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  • JD 18 posts

    Hi everyone

    I am looking for some hotel recommendations for a summer trip to Florida. We are a family of 4, kids are 8 and 10 years old.

    I have redemption bookings into and out of Miami, c.3 weeks on the ground.

    I’ve booked 10 days at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando in order to do Disneyworld.

    Looking for recommendations in Miami for start / end of trip and then thinking of the gulf Coast for a few days and maybe the Florida keys.

    I have hilton diamond, bonvoy silver, mid tier status in accor and hyatt too – no significant points balances to burn though.

    Thanks for any / all recommendations.

    • This topic was modified 54 years, 5 months ago by .
    elguiri 215 posts

    If you are looking for arrival hotel close to airport on day of arrival, then we stayed at Homewood Suites by Hilton Miami-Airport/Blue Lagoon which was fine with a child. If I remember there was a double sofa bed in separate lounge area so should be fine for 2 kids.

    If unsure on gulf coast, we really like Tampa to visit. We stayed at an airbnb though so no hotel to recommend there.

    masaccio 739 posts

    Not a hotel but do take some time to get into the Everglades for an airboat tour. It’s pricier but the private ones are better as you can go into smaller channels. We used http://www.downsouthairboattours.com and it’ll surely be a hit with the kids. There’s a gator farm with a fun show near to where you meet the airboat at https://www.miccosukee.com/village

    MattB 266 posts

    From my personal experience it may be worth considering one of the Disney resort properties.

    Hbommie 208 posts

    I don’t have specific points based info, but Naples is a nice town on the Gulf and Anna Maria Island is good for house or apartment rentals via Airbnb or VRBO.

    South Beach is mad but worth a stop for a couple of days, maybe not too kid friendly though.

    The real Swiss Tony 687 posts

    We have stayed at the Hyatt on Clearwater Beach on a few occasions. Very good, and they have a lot of suites in the property. The 2 bedroom ones overlooking the sea are very spacious, although not cheap.

    And I’ll add a +1 to the idea of swapping the WA for one of the top end disney resorts, too. It won’t be as good as the WA but the convenience of being able to get the monorail or a boat (or even walk) to some of the theme parks really can’t be beaten. And in the summer it will be hot & humid, so again the ability to get back to your hotel quickly for an afternoon swim is very valuable.

    StanTheMan 219 posts

    Airbnb an apartment at the Fountainbleu. you get all the facilities. we were paying £300 ish for a $1000 1 bed apartment.

    JD 18 posts

    We have stayed at the Hyatt on Clearwater Beach on a few occasions. Very good, and they have a lot of suites in the property. The 2 bedroom ones overlooking the sea are very spacious, although not cheap.

    And I’ll add a +1 to the idea of swapping the WA for one of the top end disney resorts, too. It won’t be as good as the WA but the convenience of being able to get the monorail or a boat (or even walk) to some of the theme parks really can’t be beaten. And in the summer it will be hot & humid, so again the ability to get back to your hotel quickly for an afternoon swim is very valuable.

    Thanks – I was finding it hard to stomach £4k for the good-ish disney hotels v <£2k for the Waldorf Astoria – I was figuring that we could Uber to the parks if the dreaded “shuttle bus” service is poor – the words “shuttle bus” do evoke a fear in me equivalent to “rail replacement bus service”.

    Which of the Disney Resorts did you stay at?

    Mirp 43 posts

    I stayed at the WA Orlando years ago and the shuttle bust Disney was fine. I would think 10 day would be too much if Disney is your focus. We only went Disney one day of all the days were were in Orlando. We had a car and went other places as well.

    Michael C 677 posts

    Obviously not a Waldorf, but we had a great stay with our son at the Holiday Inn Disney Springs. The rooms
    have both fridge and microwave, meaning you don’t have to eat out 3 times a day. V short shuttle to Disney, but was
    even easier to use v cheap Uber. Best of all, 5 mins. walk to Disney Springs, where we went every evening. Free
    outdoor entertainment/kids’ disco/splash fountains, etc.
    I also agree with @Mirp in that there are loads of other things besides the parks. Without
    wishing to state the obvious, Cape Canaveral was easily the biggest hit with everyone. Went to Cocoa
    Village after, v cute and loads of child-friendly eateries.

