Resort Destinations: My wife and I were vacationing in beautiful and balmy Hollywood, Fla., when we received an invitation from Izzy Fintz, the VP of hospitality of the Clarion Resort Waterpark & Convention Center in Kissimmee, Fla., to drop by for a pre-season sneak peek at the newly renovated and refurbished resort. Mr. Fintz is the man at the helm of this all-encompassing multi-million-dollar makeover. After seeing it for ourselves, we now understood why Izzy was as effervescent as a recently uncorked bottle of sparkling white wine direct from Champagne when he described this paramount undertaking.
"We are Orlando's newest water-park themed family hotel with lazy rivers, and super slides. We are a destination within a destination area conveniently located to all of the major theme parks," Izzy said. "Families have come here because we are so close to all the attractions in Orlando, and then spend most of their vacation at the water park instead."
Even before the big redo, the resort maintained a solid reputation. TripAdvisor, a regarded online info-source for travelers, currently rates the Clarion Resort Waterpark the #2 hotel out of the 185 hotels in the Kissimmee area. With the major upgrades in rooms, suites, dining, décor, and amenities, it is more appealing to families vacationing, couples on a getaway, and corporate event planners. The resort also offers an inviting setup for weddings and other social affairs with both indoor and outdoor space available. Why not take the plunge and then seal the deal with the newlyweds sloshing through one of three-story-high water slides?
Beyond the boundaries of the resort, there is great proximity to major attractions such as Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, and the Kennedy Space Center. Concierge service is offered to guests seeking to see and do it all. The water-park area features more than 50,000 square feet of fun-filled recreational activities for kids and adults. It makes the CRW a destination resort with a uniquely entertaining offering.
Mindy'O is an original character created by the hotel's management team, Triangle Management & Investment. The splashy octopus and festive atmosphere gives kids the theme-park rush while parents float idly along the perimeter of the water part in the lazy-river pool. This onsite grandiose water park fares well next to any of the renowned water parks in the area. There are three-story water slides and various splashy slide configurations fit for children and adults. Guests receive more amusement and less stress.
More original characters are in the works to join Mindy'O and her staff.
There also are plenty of children's activities and programs with a new activity area and game room. The lagoon-style heated pool, long lazy-river pool, cabanas, and pool bar offer a wet and wild oasis for adults to enjoy as well.
It was disappointing that during our visit the temperature never reached the required 70 degrees for the water park to be open to guests, so we did not personally experience the joy of riding the slides. It crushed me to see this awesome layout and not be able to just jump into it. My bummer.
Rooms & Suites
The pet-friendly resort has more than 250 luxuriously appointed guestrooms that are both functionally serviceable and aesthetically soothing. The intelligently designed rooms maximize floor space, while the décor is cheerful and distinctly Florida-inspired. The granite and marble bath area is roomy. The mattress in our room was a very comfortable Serta Perfect Sleeper.
There is a lounge, a restaurant, tennis courts, and an exercise room on the property. Hookups for hybrid vehicles, trailers, motor homes, and boats are on hand as well. Concierge service is available too.
It was the high-speed Internet access, microwave oven, refrigerator, and wide countertop, and spacious bath area that made our time spent in the room an encounter of the first rate.
The resort is located next to the Lake Tahoe Fishing Area. The spring-training quarters of the MLB's Houston Astros is just minutes away at the Osceola Heritage Park. This is a 120-acre multipurpose exhibition complex with a stadium, various fields, and arenas. Restaurants are plentiful in the area with various cuisine options. Our favorite was the Kissimmee Steak House. The service and the steaks were well done. The house of prime-cuts and seafood also has a nice wine menu and an overall pleasant decorum. We would definitely eat there again.
There are plans in place to build a nine-hole course on the premises. Other golf courses nearby include the Crystalbrook Golf Club of Osceola, which is open to the public, and the semi-private Kissimmee Golf Club.
Shopping, grocery stores and family attractions are easily found on the East Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway. The Old Town Amusement Attraction is less than a mile from the resort. A GPS can navigate new visitors to the area's sites and destinations perfunctorily.
The Clarion Resort Waterpark & Convention Center can accommodate up to 300 guests for social and business affairs. There is a reception area and a lounge plus approximately 4,000 square feet of adaptable space spread over four ballrooms. Event planning is a specialty of the house according to Maria Teresa Carney, the director of sales and marketing.
This is a destination resort with value-added recreational perks not commonly found. It is a great resort that has been made even better. I want to return and ride the slides!