Approaching The Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Centre, I wondered if a new stadium had been built to take advantage of nearby Disney World. The huge structure designed with Old Florida architecture with a glass roof wasn’t a new domed football field. It was in fact a hotel; and would be my home-away-from-home for the next four nights.

The 1400 room hotel features a 4.5 acre interior courtyard that has everything from themed restaurants to an alligator pool, with a circuit of walkways and Florida foliage. Guests can enjoy the architecture of Key West, St. Augustine and the mysterious Everglades without leaving the hotel. Florida heat, humidity and summertime rain showers are not a factor because the entire area is covered by a glass dome reminiscent of London’s Crystal Palace.

In short – The Gaylord Palms is weather-proof! PR Director Keith Salwoski explains; “In Montreal you folks have the winter to contend with, and here in Central Florida it gets pretty warm in the summer – so we dealt with it by providing a comfortable climate controlled environment!”

Guests can enjoy and after dinner stroll through the hotel “grounds”, enjoy a morning coffee or after dinner drink without getting wet.

Guests have a choice of two enormous outdoor pools where you can soak up some of that famous Florida sunshine. Fun for the whole family at Clearwater Cove, with a water slide and other kid-friendly water features. The art deco South Beach Pool is reserved for adults.

The Gaylord Palms is located about five minutes from the Disney World main gate, and the hotel offers regular bus service to and from the world’s leading theme parks. Epcot and Universal Studios are also minutes away. There is a convenient and efficient area dedicated for coach transportation to the theme parks. Coach fares are included in a modest resort fee.

How big is it? Well…the complement of 1400 rooms includes 9 Presidential Suites, (enough to host a mid-sized United Nations delegation.) These opulent accommodations include a grand piano, an elegant dining room, library, and a luxuriously appointed master bedroom suite.
The ‘regular’ hotel rooms are spacious. Upon entering my one-bedroom suite, there was a dining room set for 4 – 6 people, and a living room.

The oversized bedroom had plenty of space for a king-sized bed, a sitting area, a work station (complete with computer and high speed internet). The Gaylord has 106 similar suites; and 25% of the rooms have king-sized beds, and 75% have double or queen beds. Whether travelling as a family or a couple, you’ll have accommodations with plenty of space. Guests with special needs have rooms equipped with ramps and extra width doorways.

There are numerous golf courses in the Orlando/Kissimmee area available, but just a mile from the resort is the Falcon’s Fire Golf Club, designed by Rees Jones. You can take lessons or participate in clinics and schools. Whether you want a tune up or have a desire to take up the game, the folks at the 6,900 yard Falcon’s Fire will take care of you.

Before heading over to the course, you can practice you putting and chip shots at the Gaylord’s on-site Coquina Dunes 9-hole executive course.

The Gaylord is also home to the prestigious Canyon Ranch Spa Club, where guests can enjoy a full range of spa treatments, and a full service beauty salon.

There are six restaurants to choose from, each with a different theme and menu. We enjoyed a terrific dinner at the Old Hickory Steakhouse, with dining areas set up on a series rustic Everglades-style platforms and shanties.

Delicious and tender Black Angus beef cuts and fresh-daily seafood were complemented by family style servings of vegetables and potatoes. Save room for the signature cheese course, which also includes unique artisanal cheeses, individually selected by the restaurant’s cheese expert.

The knowledgeable bartenders are happy to explain how they create the different flavours and the history of the rums used. It can be a fascinating tasting voyage around the Caribbean – mixed in with tales of piracy and naval battles. Might explain the recent 20% increase in rum sales!

Villa de Flora features Mediterranean-inspired cuisine from France, Italy, Greece and Spain; prepared in 6 kitchens. Prepared fresh with buffet-style convenience, Villa de Flora is perhaps the most popular restaurant. Other restaurants include: Sora for those who love Sushi; sports bar familiarity at H2O; Java Coast for fresh brewed coffees, baked goods, sandwiches, and beer.

You can wind up the evening at Auggie’s Jammin’ Piano Bar.

Shoppers need not despair – The Gaylord has a variety of boutiques.

The Gaylord Palms opened in February 2002, yet it seems to be much newer. Keith explains; “We have a program called Perpetual Renovations. We don’t wait for carpets to wear or furniture to become tattered. We renew the hotel on a regular basis, so that in effect the entire hotel is redone every 5 years.

The advantage is that we never have to close a floor, and therefore loose revenue. Guests tell us that they appreciate that ‘always fresh’ look.”

The staff is terrific, and it’s not an accident. “Mr. Gaylord is a firm believer that a happy staff will mean that our guests will enjoy great service.” Keith continues; “We have day care services for all the staff and management. Senior managers will pay significantly higher rates for their children than our chambermaids – who may not pay anything.

We refer to our employees as “Stars” and it’s not a gimmick – it’s a company philosophy.

Our company is employee centred; and the excellent service for guests just falls into place.”

I have a high opinion of The Gaylord Palms Resort, but you may want to have other views: for 6 years it has been rated as Florida’s Top Hotel by Florida Monthly magazine; has earned AAA 4 Diamond Award; and the Gold Key Elite Award from meetings & Convention magazine.

Whether your ‘convention’ is a family reunion, a golf excursion with good friends, or a visit for the two of you – back the wonder of Disney World and the fascination of Epcot, The Gaylord Palms Resort is a worthy candidate as your home-away-from-home.


The Gaylord Palms is located in Kissimmee in central Florida, with a wide variety of airline service to Orlando. Reservations: 407-586-2000 or Bon Voyage!

Related Posts