Momtrends is always on the move. This time it was Orlando for a stay at the Hilton Garden Inn at Sea World. I took my younger daughter (4 years) for three days of sun (mostly) and fun (always). The trip was arranged by the Hilton Garden Inn to showcase their property near Sea World. We splashed, dined and snoozed--testing tons that the hotel has to offer so we can report back to you. (Read about our experience at Sea World at this post)
First, let's talk location. This hotel is about 20-30 minutes from the Orlando Airport. Better yet it's about the same distance to Disney and just a stone's throw to Sea World. If there were sidewalks, you could walk to Sea World in just a few minutes.
Other nearby attractions include Discovery Cove and Aquatica. In fact, had I been smarter, I would have skipped renting a car (total cost $180 for three days--not included on the trip) and relied on the very, um reliable, and FREE shuttles. Yep, the SeaWorld shuttle picks you up right outside the hotel's front door and drops you and your family off at the front entrance to SeaWorld and Aquatica. The hotel also provides transportation to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando.
We love insider's benefits. Staying at the HGI allowed us to get the Quick Queue pass. This pass put us at the front of the lines for all the fantastic rides at Sea World. When I went to splash down on the Atlantis ride the wait time said 70 minutes. I breezed to the front and got on the next boat. Thank you for giving me HOURS of my vacation back. It's much better than Disney's rather lame fast track which always seemed to be complicated and longer than expected.
The breakfasts were the highlight of the dining portion of the trip. But before we get to the am shift, I can tell you the dinner at the Great American Grill was also fantastic. The grown ups had tasty fish entrees (my mom came along on the trip) and my daughter loved her hamburger (with carrots thank you very much!). My caprese salad was a delight and the wine menu was impressive. Our tiny diner got a kids menu and crayons and a coloring book to keep her busy. The service was friendly and efficient.
But back to the main feature--breakfast. Kids under 5 years eat free with a paying adult--for the big people the fee was $12.95. There were tons of healthy options--fresh fruit, oatmeal, whole grain breads and skim milk. Plus the decadent vacation treats such as Fruit Loops. We powered up for out long days with a leisurely meal. The meal is anything but boring. During our visit, a balloon artist made the rounds at the restaurant stopping at all the tables with kids--she made my daughter a balloon wand. And soon after, a very large, very furry stuffed Shamu made and appearance too.
The grounds are pretty and at 224 rooms, the hotel feels cozy compare to some of the Orlando mega hotels. The pool was the perfect size to keep kids busy and splashing. Our room was modern, clean and had a nice little fridge area to stash snacks. No mini bar here, instead fill the space with drinks of your choice. The service was friendly and solicitous.
Blogger notes: Yes there is free high-speed Internet. It seemed to go off every night around midnight (a signal that I need to go to bed too).
What else? There's a competent if small fitness center, or ease those muscles at the Jacuzzi. Next see the sights around town. To book your adventures, Expedia has a travel desk in the lobby. From 7 to noon you can stop by and get tickets to the attractions and ideas for how to spend your time in Orlando.
Rates vary depending on when you go. When I entered some June dates on the bookings section I found rooms at $89 and up.
For more information visit www.HiltonGardenInnSeaWorld.com