My recent visit to Orlando included thrilling rides, a bit of pampering, tasty meals, and even a fireworks show…all without stepping foot in any of the destination’s theme parks.
It starts with a stay at the massive, 1,833-room (and 121 suites) Orlando World Center Marriott, which is ideal for couples, families and anyone in-between. The property features six onsite restaurants, including the Japanese steakhouse, Mikado; the farm-to-table eatery, Siro; and High Velocity, a casual sports bar, among others, as well as cooking experiences and lessons with the onsite chefs (can be coordinated upon request). But wait…there’s more, a whole lot more. The pool alone can take a full day to explore, with waterfall cascades, three slides (two 200-ft. winding water slides and a 90-ft. speed slide), a splash zone for the kids, and a kids activity zone play area—
Golf enthusiasts can head to the Bill Madonna Golf Academy, where I had a chance to take a private group class with the golf pro. Take it from this golf novice, my swing definitely improved after an hour with the expert. The onsite, par 71 golf course offers 18 holes and a driving range.
And at the on-property spa, the Around the World in Eighty Minutes massage treatment incorporates techniques from around the globe. It truly is a relaxing experience; recommend your clients leave the kids at the children’s waterpark or at G.R.I.D., the interactive gaming center and arcade room where they can play Xbox and other games, while mom and dad slip into bliss at the spa.
Those fireworks I mentioned? No, it’s not the Disney ones guests can see from certain spots at the resort; the property has its own fireworks shows about four times a year, including Independence Day.
Tell clients to opt for a hot air balloon ride with Orlando Balloon Adventures. The balloon takes off right before sunrise, for us that was a 4 a.m. wake-up call. But once the spot is chosen, and the balloon takes flight, the sights of the city, the sun rising over the horizon, and the feeling of floating over the world is absolutely magical—that’s something that can’t be found at a theme park. The sight of the other hot air balloons soaring nearby not only feels peaceful, but makes for a great photo-op. Talk about a romantic date for couples. Another exciting recommendation is car racing at the Richard Petty Driving Experience.
The room accommodations took my breath away, as the extremely spacious suite I called home, the Two Bay Vista Suite, fits a family rather comfortably, complete with a living area, a dining room with seating for six, a master bedroom and bathroom. The showers in most of the rooms have been updated and feature a kiosk control for water temperature and settings. Sliding doors in the dining room and living area open up to a large balcony that overlooks the pool area with views of the golf course beyond. Rates range from $129 to $309, depending on the time of year. Two Bay Vista Suite rates are $469 per night.
Archived related articles (available on recommend.com/magazine/issue archive):
Tee Off & Unwind in the U.S. (February 2015)
Orlando Balloon Adventures: (877) 475-9386; orlandoballoonadventures.com
Orlando World Center Marriott: (800) 621-0638;
The Richard Petty Experience: (855) 822-0149; exoticdriving.com