Most people think of Walt Disney World when they think of Orlando, but there are great resorts where you can base your visit to the Sunshine State that are a bit away from the theme parks, but still close enough to conveniently visit them. Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate is a smart choice for one place to stay for family fun.
The Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate offers an upscale home away from home. It’s also away from the chaos of the region’s theme parks, but close enough to offer convenience if those attractions are part of your itinerary. Families will especially enjoy the resort’s water features, including the 850-foot lazy river that you’ll have a hard time getting your children out of (heck, you won’t want to get out, either). The grounds are gorgeous and meticulously cared for, as are the spacious rooms. The balconies (if you request a room with a balcony) are on the small side, but offer a great view of the property. The rooms, however, are very spacious.
We visited in September 2015, at a slow time for the resort, and some updates were underway to the building’s exterior and the pool deck surface. It was actually a comfort, not an inconvenience, knowing the resort was reinvesting in itself. (Hotel price range: $$$)
You can see video of the resort by clicking here.
What Works for Families
- Super soft, comfortable beds and great linens, including plush towels for the bathroom
- Free wifi for guests (but note, only up to 4 in a room, which can quickly disappear if you travel like me, with a laptop, smartphone, iPad and multiple teens). Also note, the wifi kicks you off in various sections of the resort, where you’ll need to log in again for the lobby, conference area, or guest room again.
- Breakfast. The food at Trevi’s “Art of Breakfast” buffet is fantastic, especially the omelets.
- The nine hole, par 3 golf course is a ton of fun for families. Our girls had never been golfing before and we had a blast showing them how to play on this relatively easy course. The fee comes with clubs, so you don’t have to bring your own.
- Kids Club and Arts and Crafts offer options to keep the kids busy when you can’t take them to the family pool for fun.
- The location is ideal for soccer or lacrosse sports teams who can compete in the fields at the back of the resort—fields that you can see from your balcony in many cases.
What Doesn’t Work for Families
- Careful on the slide: before you let the kids go down, try it for yourself. It’s covered and dark, so it can be frightening for some.
- The lazy river is a blast, but keep your feet up in the floats as you move your way through. All of us stubbed our toes on the filter grates on the pool floor at various points in the lazy river and it’s painful when it happens. You expect the bottom to be flat throughout, or the filters to be flush with the ground, but that’s not the case (the resort explained that these are a safety precaution–designed to prevent accidental drowning from suction entrapment). I’ll take a stubbed toe any day over that kind of tragedy. So, keep in mind, you are supposed to be floating, so the grates shouldn’t be an issue if you really do float your way around.
- Smoking areas are near foot traffic. Smokers are supposed to stay back, but that’s not always the case. We walked through smoke each time we went to the pool area and that could be easily resolved by moving the smoking area to the other side of the patio.
- Check the fees before you book. There’s a resort fee and self-parking fee for cars, along with various fees for some of the children’s play options (like tie-dye shirts and sword decorating). They’re not abnormally high, but you won’t want any surprises!
All in All
This is not a small hotel by any means. You’ll find 720 guest rooms and suites, including two and three bedroom villas. You have to assume a major draw is the 36 holes of championship golf. We found the nine-hole par-three course to be ideal for our brand new golfers. There’s a full-service spa, formal pool with private cabanas, family pool with 125-foot waterslide and a very relaxing lazy river. It’s located about seven miles from Walt Disney World (the resort offers a free shuttle, but it must be arranged through the concierge 24 hours in advance) and 22 miles from the Orlando International Airport.
We found the resort lobby areas to be very plush—it made the girls feel like princesses in a castle—but the rooms weren’t so fancy that we didn’t feel like we could relax.
There are a few restaurant options on property and they feature locally grown products. We only tried breakfast, but found it delicious each day, from the buffets with omelets to the french toast cooked with a crust of corn flakes and coconut. Absolutely delicious.
It was quiet while we visited in mid-September, so maybe it’s frequented by families more in the summer, but during our visit, we felt like we pretty much had the run of the resort to ourselves, seeing only one or two other groups at breakfast, or by the pool. That’s good and bad—fine for us, because our children played with each other, but if I had a child alone, I imagine they would have been pretty bored without other kids around.
We found plenty of fun on our own, taking the surrey bike out for a spin (and finding it to be quite the workout—in fact, we skipped the workout center because our thighs were burning after our excursion around the golf course a few times on the bike).
Overall, we found the Omni Orlando to be a beautiful resort where we’d happily return for another stay.