and culinary experience" by giving you somebody to advise you on every single wine you drink. "Subtly educate" sounds like it belongs back in communist Russia or somewhere, but for wine-lovers it might be interesting to get advice on the best wine for each meal. The idea is that your personal sommelier keeps track of what wines you've already tried, and what might suit your tastes, while at the same time offering you more diverse varieties that might match your meal.
There are 60 certified sommeliers on the staff so it shouldn't be a problem to match up with one--but you do need to make a reservation for one at the time of booking. And if you're a regular guest at the Swan and Dolphin Resort, they encourage you to request the same sommelier to build your relationship and your wine knowledge more effectively--there are 1600 varieties to try, after all. The jury's still out for us on combining Disney theme parks by day with sophisticated wine tasting by night, but we accept that there are niche markets everywhere.
· Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort Gets a $60 Million Upgrade [HotelChatter]
· Disney Hotels [HotelChatter]
Almost exactly a year ago, The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort unveiled their new Mandara spa which we reported on largely because we were disappointed that there were no Mickey Mouse masseuses.
This year, the hotel has unveiled its $60 million resort makeover which includes entirely revamped lobbies and public spaces along with a $500,000 contemporary art program.
Enhanced lobbies provide guests with an immediate and renewed sense of arrival, and an elegant fabric brightens up the cathedral height center-ceiling in the Dolphin lobby. Both resort lobbies boast over 1,000 new custom lighting fixtures, including dramatic chandeliers artistically crafted in Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. Woven metal and handcrafted tropical Pao rosewood paneling complete the newly refurbished space, as well as imported Asian Golden Onyx counters on all guest service desks throughout the resort
Perhaps aiming to be the business themed hotel in the Disney Resort porfolio, "pre-function and meeting rooms were made over with upgraded décor to meet the needs of Fortune 500 group clientele." Additionally, select guestrooms will also start to be renovated into Presidential and Executive suites at the tune of $350,000 to $500,000 per suite.
So perhaps you can stay here and the kids can stay at the Disney Animal Kingdom lodge.
· Disney Spa Opens; No Mickehy Masseuse [HotelChatter]
[Ed. Note: Last weekend, Hotel Maven Tim Leffel was dragged to Disney World, a notorious wallet-buster, but he was able to make lemonade out of Mickey-shaped lemons. Here's his story.]
Disney World can suck a mom & dad's wallet dry in no time. One-day tickets to any of the parks will cost a family of four over $200 and nightly rates at some of the Disney-owned resorts can top $400. Plus you've gotta eat, right?
You can get a little relief on the lodging side though by staying at one of the three Disney All-Star Resorts. These are basically tricked-out motels, but they've gotten the full Disney treatment and attention to detail, so they end up being a surprisingly good value. This is especially true outside of holiday times, like now, when rates drop to $90 a night for a regular room and $190 for a two-room suite with two baths and a kitchenette. This includes express luggage and bus service from the airport, transportation to the Disney parks, and admission during extra hours.
More on the All-Star Resorts post-click.
Even though Disney World is the fakest place on earth, the view of the Polynesian Resort from Google Earth is pretty impressive. The South Pacific themed hotel sits on the South shore of the "South Seas Lagoon" where you can rent speedboats and do all sorts of water activities. But the resort itself is impressive as it tries to recreate a South Pacific isle with white-sand beaches, thatched roofs, koi ponds, volcanic rocks and "more than 75 species of indigenous vegetation." All this in Orlando's gatorland is amazing indeed.
· Disney Polynesian Resort reviews [TripAdvisor]
This picture of the stairwells at Disney's All-Star Movie Resort confused one guest for most of her stay. But even the hotel couldn't answer her questions.
The left most stair well is a speaker. The center one is a tennis ball container. The third one is what?? For the longest time, we could not figure it out. We tried to get an answer from Disney. The front desk didn't know and the next crew member we spoke with actually hung up on us. That particular hotel is "Country Fair" at the All-Star Music Resort. We finally figured it out. Is it obvious to everyone else?
Well the "Country Fair" tipped us off. But we're just crazy good with games like this.
The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel has announced the opening of its new spa, called Mandara Spa.
The 12,000 sq. ft. spa is defined as an "ancient Asian-inspired retreat" whose highlight is the signature Balinese massage.
The spa also includes 13 treatment rooms; steam
rooms in the male and female locker areas; a tea garden and meditation
garden, featuring lakefront views and balconies, and a nail and hair salon.
The hotel itself sits on 87 acres of lakefront property in the heart of "magical world" of The Disney World Resort area.
Unfortunately, Mickey, Goofy, Donald, Minnie and Pluto are not licensed masseuses yet but one day they will be.
And we anxiously await that day when we can feel their soft puppet hands upon our aching backs...
If you stayed at the Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter hotel in the last couple months you, may get a visit from the FBI. After posting a photoshopped version of a child rape crime scene (pictured to the right) to the Internet, a Toronto anti-crime group successfully identified the hotel crime scene, and turned the matter over to the FBI. Currently the FBI is in the process of combing through recent hotel guest lists, looking for suspects.
Police in Toronto say they tracked down the hotel after releasing photos from a porn site, showing the locations of sex attacks against a girl who was around 12 years old. (...)[O]ne man who called to identify the hotel e-mailed his own vacation photos, and they matched scenes in photos that police had released. Within hours of releasing the photos, police were "inundated" with tips from people in the Toronto area about where they thought the pictures may have been taken, said Det. Sgt. Paul Gillespie.
Looking for a holiday getaway? Disney's Swan and Dolphin Hotel, normally about $350 a night, is offering special holiday rates. At $129 per room, per night, this is a good deal if you've been planning a trip to the Magic Kingdom.
The low rate is available November 17-25 and December 17-26, 2004, so it looks like those celebrating Chanukah (December 7th-16th) are out of luck. But guests of all religious persuasions will probably enjoy the novelty and sparkliness of Disney's all-out X-Mas display, featuring giant trees, nutcrackers, presents and such, lots of lights, a chance of fake snow, and the optional and intriguing Elf Tuck-In -- "complete with milk and cookies, a holiday gift, and a bedtime story from one of Santa's elves." (That's for kids only, we believe, so keep it clean, folks.)
To book a visit, call 800-227-1500 and ask for the "Happy Holidays" rate.