Review of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Walt Disney World Orlando

Pulling up to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, I initially thought the building looked odd. A massive building with a thatch roofed appearance, totally out of place in Florida. My first impression melted to awe when I walked into the lobby. Holy smokes, I had never seen anything like this! I had been transported to a strange and delicious world, and I didn’t want to leave. Not one bit. There were artifacts, African themes taken to astronomical proportions, exotic animals in the distance.

The service at the desk was on par with the best luxury resorts. All my questions were answered, we got maps of the resort layout (a definite necessity), and lots of other goodies to go into our memory book.

The room was fabulous. The African theme was on everything…down to the light fixtures and tiles. I immediately conjured up visions of an African theme in my own house.

The best part of the room was the balcony. Two chairs, one table, and a SAFARI just feet away. It was the most exotic suspense of reality I could conceive.

We had reservations at the upscale restaurant Jiko’s. The meal was AMAZING, definitely French cuisine with African inspiration. We had the steak and the monkfish, and appetizers emblazoned on my tastebuds (a bread-curry-yogurt dish). The service was outstanding. It quickly became my favorite Disney Resort restaurant.

Next door, Boma’s boasts an exotic but less intimate buffet experience. They have an open kitchen here with a wood-fire rotisserie grill (that smells fantastic). We tried the breakfast buffet one morning, and there were some unusual and tasty choices. I was stuffed! They also offer a dinner buffet with some African cuisine touches.

Nearby is Mara’s a food court with Disney/resort priced meals. This is the cheapest way to eat at AKL (that’s not saying much, it’s a resort after all). There were some unusual snacks here, and the service was friendly.

The pool was beautiful and creative, and you’ll want to allow enough time to really enjoy it. Of course, the animals on the resort “savannah” are the highlight. There’s an observation deck, and you can see zebras, giraffes, antelopes, and all sorts of critters out there. There are higher observation decks and a fantastic outdoor bonfire spot where you can grab a rocker and decompress.

The first morning I woke up extra early to watch the sun. I had ordered room service. The experience of room service breakfast, coffee, newspaper, and giraffes on the balcony was such a stress reducer. For the first time, I didn’t want to go to EPCOT! Our stay was much too short — only two nights. And ever since then, I imagine going back real soon.

Since our visit, Disney has added villas to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for even more options!

~Cindy Grant, Travel Consultant, ReconnectTravel.com 972-625-6200

Waldorf Astoria – a Luxury Retreat for an Orlando Escape

Waldorf Astoria Orlando, the newest luxury resort in the Disney-Lake Buena Vista area, which opened in October 2009. Part of the emerging 482 acre Bonnet Creek Complex, this property offers all the luxury amenities and services you’d expect from the Waldorf Astoria Collection, as well as the Waldorf Astoria Golf Club and easy access to Walt Disney World.

The Waldorf Astoria Orlando offers 497 rooms a 24,000 square foot spa and 4,000 square foot fitness center, as well as signature restaurants similar to those in the Waldorf Astoria New York (Peacock Alley, Bull & Bear Steakhouse, Oscar’s, Sir Harry’s Lounge and Aquamarine). The Bonnet Creek development also includes the 1000 room Hilton Bonnet Creek, as well as 160,000 square feet of meeting space.

The clientelle at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando will be mostly business travelers and attendees of meetings and conventions at Bonnet Creek. However, with Walt Disney World so close by, this is great for a special romantic weekend getaway for two.

~Cindy Grant, Travel Consultant ReconnectTravel.com 972-625-6200

Winter paradise in trendy St. Moritz, Switzerland

Picture-perfect Alpian wonderland St. Moritz has long been a favorite winter destination for the well-heeled. This Swiss resort town offers sun, snow, and clear blue skies, luxury resorts, fine dining, and a wide array of winter sports to keep you busy. And there’s also a stylish casino located in the Kempinski Grand Hotel.

There’s no shortage of winter activities in St. Moritz. Chose from skiing, cross country skiing, ski and snowboard schoools, the Olympic Bob Run, Curling Center, Cresta Run, horseback riding, horse-drawn sleigh rides, ice skating, an indoor pool, sledging, paragliding, hang-gliding, and golf.

St. Moritz has five luxury hotels, all of which offer exceptional service, accommodations, and scenery:

  • Badrutt’s Palace Hotel
  • Carlton Hotel
  • Kempinski Grand Hotel des Baines
  • Kulm Hotel
  • Suvretta House

There are also four star upscale and three star moderate hotels available.

To get to St. Moritz from the US, fly in to Zurich or Milan and take a train in to St. Moritz. Or, if you’d like a multiple destination itinerary consider taking one of the Swiss scenic trains that services St. Moritz. Glacier Express goes from St. Moritz to Zermatt (and reverse), while Bernina Express goes from Chur through St. Moritz to Lugano (and reverse). Scenic trains require advance reservations.

~Cindy Grant, Travel Consultant ReconnectTravel.com 972-625-6200

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