By Laura Mason
It’s not often when super luxury comes with a hefty dose of child-friendliness. We wouldn’t have given it a thought (other than maybe the bank manager) to book a five star hotel pre kids, but now we are more mindful – will there be the facilities there to accommodate our children, will there be comments and frowns from other guests, will our children feel comfortable?
Fortunately, when you travel to Orlando in Florida, it’s a pretty safe bet that there will be plenty of other children around and I actually rejoiced at seeing the Four Seasons at Walt Disney World as an option when we were debating where to stay. This was my moment to have some luxury with my children in tow and I couldn’t wait.
As soon as we pulled up the driveway, I just knew I had made the right decision. The hotel is only a couple of years old so it has a fresh feel.
Good ol’ fashioned hospitality
The American hospitality is generally above average, but the staff here raises it to a whole new level anticipating your needs before even I had thought them through. The Four Seasons app also lets you chat direct to the hotel so we could stay in touch if we needed anything while at the parks such as booking a restaurant for that evening.
Our room, a Golden Oak, was absolutely stunning. The standard rooms are the largest in Orlando. We had a double bed, while the children shared a pull out sofa bed and Marley slept in a cot. In fairness, I would have happily slept in the marble bathroom wrapped in the uber soft dressing gowns and slippers while watching the TV built in to the mirror.
There are also a plethora of extras that you come to appreciate from five star luxury – iPad, evening turndown service with treats, Bose surround system, Nespresso coffee maker just to make your stay that much more special. Views out to Magic Kingdom complete with nightly Disney fireworks just about topped off the opulence of our abode.
Facilities at the Four Seasons
The facilities at the Four Seasons are amazing. Explorer Island is most definitely the highlight for the kids…and me! The five-acre pool area is a water park in itself with family pool, AMAZING splash zone and a long lazy river that wraps around a ruined mansion.
The Kids Club, ‘Kids for all Seasons’ is complimentary between 9am and 5pm for children aged four to 12 years of age. It was never my intention to leave the children but turned out to be the first pit stop for my daughter as she begged to stay after we popped in to take a look. A daily schedule or well-organised activities and events makes it a lot more than a childcare service, and is really enjoyable for the kids.
Dining and atmosphere
There are plenty of dining options at the hotel – Lickety Split was our daily morning go-to for coffees, scrumptious pastries and the odd gelato (we were on holiday!); while we found ourselves visiting Ravello numerous times for the fresh pizzas and homemade pastas from the beautiful open kitchen. We popped up to the fancy steak restaurant, Capa, on the 17th floor, and while it looked and smelt amazing, it was purely to lurk on the terrace and watch the fireworks from the best seat in the house.
While this isn’t an official Disney hotel per se, it has some exclusive offerings that make it a strong contender for those that rely on the on site perks. One big one for me is the character breakfast with Goofy and Pals – the only place outside of Disney that provides an official character dining option. It’s a nice break away from the Disney mania where the constant scheduling and crowding can become a little tiresome.
Compared to my experience with the Disney character meals, this easily boasted the best quality food with absolutely no rushing whatsoever, something we had experienced previously. Better still, while billed as ‘Goofy and Pals’ we were delighted to see that the ‘Pals’ were only stars of the show – Mickey and Minnie!
The Four Seasons at Walt Disney World is not just a hotel, but a fantastic resort. The negative side to this is that we felt torn between a day at the hotel and the Disney parks and our schedule went a little off, but in hindsight this assisted us in pacing ourselves as a family with three young children. We never felt we were missing out if we took a pool day as this added to our holiday experience.
Extras we didn’t even manage to squeeze in included a round of tennis; fully equipped gym; spa; golf club and 18-hole course and an adults only pool – although I looked – purely for research!!!
Valet parking is a little on the steep side at $30/night so we made the initial decision to ditch the hire car and take advantage of the complimentary shuttle that efficiently runs to all the Disney parks a short distance away.
Having stayed at the Four Seasons at Walt Disney World, I have to concur that I am not sure there’s any other way to ‘do’ Disney. I don’t want to overly gush, however let’s be honest – Disney is the holiday of a lifetime, what dreams are made of, and having such a premium base that met the every need with our children enhanced that experience and cemented memories that will truly last forever.
Rooms start from $443 per night. For more details and information, visit www.fourseasons.com/orlando