Planning a trip to Orlando?

My in-laws live just outside of Orlando, so we head down to Florida several times a year for some family time. We generally stay with them… except at Thanksgiving. Every year for Thanksgiving we stay at the Hyatt Grand Cyprus, right outside Disney. If you are planning a trip to Disney or the Orlando area, I cannot say enough nice things about this place.

They are on the pricier side for Disney-area hotels ($249/night during peak season); however, if you have children and appreciate superb customer service, it’s well worth the higher cost.

The hotel is beautiful with a lush, atrium entrance. There are 3 resident tropical birds that live in the atrium, a running stream, many peices of Asian art and plenty of seating to enjoy the surroundings. The atrium lobby also contains a full-service bar (both alcohol and cappuchino), a sushi bar and access to four of the hotel’s restaurants (there are at total of five).

The pool area offers both standard and a heated fresh water pools. There are caves to swim though, water slides, jacuzzis and a rope bridge reminiscent of a pirate gang plank. There is also a sandy beach alongside the hotel pond (no swimming due to the risk of alligators), with sale boats, kayaks, water trikes and several other fun toys. A Golf course, tennis courts, a full service gym, spa services and horseback riding are just a few of the other fun adult perks.

There are several entertainment options for both children and adults and there is also a daycare center and evening babysitters available.

The restaurants are all pretty good as well. La Coquina Chef’s Table (which we haven’t tried yet), looks very cool. It’s a traditional chef’s table tasting menu, where you actually dine in the kitchen and interact with the chef. I saw a sample menu and it looked delicious and pretty affordable (compared to Boston tasting menu prices). La Coquina also offers a big Sunday brunch.

We’ve eaten at Hemingway’s, a seafood restaurant with focus on Key West dining, several times and have always had a very good meal. We ate here this past visit and they were very accomodating to our 3 year old as well.

Cascade is only open for breakfast and lunch, with both an ala carte menu and a buffet-style breakfast. The buffet is great at $19.99 (and free for kids 3 and under). We generally do their big Thanksgiving Buffet Dinner as well, but ate at the in-laws this year. Their T-day buffet is ridiculously huge and offers everything under the sun, including a full entree for each diner and complimentary champagne. If you can make it down over Thanksgiving break, this is a must try!

Lastly, White Horse Bar & Grille — the resident sports bar and my least favorite eatery, offers a limited afternoon appetizer menu and a typical “pub grub” dinner menu, with lots of big screen TV’s and a decent beer and wine menu.

The hotel also offers 24-hour in-room dining and many more ammentities than I am listing here. Check out their website for a full list of all features, special rates and property photos.

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