We had passed the Gaylord’s enormous bulk several times en route to
Disney, Universal City Walk and our other Orlando vacation destinations,
and it left us apprehensive about our upcoming stay. As picky, service-craving travelers, could such a large convention center possibly serve
us with the speed and intimacy we expect?
An unequivocal "Yes." And more.
"Consider it Done" is the slogan printed on the back of the hotel room key,
and rarely have we encountered a large hotel where this attitude was
more pervasive. Everyone, and yes I mean everyone, we encountered took
complete responsibility for making our stay wonderful. When we were a
bit lost looking for the alligators in the lobby, the staff member we
asked immediately stopped what he was doing and walked us to our
destination, telling us funny stories about the animals along the way.
When I had trouble with the Wi-Fi, it took less than 2 minutes to be
connected to their tech guy and get up and running. He even boosted my
spirits when I realized the problem was me: I typed in the wrong room
Walking to Sunset Sam’s for dinner, which is on a boat on a lake inside the Key West wing of the hotel, our daughter asked the six-year-old equivalent of "How do you balance a full glass of wine on the edge of a knife?" That was our first hint that intelligent entertainment (especially for guests with younger children) is this hotel’s hallmark.
Throughout dinner jugglers, fire eaters, magicians and other entertainers kept our attention by not only performing amazing feats, but teaching our daughter how to do some of them as well — minus the fire eating part.
After dinner we visited Gator Springs (to see the aforementioned baby alligators), stopped at Sawgrass Place to see snakes, and cruised the rest of the hotel lobby to cross bridges, visit the pirate sand sculpture, and see the Castillo de San Marcos — a replica of North America’s oldest fort. All were under the one hotel roof. Just about the only time we had to go outside was for the Clearwater Cove family pool. It was too cold outside to use it, but looked like fun, with a slide, zero entry pool and giant Octopus.
By the time we finally rolled into our room, and our giant extremely comfortable beds, we were converts. Of the 30 Orlando hotels we have visited, this won our vote for Most Refreshing and Something For Everyone.
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Samantha Chapnick is a New York writer who scours international destinations looking for what hasn’t been found.