Who here has been to Universal Orlando or Disney World? I may be the only one who HASN’T! So it was super funny to me that I was taking a vacation to Orlando and not even going to Disney or Universal! Seems silly, right? Until you discover the Marriott Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center. If you’ve never heard of the Gaylord chains you are truly missing out!! But I’m here to change that. I’ve created a detailed guide below with all the important info you need and a bunch of indulgent photos.
(This photo was taken from the Gaylord Palms website here. I do not own this photo. However I do own all other photos in this post!)
Like most of us, I get really stressed right before a vacation or trip. I feel like I have to have each day planned, all my outfits paired with shoes and accessories, and decided on what photos to take where. Once I have my full looks planned, I take time to set up a flat lay photo or two, and then pack it up when I’m done. Needless to say, it takes a WHILE to pack! Once all outfits, toiletries, and snacks were packed, Andrew and I began our roadtrip to Orlando (Kissimee if we’re being exact).
During the drive down to Orlando, I wasn’t quite feeling the vacay-mode I was anticipating for so long. I left work all frazzled from making a mistake and didn’t even say goodbye to anybody. And after getting home with 2 hours to finish packing, I still wasn’t ready to leave when I had wanted to. We finally hit the road about 40 minutes later with a 7 hour drive ahead of us. We arrived at Gaylord shortly before 10pm.
We pulled into this huge, grand, extravagantly inviting building with fancy lighting and vacation mode instantly clicked.
When you pull up to check in, one of the valet men are required to hold your keys while you go inside the resort. At the front desk Emily very warmly welcomed us, explained where everything was on the map, and the easiest way to access our room. They will ask you for a credit/debit card to put on file to cover any expenses. There is a $22/day resort fee that will be due upon check-in which is not bad at all, considering the incredible place you get to stay! And you can have the restaurants throughout the resort charge to your room, which charges that card, instead of having to pay right there. It saves a lot of time when you’re trying to head out.
Once we were done checking in, we parked the CR-V and unloaded our belongings. You’re able to park in self-parking for $22/day to save on valet parking. It is on the side of the resort and has easy access to the rooms and elevators. Unfortunately there’s no free parking because… resort.
We had a standard corner unit in the Key West section which was perfect for just the two of us. If you wish to have a room with a view of the atrium it costs an additional $45/night which we didn’t feel was worth it. Sure the view would be nice, but you’ll likely be out of the room most of the day.
Once we set down our bags in our room it was time to explore. Let me tell you… This was probably the most exciting part of the whole trip!!! There are three different atriums to explore. The atriums are indoor recreations of unique Florida locations/environments complete with aspects of nature (trees, plants, etc) and sounds to make them as realistic as possible.
Got a super cool photo here. Check it out on IG!
There are two pools right outside the Everglades atrium. There is an adult only (18+) pool and a kids/family pool. South Beach Pool is the adults only pool with poolside service; Cyprus Springs pool is the pool with the wet playground and the water slides. The South Beach pool is GORGEOUS at nightime, so I would definitely suggest going back after dark – it’s open until 11pm over the summer.
South Beach Pool at night
The Resort //
With over 400,000 sq. feet, there’s SO much to explore! There are three indoor atriums, two outdoor pools, more than 6 restaurants, a large outdoor lawn/lounge area, and so much more. There is a St. Augustine atrium, an Everglades atrium, and a Key West atrium. The St. Augustine atrium has large stone structures that are very castle-like and lots of bright foliage. There’s even a mini waterfall you can walk behind! The Everglades Atrium feels like a treehouse amidst a rainforest. The Key West atrium is fun and bright with a boat, palm trees, and an indoor pond with huge fish!
St. Augustine Atrium
The Everglades atrium is where you’ll have the quickest and easiest access to and from the pool area. Prepare to be chilled as soon as you walk in from outside – it’s freezing in the entrance area from the pool! It gets better as you walk further into the atrium though so no worries. There’s a mini Build-a-Bear station and an arcade room as soon as you enter from outside as well.
In between the St. Augustine and Everglades atriums is a mini gator and turtle pond. It’s cool to see the gators and turtles swimming together! You can watch a gator feeding in the evening around 5:30.
Key West Atrium
At the back of the Key West Atrium is a gorgeous recreation of a ship with a restaurant atop. Below the boat and along the boardwalk-like pathway there’s 3 varieties of native Florida fish to marvel at. But let’s be honest… you’ll likely marvel at the gorgeous ship more (I did!).
Isn’t is breathtaking??
South Beach Pool
South Beach pool is for adults 18 and over only. Like I mentioned earlier and elaborate on later, there is poolside service here where a waiter will take your order and bring food or drinks out to you in your chairs! The South Beach pool is a nice place to simply relax and enjoy the sunshine and forget about all your worries and stress. If the sun is too much for you, your friendly service waiter will open up an umbrella for you for some shade. Restrooms are easily accessible nearby, so no need to walk far.
