Although the magical world of Walt Disney and other theme parks might serve as the primary attractions for Orlando’s more than 74 million visitors each year, where to stay also is important.
Forbes Travel Guide found the best hotels in the theme park capital of the world. All of them were designed with families in mind and boast easy access to theme parks (some even offering complimentary transportation), ample onsite entertainment and serenity — perhaps, the most coveted amenity of all.
To compile this list, FTG’s incognito inspectors posed as ordinary guests and checked in for a three-day, two-night stay at each property. The inspectors test hundreds of exacting standards, with an emphasis on exceptional service, which accounts for 70 percent of a property’s rating. The remaining 30 percent comes from the quality and condition of the facilities. Here are the award winners:
A new era of luxury travel ushered into the Orlando area when Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort opened its doors in 2014. Perched on 26.5 lakeside acres within the magnificent residential community of Golden Oak, the sprawling family-friendly resort sits just minutes from Disney’s theme parks and entertainment districts, all easily accessed via complimentary Four Seasons motor coaches or private luxury sedans.
While Four Seasons Orlando has one of the world’s most sought-after theme parks in its backyard, it offers its own daytime diversions. Explorer Island, a five-acre, family-focused recreation space, will keep kids happy for days. Anchored by an immense pool, complete with a lazy river that meanders along rapids and under waterfalls in a spectacular tropical setting, this Orlando resort offers a paradise for all ages. Read more.
Tucked inside Grande Lakes Orlando, a 500-acre luxury destination in the headwaters of the Florida Everglades, The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes has much to offer, including championship golf, a Four-Star spa and a celebrity-chef-helmed restaurant. But one of the most enjoyable spots at this Four-Star hotel is The Lobby Lounge, regally decorated in Ritz-Carlton fashion. During the day, you can enjoy the sweeping view of the property’s pool and manmade lake with expertly crafted cocktails and rub shoulders with the many business travelers who come to the luxury resort for conferences.
When you want to get out and about, the Orlando hotel also provides a small network of trails for walking and biking and the opportunity to participate in scheduled fish feedings along the lakefront. But if you’d like to venture farther afield with your family, The Ritz-Carlton provides prime access to Disney World and other kid-friendly attractions, with plenty of luxury to come back to when the day is done. Read more.
Orlando is known for its painstaking re-creations of landmarks from other locales — think Epcot’s small-scale versions of St. Mark’s Square and the Eiffel Tower — and Waldorf Astoria Orlando is every bit as luxurious as the legendary New York hotel it evokes.
See nods to its sister property in the Four-Star hotel’s prominent clock in the lobby, Peacock Alley lounge just beyond it and the gilded, opulent décor. Yet, Waldorf Astoria Orlando adds Floridian touches, including a warm, family-friendly atmosphere and an inviting pool.
While the sumptuous property offers easy access to Disney’s Magic Kingdom (just a 15-minute drive), you’ll feel worlds away thanks to the surrounding nature preserve, a stunning golf course and signature Waldorf Astoria service.
From the luxurious lobby to the restful poolside areas, everything about this gracious resort invites you to relax in style in between visits to the many nearby parks and attractions. Read more.