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My Five-Star Waldorf Astoria Experience in Orlando

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Five years ago, the second Waldorf Astoria in the world opened in Orlando, bringing to Florida a five-star elegance previously unattained. Although there is an undeniable upside to incorporating the theme park experience into every facet of your vacation, there is also an upside to providing yourself and your family with a serene retreat at the end of a very busy day. The Waldorf Astoria Orlando is the perfect sanctuary.

ARRIVAL

Our family traveled to Orlando in June. Fresh off the airplane from Denver and full of the “newly arrived in Orlando” excitement, I was surprised by the blanket of warm water that hovers in the air (even though I lived in the South for two years – one tends to forget). The hotel’s lobby was an instant breezy oasis, even in the evening. Cool air and an exceptionally professional staff made for a prompt and pleasant check-in experience. Later the next day, I had the same impression of the rest of the hotel. The Waldorf Astoria Orlando is a quiet machine finely tuned to the desires of its guests and thus an escape from the over-stimulation outside.

LOCATION

The hotel sits next to its sister hotel, the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, in the 482-acre Bonnet Creek nature preserve. The area is surrounded by Walt Disney World, just minutes from Downtown Disney. It’s the closest luxury hotel to the Disney theme parks and yet the beautiful natural setting of the preserve is untouched.

ROOMS

It’s important to note that there are no undesirable rooms here – there are great rooms and amazing rooms. My family and I stayed in a Deluxe Suite. Suites are very common in Orlando due to the sheer amount of families who visit. Common sense reigns. Providing kids and adults with a small amount of separation and extra space is a vacation best practice. The suite featured a separate bedroom for my husband and I and a pull-out sofa bed and a roll-away (remember to reserve one if you’ll need it) bed for the two boys. The roll-away was by far the most comfortable one I’ve had the opportunity to sit on. In fact, all the beds were exceptional from the high-end linens to the mattresses. We all slept very well and that, on a vacation especially, is priceless.

Our room also had a table for four and a wet bar with a sink and mini fridge. This allowed us to have cold water at all times and was quite a nice touch. The décor is modern with a touch of whimsy. As in the lobby, shades of cream make the ice blue touches stand out.

BEYOND THE ROOMS

The hotel is connected through the expansive meeting space to the Hilton. Families with kids will find the Hilton pool, with its lazy river, water slides and wading pool to be worth carving out an entire day. Our family rented a private cabana, a must-have in the summer and a new amenity at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. We had a ceiling fan, comfortable furniture, a mini fridge and TV as well as a place to call “home base.” Parents will appreciate the 24,000 square-foot spa or Ree Jones-designed championship golf course. The practice range and putting green’s fees are included in the greens fee, so plan to try them out. We happened to be visiting on Father’s Day, so my husband and visiting brother-in-law began their special day off by spending an hour there. They both came back with pro shop swag and smiles.

SERVICE

The Waldorf Astoria brand is serious about going above and beyond. Founder Conrad Hilton said the original New York hotel was, “the greatest of them all.” Along that line of thinking, they treat their guests as the greatest of them all. For example, on our first day we used every towel in the room. Without a single mention to our housekeepers or the management, we were left double the amount of clean towels on the next day. This type of service borders on mind reading.

MY RECOMMENDATION

The Waldorf Astoria Orlando is a gem in Orlando. Even if you love the immersive Disney experience, try it this way at least once.

For more information on Waldorf Astoria Orlando or to book a stay, please visit their website.

Examiner’s Note: My appreciation goes out to Suzanne Stephan. Thanks for the tour and for kindly arranging our stay.

Please write to me at lori@travelbylori.com. If you like this article, please share it through social media. My husband and business colleague, David Metze, and I have created video reviews of many of our favorite hotels - take a look at http://youtube.com/travelbylori.

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