    MattB 266 posts

    We stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter, one of the smaller properties so shuttles were fine. And you could get the boat to Disney springs which was nice in the evenings.

    I think they’ve introduced parking charges at hotels since we went though, but it’s still extortionate to park at the theme parks themselves.

    If you can get the food package it’s worth thinking about even if for say 7 days so you can do all of Disney then the rest of the time elsewhere if looking to do Universal.

    NorthernLass 7,933 posts

    We rented a gorgeous 3 bed 3 bath apartment at a Diamond Resorts complex for next to nothing and drove to the parks, which were about 15 minutes away. I remember talking to a family in the queue who said they were travelling to local shops to buy snacks and sandwiches because the hotel and park food was so expensive.

    JD 18 posts

    If you are looking for arrival hotel close to airport on day of arrival, then we stayed at Homewood Suites by Hilton Miami-Airport/Blue Lagoon which was fine with a child. If I remember there was a double sofa bed in separate lounge area so should be fine for 2 kids.

    If unsure on gulf coast, we really like Tampa to visit. We stayed at an airbnb though so no hotel to recommend there.

    Thanks – great tip re the Homewood Suites, I will check it out.

    What is there to see in Tampa? I’ve been through the airport before but not into or near the city.

    JD 18 posts

    I stayed at the WA Orlando years ago and the shuttle bust Disney was fine. I would think 10 day would be too much if Disney is your focus. We only went Disney one day of all the days were were in Orlando. We had a car and went other places as well.

    Thanks @Mirp – I’ve gone 10 days as a 7 day disney pass gets an extra 7 days free, so 14 in total, although I think my kids would like to go to Universal – or at least to the Harry Potter thing that they have going on there.


    @Michael
    C thanks for the tip re Cape Canaveral – this is definitely on my ‘must see’ list.


    @MattB
    – they have apparently suspended the Disney Dining Plan due to covid, with no indication as to whether or when it might return, as I may well have gone for this to try and manage the food costs – which as @NorthernLass says, I’ve heard are expensive / extortionate!

    Thanks everyone for all of your help 🙂

    The Savage Squirrel 576 posts

    Yes Disney food costs are extortionate. Some of it (especially in Epcot) is a long way above a typical theme park hotdog to be fair, but the best ones do tend to be popular and book out early. Bear in mind that careful advance planning and booking are required if you want to eat expensive decent food rather than expensive bad food.

    Iona 59 posts

    I’ve gone 10 days as a 7 day disney pass gets an extra 7 days free, so 14 in total, although I think my kids would like to go to Universal – or at least to the Harry Potter thing that they have going on there.

    If you’re planning on visiting Universal I can recommend a night at one of their hotels (Portofino Bay, Hard Rock or Royal Pacific) for the free express passes.

    MattB 266 posts

    We did the the Royal Pacific for one night to get 2 days of passes at Universal., really nice hotel wish we had stayed there longer.

    chelseafifi 51 posts

    I was going to say definitely do a Disney hotel due to dining plan as we found that a really good option, good value but you said it’s been suspended that’s a shame. We also stayed at WA for a few nights but found Disney hotel more convenient if doing the parks. I would definitely recommend Portofino Bay or Royal Pacific hotel staying in a room with club lounge if doing Universal as you get early access to park as well as easy access. If Disney still offer this and you think you will return some time, you could look at upgrading your Disney passes to Non Expiry, we did this and managed to use the passes over a few holidays, it’s nice to do a few days in Disney a few days in Universal and then see the rest that Florida has to offer. I found Anna Maria a little too quiet, preferring Treasure Island or Clearwater. Another hotel we loved was Omni ChampionsGate, close to Disney staying in one of the Villas

    Olly 247 posts

    For those of you with littluns, what would you say is the best age to take them to Disney/other Florida attractions?

    We were thinking about next Feb as ours will be 5 and 6 then but wasn’t sure if we should maybe wait another couple of years to be able to do more with them and for them to appreciate it more.

    Would welcome thoughts from all

    NorthernLass 7,933 posts

    For those of you with littluns, what would you say is the best age to take them to Disney/other Florida attractions?

