You may come to Orlando for the theme parks or a business convention, but there are few things more delightful on a hot summer afternoon (or a winter day when your friends back home are trudging through snow!) than a dip in your hotel pool. If your hotel boasts one with special features, as many in Orlando do, the experience can be even better. Orlando is, of course, a competitive vacation market, so going all-out on pool design is one of the ways that resorts are able to one-up each other. Some of the pools are so desirable that residents—including me—occasionally book stays in the off-season just to spend a day poolside. So when you're planning your Orlando vacation, keep an eye out for hotels with lazy rivers, diving boards, water slides, float-up bars, cabanas, or other special features. Here are a few of my favorites.
If you're into adventure, this is the spot for you. A night's stay and a small mandatory resort fee (currently $22 per night, which covers up to five people) get you access to the hotel's extraordinary water park, with four heated pools and 14 water slides at various thrill levels.
Four Seasons Resort
One of Orlando's newest luxury hotels, the Four Seasons at Walt Disney World Resort is both family-friendly and luxurious. The expansive water area features an adult pool and a family pool, a lazy river, and a 242-foot waterslide. The nearby Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and JW Marriott Grande Lakes also have great lazy rivers.
Hard Rock Hotel
You'll feel a bit as if you're a guest at a rock star's private pool as you luxuriate poolside at the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando. Music is piped in underwater as you swim, and the sand beach, two hot tubs and 260-foot pool slide provide an oasis worthy of rock 'n' roll royalty.
Grand Bohemian Hotel
The pool here is on the small side, but its rooftop location, South Beach vibe and city views make it a local favorite. Grab a cocktail and find a slice of sunshine at this downtown location; it's also fantastic at sunset with the lights and sounds of the city as a backdrop.
Orlando World Center Marriott
This hotel is practically large enough to be a city unto itself, and it has the recreation areas to match. The newly redesigned outdoor area features four pools, four whirlpools, a kids’ splash area, two 200-foot winding water slides and one 90-foot speed slide.