The 1,417-room Hilton Orlando has a lot going for it starting with location, location, location and ending with exceptional service. This hotel magically – perhaps because of its proximity to everything Disney – manages to charm both business and leisure travelers with an impressive savoir-faire. Just 15 minutes from Orlando International Airport, it’s a business traveler’s dream connected to the Orange County Convention Center; and for leisure travelers, it’s central to all of the major Orlando attractions including SeaWorld Orlando, Universal Orlando, and Walt Disney World Resort theme parks.
Thunderstorms heralded our arrival to the Hilton Orlando during my visit for the TMS Family Travel Summit. Fortunately the entrance was covered, and the valet were at our Mears Transportation van in seconds, guiding us to check-in and unloading our luggage.
The Hilton Orlando lobby is supersized, and when you pass through the doors, directly in front is the strategically placed concierge and bell desks. To the right is the reception desk located past sofas and chairs. I arrived just before 2:00 pm (3:00 pm check-in), and unfortunately, my room wasn’t ready. The receptionist suggested I head to the Executive Lounge, and he would call my cell phone when my room was ready. Our group had pre-arranged complimentary WiFi access (normally surcharge), so he also handed me a slip of paper with passwords to the Internet.
I was the only one in the 18th floor Executive Lounge, and unfortunately, no services were available. I quickly checked email and decided to grab a quick bite at the Bistro, with a casual, farm-to-table menu. The restaurant was super quiet, with only a handful of guests. I was seated near the amazing pool area (more about that later), while glumly watching the pouring rain. A couple of glasses of wine and an amazing fresh Ahi Tuna later, and it was after 4:00, still without a call from the front desk.
The server was attentive and friendly, and she put a call into the front desk for me. I was told my room was ready with apologies that I hadn’t been called. In my 3 days spent at this property, this was the only glitch, which was quickly corrected. At the front desk, my room key was ready with a crew of smiling faces and apologies.
The oversized guest accommodations are simply superb. I’m a fan of Hilton’s signature beds with plush mattress pads and sink-into-sleep pillow top mattresses. The business traveler will appreciate the workstations with ergonomic chairs and plenty of plug-ins. Take a seat in the overstuffed chair when turning on the flat-screen, and be sure to look at the view. (Mine was of Sea World.) Leisure travelers will also appreciate the mini-fridges. For those hypersensitive guests, request a PURE Allergy Friendly Guestrooms.
After a day at the Orlando theme parks, exhausted families want to return to the luxury of their hotel, their home away from home. The Hilton Orlando provides that haven, plus more. Take a cat nap in your spacious accommodations, and then don your swimming suites for a float in the lazy river, or splash in the two resort pools with a water fountain and slide. Splurge and rent one of 12 cabanas, and yes, there’s also a pool bar.
Need a work-out? The hotel has you covered with fitness center, jogging trail, and what they’ve dubbed “recreation courts,” tennis, volleyball, basketball and even a 9-hole executive putting golf course. A full-service spa rounds out the menu of amenities with 15 treatment rooms, steam room, showers, hair and nail salon.
All these amenities come with a price tag — a daily resort fee ($20).
The Hilton Orlando is a hub of meeting space with 175,000 square feet of meeting space. The coolest part of this hotel is the separation of leisure and meeting guests. You can’t miss that there is a lot of business traffic. However, the meeting space is concentrated off the lobby in the opposite direction of the fun stuff (pool).
You won’t have to leave the property as you can choose from a full-array of restaurants. Dine at Spencer’s for classic USDA aged beef and an extensive wine list by the glass; casual dining at David’s Club Bar & Grill, the Bistro and Lobby Lounge; and the Marketplace for coffee, baked cooks, and sandwiches.
Great location, numerous amenities, and oversized room are absolutely top-notch, but what stood out for me at the Hilton Orlando was the impeccable service of the staff. Not many hotels can blend a business and meeting clientele with leisure guests, but this property does it with finesse!
Every time, I passed a hotel employee from the housekeeping to the valet to the managers, even the maintenance man painting a guestroom, each one made an effort to smile and greet me. Aside from the glitch at check-in, the entire operation was like a well-oiled machine. My only regret? That time constraints and rain prevented me from spending time at the pool!
The Omni Parker House provided my accommodations, but the review is strictly my opinion. Photos courtesy of Diana Rowe & Hilton Orlando.