In short… I heard a kid ask his dad what the difference was between the kid pool and the adult pool and he said “peace and quiet.” He’s pretty much on point!
You have the option to reserve a poolside cabana complete with private chairs, cabinets, and closeable curtains. It’s about $260 to reserve in advance for a full day, or you can reserve one for half a day for about $150 if there are any left available day-of (no advance reservations). If you’re a party of less than 4 people, I would say pass on the cabana and sit along the pool’s edge. You still receive the same poolside service in the lounge chairs by the pool.
There are a couple different options for eating at the resort – anything from super casual to fancy fancy! You have the option to purchase snacks from one of the indoor marketplace shops for a quick snack, the comfort of ordering poolside or watching a game while dining, or the luxury of a steakhouse with an exquisite menu. I’ve listed the places below accordingly (casual to fancy).
Breakfast isn’t provided, so this would probably be your best bet for a quick bite. Prices are quite high, but you can get a muffin or pastry for under $3 to hold you over until lunchtime by the pool! They have everything from chips, candy bars, healthy snacks, to coffee drinks and bottles of wine.
Sandbar is the poolside food & drinks (yes, I mean alcohol!) hotspot. They sell appetizers, wraps, sandwiches, and various lunchtime specialties. They have an impressive range of drink options from beer to cocktails, and even wine. I tried the raspberry margarita. $15 was sort of steep, buuuut I will say it did last me the whole time we were out by the pool! I also had the Turkey BLT wrap which automatically comes with (amazing) fries. Sandbar is in-between the adult only pool and the family/kids pool so there is access from both areas.
These fries were SOOO good!
Prices were as expected for a vacation resort bar (menu below). Food ranged from $4 for kettle chips to $19 for a crab cake sandwich. The average entree price was between $9-13. The great thing about Sandbar is that they have awesome waiters who come to you and serve you poolside!! Carl was our waiter and he was super cool.
Sorry for the fuzzy image quality. The menu was on a screen!
Wreckers is your typical sports bar & grill with appetizers, burgers, and beer/cocktails. Some of the appetizers are large enough to be a meal, and rightfully so for the price. Entrees average about $17-20 each and are good portion sizes. Andrew got the chicken nachos and they were huge! I ordered the Wreckers burger and could barely even eat half of it! The fries were the same as at the pool and were (once again) delicious.
Look at the size of those nachos!!!
This menu was also on a screen!
Villa De Flora
Villa De Flora is a warm and inviting sit-down style restaurant in the middle of the resort. While Andrew and I did not eat here, we did walk past a few times and oh mannn it smelled GOOOOD! In the morning you’ll walk by and smell fresh waffles that entice you, and if that doesn’t grab your attention, their pastry case sure will!
Old Hickory Steakhouse
The steakhouse is the fanciest of all dining options here at the resort. It is only open for late lunch and dinner (understandibly so) and entrees start at $20 up to the higher $30’s. I didn’t get a picture of the menu because I knew we wouldn’t be splurging on steaks.
There are 2 other coffee places, a frozen yogurt shop, the ship-top restaurant (MOOR), and lobby-side bar not pictured. There are also additional gift shops that sell snacks as well. I wanted to try the frozen yogurt place (HoneyBell’s) but we didn’t make it in time before they closed.
Overall Stay & Last Points //
I was incredibly happy with our stay at the Gaylord Palms Resort. I would absolutely recommend it to any and everybody looking for a fun place to travel. This resort is perfect for anybody whether you’re a young couple just looking for a fun vacay, or a family with kids wanting something a bit extra. I would definitely suggest staying at least 2 full days if time allows. We had one night and one full day and it wasn’t quite enough, so plan to have time to enjoy everything!
Check out was super easy. If you don’t have any issues to resolve or any questions, they may tell you you’re good to go without even going to the desk! You get to keep your room keys and the map they provide you with.
There are a couple different shopping centers nearby with both luxury and mainstream retailers. My FAVORITE place was the Victoria’s Secret Outlet store at Vineland Premium Outlets. It was the largest VS store I’d been in (minus NYC) and the deals were AMAZING! All bras were only $7.99 including the fancy Dream Angels, Very Sexy, and other collections that are normally $55+. And all panties were 3/$11 also including Dream Angels, Very Sexy, Lacie, and other styles! The styles are from the previous season, but at those prices, who’s going to care?! Oh. And the Kate Spade outlet store was 60% off with an additional 20% off!!
You have so many options here at and near the Gaylord Palms Resort to fit any budget. I saved up $150 cash for spending and still left happy with a few extra bucks left with no regrets. I wish we had just one more day there because it went by so fast. Goodbye vacation. I will miss you. ♥