Renting a Resort Vacation Home in Orlando
Paradise Palms, poolside
Paradise Palms, poolside
I’ve always been a hotel guy. I don’t know why, exactly, but I just love checking in, putting my suitcase on that little foldout luggage holder, and settling into my room—checking how many channels they have on the TV, adjusting the little thermostat to my liking, then donning the white terrycloth robe from the closet and ordering room service. For me, it doesn’t get much better than that. Probably part of the reason that I love hotels so much is rooted in my childhood.
Growing up, when other families were buying extravagant Christmas gifts or lunching out on a routine basis, my family was busy saving my father’s civil servant salary so that we could spend a decent chunk of the summer on the road, piling into our two-tone Pontiac Bonneville and rolling across the Continent—to California, Colorado, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park—you name it, we went there, and we stayed in little hotels and motels all along the way (which, I should note, rarely had room service or terrycloth on hand). As a kid, when my classmates were drawing pictures of dinosaurs or monkeys, I took out my pencil and drew pictures of hotels, often alongside little roadside restaurants. No joke. I love ’em.
So, on a recent trip to Walt Disney World and Kissimmee, Florida, it took me awhile to come around to the idea of staying in a vacation home. I live in a house on a day-to-day basis, I reasoned. Why would I want to stay in a house while I’m on vacation?
But, travelling with my family, we decided to try it out, staying in a new construction house that’s part of the Paradise Palms development, just off the Irlo Bronson highway, the main strip of hotels and restaurants in Kissimmee that serves Disney World, just to the north. We rented from a company called Global Resort Homes, which manages more than 300 properties throughout the Orlando area, everything from lovely condominiums to roomy houses. I booked via email, checked in at their rental office on the Irlo Bronson, then wheeled to Paradise Palms, a gated development about 15 minutes from the main gate of Disney, my doubts still lingering as we made our way through the small residential streets to our house.
Well, it was wonderful—my eight nights in a Global home were more than enough to sell me on the benefits of a resort home. For starters, it was huge. Rather than a crowded little hotel room, we luxuriated in more than 3,000 square feet of space—with six bedrooms (two master suites with king-sized beds, two-medium-sized rooms with queen beds and two smaller rooms with two twin beds each), five bathrooms (no waiting for a shower, ever), a giant, eat-in kitchen (finished in shining granite and stainless steel, with all dishes and cooking items provided, plus a huge island and dining room table), a family room with stylish furniture, plus a second-floor living room with a comfortable leather sectional. There were no fights over what the watch, as the house had eight flat-screen televisions (one in each bedroom, plus one each in the family and living rooms)—each night, the sports buffs would head up to the living room-cum-man cave, and the rest would remain downstairs in the family room. The home was also equipped with high-speed wireless internet throughout.
The amenities were impressive, too. The hub of Paradise Palms is its clubhouse, which offers a tiki bar, a zero-entry, garden-style pool with two hot tubs, fitness center and sauna, tennis courts and horseshoe pits, plus practical things like a business center, a small market, ATM, and shuttles to the parks. Unexpectedly, the clubhouse also includes a full-fledged movie theater, which screens family friendly flicks on a regular schedule; you can also book the theater (free of charge) to screen your own DVDs, or borrow from a good-sized list of available DVDs and watch them either in the theater, or back at the house.
But, lovely as it was, we didn’t end up spending much time at the clubhouse. We would start our mornings by eating together around the breakfast bar, and at the end of a busy day at the Disney parks or Orlando’s giant outlet malls, we cocooned ourselves back at the house—it even had its own pool, under a screened- in patio. We would pull into our driveway, walk through the front door of our home away from home, take a dip in the pool, then settle in for a movie (or some sports), then go our separate ways, up to glorious, silent solitudes of bedroom (and bathroom) bliss. No terrycloth. But very nice, indeed.
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