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Amid an inviting tropical backdrop of 28 lush acres, the colossal Doubletree Resort Orlando – International Drive takes the world title as this fun-loving Hilton brand’s largest retreat. Having opened in fall 2009, this Indonesian island-inspired resort regales its guests with three palm-tree-lined swimming pools, more than 1,000 spunky guest rooms, and an innovative Asian-fusion restaurant (Bamboo Grille) featuring al fresco dining. Also on tap: trendy tropical drinks at the Red Parrot Bar, massive flat-screen TVs and a giant Capiz shell chandelier in the Bangli relaxation lounge, and the perfect outdoor wedding venue on the intimate Tower Terrace. And if this doesn’t seem like Florida’s ultimate Bali high, we don’t know what does.
10100 International Dr.
407-352-1100, 800-327-0363 (toll free)
A gorgeous hotel with every amenity, including 1,000 guest rooms, several restaurants and lounges, the all-important Starbucks, and a lush pool area complete with its own lazy river, the J.W. Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes also shows special care behind the scenes. The hotel’s Florida Green Lodging Program aims to conserve and protect the Sunshine State’s natural resources. Also on track: Aqua-recycle water reuse system for all laundry, water-saver showers, compact fluorescent lamps in guestrooms and corridors, and insulated window systems throughout the environmentally correct resort.
4040 Central Florida Pkwy.
With $2 million in rare international art throughout the premises, staying at Orlando’s Grand Bohemian Hotel is like camping out in a museum. Just don’t neglect a dip in the outdoor pool on the sixth floor. The fashionable little fountain that feeds water into this swimming hole is obvious; what isn’t is the switch next to it that activates the Jacuzzi — at the top of the stairs on the left as you walk out of the hotel.
325 S. Orange Ave.
The soothing citrus hues of the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate’s offer a constant reminder you’re in sunny Florida. Ramble over to the sprawling property’s special zero entry pool. Or enjoy the pool’s water tower and corkscrew water slide. Also take time to zen out in the lovely meditation garden or the lazy river, an 850-ft. maze complete with rapids and other such splashy surprises.
1500 Masters Blvd.
Duck Master Donald Tompkins and his team of North American Mallard Peabody Ducks — four hens and one drake — deliver a real crowd-pleaser at the Peabody Orlando Hotel: the tradition of the property’s fabled March of the Ducks. Waddling to John Philip Sousa’s King Cotton March, Donald — dressed in a red jacket with gold trim — steers his gaggle of feathered friends along the red carpet. The group passes the hotel’s Royal Peabody Duck Fountain precisely at 11 a.m. and again at 5 p.m. for the celebratory parade.
9801 International Dr.
Hard Rock Hotel’s Graceland Suite is truly over the top in a manner that would have even taken Elvis’s breath away. The plush digs offer a master suite with double-sided fireplace and a bathroom shower that fits a party of eight. The view is also enough to make a hound dog cry. And there’s a baby grand fit for a King. Not widely known, these digs are often occupied by A-list musicians. One famous guest: rocker Bret Michaels.
5800 Universal Blvd.
By Paula Conway
My last-minute trip to Louisville was also my very first — guaranteeing one delightful surprise after another.
As a neophyte, I was urged by a friend to try a Hot Brown (an open-faced turkey sandwich, smothered in cheese, with bacon), to sample a Derby Pie (a cookie stuffed with chocolate chips, walnuts, hot fudge, [...]
RUMBAR, inside The Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne, lays claims to being Miami’s only live Latin music venue. On weekends, a four-piece band in white dinner jackets will take you back to Old Havana with rhythms of vintage Cuba. Order a rum flight for a vertical tasting of Miami’s largest selection of rums from Trinidad, Barbados, [...]Read More