Make It An Overnight. Orlando Resorts Made For Romance

Photo courtesy of The Kessler Collection
By A.D. Thompson, Orlando Local Expert

If the myriad couples who choose Walt Disney World as a destination for their weddings, honeymoons and anniversary vacations aren't enough to convince you that Orlando is a more-than-viable locale for romance travel, consider some of the luxury brands that have set up shop around town. For example, Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton are so sure that theme parks help kindle the fire, they've built their sumptuous resorts in the virtual shadow of Cinderella's castle. But don't think Universal Orlando Resort has left the romance game to Mickey. Their elegant, opulent Loews Portofino Bay Hotel gives guests an express pass to fun at their parks and an Italian Riviera-themed playground to explore when they're through riding the roller coasters. Downtown Orlando's grande dame, the magnificent Grand Bohemian, is a world away from the parks, of course, with its cosmopolitan locale and sensibility and not far away, the Courtyard at Lake Lucerne offers bed-and-breakfast aficionados a cozier, more personal stay amid its fragrant gardens. Over in Winter Park, the Park Avenue-ensconced Alfond Inn gives this tony suburb a large property from which guests can explore the Avenue's copious shops, galleries, museums and bistros with no need for a rental car. 

10. Courtyard at Lake Lucerne
Photo courtesy of The Courtyard at Lake Lucerne

Bed-and-breakfasts are sadly scarce in metro-Orlando; this lovely inn is comprised for four separate historic homes in the shadow of the city's bustling downtown. Popular for weddings and other posh events, its older neighborhood is one oft-missed by visitors and makes for a lovely stay that's altogether different from that of the high-rise hotels and theme-park resorts. The property is well-located for visitors interested in checking out Orlando's best-known attractions (Disney, SeaWorld, Universal) but prime for downtown visits, as well. Both suites and rooms are available and a lovely breakfast is served each morning off the courtyard. Lake Lucerne itself makes a lush backdrop for your stay.

9. Disney's Wilderness Lodge
Photo courtesy of Disney

It's difficult to choose the most beautiful among Walt Disney World's themed deluxe properties but the Wilderness Lodge, with its soaring lodge design, offers rustic, Pacific Northwestern charm at its most epic proportions. Nature trails and pine forests enclose the property, a 67-foot waterslide is among the lures at the Copper Creek Springs pool and the property's on-site restaurant, Artist Point, is among WDW's lesser-known dining gems, which makes for an oft-quieter Disney fine dining experience as you sample Northwestern wines and excellent fare. For more family-centric fun, enjoy the interactive experience at its Whispering Canyon Café! The Geyser Point Cafe offers a breezy lakeside haven for pre-dinner cocktails. Magic Kingdom convenience comes in the form of a resort-based boat that can shuttle guests to the park without the need for extra transportation.

8. Universal's Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
Photo courtesy of Loews Portofino Bay

The Loews Portofino Bay Hotel offers its guests an extravagant European(-style) vacation without the hassle of transatlantic flights. And with far more roller coasters than you'll find on the Italian Riviera. This Four Diamond hotel boasts the luxurious, full-service Mandara Spa, myriad dining options and a water taxi that will to take you directly to Universal Studios as well as its nearby sister properties. Not enough perks? Guests receive a free Universal Express pass that makes waiting on lines a non-issue. With eight restaurants, three pools, an art gallery and many lovely boutiques, there's plenty to occupy your leisure time.

7. Grand Bohemian Orlando, Autograph Collection
Photo courtesy of The Kessler Collection

The elegant and beautiful Grand Bohemian is doubtless one of Orlando's most memorable hotels and a grand dame of downtown. With a wealth of sophisticated amenities, rare artwork, elegant decor and top-tier dining and lounge options, guests are immersed into opulence at this Four Diamond hotel. Worlds away from the resort-style hotels of the theme-park areas, the Grand Bohemian is walking distance from multiple restaurants, bars and nightclubs, and with its own piano bar downstairs in the lobby, makes it easy to enjoy what downtown Orlando has to offer. Its swanky pool provides a gorgeous view of the city.

6. Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
Photo courtesy of Disney/David Roark

Kick back and relax in a verdant, tropical paradise, featuring lush vegetation, koi ponds and rich, exotic South Pacific architecture. Numerous dining options are scattered around the property but if you have the time sign up for the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show for an all-you-can-eat dinner and not-to-be-missed entertainment. Also, keep your eyes peeled for the torch-lighting ceremony, a Polynesian welcoming of the night that includes a fire-knife dance, drumming and chants. Indeed, as with most Disney deluxe resorts, the theming is top notch and the property's torch-lit walkways and island vegetation up the romance factor by miles. Aloha!

5. The Alfond Inn
Photo courtesy of The Alfond Inn

There are hotels and resorts that capture the essence of the resort and theme park area, there are those that immerse guests in the cosmopolitan vibe of Orlando's downtown and then there's the Alfond Inn. Adjacent to beautiful historic Rollins College and within minutes' walk of almost everything cool and cultural to do in gorgeous upscale Winter Park, this is a phenomenal option for folks who may want to visit a park or two but prefer an entirely different atmosphere for their central Florida getaway. Phenomenal dining, museums and shopping are steps from the property, though Hamilton's Kitchen, the Alfond's ritzy on-site dining venue, is worthy of note on its own.

4. JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes
Photo courtesy of JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes

Beautiful Spanish colonial architecture and a lovely lazy river are two features that will lower your blood pressure upon check-in at the J.W. Marriott Grande Lakes where myriad dining options and access to the Ritz Carlton's spa and golf club make for a particularly sumptuous stay. Disney is nearby, but if you're more in the mood to relax poolside, you'd never know. Palms sway, water sparkles, romance beckons. Head to the driving range, take a fitness class, explore the parks and the city but come "home" to luxury, and perhaps drinks and dinner at Primo, before retiring to your comfortable, cozy room.

3. Waldorf Astoria Orlando
Photo courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Orlando

You know what you've come to expect from the Waldorf Astoria name, and that's precisely what you'll get at this contemporary luxury enclave surrounded by the spoils of the Walt Disney World Resort. The hotel is an oasis amid the theme parks, featuring world-class dining and golf and complimentary direct transportation to all the Disney attractions. Customized, client-centric therapies are on tap at the on-site spa while sumptuous steaks and seafood delight diner at the top-rated Bull & Bear steakhouse. The 18-hole Rees Jones-designed championship golf course will take your breath away with its beauty even as it challenges your play.

2. The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
Photo courtesy of Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes

This breathtaking Ritz-Carlton property is less than four miles from the Orange County Convention Center, but worlds away from the fray of the trade show floor. Of course, that doesn't mean it isn't ideal for business, but closing deals is far more satisfying on a world-class golf course designed by two-time British Open champion Greg Norman - an amenity you'll find right on site. Along with easy access to all the attractions Orlando has to offer, the resort offers business travelers extra convenience with its business center, conference concierge, express check-out and airline check-in/boarding pass station. Eleven on-site dining options make planning the perfect working lunch or dinner a snap.

1. Four Seasons Resort Orlando At Walt Disney World Resort
Photo courtesy of Four Seasons

The Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort may be a mouthful to say, but it's a pleasure to stay - whether you're traveling with family or not! Gleaming, luxurious and smack in the middle of Walt Disney World Resort's beautiful Golden Oak community, the FS Orlando's gorgeous zero-entry pool, incredible castle-themed water park and lazy river and complimentary Kids' Camp (not to mention character breakfasts with Goofy and pals!) make this a sumptuous stay with all the right Disney touches. Its adults-only oasis (21 and over, please) means those looking for a little posh peace and quiet with their Florida sun need not look elsewhere. A host of on-site eateries, from casual to elegant, tempt the palate while a 13,000-square-foot spa tempts the weary soul. Couples' suites and waterside spa bungalows up the ante for both luxury and relaxation.