Gaylord Palms Hotel Review: Orlando Family Travel
Thanks to Gaylord Palms for inviting my family for a complimentary stay. As always, all stated opinions are my honest thoughts. I truly value your trust and only recommends brands and products that I genuinely love!
After months and months at home, I really needed a change of scenery for myself and more importantly, for my kids. When I received an invite from the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Florida to stay at the hotel and check out their new safety protocols, I immediately packed my bags! The girls and I were SO ready to get out of the house, and after reviewing their new safety measures, I felt confident it would be a safe environment for my family. Keep reading to see a full tour and Gaylord Palms Orlando, a review of their new safety protocols, and my opinion on traveling with babies and toddlers at the Gaylord Palms!
Gaylord Palms Resort Review: Traveling with Babies and Toddlers
Before we get into a tour of the hotel, let me take a minute to talk about what checking in at the hotel looks like right now. Masks are required in all public spaces, and there are social distancing markers throughout the hotel – including in line at the front desk. When you make it to the front of the line, there’s a hand sanitizing station for your convenience. All of the employees at the front desk are masked and behind a plexiglass sneeze guard, and they keep all of the interactions brief and friendly.
After a very short check-in process (just checking your ID and putting down a credit card), you can book everything else during your hotel stay on the Gaylord Palms website – including reserving pool chairs, ordering room service, and so many more activities. Other than my initial check-in process, which only took a few minutes in total, I literally only had to interact with an employee one other time (again for only a minute or two) because everything was automated. The system is extremely efficient, great for busy families, and really made me feel safe.
What Do The Rooms Look Like at Gaylord Palms?
After check-in, we headed to put our things in our room. We stayed in the Emerald Bay section of the hotel, and our bedroom was the perfect size for us. We chose the two queens option. Summer (almost 3) normally sleeps in the spare bed, and Luna (almost 1) sleeps in the Pack and Play that we bring with us. Note: I’m sure the hotel has crib/bassinet options available, but we like to travel with our own if possible.
The best part of our room at the Gaylord Palms resort was the gorgeous balcony view. Summer LOVED being able to see all of the trees and listen to the waterfalls from our room, and she told me that we were “living in the jungle.” The view is a great addition to the room, and there is also a beautiful light show that happens on the hanging beads in the photo above every evening.
The rest of our room was clean, functional, and a great size for traveling with kids. The dresser was roomy, and the closet provided tons of additional storage. The room also had a hidden refrigerator inside one compartment of the dresser that was extremely convenient!
Housekeeping doesn’t come into your room during your stay for safety reasons; however, they’re available upon request for additional towels/supplies or cleaning.
A Tour of the Gaylord Palms Hotel
And now onto the fun part- a tour of the interior of the Gaylord Palms hotel. This resort is truly beautiful and ENORMOUS. The glass ceilings are eight stories tall and create a beautiful atrium inside the hotel flooded with natural light. Every inch of the hotel is covered in lush greenery, flowing waterfalls, and all sorts of animals native to Florida!
Luna and Summer LOVED taking long walks around the different sections of the hotel each day, and so did I. There’s something new to explore around every corner, and the hotel was so quiet that it seemed like we had the entire place to ourselves.
In the front area of the hotel near the lobby, you’ll find gorgeous open seating areas and tons of beautiful greenery and water.
There’s even a section of the hotel where real alligators and turtles swim in the water! Don’t worry – the alligators are just babies, so they’re not big or dangerous. Summer absolutely loved watching the alligators bask in the sunlight and the turtles swim through the clear water.
Everglades Section of The Gaylord Palms
The remainder of the Gaylord Palms Resort is split into different themed areas. The first section we visited had an Everglades theme. It’s filled with wooden pathways, flowing creeks, and lots of animal sightings. Again – all of the photos I’m showing you are INDOORS, which means you get to escape the Florida heat and humidity and stay in the cool air conditioning. SUCH a convenient factor when you’re traveling with babies and toddlers.
The pathways throughout the hotel are very wide, so social distancing is extremely easy to accomplish. We honestly never had to get within 10 feet of anyone at the hotel because there’s so much extra room, and everyone was being very respectful of personal space.
On the lower level of the Everglades section, there’s a fun exhibit where kids can check out four types of snakes and get an up-close look at a baby alligator. Summer asked to visit this area every day of our stay!
Key West Section of Gaylord Palms Resort
The next area of the Gaylord Palms Orlando is themed after Key West, Florida. It features bright colors and turquoise waters.
Believe it or not, this gorgeous boat is actually a restaurant, and again, this area is completely indoors. While we didn’t eat at this restaurant, the menu looked absolutely delicious. I’m definitely planning on returning to eat here when I can go on a date night with Ryan!
