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Although well known as a resort since the 1890s at least, the modern fortunes of Orlando changed dramatically one day in 1965 when a Mr Walter Elias Disney, usually known as Walt, chose the city over Miami and Tampa as the base for his world-beating theme park Disney World. And most of the best places to stay in Orlando are geared up for ensuring their guests enjoy the best of this phenomenon.
Being inland this wetland area, once the preserve of Seminole native American tribes, was less vulnerable to hurricanes and other natural disasters. Now this small Sun Belt city (population just over a quarter of a million people) has claims to being the “theme park capital of the world”, attracting an astonishing 62 million visitors a year. If you’re booking a package from abroad, the tour operator will probably advise that the best places to stay in Orlando are tied into the resorts, but the Hotel Guru’s advice is that it pays to look independently and sample the city’s attractions far from those theme park turnstiles.
With so many visitors, it pays Orlando to look its best, and “the City Beautiful”, with its fountains, parks and public places has earned itself a place in the top flight of cities that Americans dream of moving to, not least of course for its all-year-round sunshine.
Born and bred Orlandoans would point out that there is much more to the city than theme park tourism, and for those who reject the allure of the various Disney sites, Sea World, Universal Studios etc, there is a thriving art, museum and music (of all types) scene as well.
Just don't forget that this is a busy year-round destination, so if you want to be sure of a room in one of the best places to stay in Orlando, do your homework and book well ahead.
For activity lovers
- Villas of Grand Cypress is a lavishly appointed suites-only resort hotel that makes the most of its location by Orlando's leading theme parks. There's something for everyone here, including golf (some of America’s best courses nearby), sailing, cycling, outdoor swimming pool, fishing and tennis. Although close to Walt Disney World, it’s a world away, a haven of peace away from the thronging crowds.
Best Hotels in Orlando
Villas of Grand Cypress 146 rooms from $349Orlando
Spectacular suites-only resort hotel right by Orlando's top theme parks. Activities include golf, sailing, cycling, swimming in the outdoor pool, fishing and tennis. Interiors are warm and inviting with understated modern furnishings, elegant bathrooms and sleek living areas. Dining options abound.Swimming Pool - Spacious outdoor swimming pool with poolside snackbarsSights nearby - Located next to Walt Disney World in Orlando, FloridaViews - There are views of the North Course golf courseOutstanding location - The resort is adjacent to Disney World.