By Eric Stoen / Travel Babbo
It might sound unbelievable that two kids under the age of ten would choose to hang out at a hotel instead of going to Disney World, just minutes away, but that’s exactly what happened when we visited the new Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort last month. What kind of a hotel makes kids forget about Disney World? One that anticipates kids’ and parents’ needs before they even arrive:
The view from the room was just one perk. (Photo: Eric Stoen)
Check In: As I was signing the necessary paperwork at the front desk, my kids were whisked away by Wayne the concierge and taken to a large interactive map of the resort in the lobby. Wayne used the touch screen to show the kids the entire resort and talked about all of the fun things to do, like the kid’s club, the waterslides, and the game room. I’ve never seen so much attention paid to the kids at check-in — such a cool touch.
The Room: Not only were there kid-sized robes in the room, there were play things (a tutu/tiara set and a sword/eye patch set), NatGeo Kids magazines, chocolate lollypops, and milk chilling in the refrigerator. Plus, the room was designed from a family perspective. The sinks and shower settings were easily reachable, and the king bed and very comfortable sofa pull-out could easily fit a family of four, if not five. We had plenty of room.
So many cool things were waiting for us in the room! (Photo: Eric Stoen)
No Mini-Bar: I hate coming into a room and seeing the mini-bar filled with things that we’re not going to touch. If there’s a refrigerator, I want to be able to use it for leftovers. The refrigerator had milk and waters, but still plenty of room for anything that we wanted to put in there.
Kid Passports: At check-in the kids were given passports. Each area of the hotel had a page, and the kids had to go to each spot in order to get stamps. When the passports were completed, they could take them to the front desk and receive a token for a free gelato. I loved the scavenger hunt aspect, but even more I loved that they included the spa. How many luxury hotels are fine with kids running into the spa to get stamps?
The kids had fun running around to collect passport stamps. (Photo: Eric Stoen)
The Pools: There’s a large shallow infinity pool. There’s a meandering lazy river. There’s a water park. There’s an area for pool volleyball and basketball. And there are two very fun waterslides. We spent many hours roaming among them all, and just hanging out in a private teepee-shaped cabana next to the waterslides. So fun!
Cares just drift away on the lazy river — whether you’re an adult or a kid. (Photo: Eric Stoen)
No Surcharges: There are none of the fees or surcharges that other hotels have. There’s no resort fee. If you want to use one of the cool cabanas around the pools, it’s included. There’s even free sunscreen by the pools. There’s no surcharge for the kids club — you can use it as much or as little as you want to — and the Hideout game room has a lot of activities, like pinball, at no cost. We took advantage of pretty much everything around the hotel except for the spa, and our final bill only showed our room charges, taxes, and meals. And if my kids were still under five, their meals would have been free.
The Vibe: I love when hotels can strike that perfect balance where they are luxurious and comfortable, and kid-friendly without bothering their adult guests. A lot of the Four Seasons properties do this well, and Orlando is no exception. It’s undoubtedly a five-star hotel but my kids were comfortable everywhere. And as a parent I’m far more relaxed when I don’t have to be paranoid about my kids making a little noise or otherwise behaving like kids. As for the Disney element, it’s virtually a Disney-free oasis in view of Disney World. There are a few Mickey logos around, a character breakfast and some princess costumes in the resort store, but that’s about it. Otherwise it’s pure Four Seasons.
A towel-wrapped kiddo heads back to the room. (Photo: Eric Stoen)
Costs: As I was posting photos on Instagram, I received some comments from people saying that they can’t afford the hotel. Well, it all depends. If you’re booking a room for a peak time period a couple of weeks in advance, you’ll find that the lowest prices on the Four Seasons website are close to $1,000. For lower rates, book well in advance and book a week when the hotel’s not full. They have several Value Dates with rates as low as $379/night. That’s less than we’ve paid before at some of the official Disney hotels. And we saved more than $300 by skipping Disney World for day — an unexpected bonus!
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