Orlando

If you want to plan a family vacation with wow factor, look no further: Picking a hotel with one of the following kid-friendly attractions will earn you major points with your kids. And with activities this fun, you just may end up acting like a kid yourself.

Water Parks

Water park at the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa

Water park at the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa

Hundreds of resorts around the world feature a water slide or two in their pool complex, but a few exceptional properties take it to a whole new level. For example, the Aquaventure water park at the Atlantis features two slides with vertical drops over 50 feet, a mile-long lazy-river pool, a tube that gushes past sharks, and a plethora of other scenic slides. The Grand Wailea water park in Hawaii includes four waterslides, whitewater rapids, caves, a lazy-river pool, rope swings, and a “water elevator” inside a man-made volcano.

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We're ready to zip down this slide!

Who doesn’t feel like a kid again when at a water park? Whether you’re visiting with your own kids, or are just trying to revive your inner kid, a water park can be just what you need for a little fun this summer. We’ve visited tons and tons of water parks during our travels, and have seen all kinds of slides, waterfalls, pirate ships, lazy rivers — you name it! But we whittled them down to the best of the best to show you. So check out our slideshow of the best water parks in the world!

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Getting fit doesn’t have to be on your to-do list after you travel. While many hotels offer state-of-the-art cardio and strength training equipment, we know that treadmills can get downright boring after a while. So we’ve found the hotels that have one-of-a-kind fitness amenities that will add a little spice to your workouts while you travel and below we’ll tell you where to find them.

The Fitness Feature: Kayaking and Canoeing

Kayaks at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes

The Hotel: The Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes

Plenty of beach and lakeside hotels offer kayak and canoe rentals, but few offer as many options for your paddling session. For those who prefer a trained professional to accompany them, guided tours at this Ritz include two-hour eco-tours along Shingle Creek ($60 for adults; $30 for children) and excursions on Grande Lake where paddlers can watch the sun rise and set ($20/hour for adults; $10/hour for children).

Other hotels with similar offerings: Terranea Resort, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

The upscale Terranea Resort offers myriad activities, including two-hour ocean kayaking tours along the Catalina Channel, where paddlers can spot bottlenose dolphins, sea lions, leopard sharks, and bat rays ($89 per person). Or guests can opt for “kayorkle” — a two-hour excursion where guests snorkel and kayak, also for $89 per person.

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We can’t help but get a little nostalgic when thinking of Disney World; after all, it’s where dreams come true! And whether you’re six or sixty, a pair of Mickey Mouse ears never looked so good as when you’re spinning in a teacup or roaming the theme park grounds, cotton candy in hand. However, one thing that decades of Disney experience can change is where you want to stay on the massive property. A resort with a pool teeming with tots, waterslides, and floaties? Great for families, not so fab for couples looking for a bit of romance — you catch our drift. So we’ve done some digging into Disney’s digs and have found the resorts that’ll best suit all types of Disney-bound Disney fanatics. Whether you’re planning a girls’ getaway or a family vacation, Disney World can be just the spot to relax, reconnect — and most importantly – have the time of your life. So without further adieu, first up: Disney for families.

 Disney Digs Best Suited for the Fam: Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge

Kids love the long, winding slide at the pool at the Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Kids love the long, winding slide at the pool at the Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Have some rambunctious kids on your hands? Twenty minutes at the playground will wear them out.

Have some rambunctious kids on your hands? Twenty minutes at the playground will wear them out.

Modeled after an East African safari lodge, with giraffes and gazelles that freely roam the grounds, the 762-room Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of Disney’s most unique resorts — and is arguably the best option for families looking to have highly-entertained tots. Though it’s a bit more removed from Epcot and the Magic Kingdom than other properties, the resort is adjacent to the Animal Kingdom theme park and features a massive pool, a playground, a great kids’ club, and numerous free activities — such as cookie decorating and African drumming — throughout the day. Older children can enjoy the on-site arcade.

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Every so often, our editors curate the best of the best — or as Oyster likes to call ‘em, our Half Dozen. Today, we’re bring you our top six picks for kid-friendly hotels. From massive water parks to on-site zoos, from trapeze lessons from circus performers to roller coasters, these hotels are sure to keep the kids happy.

Watch more Oyster videos here »

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Fantasizing about luxurious hotels and faraway resorts is one thing, but fantasizing about owning them is an entirely different concept altogether. Real estate is a high-stakes game that costs big, but, when done right, earns even bigger. And because we are constantly investigating the latest hotels around the globe, we couldn’t help but wonder who plays the proverbial Oz behind the curtain at some of our favorite spots. Check out ten men and women who are serious players on the hotel scene right now — and just how fat their wallets are.

1. Sheldon Adelson

Net worth: $9 billion

The Venetian in Las Vegas is one of Adelson's crowning achivements

He famously lost $150 million of his fortune this year by betting on losing political candidates, but that barely makes a dent in Sheldon Adelson’s billions. Currently the CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, Adelson began his business career as a mortgage broker and financial consultant before developing the world’s largest trade show, the computer expo COMDEX. In 1989, he purchased the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and developed the Sands Corporation.  As of 2012, the Sands portfolio includes properties across the US and Asia, as well as plans to develop “EuroVegas” in Madrid. His most noted resorts are the Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas, as well as Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
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See everything Orlando has to offer for Junior and Princess!

