Restaurant Row

Sand Lake Road is sometimes referred to as Restaurant Row by the locals – located just minutes from International Drive (I Drive), Sand Lake Road has emerged as a favourite dining destination for locals and visitors. There are loads to choose from – here are our top 3

Seasons 52 – freshest seasonal menu – healthy options – every item is less than 475 calories although you would never know – they don’t stint on taste. The menu is regularly changed to reflect the in season foods and to top it off there is an outstanding cocktail menu – go to http://www.seasons52.com to check out the menus and the location.

Vines Grille & Wine Bar is another of our top 3 – the restaurant is lovely and great if it is a little cooler, we like to sit out on the patio/bar area though and people/traffic watch. The Bar Menu is fabulous for smaller bites and they host a Happy Hour from 4-7pm every night when you get half off all bar food. Finally, the martini choses are great – my favs are the Great Gatsby and The Portini. http://www.vinesgrille.com for more info.

Finally a shout out to the Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar which boasts “a world-class menu of hand-selected premium steaks paired with an award-winning list of 100 wines by the glass”. If you enjoy a steak you will not be disappointed. If I am ever feeling a little homesick, I like to go on a Sunday and enjoy the 3 course Prime Rib dinner for $29.95. http://www.flemingssteakhouse.com

Villa -v- hotel in Orlando?

I thought I would blog on a slightly different topic today and look at the pros and cons of a villa vacation in Orlando versus a hotel stay.

Metro Orlando has the second highest concentration of hotels in the world (after Las Vegas) which approx 120,000 rooms available to book with more being added every day.  There are also approx 26,000 villas for rent – so you have plenty to choose from.

Hotels often tend to be motel style – where you room may be in one of several blocks sited around a pool.  We have stayed in this type of accommodation and being Brits and unused to this kind of set up, we found it difficult to settle/feel secure.  That said more hotels are BIG, clean and can be great value.  There are even Suite hotels which are essentially a combination between a hotel and an apartment – with a kitchenette/living area and your bedroom.  The main differentiator between hotels is their facilities – some will have a pool/spa, most have dining facilities (but not all so if it’s important to you check), air conditioning and ice machines.  If you want to stay near Disney but not in a Disney hotel you should check out the Hotel Plaza Boulevard which is on the doorstep of Downtown Disney and has 7 ‘guest’ hotels to choose from.  These all have free bus service to the parks, guaranteed admission (even on the busiest days) and you can make reservations for shows and restaurants before the general public.  Beyond Disney there are loads of hotels to choose from mostly in Kissimmee and on International Drive.  So the pros – lots of choice, good value, lots of amenities.  The cons for us – additional costs e.g. tips for chambermaids and restaurant staff, being woken/disturbed by other guests/cleaners, less privacy.

In villas you have all your own space – often with your own pool.  It is self-catering so you need to buy in or eat out, however, you can do this when and how you like.  They are often positioned further away from the Parks so you need to factor in travel time, however, you have more flexibility and to keep costs down can often share with another family.  Given their location a hire car is really essential.  Many villas come on communities with other facilities e.g. golf courses, clubhouses, tennis courts etc.  For us the freedom that you get in a villa which is really a home from home outweighs the pros of the hotel.

Whichever route you choose, make sure you know what you want before you start looking because the one thing that is for sure is that you will be spoilt for choice.