"The lazy river!" That was my daughter’s response when asked her favorite part of our 11-day Orlando vacation.
Some time later she added others, but the lazy river at the Omni Orlando Resort clearly stood out for her.
The Omni’s pool area was a main highlight for me too, despite some
steep competition among our other Orlando vacation highlights, including living with zebras and giraffes at the
Animal Kingdom Lodge at Disney World, seeing young girls working Diabolos at La Nouba,
the Cirque du Soleil show at Disney World, the playground in Lake Eola park, the pool slide at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa,
and almost having dinner with Anthony Bourdain.
The Omni’s pool area was great for our family vacation because it has something for everyone: an elegant
adult-only pool with cabanas that rent for a comparatively reasonable
$110/day; a zero-entry kids pool; a large slide; a water fountain
feature; a hot tub with a waterfall kids love to stand in, and the
aforementioned lazy river.
The landscaping was a nice change from most hotel pool areas. Cypress
trees separate the hot tub from the zero-entry pool, extensive shrubs
create a nice private niche behind the kids pool (not too private, but
just slightly more quiet), and tall palms lend some tropical atmosphere.
The hotel staff is always smiling, eager to help and quick to respond. When I needed a chaise lounge and umbrella, it took less than 5 minutes, despite it being a very crowded day. Three or four times a day there are pool activities for kids run by friendly young women who really have a way with the kids. We played bingo, hot potato in the pool and diving for rings, and got an airbrush tattoo. Most of the activities are free, with any projects or services having a minimalfee (the tattoo cost $5).
The lazy river, though, is really special. Its 850 feet wander behind the adult pool cabanas, next to the kids pool and then next to the golf course. The pace (slow) and depth (3 feet) make it ideal. At times its popularity makes it hard to procure an inner tube, but most of the kids preferred swimming through without one.
After my 4th trip around, I put a lazy river on my list of “do this summer” family vacation criteria.
Alas, I wish the water were about 4 degrees warmer, as the 85 degrees was too cold for extensive use in the spring. I also wish there were a path around the lazy river because it is hard to follow your child — most of whom want to stay in far longer than the average parent could handle the not-warm-enough water.
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Samantha Chapnick is a New York writer who scours international destinations looking for what hasn’t been found.