By Jennifer Audette
Never underestimate the importance of a kid-friendly pool area at a hotel when on a family trip.
You may be booked from sunrise to sunset for your trip to Orlando. There are Disney princesses to get autographs from, roller coasters to brave and fireworks to stay up for. But if you’ve got children of any age with you, chances are they’re going to want a break from the amusement.
Whether that’s a daily break or sometime midweek, having a decent pool for kids at your hotel for a little — or a lot of — down time is beneficial.
Certainly, brands like Disney, Nickelodeon and even CoCo Key are expected to cater to children and have outstanding water parks attached to their hotels.
But several hotels in the Orlando area that you’d never consider also have remarkable children’s pool and water areas.
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Hotel Pool
7102 Grand Horizons Blvd., Orlando
If you never left this resort, you’d have more than enough to do to keep you busy.
For starters, guests have not one, but three pools to choose from — and they’re open 24 hours. The first two are connected by a rock grotto that you can swim through. You also notice the 12 waterfalls right away.
“The slide, the waterfalls, the tunnel … they’re all really cool. They love it,” said Sha Lee, a Lakeland resident, of the pool features her 7-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son enjoy at Hyatt.
The second pool, heated during cooler months, has a 124-foot-long waterside, with a 17 1/2-foot drop. Riders must be be 48 inches or taller.
The water area features a “splash pad” with LED lights that change according to season or holiday. A fire pit, fueled by wood or gas, is lit Thursdays through Sundays and on request.
Hyatt coordinates activities around the pool area, such as a token dive, “mermaid” lessons and scuba-diving classes. The pool areas include two hot tubs, one of which is secluded in a grotto area.
Several of the seating areas are in “caves,” providing shade, including one that holds a flat-screen TV.
The pool areas back up to Lake Windsong, a private lake used only by Hyatt. As part of the $25 daily resort fee, guests can use canoes, kayaks, hydrocycles and sailboats on the lake. Disney’s fireworks can be seen from here nightly.
“You really feel like you’re at a resort, rather than a few steps from Downtown Disney,” said Chris Regan, sales manager at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress.
Orlando World Center Marriott Pool for Kids
870 World Center Drive, Orlando
The name makes it sound like a perfect place for a business conference, and it is, but there’s more.
Lisa Black traveled from London with her 5-year-old, 4-year-old and 2-year-old for 16 days in Orlando in May and June — and ended up spending four of those days out at the pool area at the World Center Marriott. “The pool area is really good, both the kids area and the adults area,” said Black.
The water areas here include three lifeguard-tended slides, an indoor pool, a quieter west-side pool, a large family pool, a lifeguard-monitored kiddie pool area with squirting water statues and a low-key slide. A rotunda in the middle serves as additional lounge-chair seating and a shaded play area for children, featuring Lego tables.
Kids’ activities are planned throughout the day, such as animal visits from nearby Gatorland, dive-in movies, and pool scavenger hunts.
“What we created was a place of resting,” said Gary Dybul, director of sales and marketing at World Center Marriott. “We really wanted to build an environment where we’ve become the destination.”
Four Seasons Resort Orlando
10100 Dream Tree Blvd., Orlando
“We all love water, and just putting down one pool is not so exciting anymore,” said Thomas Steinhauer, general manager of Four Seasons Orlando and regional vice president for Four Seasons. “So we thought, ‘What would attract little kids? What would attract teens? What can we do together?’”
An 11,008-square-foot lazy river features two spray cannons, a 9-foot waterfall and a rapids section. A Splash Zone shoots water into the air as it dances to music.
“It’s a really fun, interactive area. We take it to another level. The nozzles can do all kinds of patterns now,” he said.
The family pool, open sunrise to sunset, is more than 7,500 square feet. The area also features a 242-foot-long slide that kids as well as adults can use.
“The Family Pool offers a beautiful view of the adjacent lake and forests that surround us here,” Steinhauer said.
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