Say Orlando, Florida, to most people, and family vacations, theme parks, Disney World and Universal Studios come immediately to mind. This is natural family-package vacation territory. But since Disney turned thousands of acres of orange groves into its world-famous attraction, Orlando has grown into a sophisticated central Florida city, with a good selection of fine, upscale hotels as well. Many are featured on the 2010 Conde Nast Traveler Readers Choice Top 100.
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Hotel and Resort
The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress was selected by readers as one of Conde Nast's top 100. Located in the Lake Buena Vista area, with its own, private 21-acre lake, the hotel completed a $45 million renovation in 2010 that saw all of its 750 rooms and suites redesigned and refurbished. Rooms are furnished to a modern luxury standard with either lake or pool views. Fine dining is available in the hotel's Coquina Chef's Table, where diners are seated inside the chef's kitchen, watching as food is prepared around them. The hotel offers golf, tennis, sailing on its private lake and glamorous spa services. Hypoallergenic rooms are available.
Loews Portofino Bay at Universal Orlando
The Loews Portofino Bay aims to create a fantasy European vacation close to Universal Orlando. Hotel rooms are arranged around a colorful, Mediterranean-style harbor piazza with Italian sports cars and Vespa scooters adding to a Riviera ambiance. The elegant rooms are decorated in what the hotel describes as European style. Ornate furniture and lighting fixtures and richly detailed fabrics are featured. This AAA four-star hotel has eight restaurants and lounges, three pools and access, including complimentary transportation, to four championship golf courses.
Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes
The name Ritz has entered the English language as synonymous with glamour and luxury. Ritz hotels in London and Paris are legendary for their regal style. The Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes offers that kind of upscale experience 10 miles from Disney World. Each of the hotel's 584 guest rooms has a balcony with lake, pool or garden views. The marble baths are furnished with such thoughtful extras as lighted make-up mirrors and European toiletries. Activities available to guests include a fly-fishing school and private eco-tours, an 18-hole Greg Norman golf course, 40,000 foot spa with citrus-based treatment and private lap pool, and 11 different dining options.
Waldorf Astoria Orlando
This hotel's 18-hole, Rees Jones championship golf course winds through a wetlands reserve teeming with birds. The spa is by Parisian parfumier Guerlain, and the pool is surrounded by private cabanas with concierge services. Everything about this hotel, from its oversize rooms (starting at 448 square feet) to its marble bathrooms with soaking tubs and walk-in showers, whispers pampered indulgence. In keeping with its famed New York namesake, the Waldorf Astoria Orlando offers rooms with a sophisticated urbanity that only hints at its Florida location with pastel colors and pale neutrals.
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