Where to stay is a very popular question we receive — especially when it comes to notoriously family-friendly cities like Orlando, Florida. Options seem endless and many families don’t know where to start.
We recently stayed at the Sheraton Vistana Villages on I-Drive in Orlando and lets just say that we enjoyed the experience so much that we extended our stay an extra two nights.
WHEN: January 19 – January 24, 2018
WHO: Rick, Angie, 4 year old & 2 year old sons
ACCOMODATION TYPE: Two-bedroom, two-bathroom villa
When traveling with young kids a lot of families say they have the most success when hotels replicate home. The less children miss, the fewer meltdowns you might experience. We’re always on the hunt for spacious, comfortable suites offering separate bedroom space (for nap time or earlier bedtime) and kitchenettes. The Sheraton Vistana Villages checked off every box on our “must-have” list and offered a whole lot more.
One of our main requirements is a spacious room. We’ve traveled on other occasions and crammed ourselves into a standard hotel room (with a bedroom, two queen beds and a kitchenette counter). Although we made it work with a little creativity, those vacations were anything but relaxing because we were constantly juggling kids, nap schedules and a lack of room to spread out.
At the Sheraton Vistana Villages Orlando, you can choose from a variety of suite sizes to accommodate your specific needs. Because the hotel caters to a lot of longer term stays (for conferences or return vacationing families), their suites are fully equipped to help you have a relaxing stay.
We stayed in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom suite in building 26, which is located in close proximity to the marketplace (store), fitness facility, business centre, kid-friendly pool, water slide and playground. The bedrooms were very large, bright and spacious as were the two bathrooms. The suite offered a full dining table (indoor table seated six people and the outdoor table seated four people) as well as a stacked washer and dryer. These are “extras” that make vacations much more enjoyable when you’re traveling with younger kids. It takes the stress out of packing (because you can wash clothes or bedding at will and you can prepare family meals, which is easier on the wallet).
Our one tip is to put young kids or light sleepers in the back bedroom. The bedroom at the front of the suite, which looked onto the front hallway/walkway, was, at times, noisy from pedestrian traffic.
Upon arrival, we were pleased to see that the room was fully stocked with dish-washing supplies, laundry detergent, dishes, pots, pans, a kettle, coffee and much more. All of the everyday essentials for cooking and cleaning were found on-site and free of charge. For replacements, you just call housekeeping.
ACTIVITIES & AMENITIES:
The Sheraton Vistana Villages Orlando offers a wide range of family-friendly activities, which is why there are so many repeat guests. We met a lot of families who return to this specific hotel year after year. All it took was one amazing experience and this property became their vacation home. Another family that we met, from Arizona, came down to Orlando for a conference and decided to make this hotel their annual family retreat after experiencing all that it offered for kids.
Our favorite activities:
(1) Arts & Crafts activities. For $10 (per activity or you can buy a package deal) kids can partake in a variety of poolside, supervised crafts. Our kids made superhero masks & capes, and painted rocks. It’s a great way to break up the day and give them a focused activity.
(2) Kid-Friendly Pools
Not only is there a shallow wading pool area near the main reception building (which our kids loved) but there’s a dedicated pirate ship water area that children of all ages love.
Need I explain anything more? This resort is particularly great for families because they have water options for babies/toddlers (wading pool/pirate ship) as well as a water slide for older kids. There’s truly something for everyone.
(4) On-Property shops, restaurants and fitness facility
There’s nothing quite like having a full-service store in your hotel. The Marketplace is located at the base of building 25 and offers everything from packaged goods and travel essentials (toothpaste, shaving cream etc) to fresh salads and sandwiches. We picked up a few basics to cook up in our room (they even have frozen pizza) and were pleasantly surprised at the pricing.
There are also smaller shops located by the pools with snacks, bathing suits, pool toys and much more.
(5) Daily Activity Schedule
Each day, there’s a new schedule outlining family activities. You can check out the weekly schedule that’s available at main reception or on their instagram page or pop by the boards located around the property.
(6) Fish & Duck Feeding
This was such a pleasant surprise! Located on a bridge near building 26, there’s a feeder for wildlife. We fed ducks and fish multiple times a day. The kids loved it and the ducks were so cute. They came right up for food and were very friendly. Apparently, there used to be (or might still be) large turtles that pop up too but we didn’t see any. But, this was a popular activity for young families. You never knew what you’d see!
(7) Covered Playgrounds
When we visited, the weather fluctuated between warm sunshine and overcast, cooler temperatures. No matter what the weather brought us, the hotel had options. The kids loved the playgrounds. One option is covered from the blazing sunshine and features newer equipment…
while the other park (on wood chips) is more rustic and features a lot more climbing apparatus.
We were SO pleasantly surprised to find these both within walking distance from our suite. We’ve been to a lot of hotels around the world where we’ve said, “if only there was a playground here” and at this hotel, there are two amazing ones with completely different features.
(8) In-Room Dining
A lot of hotels of this size don’t offer in-room dining due to the vast expanse of the property. But, thankfully, this hotel will bring food right from the restaurant to your room. When we arrived on the first day (check-in is 4:00pm) we set up the room and then realized it was dinner time…and we weren’t prepared. We were able to order room-service and eat a delicious meal right in the suite without lifting a finger (except to make the call).
Overall, when you’re looking for family-friendly hotels, in Orlando, there’s no shortage of incredible options. We’ve stayed at a wide variety of places and this hotel is an ideal match for young families.
Extra tips: If you’re looking for some extra deals on meals, try mentioning this at the concierge desk (we did and we received a package with some coupons for nearby restaurants). Also, if you want to partake in a lot of the activities, mention this at check-in too. We didn’t and ended up paying for each individual activity and were only told of the package deal on our last day there.
Overall, this is a great family friendly property with ample (free parking), shuttles and enough on-site activities to keep you busy without needing to leave the resort. If you do decide to visit Disney World or Universal, there within a 17 minute drive (so very close and accessible as well).
We’d rate this a 4.5 star rating for young, traveling families. Please continue to DM us or send us an email with your specific questions related to this property.