This summer Dos and I have been doing a few mini getaways; basically just overnight or weekend ‘staycations’ close to home. While I travel most weeks for work and it can be hectic, the weekend getaways are quite relaxing by contrast. It may sound crazy or foolish to spend the night locally, but living in the Orlando area offers so many outstanding accommodation choices, and due to the sheer number of resorts, many bargains can be had if you’re flexible with dates and locations. Staying at a nice resort for a night or two allows you to take advantage of the hotel facilities such as the pool, spa, health club, etc, as well as dine in nice restaurants and/or lounges, with no worries of driving home late at night, making beds, or doing dishes. Many hotels in Florida offer specials if you do a Google search for them such as Florida resident rates, AAA, weekend rates, food and beverage discount or credit etc and the rates can vary drastically depending on the season, day of the week, holidays, and conventions going on or not going on.
Luxury business hotels are typically much cheaper on the weekends, as they cater to business people on expense accounts during the week. These business hotels aim to fill the weekend capacity with leisure travelers, or even ‘staycationers’ like us. We’ve been to the Grand Hyatt in Tampa a couple times recently for a Saturday night stay as I’ve posted recently, and thoroughly enjoy the getaway, which is only a couple hours from our house. When I’m on the road for work, I don’t typically eat very well, so it’s nice having a relaxing meal in a luxury and unhurried environment after a busy week.
This weekend, we tried out the Hyatt Orlando Convention Center, and were very pleasantly surprised. We had never stayed there, assuming it was all conventioneers, but it’s truly a resort within itself. I needed a couple nights to get Diamond status at Hyatt, and this was as good an excuse as any to earn them. Since there were no conventions going on this weekend, the room rates were quite low, and we offered a suite upgrade for $100 extra when we checked in, which we readily accepted.
We had a 780 square foot corner suite on the 11th floor which offered outstanding views from the walkout balcony (another reason to upgrade, as only the suites have balconies.)
The hotel is adjacent to the mammoth convention center and connected via covered walkway, and overlooks International Drive. From our hotel balcony you could see a few of the landmarks at Disneyworld in the far distance such as the Epcot ‘golf ball’ and the Four Seasons and Contemporary Resorts. It directly overlooks the largest of two pools down below.
Looking thru our corner window we could see the roller coasters and tower at Sea World, and further up to the right from our balcony, some of the hotels by Universal Studios, such as the tall and round Sheraton Hotel.
This Hyatt is the second largest Hyatt in the world (behind the Chicago Hyatt), and is arranged in two towers, which doesn’t make it feel so overwhelming. The hotel was formerly the Peabody hotel, and the small tower next to the hotel was the original tower, with the newer tower we stayed in build prior to the Hyatt sale. I’ve been to the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, and spoke for a while to the official Duck Master there, and he had been to the Orlando Peabody for its closing. I guess the ducks of the Peabody are their trademark, and so now the Hyatt is a quack-free zone.
We explored the hotel for a while and then walked around Pointe Orlando which is next door to the hotel. As locals we usually avoid International Drive (I-drive) like the plaque due to the traffic, tourists, and multitude of shops and chain restaurants, however the Hyatt and convention center are ideally located at the lower end of I-drive, which is a much nicer and less congested area, and Pointe Orlando is nicely done with upscale shops, restaurants, pubs. And yes, the touristy part of I-drive starts a couple blocks up the road with the iconic-looking Wonderworks upside down building attraction.
The Capital Grille is having an incredible wine special all summer long at $28 a person when purchasing an entree, which featured 8 different wines designed by women winemakers, one of which (Arrowood) we had visited a couple years ago on one of our visits to Napa Valley. Before we went, we were somewhat skeptical of the wine package as it was so inexpensive, but we were very pleasantly surprised at the quality and quantity of wines that were served. We definitely got way more than our money’s worth, and that is one more reason for doing a staycation – no worries about driving home.
It was nice trying different wines with different dishes, such as the huge seafood appetizer platter we shared.
We were having such a nice evening with the free-flowing wine pours that I neglected to get a photo of our main dishes. Dos and I both had the dry-aged Porterhouse, while Tom had the dry-aged NY strip, and Ben the cedar-plank Salmon. As Ben and Tom were driving, they did not have any vino, and must have been amused watching us as the night progressed, and the vino pours increased!
The next day we got our exercise walking around the hotel and over to the Convention Center and Hilton Hotel. The Hyatt Orlando is massive, and has heaps of meeting and ballrooms which complements the facilities of the Conference Center. There was a large conference starting Sunday night, but in the early afternoon the conference room hallways were empty at both the Hyatt
and Convention Center.
Although we didn’t tour it as it was on the other side of the street from the Hyatt, the Rosen Hotel is also connected to the convention center.
Once at the Hilton, we toured around the lobby area and facilities
for awhile and walked out by the nicely landscaped pool area.
The Hilton also had a lazy river running around the property.
After wondering around the Hilton, we walked back to the Hyatt, and used our 2pm late checkout, courtesy of the Hyatt Platinum benefit. As we left the Orlando Hyatt, we headed to our next hotel – the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport where we stayed Sunday night.
The Orlando airport has added bands playing tropical music in the concourse which gives a festive welcoming or farewell feel, and the steel drum music was much appreciated by visitors such as us.
With this airport stay, I will earn Hyatt Diamond status, which offers some really nice perks such as 4pm checkout, 4 suite upgrades a year, upgrades to the Club level lounges etc. I have an early flight in the morning, so too it’s nice to just walk downstairs to the terminal instead of leaving the house earlier in the morning and fighting the traffic. As always, we like the Hyatt’s runway view so we can watch the planes coming and going.
We walked around the airport for a bit of exercise, and if you watched us you would have thought these Disney tourists had just arrived and were so excited to be in Orlando! Hey – it keeps you feeling young so be happy!
Later, after an early dinner at McCoy’s restaurant at the Hyatt, we watched the jumbos head off for Europe amidst a beautiful backdrop of colorful and gradual changing evening sky. And ’twas a wonderful Orlando staycation weekend!