I've teamed up with Choice Hotels for this post.
Living in Florida, I have the good fortune of being within driving distance to tons of major attractions, specifically Walt Disney World theme parks and water parks, Universal Orlando, Sea World, Busch Gardens, and more. Unfortunately, while getting to these destinations might not be logistically hard, between transportation costs, lodging, attraction tickets, and meals it can be quite cost prohibitive. Last fall we vacationed in Orlando with some friends and they were in favor of staying on Disney property and didn't mind incurring a $600+/night bill to have a suite close to the Magic Kingdom. We opted to stay off property for a fraction of the cost and enjoyed a huge suite, while only being about 15 minutes away. I'd much rather stay a little further away and save our money for more experiences, fantastic meals, or souvenirs. This is precisely why I was thrilled when I was invited to stay at the Comfort Suites Universal Studios Area in Orlando for a family getaway (at no cost to facilitate this post).
Comfort, one of the most recognized lodging brands in the world, is committed to providing you the best stay possible. When you book a room at a Comfort Suites location, you'll be able to spread out in their oversized rooms with separate sleeping and living areas. Every room includes a full size pull-out sofa bed, as well as a refrigerator, microwave and in-room coffee maker and free high-speed internet access (a blogger's dream!). Plus, you can breathe easy thanks to their 100% smoke-free policy.
I was invited to stay at one of Comfort Suite's newly renovated properties, Comfort Suites Universal Studios Area at 5617 Major Boulevard in Orlando, FL. I learned that Comfort is currently underway with a multi-year, multi-faceted system-wide transformation of nearly 1,900 domestic Comfort hotels and guests can enjoy a refreshed property with all the great amenities that Comfort is known for... plus, they've added some new guest offerings to enhance your stay.
We arrived on a rainy Saturday evening and when pulling up to the hotel, I noticed that the exterior of the property was clean and landscaped beautifully. Thankfully there was a large covered area on the front of the building so we could stay dry while unpacking our car. There was plenty of FREE parking (yes, FREE!) and the parking lot was well-lit.
When walking into the lobby we were greeted by the receptionist at the front desk. There were some lovely sitting areas and we noticed a large room to our left with multiple tables and chairs to accommodate breakfast guests - more on this in just a bit! There was also a great little "convenience store" located right off the lobby with snacks, drinks, and other items should you need anything during your stay.
I reserved a (1) king bed, non-smoking suite and we were quickly assigned to room #314 as soon as we arrived. The room was certainly adequate for us and since I didn't bring a travel crib for our 32 month old toddler, I figured he'd just sleep in bed with us during this trip. I was thrilled to see a couch in the room and sure enough, it had a pull out full-size bed inside and there were fresh linens for it in the closet (this is standard in every room). Now we had a perfect spot for our little guy to sleep. The beds were comfortable and there were both soft and firm pillows available, which we greatly appreciated.
The room also had a large TV (bonus, the remote control even had a sanitizing wipe laying on top of it!) with a great selection of Cable TV channels, and all of the other amenities you'd expect like iron and ironing board, in-room coffee maker, hair dryer, and individual A/C and heat unit. As a mom, I was super excited to see a refrigerator and microwave in the room as well. My little guy drinks a lot of milk so it's really convenient for us to have access to a fridge when we travel. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE the free wireless high speed internet! I think it's absurd when hotels are already charging you an arm and a leg to then charge upwards of $10 for internet access.
The room, and especially the bathroom, was clean and tidy. We were really happy to settle in for the night after a long day of travel, but not before we searched for a place close by to eat. According to Urban Spoon, Border Grill Orlando Fresh-Mex was right down the street and it had great reviews. We drove the ½ mile or so and had a great meal. It was more of a hole-in-the-wall type place, but they generally have some of the yummiest food and the service was excellent.
