First and foremost, this is an excellent conference hotel. Those who are not attending events within the hotel or attached conference centre could receive a room of similar quality for a substantially lower price elsewhere in the area. The primary attraction for me was the proximity to the conference centre (and my employer paid for the room - yay!). My wife accompanied me so this review also includes the perspective of someone who did not attend the conference and therefore had more time to explore the hotel amenities.
LOCATION: As previously stated, the main reason you would want to be here is for a conference. There is a small town centre containing various fast food outlets, Publix supermarket, and souvenir shops approximately 3/4 mile away. There is no footpath (which we knew before we went, thanks to Google Maps Street View) so pedestrians need to walk along the road verge - there's sort of a faint trodden path from other people like us who walked along it. However, the road beside it is a 3-lane dual carriageway so my wife and I quickly decided that since the traffic along the road is quite light, they could use 2 of the 3 lanes and we'd walk in the lane nearest the verge. We stepped off occasionally when some driver just could not understand the concept of pedestrians (let's face it - there's not many pedestrians in the USA!) and it only took 10-15 mins to walk to town. It was easier during the day, of course, since it's easier to see pedestrians but we walked to town a few times during the week during day and night hours without incident.
THERMAL COMFORT: The hotel was definitely air-conditioned. In fact, several of the people at the conference I was at ended up having to go find jumpers and light jackets to wear because it was over-chilled. The resort could definitely stop wasting so much energy and rachet up the thermostat a few degrees without a problem - it would still be lovely and cool without giving people headaches and sore throats from recycled air. The attached conference centre was also an offender in excessive air-conditioning but I think that's an independent issue since they seemed to be run separately. Inside the room, the airconditioning unit was easily controlled, and also located near the hottest part of the room (the window) not pointed at the bed so it was well positioned. It's irritating to have a noisy air con unit blowing directly on you in bed at night but this problem did not exist in our room.
ROOMS: We had specifically asked for a room where we could watch the Disney fireworks at night (since my wife would be in the room whilst I was at the conference). That request was granted, so we were on the 8th floor, overlooking the adult pool and could easily see the Epcot fireworks at 9pm without any visual interruption. The Magic Kingdom fireworks at 10pm were slightly obscured due to another resort between the Gaylord and Disney so there was nothing that could prevent that, and the fireworks were launched higher than the buildings in the foreground anyway.
It seems the hotel is slowly renovating rooms over time and we had an older style room (since we had a CRT TV, not an LCD flat screen. The TV is located in a cupboard that requires the doors to be wide open to view the TV, thereby blocking the only passage through the room at the foot of the bed. This was a bit frustrating when I was working at the desk and needed something on the other side of the room since I needed to close the TV cupboard (blocking my wife's viewing) just to get past.
The most disappointing aspect of the room was the hotel guide is not a book, but instead delivered through the internet-enabled computer. This seems like a good thing - easier to maintain, more environmentally friendly, etc. Unfortunately, the connection speed was dismal and it took up to a minute from clicking a link to viewing the page, and most of the links about hotel services were dead links anyway. The resort really needs to spend more time investing in this service given there's no other way to find the information from within the room. I had internet through the conference so I was glad I didn't have to pay for it through the hotel because that was quite expensive.
BED: The bed was extraordinarily high off the ground. We've not encountered any bed like it in any other hotel during our travels. Even I (6'4" tall) felt like I had to climb up into it. It was most puzzling - I can't imagine how shorter folks enjoy the experience. Once in the bed, it was comfortable. An unusual visual element was the bedspread which featured historically attired monkeys. We were in the St Augustine section and even the carpet in the corridors had monkeys playing violins, drums, guitars, etc. It didn't affect the sleep quality in any way (I guess it might if you have a monkey phobia!) and other wings (eg: Key West section) reportedly featured kites and brightly coloured objects instead of monkeys.
RESTAURANTS: We did not eat at any of the restaurants within the resort. We seriously considered Villa de Flora which is $30pp buffet on the first night we were there (French themed meals) and the host fortunately offered us the opportunity to view the food first. We quickly saw the quality of the food on offer was substantially below what we were expecting for the price, and seemed to largely consist of casseroles and unappealing desserts. We walked to town and found much more appealing fare in Logan's Roadhouse for half the price. If you want to eat here, obviously check the reviews from those who tasted the food - this is a visual review only.
POOLS: There is an adults-only pool (a large rectangular pool, two hot tubs and reclining lounges) and a family pool (water slide, fun play area for toddlers with sprinklers, etc) and the separation seemed to be quite respected. We certainly never saw any kids in the adult pool, though a couple of other adult conference attendees told me they thought the adult pool was boring so went and played with the giant water-squirting octopus with the families because it was more interesting.
LAUNDRY: There are a couple of laundry rooms in the hotel, offering self-service washing machines and dryers @ $2.50 per machine. They use 10 x quarters and/or tokens so if you're short on quarters, you can change $1 notes into 4 tokens. Obviously don't take in 3 x $1 notes since they don't give change and you'll waste two tokens. Machines were a good size and clean - no complaints at all.
TRANSPORT: My wife does not drive and there are no public buses in the local Lynx bus network that service the Gaylord Palms. However, it is possible to catch the Gaylord shuttle bus to the Disney transportation hub and then catch one of the local buses into town from there. This is obviously not the fastest option - it can take a couple of hours to get from the Gaylord Palms to the northern end of International Drive but if you're not in a hurry and just filling in the day with some shopping, it's cheap ($4.50 for a day pass on the Lynx network). For comparison, one of the many town car / taxis that sit at the Gaylord waiting to take folks places quoted ~$30 to go to the Sheraton Four Points resort (north end of International Drive) so if there's a few of you, the car might be worth it. If you're an individual and time is not an issue, take the shuttle/public bus combo. You could also consider the Gaylord Palms bus @ $16pp which is probably faster than going to Disney first but it has scheduled times anyway so there's less freedom than the public bus system which has more vehicles.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Just minutes from Central Florida's world-famous theme parks, including Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and Sea World, the 1,416-room Gaylord Palms Resort is the ideal destination for leisure and business travelers alike. This spectacular resort features 4.5 acres of beautifully manicured gardens and themed environments beneath a signature glass-covered atrium. On-site leisure and recreation opportunities abound with the Cypress Springs Water Park, featuring a double FlowRider and drop slide in addition to a multi-level treehouse water playground; the adults-only South Beach Pool; Forbes Travel Guide's Four Star Relache Spa & Salon; Wreckers Sports Bar, featuring a two-story sports screen; and a 24 hour fitness center. And with eight restaurants and lounges ranging from fine dining at Old Hickory Steakhouse to casual poolside fare at SandBar, Gaylord Palms offers something for every appetite. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Gaylord Palms Hotel Kissimmee
- Gaylord Resort
- Gaylord Palms Resort Orlando
- Gaylord Palms Orlando