Itching to get away from the cold, rainy and gray skies that Chattanooga hosts in February, I planned a VERY last minute (think one nights notice) trip to Florida to visit family and enjoy Disney! After staying up until midnight to pack suitcases, book hotels and purchase Disney tickets, we hopped in the car the next day to drive to Orlando (read How to Survive 10 hours in a car with 2 kids). We stayed with the grandparents a few nights, and then headed to the Four Seasons Orlando for two nights to begin our Disney Getaway.
The first day of our weekend getaway we spent on property at the Four Seasons Orlando and to sum up my reaction to this hotel….mind blown. Let me preface by saying we have stayed at some pretty amazing resorts over the years, and I even got married at the Ritz Carlton in Orlando, but this hotel might just take the #1 spot for a family destination in Florida. Everything about The Four Seasons is stunning – the property is beautifully manicured, the rooms are incredibly spacious and modern, the recreation activities for kids are boundless, the food is delicious and the service is hard to beat. My husband had to practically drag me out of there to go home…
When: A weekend in February 2017
Where: Four Seasons Orlando
Weather: Highs in the 70’s and lows in the 60’s.
Wear: We brought it all – swimsuits for the pool area, summer dresses for dinner, and active wear with a light jacket for our days at the parks. Even though it is February, it is Florida!
Ages: Our son was 2 and our daughter was 5 (and a half! – that is very important to her)
Why the Four Seasons Orlando is the perfect spot for kids:
- Pool Area
- Kids Club
- Kids Eat Free
- Character Breakfast
- Service & Surprises
1. Pool Area
The Four Seasons Orlando Resort pool area is extremely well designed for families with young children, blending the perfect combination of relaxation and fun for the whole family.
The zero entry pool is easy for children to walk into and swim around in. It is set with an infinity edge overlooking the lake, providing it with a beautiful and serene backdrop. A small slide is on the side of the pool, perfect for those toddlers to scoot down who aren’t big enough for the water slides.
The lazy river is long and winding, going under some waterfalls and passing through lush gardens. It empties into a small pool area with basketball hoops. My son, who even at two is obsessed with basketball, loved this area as he was able to shoot some hoops when I lifted him in the air. My husband took them on a ride on the lazy river while I relaxed on one of the swings by the basketball pool.
The splash area is the perfect spot with toddlers to set up shop for the day, which is what we did. We came down around 11am and grabbed one of the cove beds that had a wicker cover. These were for everyone to use and were perfect for the kids to lay down on when taking a break. It was also great as I could lay here while my son ran back and forth through the splash pad while I kept a watchful eye on him. Around the splash zone is a small zero entry wading pool, which again is perfect for toddlers. The deepest part was about 2 feet so my son had no problem walking around in it. We ordered a few drinks and had lunch here on our bed by the pool. The kids would eat a few bites, run through the water fountains, and come back for more.
They also have two really fun water slides right behind the splash pad area. You must be 42” or tall to ride, and they do not allow double riders, so my son had to sit this one out. But my 5 year old must have ridden each one 15 times. There was never a wait (we went during the week but I hear on the weekend it gets more crowded), and being that it was right behind the splash pad where we were set up, she just went on her own and would come check back in with us when she was done. The Four Seasons did an excellent job of “hiding” the slides within the buildings and landscape of the pool area, so it wasn’t an eyesore at all.
2. Games & Recreation
As if a water slide, lazy river, splash pad and pool wasn’t enough, there are several gaming areas around the pool area to entertain your kids as well. Right outside the Kids Club are pool tables, Foosball, corn-hole and a large chess game. They are in a shaded area, which makes a great escape for some time away from the sun.
Behind the water slide area is a large basketball court and sand volleyball court. We played basketball for a little bit, but the hoops were to high for the kids so they headed back to the splash pad.
A huge hit with my children was a large playground area, located right off the Kids Club. They had three different sets, with a flew slides, climbing areas and towers to play in. We made a few stops here to play and get some energy out. There are a few picnic tables around the playground area as well if you wanted to bring a snack.
It is impressive just how much outdoor recreation and fun can be had at the Four Seasons Orlando with your kids. I recommend at least spending an entire day on property if you are here for a short trip, and even longer if you swing it!
3. Kids Club
The Four Seasons does a great job of providing lots of entertainment and activities for the kids, and the Kids Club only adds to that list. Located in the pool area of the hotel, it is a top notch indoor facility that provides crafts, games and toys. You can come here with your kids or drop them off and the staff will keep an eye on them for you. They must be 4 years old to stay by themselves, so we did not leave our kids here, but we did bring both of them in for a break from the afternoon sun and played for about 30 minutes.
My daughter made a foam animal mask and a bracelet while my son played around the volcano area, throwing around the “rocks” and going down the slide. The staffers seemed extremely friendly and upbeat, and I would have had no problem leaving Emmie here to play with the other kids if we had the time. I was impressible with how clean the facility was, and the fun activities they kids were participating in.
Out of EVERY SINGLE HOTEL I have ever stayed at (and that is saying a lot), their standard rooms are the biggest, most luxurious and most well appointed. They also win the award for best floor plan, especially for families. Here is why:
- The entry is set back to make it feel more like a home, and less like a hotel. It also features a doorbell.