    We were thinking about next Feb as ours will be 5 and 6 then but wasn’t sure if we should maybe wait another couple of years to be able to do more with them and for them to appreciate it more.

    Would welcome thoughts from all

    We took our son when he was 6 and he loved it (especially Universal/Harry Potter). There’s so much to do for all ages, you can’t really go wrong.

    The Savage Squirrel 576 posts

    As a general point, villa prices are so ludicrously favourable vs hotels in Orlando that you’d be mad to stay at a hotel unless cash is not involved. Even on points I’d say it’s marginal.

    I just did a 30 second search, and for LESS than a standard room at the W/A Orlando in a random week in May, you can get a 7 bedroom 5 bath (yes, really!!) villa with personal pool, pool table, patio, air hockey, playstation etc etc etc as well as access to the resort-level pool and gym facilities at Solterra – and there are probably a dozen other similar options.

    Or you can cram into in a single room with your kids who will moan about sharing a room, let alone a bed (and bye-bye “adult” time :D…) and be forced to eat out every meal (lets be honest – tough going with American portions 😀 ). For a family of more than 4 this divergence becomes even more stark.

    dougzz99 618 posts

    Just picking on a few things already mentioned. Diamond Resorts have nice apartments but are time share resorts so come with the hard sell at checkin, they also mostly lack bars/restaurants, better for more self sufficient. They do have nice apartments though if you’re OK with the self service angle. Ana Maria, also known as dead or wed, you can figure that out I’m sure. Initial mention of Keys. Never really see these as child friendly, and if you’re planning Key West, unless your kids like drinking and strip clubs they’ll be disappointed.

    whuaremassive 42 posts

    We have done Florida a few times. If you do drive the keys there is a stop on the way down to feed the Tarpon – Robbies Marina. We stayed in Key West for 3 nights and enjoyed it – hotels are expensive so we booked the Blue Marlin Motel and was ideal.

    We also drove across the Everglades on the way back and stayed in Naples before driving up to Orlando. Lots of places to stay on the Gulf coast, we hired a villa on another occasion

    NorthernLass 7,933 posts

    We’re RCI members so don’t have to commit to the timeshare tours, which is a bonus! But yes, a villa would be a better option in that case.

    We’ve got 15 nights booked in the Keys entirely on points over Xmas and New Year which I’m very pleased about, but probably wouldn’t bother with young children as there’s not much there for them compared with Orlando and the beaches are better near Miami. With an older teenager though, he’s going to be moody wherever we are!

    The real Swiss Tony 687 posts

    And I’ll add a +1 to the idea of swapping the WA for one of the top end disney resorts, too. It won’t be as good as the WA but the convenience of being able to get the monorail or a boat (or even walk) to some of the theme parks really can’t be beaten. And in the summer it will be hot & humid, so again the ability to get back to your hotel quickly for an afternoon swim is very valuable.

    Thanks – I was finding it hard to stomach £4k for the good-ish disney hotels v <£2k for the Waldorf Astoria – I was figuring that we could Uber to the parks if the dreaded “shuttle bus” service is poor – the words “shuttle bus” do evoke a fear in me equivalent to “rail replacement bus service”.

    Which of the Disney Resorts did you stay at?

    I’ve stayed at a bunch of the Disney resorts over the years, and we now own DVC points (Disney Timeshare) at Bay Lake Tower, which is right next to the Contemporary Resort so you can walk to the Magic Kingdom. Now the kids are a bit older, the Boardwalk or Beach Club villas are a better bet and Disney allows you to swap your points between different properties.

    One thing you might want to explore is looking at renting points (probably best done through a broker) to then rent a DVC villa. You could get a 1br suite which sleeps 4 or 5 for a week for under $5k in August. So you’re walking distance to some parks, have a separate space for the kids, have a kitchen and a washer/dryer set up etc etc. Also note the premium Disney resorts seem to have better/more frequent transport.

    Note the problem with staying at a Disney resort is probably much like when you first fly in a premium cabin. After that it makes it very difficult to rationalise trading down and staying “off site”.

    Also you won’t get a sales pitch at a Disney resort. We’ve stayed at a Holiday Inn and a Hilton Vacation Club in Orlando over the years and the sales pitches get very old very quickly.

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