Answers from Our Experts (4)
If a sun-filled getaway to Orlando is on your itinerary, you’ll have a pair of top-tier hotels to choose for your stay.
Resting close to the city’s theme parks and centers for performing and visual arts, The Peabody Orlando is a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel that separates itself from the pack not only through its excellent guest service (every member of the hotel staff will go out of their way to make you feel as welcome as possible) but for another feathery reason — The Peabody ducks. Two times a day, a parade of waddling ducks parade through the hotel’s lobby (led by their Duckmaster, of course) and splash around in the lobby fountain before returning to their private quarters in the hotel itself. Lucky ducks.
The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes is another luxurious hotel in the city. Sporting an impressive architectural design that pays homage to the Grand Palazzo of Italy, this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel is a prime location for distressing with its 40,000-square-foot spa with 40 treatment rooms not to mention the private balconies of each guest room. Hit the green on the 18-hole golf course designed by Greg Norman before dining at one of the hotel’s six restaurants, including the steak-centric The Vineyard Grill.
As a premier spot for tourists, there are plenty of hotels in Orlando to choose from, but if you’re looking for the best of the best, here are the top picks.
The Ritz Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes is a beautifully designed, all-inclusive resort where you can expect the highest standard of hospitality in an upscale atmosphere. It's a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel, so you know that the service at this posh hotel is top-notch, having been tested by an independent inspector. Another great option is The Peabody Orlando, another Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel. This one is a particularly good choice for families — as home to the world-famous Peabody Ducks, you'll get to watch their popular daily parade from the Duck Palace to the lobby fountain each morning at 11 a.m., as well as their march back to their living quarters at 5 p.m. It's a charming tradition that's sure to charm the kids, as well as kids at heart.
While my colleagues are correct to sing the praises of the Forbes Four Star Peabody Orlando and Ritz Carlton at Grande Lakes, there are a couple other hotels in Orlando worth a look for your next visit.
The first is the Villas of Grand Cypress, which is consistently ranked one of the best golf resorts in Florida. The resort recently underwent an impressive renovation, transforming their spacious villas into some of the most technologically forward accommodations in Orlando. And while the two Jack Nicklaus designed golf courses are the main draw, the location right outside the main gate of Walt Disney World makes the Villas of Grand Cypress a perfect choice for families as well.
Just a few exits further down I-4, you'll find the sprawling Reunion Resort. A golfer's heaven with four championship courses, the Reunion Resort is located on the outskirts of Orlando's hustle and bustle. This makes it an oasis for those seeking a little R&R combined with the comforts of home. Be sure to stop in Eleven - the resort's rooftop restaurant - for the best view of the sunset in Orlando.
I can’t say enough wonderful things about the Hyatt Grand Regency Cypress, which is conveniently located less than a mile from Walt Disney World Resort. Even with all the best attractions practically on its doorsteps, guests of the Hyatt tend to spend a lot of time onsite thanks to the incredible number of activities included in the daily resort fee. There are bikes to borrow and climbing walls to scale. You can grab a kayak or paddleboat and float out onto the pristine lake. Kids love the splash pad and adults love the two tucked away hot tubs. The pool, which winds through a cavernous grotto, is ideal for cooling off, especially with a cool beer in hand thanks to the ridiculously attentive pool wait staff. At night, you can purchase a s’mores kit and snuggle around the fire pit while you wait for Disney’s evening fireworks show to light up the sky.
Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center is another great choice of hotels near Walt Disney World Resort. Staying here is an experience in and of itself thanks to the 4.5-acre atrium and three themed sections that showcase Florida’s most distinctive areas: The Everglades, The Keys, and St. Augustine. Gaylord just installed a new water park last year with slides and a dive-in movie screen that lets families watch movies while swimming in the giant zero-entry pool. There’s also an adult pool, a great spa (Relache Spa) and several restaurants ranging from buffet to sushi to a very swanky steakhouse.
Near the convention center, nothing beats The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, which sits on the 500-acre Grande Lakes property alongside the JW Marriott. Besides having several fabulous restaurants, including NORMAN'S, an award-winning restaurant created by celebrity Chef Norman Van Aken, the Ritz is home to Orlando's biggest and, in my opinion, best spa. Encasing 40,000 square feet of luxury and comfort, the spa has 40 treatment rooms, a 4,000 square-foot adult-only pool, co-ed relaxation spaces, and a fabulous little spa café serving scrumptious smoothies and bento boxes filled with yummy, healthy food for lunch.
Downtown, the Grand Bohemian Hotel reigns king thanks to its ostentatious panache and extraordinary art collection. This boutique hotel has a new spa, a great lobby lounge featuring live music on weekends, and hosts one of the area’s most popular brunches, which the GB has dubbed the Sunday Jazz Brunch.