- My favorite part of the room was the closet. This was the smartest design for a family I have ever seen!! It is an L shaped closet that is large & open, feature lots of hanging, drawer and bench storage. It functions more like a mudroom to me, as there was plenty of spots to drop our bags and shoes. Honestly, with so many additional items kids need – like diapers, floaties, books and toys – it was the perfect spot to lay these out all, where the kids could access them as well.
- The bathroom was extremely spacious and featured a deep tub both of my kids fit into for bath time, a spacious separate shower, and two sinks that allowed you to brush your teeth while watching TV with the insert mirror (my kids thought it was magic!)
- In the room was a wetbar area that contained the coffee, wine opener, mini fridge, storage space and safe. If your like us when you travel, a fridge is critical to store milk for breakfast and bedtime, fruit for snacks, cold water, etc. It also helped to have the extra storage space to stash our snacks so they were up and away from the kids grabby hands.
- The room features two plush double beds (one included bed-rails at our request for our toddler), a large desk which we used for a breakfast table one morning, personalized iPad for convenience, a sitting chair and a spacious balcony. My ONLY complaint would be having double beds instead of queen. It worked for us as we each slept with a kid and had enough space, but I know other people prefer a larger bed. When traveling with a baby or toddler they do offer either a pack n play or crib – our son just prefers us 🙂
- We were lucky enough to have a Park View room, which if you can swing it, I HIGHLY recommend. We were able to have an unobstructed view of the fireworks each night. Being that the show is around 9pm, we were able to get the kids ready for bed and dressed in pajamas and just bring them right out on the balcony when they started – huge benefit! Once they were over – right to bed! The fireworks from our balcony was a major highlight of our trip – it was like our own private little show.
5. Kids Eat Free
Yep, you heard that right.
The Four Seasons is expensive, there is no doubt about it, but with kids 5 and under eating free, it made our meals at restaurants very practical! Lucky for us both of our kids were free, and we took full advantage of the offer. When you order an entree at a restaurant, your kids entree is free. It does not work on room service, character breakfasts, or service by the pool. We did use it for dinner though, as we ate at Ravello the first night and The Lobby Bar the second night.
The food here was phenomenal! We had lunch by the pool one day, and my Cobb salad was delicious while my husband’s burger was very juicy. We ate at Ravello the first night, and the mushroom ravioli was one of the best Italian dishes I have ever had! Not to mention my ** drink…. So refreshing!
The second night we wanted a quick bite as we were coming back from Animal Kingdom and were still in our park clothes, so we ate dinner at the Lobby Bar. The food here continued through and did not disappoint! A great spot for quick sandwiches and salads. Right next door to the Lobby Bar was a coffee and gelato café, so of course we let the kids end a wonderful family day by stuffing their face with gelato. I couldn’t say no either as it look delicious…and believe me, it was worth the calories.
6. Character Breakfast
Another highlight of our stay was the Character Breakfast at Ravello. It only happens twice a week, so if you want to attend make sure your stay includes one of those days. What is nice about the breakfast here versus other character breakfasts at the parks I have attended is this was the most time my kids got to spend with the characters. Mickey, Minnie and Goofy all came around to our table TWICE, and spent about 3 to 4 minutes with my kids, each time. We got pictures, signatures, they gave high fives and even danced with them. It was very laid back, the food was delicious, and it was a great way to start the morning. It is expensive, but on par with other character breakfast prices.
From what I understood the character breakfast required a reservation. I called the day before we went but they didn’t have anything before 10am, which didn’t work for us as we were headed to the park that day. We ended up showing up at the restaurant around 8am just to see if there was space, and there was. They took us right away. We went during the week, so I am not sure if this helped or if it was a slow time, but if you can’t get a reservation during your stay it doesn’t hurt just to check!
7. Service & Surprises
When it comes to Four Seasons, I haven’t found many hotels that compete on service. I mean, as a mom I am used to waiting on others, where phrases like “how are you” or “would you like anything else” seem foreign. So any hotel who asks what I want is or how I am doing is considered excellent service in my book, but the Four Seasons takes it several steps further, making this overworked mother almost delirious.
From easy check-in where we are greeted by name, to a full service iPad in the room that knows me by name as well, to complimentary lemonade and snacks being passed around by the pool – the Four Seasons does an excellent job of making sure you are taking care of.
While I loved to be looked after, the way my kids are taken care of is even more important to me, and the Four Seasons Orlando make sure your babies are loved. When we first walked into the room upon check-in, sugar cookies were waiting for my kids, as well as a pirate hat and sword for my son and a princess crown, wand and skirt for my daughter.
They were so excited to see that there was a prize for them on their bed! My daughter is dairy free, which I did not inform the hotel of right away, so unfortunately she couldn’t have a cookie, but after a quick phone call they sent up a beautiful tray of fruit in the shape of a castle which made her smile! Simple but excellent service like that is why we will be coming back!
The Four Seasons Orlando is perfectly located close to Disney to allow you a quick hop over there, but far away enough from the hustle and bustle that when you leave the parks you don’t still feel like you are stuck in a crowd (the way some of the Disney hotels can).
The hotel provides timed shuttle transportation over the parks every day. If you don’t feel like waiting for a shuttle, you can take on of the private vehicles they have waiting on standby to drop you off. I believe those ran about $40 a trip. Parking at the Disney parks is $20 a day, so a private drop of seems very reasonable!