Orlando is one of the most family-friendly destinations in the world, and for obvious reasons: Not only does it boast a slew of amusement parks and Disney adventures, Orlando hotels also have some pretty great features for youngsters, including clubs, pools, playgrounds, game rooms, and even spas designed just for tots. So grab the kids (and don’t forget Mr. Blankie!) and come explore the best kid-friendly hotel features in Orlando!

 

 
 
 
 

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If you and your partner are planning a quick family escape before the holiday rush, — or are thinking ahead (kudos!) for outings between next year’s school breaks – we’ve come up with four great vacation ideas to offer you a little inspiration. Whether your family wants fun in the sun, a bit of culture, or just a change of scenery, we’ve found the best LGBT family getaways for all types. And as with any good family-friendly destination, these trips have a little something extra for parents to enjoy after the kiddies have gone to bed.

In Search Of: Culture

Destination: Toronto

The "New York up North," Toronto has plenty of cultural sights

 Tagged as “New York run by the Swiss,” Toronto is a massive (and clean!) cultural hub, with a reputation for being both family- and gay-friendly. Canada’s biggest city also has world-renowned restaurants, shopping, and theaters, with quick and easy transportation to take you there. The Fairmont Royal York is one of the Toronto’s premier hotels with its elegant, old world charm, and a prime location blocks from the shopping and attractions of Yonge Street. After a day of sight-seeing on Yonge or in the nearby Entertainment District, parents can cozy up for an intimate evening at the Library Bar, or one of the hotel’s award-winning restaurants, such as the locally-focused Epic. Read More »

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School may be back in session (groan…), but students don’t have to wait until Spring Break for their next set of adventures.  Though most colleges encourage students to venture out of the classroom for hands-on experience in with their majors, finding the funds isn’t easy on a student loan budget. That’s why we’ve found amazing value destinations for college students in need of a little field training. So close the books and get out on the road instead — it’s time to put those lessons into play!

Your Major: Business
The Place to Visit: Atlanta

Atlanta is an "alpha city" driven by several Fortune 500 companies

With a $304 billion economy and the third largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the U.S., Atlanta is one of the most business-driven cities in the country. Hotlanta is known as an “alpha” city (i.e., an important economic city) thanks to major brands like Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Delta Airlines, and UPS setting up headquarters in the Georgia capital. So for business students trying to get some early networking experience, Atlanta is the best city to start handing out cards.

In the heart of Atlanta’s downtown Business District, this Marriott is an affordable option on a student budget, and boasts an impressive gym and business center – perfect for power-lunch prepping. Read More »

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The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

Miami is one of the U.S.’s most celebrated metropolises, a Cuban-influenced coastal city on the Southern tip of Florida, known as the “gateway to the Americas.” But Miami’s wild reputation and glamorous lifestyle can really wear on the locals (and their bank accounts). With its high-brow art scene, luxurious shopping, and A-list clubs, Miami is an energetic, ultra-lively hub for young partiers and jet-setting tourists — but to escape the rowdy scene, southern Floridans have several spots to flock to within the Sunshine State for some much-needed R&R. Put on you sexiest string bikini (or Speedo), pack your bags, and jump in the whip — we’ve got some miles to cover.

Road Trip #1: Miami to Key West

  • Total Driving Time: 3 hours, 11 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 161.7 miles
  • Take This Trip If: It’s been too long since you’ve last passed out in a hammock with margarita in hand.
Key West is known for extreme leisure

Key West is known for moving at an...errr... leisurely pace.

Casa Marina Resort is island luxury at its finest.

Eden House boasts beautiful grounds at an affordable price

There’s a reason even the most sunny of Floridians love visiting Key West: Its laid-back atmosphere and beautiful surroundings make it one of the best vacation destinations in the country. Miami residents may get their share of water sports and authentic Cuban cuisine, but Key West maintains a much slower pace. The island boasts warm weather year-round thanks to its Southernmost U.S City status, which even steamy Miami can’t compete with. For a supremely luxurious experience, the Casa Marina Resort, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, offers a sophisticated setting while maintaining a chill vibe with its poolside bar, beach hammocks, and lush grounds. Although not quite a steal, the Eden House is offers a variety of amenities at a fraction of Casa Marina’s price. Within the beautiful grounds, guests can enjoy complimentary happy hour, outdoor pool (make sure to apply your FREE sunscreen!), koi ponds, hammocks, or barbecue on the small rolling grill. What more do you need for some fun in the sun?

  • Top Driving Tip: Be prepared for Seven Mile Drive to the Keys to feel like Seven Hour Drive. The bridge spanning the Florida Keys is usually heavily congested, but does offer some of the most scenic views of the Altantic Ocean just about everywhere.

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