I stay at a lot of great hotels and resorts around the world, many of which I’ve written about on this blog. To be honest, since I am very picky when it comes to hotels, the experiences are rarely bad, in fact, they’re usually great. Once in a while though, and not nearly as often as one would think, there comes along a very special property and a very special experience that is just so exceptional, I feel at a loss to properly put into words what my time there was really like. Such is the case with my experience at the Four Seasons Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World Resort and what was in all honesty one of the best days of my life.
I know what you’re thinking, “Oh look, another blogger gushing over a hotel in order to curry favor.” Let me assure you that is most certainly not the case. I have no qualms in being honest, both when things are bad but also when they’re phenomenal. The problem is that people are willing to accept negative reviews with ease, but when it comes to positive reviews, they’re skeptical. Such is the way of the modern Internet I suppose, but all I can do here today is to share my real and honest experience and I hope that along the way my delight and passion both come shining through.
The Four Season Orlando harnesses two travel styles I love dearly, luxury and Disney. Although I’m somewhat of a newcomer to the world of Disney Parks, they have quickly won me over and I now find myself planning trips to various parks around the world, including of course the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. Over a couple of trips I’ve stayed in a variety of different hotels and resorts, but the far too brief day I spent at the Four Seasons Orlando has so far been the hospitality highlight of my time at the Most Magical Place on Earth.
It started immediately, and because it had been a while since my last stay at a Four Seasons property I forgot about their extraordinarily high level of service. It’s the kind of personal care and attention to detail that at first might be a surprise, but which ultimately makes the experience both luxurious and homey simultaneously; a rare feat in travel. Escorted to my incredibly spacious room, I noticed that the personal attention to detail carries on into every space on property, but especially the guest rooms and suites. No touch was left unattended from the sweeping views towards the parks, the in-room wine dispenser (yes, really) and even the thoughtful touch of leaving lens wipes for my glasses. Staying at the Four Seasons isn’t just about fantastic location and service, it’s about creating a warm and welcoming space that enhances every aspect of the travel experience, whether you’re their youngest or most mature of guests.
The Four Seasons also accomplishes another feat I thought impossible. It made me forget, albeit briefly, that I was next door to what is arguably the best theme park in the world thanks entirely to what I think is its most remarkable amenity – Explorer Island. To be fair and honest, I knew all about this recreational highlight thanks to Instagram and friends who have stayed there and it was a big reason why I wanted to visit. I just didn’t anticipate how amazing the experience would be in reality.
This guest-only retreat is five-acres of outdoor fun including a family pool, climbing wall, various recreational activities, two waterslides and what I personally think is the highlight, a lazy river winding around a “ruined” mansion. Honestly, the lazy river was probably the most fun I’ve had in a long time as I snagged an inflatable tube and let the river take me along through waterfalls and the luscious landscape for which the resort is so very well known. When coupled with the waterslides, the Four Seasons has accomplished something truly remarkable. Like Disney, they put together a space that allowed me to completely and totally disconnect from the real world and instead give in to that childlike innocence and sense of fun that so many of us keep repressed in our daily lives. Ultimately, it’s for that very feeling that I love visiting Disney parks so much and the fact that the Four Seasons has managed to echo the sensation is honestly nothing short of remarkable.
Another highlight of any Four Seasons hotel around the world is the culinary side of the house, and in Orlando I certainly wasn’t disappointed. I was especially excited because I was there on a Sunday morning, which meant I could enjoy the legendary brunch offered at their lakeside restaurant Plancha. During the week it’s a fantastic place to grab a casual meal, especially after finishing a round of golf at the nearby course. On Sundays though the menu is transformed into the ideal lazy brunch. The first choice guests have is whether to opt for the Champagne or Bloody Mary because they have bottomless do-it-yourself stations for both. If you opt for the Champagne, your glass is never left empty and at the assembly station you can add any number of exotic fruits and juices for a make-your-own mimosa. If you’re more the Bloody Mary type, the same scenario exists with plenty of refills and a whole host of savory items to add to your glass before returning to your amazing meal. And amazing it was, with plenty of options both traditional and locally influenced from the Shrimp & Grits and Chicken & Waffles to the Croque Madame and Bananas Foster French Toast. Everything looked amazing and it would take many visits to properly enjoy it all.
Naturally though, I daresay that most guests stay at the Four Seasons Orlando because it is onsite at the Walt Disney World Resort, providing guests the same perks and privileges as any guest at the many other Disney World Resort hotels. That means complimentary transportation to the parks, a dedicated Disney planning center on-site, character breakfast opportunities, access to Magic Hours, merchandise delivery and more. Although it is easy to forget that you’re in one of the most popular tourist spots on the planet, it’s just as easy to access that universe whenever your heart desires.
I called this post “Living My Best Life,” but I could also have easily called it “One of the Best Days of My Life,” because it really was. There are very few times in life when the stars align and everything is absolutely perfect at exactly the same time, but that was the case for me during my too short day and night at the Four Seasons Orlando. Not only were the tangible elements perfect but, and more importantly, so were the intangibles, and in life and travel that is usually much more important. Any hotel can buy a fancy chandelier or expensive flowers, but those items don’t by themselves create an innate sense of peace and well being. No, that has to be created through great service, hospitality and qualities so ethereal and intangible that I can’t list them, I only know when they are there. I know that I will return to the Four Seasons Orlando many more times in my life – how could I not? My only hesitation though is that what if that same sense of perfection isn’t achieved, what if I leave disappointed the next time? Knowing the Four Seasons though, I can’t ever imagine that being the case and it is without an ounce of hesitation that I will travel again to what is the Happiest Place at the Most Magical Place on Earth.