Gaylord Palms Resort
6000 West Osceola Parkway, Kissimmee, FL 34746
Let’s get this out of the way right now, I’m not going to resort to any of the seemingly endless puns available in my review of the Gaylord Palms Hotel. I’m not going to joke about the S.S. Gaylord docked in the Key West section of the hotel. Nor am I going to joke, if you drop your wallet in the Key West atrium you should kick it over to the St. Augustine section before bending over to pick it up. No shower jokes either (I’ll save that for our other posts), this hotel is too cool, chic and unique for our typical humor.
Open since 2002, The Gaylord Palms Resort was originally named The Opryland Hotel Florida. But, in one of those WTF moments corporate America is so famous for lately, just before opening it was re-named The Gaylord Palms Resort. This was supposedly because, in another head scratcher, the world famous Opryland Hotel chain was re-named the Gaylord Hotel chain. Now I know Gaylord is the last name of the hotel’s owner, but c’mon. I guess when you’re a billionaire you can do whatever the hell you want. Go ahead and make fun of the name of my hotel you peon. Right?
At 1,406 guest rooms, all in a single building, the Gaylord is immense. It has over 400,000-square-feet of convention space including over 210,000 in one ballroom. With three full-service restaurants, two pools, a sushi bar/nightspot, and a fitness center with a Relache Spa and Salon you could spend your whole vacation/convention at the hotel. However, the absolute coolest thing about the Gaylord is the atrium. All of the rooms are situated around this four-plus acre glass-enclosed masterpiece straight out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The atrium is split into three areas themed to different Florida locales. Key West has the aforementioned S.S. Gaylord, which is situated in a stocked lagoon and houses Sunset Sam’s Restaurant. St. Augustine is the largest area and has a buffet restaurant, Villa de Flora, and a sushi bar/night spot Sora. The Everglades area is the most secluded of the three and houses the hotel’s signature restaurant the Old Hickory Steakhouse. There is also a coffee bar, Java Coast, and an ice cream parlor in the St. Augustine section. There is a mini Disney store, which also sells tickets, as well as a couple of the usual overpriced, upscale hotel boutique stores.
Outside, there are two large pools separated by a burger joint, a full service bar, and a mini golf course. One of the pools is supposed to be adults only, and with the exception of a few obnoxious teens usually is. Adjacent to the quiet pool is the bocce court where sh*t-for-brains adults and kids alike seem to think it’s hilarious to slam the bocce balls into the wall at the end of the court. Please bounce back…but, I digress.
The rooms are nicely sized and have all the usual accoutrements you would expect from a luxury hotel. The Florida view rooms all face outside and have no balconies. The atrium view rooms have balconies which open out to the four-acre atrium. This is by far, the coolest feature of the resort. After a day in the theme parks, and a nice dinner, it is awesome to kick back on your balcony and check out the hustle and bustle of the atrium below. It’s truly a unique lodging experience and one which cannot be duplicated at any other hotel in the Orlando area.
Rack rates at the hotel run anywhere from $199-$379 per night, but there are discounts to be had if you search online. This is a popular convention hotel and is frequently sold out, so it helps if your travel dates are flexible. Keep in mind, there are the usual luxury hotel B.S. resort fees to deal with ,as well as a daily parking charge.
Rating: Luxuriously Fabulous