Built in the style of a grand turn-of-the-20th-century Florida resort, this huge building is meant to inspire awe: inside its enormous atrium, covered by a 4-acre glass roof, are re-creations of Florida destination icons such as the Everglades, Key West, and old St. Augustine. Vast meeting spaces mean lots of conventioneers, but families are definitely not ignored. The Cypress Springs Family Fun Water Park and Splash n' Screen movie events are just two of the family-friendly entertainment offerings, and there are two other sparkling pools. Rooms continue the Florida themes with colorful, tropical decorations. Between in-house entertainment and the huge Relache spa, the hotel connives to make you never want to leave.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Lots of fees at this resort: The $20 resort fee covers in-room Wi-Fi, a daily paper, local phone calls, bottled water, shuttle service, and access to the pool, fitness center and spa, but not extra high-speed Wi-Fi for downloading large files or enabling video chat. That will cost you an additional $6.99 a day. Parking is an additional $22 a day.
Bright, spacious rooms in neutral colors, with rich gold or blue accents have two queen or one king bed with white, duvet style linens. Amenities include Wi-Fi, coffee maker with coffee/tea, a mini-fridge, an easy chair and ottoman, an ergonomic chair at a work desk with ample plugs for charging and using your devices. Large windows overlook the nearby landscape, the pool, or the atrium.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Noise can be an issue, especially if your room faces the courtyard.
A fairly basic bathroom with a tub/shower and toilet. The marble vanity is a nice touch but there is not a wealth of counter space for toiletries.
The enormity of the glass atrium will take your breath away. Under its roof you'll find the Everglades, the ancient fort at St. Augustine, and the quirky scenery of Key West. The waterway that wend throughout the lobby are stocked with Koi fish, little alligators and turtles, which fascinate children and adults alike. The resort is enormous, so you'll get your fitness steps in just walking from the lobby to other parts of the lobby, or to your room, or to the restaurants or meeting rooms.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Signage is weak in the parking lots so you might want to study the hotel’s map in advance, or confirm your room location with the reception staff to ensure that you don’t have to trudge for ages when bringing in your bags.
The on-site water park features slides, a pool, free-fall slides, a surfing simulator and tree house playgrounds. Your kids will have a blast here. If you are traveling without kids, never fear, the adult-only South Beach pool is lined with palm trees and lounge chairs and evokes peace and quiet. Private cabanas are available.
A serene environment of neutral colors, dark woods and ferns invites you to relax and allow yourself to be pampered. The Relache Spa has a full service salon featuring mani/pedi, make-up services, and hair cut and color services. A full range of massages, facials, couples massage, spray tanning and waxing are among the spa services offered.
YOU SHOULD KNOW A 20% service charge is automatically added to all spa services.
The Relache Fitness Center is a large, bright space open 24 hours a day and featuring multiple TVs, cardio equipment, strength machines, and free weights. There should never be a wait to work out here, because there are loads of machines. Enjoy floor to ceiling windows with views of the resort while you exercise.
You never have to leave the resort to find a place to eat, as there are a half-dozen spots scattered throughout. Old Hickory Steakhouse is, naturally, a steak restaurant featuring white tablecloth service, and is open for dinner only. MOOR, in the Key West portion of the atrium, is open for lunch and dinner and features seafood in an environment that will make you feel like you’re eating on board a ship surrounded by ropes and sails. Wreckers Sports Bar is open for lunch and dinner and has a 37-foot TV screen and 50 HDTVs for watching sports while enjoying beer and appetizers. Villa de Flora is open for breakfast and dinner and serves Mediterranean food in an Italian-inspired environment of trellises and rich woods. SandBar is open for lunch and dinner and is your go-to option for poolside dining. The Cocoa Bean is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and serves Starbucks coffee, baked goods and various grab and go items. Honeybells Frozen Yogurt offers frozen treats, while The Emerald Bay Marketplace features sandwiches, pastries, salads, beer, wine and coffee.
YOU SHOULD KNOW As in any big, conference-centric resort, the prices in restaurants and bars reflect the expense-account sensibilities of many of the guests.
Cocktails, beer and wine can be found at Wreckers Sports Bar and the SandBar.
The resort sits in the middle of nowhere, with nothing within walking distance but trees and highways. A scheduled shuttle to Walt Disney World parks and Disney Springs is available as part of the resort fee. Shuttles to other parks require a reservation, and will cost extra. If you prefer not to drive, there's enough to do on-property, and the parks are available by shuttle. But if you prefer independence and want to explore the area more, a car, or ride-share service would be required.
Disney Springs (15-minute drive) is the nearest "neighborhood" and offers more dining than you could possibly experience in a week. Paddlefish offers seafood in an upscale, very modern waterfront paddle boat. Nearby you’ll find Raglan Road, an authentic Irish Pub, featuring refined Irish fare and lots of music and dancing; Morimoto’s Asia, an Asian Fusion eatery owned by, and often visited by, famed Japanese chef, Morimoto; and Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ restaurant, showcasing local, Southern food.
Disney Springs (15-minute drive) offers dozens of places to lift a glass. The rooftop bar at Morimoto's Asia offers high-end sake and a fabulous view; Raglan Road's Irish pub pours a mean Guinness; wine connoisseurs can head to Wine Bar George, where a master sommelier dispenses a wide range of domestic and imported wines; and House of Blues is the spot for beer.
WHY WE LIKE IT
This beautiful lodging, with its vast, entertainment filled atrium, offers unique experiences not found at other resorts. The water park and many on-site dining options keep your family entertained, and fed, thus you really don't have to leave the property. However, it's truly only a skip and a hop to Disney.