Every morning from 7 AM to 10 AM guests at the Comfort Suites Universal Studios Area hotel can enjoy a complimentary "Your Morning Breakfast" with lots of items to get you going. We took advantage of the breakfast each morning of our stay and I was really pleased with the selection of items. There were whole pieces of fresh fruit like bananas, apples, and oranges, a selection of yogurts, cold cereals with 1% and whole milk, muffins, danish, bagels, breads, two waffle irons with both regular batter and blueberry batter, and each day there were two hot selections like bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, or biscuits and gravy. There were also a variety of juices and a selection of coffees, teas and cocoa (the coffee, teas, and cocoa were available throughout the day). The dining areas were kept very clean and there were staff members always on hand wiping down tables and restocking items. There was even an overflow area adjoining the main dining room with additional seating and television sets. PLUS, if you happen to be leaving early, there's a "Your Suite Success™ Grab It & Go" bag available for two hours prior to breakfast!
Additional amenities for guests include laundry facilities, a fitness center (with 2 elliptical machines, 2 treadmills, a weight bench, free weights, and some yoga equipment) and a business center with computer, copy and fax machine access.
There is also an outdoor heated pool and hot tub on property, both of which have handicap access. I didn't get a ton of photos of this fenced in area because people were enjoying their own vacations and I didn't want to inadvertently capture them in a photo, but again the area was nicely maintained, clean, and well landscaped.
On our first full day in Orlando, we decided to visit Sea World. It was just a 6 mile drive to the park which took about 15 minutes. We spent 6 hours there and by the end of the day our little guy was exhausted. He got to see some amazing creatures that we'd only read about before and he was totally fascinated by the "dolpins" and whales. We also got to hear about some of Sea World's amazing wild life rescue programs and watch a baby manatee be bottle fed. It was a really awesome experience!
That night this pregnant mama was craving Carrabba's Italian Grill, so we drove the short 0.4 miles to the location at 5701 Vineland Road and had a great meal. I love that there are so many dining options within walking or driving distance to Comfort Suites Universal Studios Area location.
After a good night's rest at the Comfort Suites, we got up early the next morning and made our way to Disney World's Magic Kingdom, located just 16 miles away (about 20 minutes by car). Of course we couldn't visit Orlando without spending a day at the most magical place on Earth right?! We had an absolute blast and the Wubba enjoyed this park so much (even more than our visit last fall). He's getting to that perfect age where he can tolerate long days without naps without having major meltdowns and we ended up having a really terrific time together.
Also located a close distance to the Comfort Suites Universal Studios Area are other great attractions like Universal Studios (literally just 2 miles away), Wet' n Wild water park, Seal World's Aquatica, the Orange County Convention Center, Wonderworks, and all of the other great Disney parks like Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM), Downtown Disney, Typhoon Lagoon, and Blizzard Beach. Oh, and speaking of Universal Studios, the hotel features a "Destination Universal" kiosk where you can purchase discounted tickets and print your confirmation.
Overall, we had a wonderful trip to Orlando thanks to our comfortable stay at the Comfort Suites Universal Studio Area hotel. This hotel was a great fit for our family and for the price you can't beat it! Not only is it affordable, it includes breakfast each morning (which can be quite a savings!) and you can earn Choice Privileges points with every qualifying stay. We had a ton of fun in Orlando and left feeling reconnected and recharged - just what we needed!
The lovely people at Choice Hotels want to give one lucky person
a TWO-NIGHT STAY at a Comfort property (up to $400 in value!)
Book it: You can experience the magic of Orlando, Florida at the Comfort Suites Universal Studios Area hotel.
Win it: One lucky person will win a 2 night stay at a Comfort property - valued up to $400!
Open to the US only, ages 18 and up. Ends 3/22/15 at 11:59 PM EST.
Enter using the Giveaway Tools form below. Good Luck!
Disclosure: I received this hotel stay and a promotional item at no cost to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own. One winner will be randomly selected using the Giveaway Tools random selector and notified via email. Once notified, the winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. Prize fulfillment is the responsibility of Choice Hotels. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Google. Void where prohibited.