I have been attracted to the Gaylord Hotels, Many homeschool conferences have been at them. We have stayed at the one in Washington DC and seen the Christmas lights display in the one in Nashville and today I bring you the one in Orlando!
Gaylord Palms Hotel in Orlando Florida
As you approach the exit off of Interstate 4 in Orlando to head to the Gaylord Palms hotel, you are instantly impacted by the sheer size of it. You can see it before you even realize what it is, or that it is, indeed, the hotel you are about to spend some time in. It is truly massive and something you will never forget.
The style of this particular Gaylord Hotel is an “Old Florida” one. The centerpiece of it is modeled after St. Augustine’s fort and there are many details all over the hotel itself that echo that style, as well as several tributes to other Florida cities.
There are tons of beautiful, tropical plants, palms being an obvious one you will see a plethora of, but also many others, like orchids.
The light fixtures are one thing that I kept noticing in every section of the hotel: They remind you of old Pirate décor, and I couldn’t help but think of the nearby ride at Disney, Pirates of the Caribbean. They are wrought iron and many styles, but all very cool and unusual. Not your typical hotel décor and for that, which is refreshing.
At the hotel lobby, there is always a beautiful fresh flower arrangement that is huge in size and just gorgeous and they make check in very easy. I will advise you that if you are coming to the hotel to attend a convention, do arrive early for check in, as there can be long check in lines when everyone tends to end up arriving around the same time of the day. This happened once to us, and they did have at least ten people working the check in desk to keep it moving quickly.
The hotel has a very large circular shape to its main building, with many floors that all are revolved around its center atrium. There are some tunnels, walkways and neat ponds and even a gazebo in the middle that you have to spend some time exploring. If you book a room with a balcony, you will be overlooking the atrium from your room and be able to look down on everything in that building that is going on in the center.
There is also another huge building that is a convention center, and they are attached by a bridge that allows you to go back and forth between the buildings without going outside into the hot sun unless you choose to. The bridge part is also full of really great shops and some nice tables you can sit and relax at and right at the corner of it there is a nice coffee shop that serves Starbucks coffee and some nice desserts and snacks.
Now, I won’t lie, because of the size of the hotel, it’s easy to get lost or confused as to which direction to take as you commute across it. Thankfully, they are very gracious in giving you a map, but in several places in the hotel, there are nice, large interactive screens that have maps on them. They will show you more than just the hotel map, and they are touch screen, which makes it extra nice.
There are also similar screens here and there to show you all the restaurants and the current wait times they have to make it easier to choose which one to dine in, without having to trek across the hotel and then find out you should’ve picked a different one.
There are over 1400 rooms in this hotel, so there is a variety of types you can book. The most inexpensive one is excellent, and you feel very comfortable in it, with nice cushy beds, extra pillows, lots of drawer space and more. There is no refrigerator, so if you think you will need that, either ask for a room with one, or you can always bring a little cooler with you.
There is a grocery type marketplace downstairs where you can get many drinks, snacks and coffee or teas, and even a few sections of specialty items like gluten free snacks. You can also get local treats and some gourmet sweets that are made there in the hotel, but some of them we hesitated to buy and keep in room because of having no place to keep them cold.
As far as the restaurants, there is a good mix of styles of foods and types. There are some that are more casual dining and some that are fine dining.
I would recommend Wrecker’s Sports Bar for more casual. It is really neat inside with excellent décor, like vintage license plates, antique farmhouse style lighting, and frames on the walls and tin on the ceilings. They have a massive wall of TVs if you want to watch a game, but even being right there by them, they don’t dominate the room as far as the sound, and you don’t feel like you HAVE to watch them. The food is very good, and there’s a nice variety of things like burgers and soups.
For fine dining, the Moor is excellent food and beautiful atmosphere. It’s in the Key West area of the hotel, and part of the Moor is actually on a large sailboat that is right there in the hotel. It catches you by surprise when you come through the deck to Key West and see it. At night, there are lovely lights, and you will enjoy sitting there and enjoying the view. But, in addition to that, the food is so good. They have several fresh fish options and great sides. The swordfish was fantastic, easily the best I’ve ever had. And try the garlic aioli that comes with the fries. YUM.
Closer to the center of the hotel in the atrium’s middle there is also an Italian style restaurant with a buffet and some amazing looking desserts. And there’s a Steakhouse for fine dining as well.
When you have a few minutes to browse around the hotel, go into the center area and find the Castillo Fort. There is an area with old relics from way back like coins, jewelry and more. There is also an alligator pond that has many gators and some adorable turtles swimming around. A must- see for non- Floridians for sure!
And of course, like any good Florida hotel would have, there is a very nice pool area and a fun park with slides for the kids and adults alike to play at, as well as an arcade.
This hotel is also so close to the Disney Parks and not far at all from many Orlando attractions, like the Orlando Eye, Old Town, Universal Studios and Sea World. They do have shuttles to all the main places too, so take advantage of those. Make sure to check out the 25 free things to do in Orlando Florida while there.
Overall, I would highly recommend staying at the Gaylord Palms, and allowing yourself some free time just to enjoy the hotel itself, without even leaving. There is no shortage of things to do and see, and you won’t be disappointed.