Orlando is more than Mickey Mouse. For a girls’ getaway or a romantic weekend, it’s the ideal destination for some rest, relaxation and retail therapy (of course!).
Where to stay:
- Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. 582 guest rooms, including 60 executive suites, two presidential suites, and one Royal suite. The 56 club level suites are worth the splurge, with plush robes, private balconies overlooking the pool and lake, and include all-day access to the club lounge, which features full buffet breakfast, lunch, afternoon cocktails, dinner and dessert bars). Rent a private poolside cabana (complete with luxe beds, flat-screen TV, and bar service). Go golfing, take a run along the river to spot alligators, pelicans, swans and other wildlife, sign up for a yoga class or take a guided eco-tour, bird watching tour or nature hike. The adjacent JW Marriott has a winding lazy river for kids or kids-at-heart.
- Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld. This acquatic themed resort adjacent to Discoery Cove and Aquatica features some of the largest and most luxurious suites in the area, complete with full dining room, living room with oversize flat-screen TV and wrap around sofa, complimentary in-room wi-fi, coffee and tea. Lounge in the secluded heated pool area while the kids play at R Aqua Zone (with 120-foot water slide and rain tree), work out in the 24-hour fitness centre or grab a latte at the Starbucks in the lobby before you head out for a day of shopping.
Where to spa:
- Neu Lotus Spa at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld features dozens of inspired treatments like the Hadashi Oriental-Style Barefoot Massge, which uses only bare feet to provide highly effective pressure. The Warm Lava Shell Massage, transfers heat through shells (similar to a hot stone massage) to tone and encourage tissue repair. The Ocean Memory begins with a marine exfoliating body glow, a relaxing water bath and then a warm seashell massage.
- Spa at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes features 40 treatment rooms and a private 4,000-square-foot heated outdoor lap pool in the 40,000-square-foot space. Book a treatment and get complimentary access to the spa’s private pool area. Erase stress and fine lines with a Dr. Dennis Gross (NYC-based dermatologist and creator of the MD Skincare line) treatments, like the Deep Wrinkle Treatment, Ultra-Sonic Microdermabrasion or Age-Defying Non-Surgical Face Lift. For the ultimate in relaxation, book one of the signature massage treatments: East Indian Lime Scalp and Body Massage, which uses warm avocado and macadamia and hazelnut oils with wild lime blossom, ginger and sandalwood applied to the neck, shoulders and scalp to increase circulation; or the Eco-Rooftop Hammock Experience, where zero-gravity and massage merge on the green rooftop sanctuary in a cranial sacral, reflexology and shiatsu massage performed while you lay in a hammock. Make your salt scrub at the Scrub Bar by choosing your favourite herb — such as lemongrass, chamomile, rosemary or peppermint — picked daily from the spa’s eco-garden added to Himalayan salt or ground poultice. Take the scrub, along with a recipe card of your concoction so you can recreate the scrub at home once you’ve run out.
Where to shop:
- The Mall at Millenia, a 1.1-million square feet of retail space that has more than 150 stores including Chanel, Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Burberry, Salvatore Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Tiffany. Inside Neiman Marcus, shop favourite designers, including Prada, D&G, Louboutin, Bulgari and Armani. Treat yourself to a personal shopping session, facial in one of the cosmetic treatment rooms or makeup application at the cosmetics counter, and try out exclusive-to-Neiman Marcus brand Le Metier de Beaute, as well as Kate Somerville, Natura Bisse VenEffect Beauty by Phytoestrogen. Stop for a civilized lunch (and glass of wine) at Brio Tuscan Grille.
- Orlando Premium Outlets has two locations: On International Drive, you’ll find more than 160 stores including 7 for All Mankind, Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Betsey Johnson, Dooney & Bourke, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Ted Baker London, Victoria’s Secret and Last Call at Neiman Marcus.
- Premium Outlets on Vineland Avenue houses Prada, Roberto Cavalli, Wolford. Marni, Lululemon and Elie Tahari.
Tip: Stop at the Premium Outlets’ Guest Services to receive discount cards and other coupons for shops and dining deals.
Where to dine:
- LUMA ON PARK: This contemporary Winter Park restaurant features one of the most extensive wine lists in Central Florida and small plates or multi-course prix fixe meals.
- Prato: Also in Winter Park, Prato blends Italian classics with modern techniques and seasonal ingredients in a setting that looks out through year-round patio seating overlooking the park.
- Primo: Located inside the JW Marriott (adjacent to the Ritz-Carlton), this contemporary Italian kitchen uses fresh ingredients from their own onsite garden.
- Norman’s: Celebrity chef Norman Van Aken’s Ritz-Carlton restaurant fuses Latin, Caribbean and Asian cuisines with traditional European techniques.
- Mist Sushi and Spirits inside the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld features handcrafted cocktails and innovative sushi dishes using fresh-caught fish in an aquatic-theme lobby setting.
Get away for the day:
Only 20 miles north of Orlando is Winter Park, a quaint, walkable town that will make you forget you’re anywhere near an amusement park.
- Stroll the 10-blocks of tree-lined shops that include quaint outdoor cafes, upscale shops and boutiques like Tuni’s, Thread, Moda Park and Ginger. For an afternoon sweet, tuck into the retro candy shop Sassafras Sweet Shop.
- Conduct your own wine-tasting session at The Wine Room, which features more than 150 varieties.
- Get your culture fix at The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, which features the world’s most comprehensive collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany, including Tiffany jewelry, pottery, paintings, art glass, windows and of course, lamps. Or walk through the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens or Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College.
- Take a one-hour boat cruise with Scenic Boat Tour, a 50-year-old boat tour that leads you through the beautiful lakes and canals of historic Winter Park, including Rollins College, Kraft Azalea Gardens, Isle of Sicily, historic mansions and wildlife. Tours run daily on the hour every hour from 10 am-4:30 pm.
- The Winter Park Farmers’ Market runs Saturdays from 7 am-1 pm.
- Watch a classic flick in Central Park at “Popcorn Flicks”. Bring a blanket and find a spot at sunset on the second Thursday of each month.
For more ideas on where to stay, where to shop and what to do, visit VisitOrlando.com