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When the focus of a vacation is Harry Potter or Mickey Mouse, a room at an Orlando area theme park hotel in Florida is often a good play. But if a family is interested in exploring beyond the parks, or (gasp!) skipping them altogether, where do they stay?
Fear not: Orlando offers plenty of new and recently upgraded options, so families no longer need to choose between feeling spoiled and keeping the kids happy. These five properties offer amenities kids will love and services parents will appreciate — without skimping on luxury.
The Delaney HotelThe Plus: The trendy neighborhood of SoDo (South Downtown Orlando) gets a boost with a new boutique property opening in August. The 54-room hotel will put guests in the heart of the action and offer rooms and hospitality that have a tech twist, which is bound to impress teens. Everything from remote check-in to an in-room digital-tablet-based concierge service will make a stay feel like it’s taking place in a luxury apartment rather than at a hotel. Plus, clients can use their phones as room keys; no need to waste time searching for a key card.
The Perks: A 6,000-square-foot, tavern-style restaurant is planned for the location that will be perfect for family dining. And guests don’t have to leave Fido or Fifi at home, as one pet is welcome per stay if under 40 pounds (a $150 fee is applied).
The Grove Resort & SpaThe Plus: Forget cramped hotel rooms and rushing to get to the breakfast buffet before it closes. Orlando’s newest luxury resort offers generous all-suite accommodations equipped with everything a family needs. The property opened its first phase last month (184 rooms) and, once completed, will have 878 one-, two- and three-bedroom residential-style suites with full kitchens, washers and dryers and, in some categories, multiple bathrooms. Families traveling with young kids will have the benefit of staying in a place that feels like home but with the advantages of a luxury hotel.
The Perks: The Surfari Waterpark recently opened and features 6 acres of surf simulators, waterslides, splash pads, a lazy river and more. Also worth noting: Lake Austin, located on-site, is an 18-acre lake that provides families with opportunities to fish, paddle, kayak or float.
Hyatt Regency Grand CypressThe Plus: A $45 million-dollar renovation means that this always family-friendly property now has a brand-new, modern look. Guests can choose from well-appointed rooms and suites sporting modern amenities. But with 12 waterfalls, heated and nonheated pools, waterslides, splash zones, whirlpools and more all waiting for them outside, clients will likely limit the time they spend inside.
The Perks: Most watersport equipment (paddleboats, kayaks, sailboats, etc.) is included in a stay, providing built-in entertainment with the price of the room. And nightly fireworks alongside a 21-acre private lake and tropical reserve mean families can enjoy days filled with nature and settle in for a show without ever leaving the resort.
Margaritaville Resort OrlandoThe Plus: Chances are, travelers are already familiar with the bright colors and tropical landscapes that go hand in hand with the Margaritaville chain, but they have probably never experienced it like this. This brand-new $750 million development will open in November with 187 guestrooms and 1,000 Margaritaville-themed vacation home properties. There will also be timeshare units and condominiums, making this more of a 300-acre resort community than a singular hotel.
The Perks: Kids will love the 12-acre waterpark that rivals Walt Disney World Resort’s Typhoon Lagoon.
Additionally, 60,000 square feet of beachfront and miles of fitness trails will be a draw for travelers. A destination-based water taxi system or on-land tram makes getting around a breeze.
The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande LakesThe Plus: The Ritz-Carlton’s approach to luxury is legendary, and its Orlando, Grande Lakes location lives up to the hype. Rooms, suites and dining options all offer indulgent options for discerning clientele. An 18-hole golf course, ecotour options and a 40,000-square-foot spa provide plenty of relaxation options. The whole family will love that guests have access to the lazy river pool at the adjacent JW Marriott Orlando, and families with older kids will be happy to send them off while they enjoy the private, adults-only pool nearby.
The Perks: The Ritz Kids program offers an immersive and adventurous experience for kids ages 4 to 12. Options include outdoor adventures, arts and crafts and musical fun. Stays in the Club Level or Executive Suite categories mean the program is free for up to three children per room, per day. (Other guests get two hours for two children per day). Have a teen with you? The spa offers special teen options including facials and salon treatments.