St. Augustine Section of Gaylord Palms Orlando
The next area we visited inside the Gaylord Palms was themed after St. Augustine, Florida. This area features stone tunnels and pathways, a small historical exhibit featuring St. Augustine memorabilia, and gorgeous landscaping.
You can actually walk behind this waterfall too! See a full look in my “Gaylord Palms” highlight on my Instagram stories.
What is The Pool Like at Gaylord Palms?
The pool at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando is pretty amazing if you’re traveling with children. The main pool has an extensive shallow wading area with built-in fountains, so I could easily let my toddler walk around by herself with supervision. As you can see in this photo with Summer running behind me, the water only went up to her ankles. It was also the perfect area to sit and splash with babies.
Even in the deepest area of the pool, the depth is barely over 3 ft. It’s genuinely such a great pool for little ones, and we were lucky that it was pretty much empty when we first arrived at the pool! I’d highly recommend heading to the pool first thing in the morning to take advantage of an empty pool area and less heat / risk of sunburn.
And as you can see in the photo, there’s a GIANT play area for children with all sorts of interactive features and water / splashing areas. There’s a tamer area geared towards younger children at the bottom that’s great for supervised play, and there’s a more adventurous area of stairs for older kids.
If you have older children, teens, or adventurous adults with you, there are also quite a few water slides! In fact, there is even an EXTREMELY tall slide that’s nearly the same height as the hotel that goes straight down and looks positively terrifying to me. People were saying it was a ton of fun, but I’m a little bit of a scaredy-cat, so I’ll just take their word for it haha! Bottom line is that there’s something for everyone at the pool from babies to adults!
The safety protocols at the pool are quite extensive without feeling intrusive. Only guests are allowed to enter the pool, and you have to check-in and get a wrist band to enter. You’re required to wear a face mask to and from the pool area, but you’re allowed to take it off while at your socially-distanced chair or while you’re in the pool / on the slides.
All of the chairs are numbered, so it’s easy to remember your spot. The chairs are also socially-distanced and have blocked off areas in between groups of chairs where people aren’t allowed to sit. We were able to test out the premium reserved pool seating that’s available for an extra charge, and it was incredible! You simply book the service on a website, grab a wristband at the pool check-in, and enjoy a front-row view of the pool with a large umbrella.
I’d HIGHLY recommend this service – especially if you’re traveling with children. It gives you the advantage of a great view, more room in front of your chairs, and you don’t have to worry about keeping your seat all day long. It’s already reserved for you!
We went to the pool first thing in the morning, and it was the perfect time to visit. The weather wasn’t as hot, and the pool was nearly empty. I’d highly recommend visiting the pool in the morning for these reasons. While the pool wasn’t overly crowded later in the day, it was definitely busier when we walked by the pool area later that day. The earlier you go, the better experience you will have!
What Are The Current Safety Protocols at Gaylord Palms Orlando?
Speaking of safety protocols, let’s discuss how Gaylord Palms Orlando is handling COVID restrictions throughout the hotel. There are clear and concise educational signs EVERYWHERE. While they’re not obtrusive, you can absolutely not miss them.
Face masks are required in all public areas, and guests are encouraged to maintain proper social distancing. All of the guests we passed by were extremely respectful, and we rarely got closer than 10 feet from another group. The hotel is so large that it’s easy to spread out, and we walked through many areas that were completely empty. It was great!
There are hand sanitizing areas throughout the resort, and the elevators only allow four guests (with social distancing) or one party to enter at a time. With that being said, people were really not entering the hotel with anyone other than their own families/friends.
I felt extremely safe throughout our entire stay. The resort is immaculately clean. All staff are respectful and wearing face masks properly. The resort was not crowded at all, and when we did encounter other guests, everyone was extremely responsible and respectful. I didn’t see a single guest without a mask indoors, and everyone maintained extremely large distances between groups thanks to the wide walkways and humongous interior of the hotel. I was genuinely very impressed!
Is It Easy to Travel with Kids at The Gaylord Palms Hotel?
It couldn’t be easier to travel with babies, toddlers, or children at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando. In addition to all of the beautiful indoor exhibits and the incredible family pool area, there are huge open areas outdoors where kids can roam freely. Both of my daughters were happy and entertained during our entire stay, and we’ll definitely back in the future for another family staycation!
You can see more about our stay at the Gaylord Palms on my Instagram and my Instagram stories under the “Gaylord Palms” highlight on my profile. Learn more about the Gaylord Palms resort and book a room for your family here!