By: Maria Smith
Like millions of American families this summer, we are headed down to Florida this month. Specifically we will be in Orlando. We will spend some time at Walt Disney World but since our kids are too little to spend many days at the theme parks, we didn’t want to stay at a Disney resort. Since my husband and I have gotten used to a certain level of a hotel, we aren’t interested in downgrading even though we have three young children now. With that in mind, I put in some research time and found three great alternatives to Disney properties that are luxurious as well as family-friendly.
Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes, Orlando
You know there was going to be a Ritz-Carlton on the list! This is one of the most luxurious hotel chains and their Orlando property is no different. Grande Lakes Orlando is comprised of two hotels: The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott. Guests from both hotels have equal access to The Ritz-Carlton Spa, The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club (kids play free), eleven dining options, and myriad of activities including a Lazy River pool. Holidays are their specialties with BBQs, entertainment, and even a private lakeside fireworks display. Their Family Fun package starts at $458/night and includes two connecting rooms, free meals and unlimited ice cream for kids 12 and under, free buffet breakfast for four or Ritz Kids for two kids (5-12), and late check-out.
Their website says this resort is the “epitome of Orlando luxury” and it seems to live up to that moniker. It is off the beaten path but still close to Walt Disney World. They offer a variety of kids’ activities as well as a supervised Kids Club but Mom and Dad will appreciate the sophistication and regal nature of the resort. This bastion of luxury isn’t priced out of reach of normal families though. They are currently offering the Best of Waldorf package for as low as $189/night which includes deluxe accommodations, free meals for kids 17 and under, and a $50/night activity credit.
This lesser known resort is a destination onto itself. Less than 2 miles from Walt Disney world, Gaylord Palms boasts over 1,400 guest rooms, 6 distinctive restaurants, on-site shopping, resort style pools (one with a water playground!), a 4 star spa, and 4.5 acres of meticulously cared for indoor gardens. They offer connecting rooms (great for families) and can set up in-room babysitting service so Mom and Dad can enjoy some time to themselves. Summer rates start at just $149/night plus 50% off the third night and the fourth night is free.
Maria Smith resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and three kids. In her pre-baby days, she was a TV producer for shows like Oprah, and now fills her child-free time with freelance writing and public relations projects. You could reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MariaRSmith.