Two hotels for the price of one in Orlando.
Orlando. If you have children, or are just a big fan of theme parks, then it’s probably on your to-go-to travel list. Possibly even more than once. But with hundreds of hotels to choose from, it can get tricky when it comes time to book a place to stay. Do you want to stay at a luxury property with a spa, golf course and award-winning restaurants, or do you prefer a kid friendly hotel with a lazy river, game room and arts-and-crafts classes? Do you want to stay close to the action at Disney World, Legoland and the lot, or would you rather stay someplace quieter that’s surrounded by nature? Believe it or not, there’s a place where you can have it all.
Just minutes from the theme parks, on 482 acres surrounded by a lush nature preserve, is the joint property of Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and Waldorf Astoria Orlando. The hotels sit side by side, allowing guests staying at one property full access to all of the features of the other. So it’s like getting two hotels for the price of one.
Say, for instance, you want to play 18 holes on the Waldorf’s championship golf course while your spouse entertains the youngsters at the Hilton’s 3-acre lazy-river pool, complete with waterslide. Or perhaps you’re staying on the Hilton side, but after spending the day at Disney, you want to pamper yourself with a relaxing massage at the Waldorf spa. It’s all just steps away.
The larger, and less expensive, of the two, is the Hilton Bonnet Creek, with 1,001 rooms, a full fitness facility and six dining options, including La Luce, a modern Italian eatery serving authentic thin-crust pizzas and a butterscotch pudding so popular it has its own Facebook page. Another dining option is Harvest Bistro, an American farm-to-fork bistro where kids 12 and younger eat for free as part of the daily resort fee.
The adjoining Waldorf Astoria affords a more refined experience, with luxuries such as marble bathrooms and Blu-ray players in each of the 498 rooms. Its spacious spa offers a full menu of treatments and therapies sourced with local ingredients, and its award winning golf course was designed by Rees Jones with a separate practice range and putting green. For the ultimate in relaxation, reserve a private cabana out by the pool, and enjoy food and beverage service, high-def TV and wireless Internet. Other don’t-misses include ordering fanciful drinks like the Peacock Egg (a frozen blue Curaçao-infused cocktail that actually lights up) at Peacock Alley, and dinner at the Bull & Bear, where you’ll savor delectable and inventive dishes such as one of its most popular entrees: a massive 38-ounce, bone-in tomahawk ribeye that has been dry aged for 32 days. Advertised as for two (although it could probably feed four), it is carved tableside and drizzled with the drippings from a lit candle made, not of wax, but of beef tallow. Another example is the fanciful chocolate dessert that looks like a cigar, ashes and all.
Also noteworthy is the free transportation provided to all the area theme parks, as well the world class convention center connecting the properties. This destination is truly a one-stop shop for fun.
STORY: Jill Becker
Award-winning writer and editor who has penned stories for CNN, Woman's Day, Good Housekeeping, and dozens of other outlets.