Shopping in Orlando

Although many people say they don’t go on holiday to shop we have found that many people enjoy shopping whilst in Orlando as the shops carry such a wide selection of goods often at a great price.

This may be because of the exchange rate when it is in your favour or simply because of the attractive stores and the range of goods that are available.

You will find that the goods manufactured in the USA offer the best value. Clinique for example is a cheaper than Clarins, Abercrombie cheaper than Jack Wills and such like.

The Florida Mall, The Mall at Millenia and Disney Springs offer high end fashion stores as well as having restaurants, bars and children’s play areas.

We love visiting The Mall at Millenia and have spent many an hour in Macy’s and Abercrombie.  The Cheesecake Factory is a popular place to eat here as is Brio and the foodcourt.

There are four main department stores Dillard’s, Macy’s, Nieman Marcus and Bloomingdales in Orlando, found within the Malls.

Shops such as Anne Taylor, American Eagle Outfitters, Abercrombie and Fitch, Apple, Banana Republic, Bath and Body Works, Brooks Brothers, Foot Locker, Forever 21, Gap, Guess, Hollister, J Crew, Kate Spade, Nieman Marcus, True Religion, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany, Nike, Adidas, Gap, Pottery Barn, Sephora, Tiffany, Tommy Bahama, Tory Burch, Under Armour, Urban Outfitters, Vans, Vera Bradley,Juicy Couture, Michael Kors, Victoria’s Secret and so on.  Take a look at the links below to see where they are.

A trip to Orlando is not complete without a shopping trip to the outlets.  The one that we use and recommmend is The Vineland Premium Outlets found on the Interstate 4 at Lake Buena Vista – Junction 64. Here you can find so many well known designer brands.  Ralph Lauren, Timberland, Nike, Guess, Calvin Klein, Burberry, Boss, Michael Kors, DKNY, Banana Republic, Tommy Hilfiger, Gap, Kate Spade, Tony Burch and more.

Our tip here is to visit early or late so as to avoid the busy shopping times.

There is another Premium Outlets on International Drive.

If you turn left onto the Interstate 4 at Junction 58 and travel West towards to Tampa for one junction you will find the retail park at Posner Park. If shopping for sporting goods visit Dicks Sporting Goods, craft goods in Michaels,food and so on Target and make up, clothes, bedding etc visit JC Penney.

If you were to turn left onto the 192 from Formosa Gardens or alternatively take the toll road 429 out from the back at Reunion and travel for one junction here on the 192 you will find a large SuperTarget and TK Maxx. You will also find the Formosa Gardens Shopping Centre.

You may enjoy browsing in a Marshalls or HomeGoods Store if you are looking for household goods and furnishings.  Like TK Maxx you never know what you may find.  These can be found in several locations around Orlando.

The first shopping you will probably do in Orlando however is in the supermarket.

 If staying in a Reunion home there are two Publix supermarkets – one at Junction 58 in Championsgate and the second practically opposite Reunion if you take a left out of the main gate. You will be able to find everything you require for your vacation here.

When you visit the Parks you will see shops as soon as you enter the theme parks but do take note as each time you get off a ride you will walk through a themed shop.  Who said shopping was boring? Some rides such as Everest in The Animal Kingdom need you to walk through the shop first.  Main Street USA has several shops on both sides. At Epcot you can shop all around the World.

Not all the shops are the same so please if you are looking to purchase something in particular e.g a Christmas decoration then make a note of where that shop is in case you need to return to it later in the day.

You may find it useful to give your children a daily allowance so they can decide what to spend it on to stop any constant questions of can I have? With so much choice and so many fantastic goods on offer it can be very easy to shop until you drop!

Here are some links to help you plan your shopping and how to get there.

http://www.simon.com/mall/the-florida-mall

http://www.mallatmillenia.com/

http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlet/orlando-vineland/stores

http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlet/orlando-international/map

https://www.visitdavenportflorida.com/posner-park-stores

We look forward to you sharing some of your favourite shops and shopping tips with us.

http://www.luxuryvillasusa.com

 

Restaurants in Orlando.

One of the great pleasures of being on holiday is spending time with your family and friends and hopefully not cooking every night.  There are SO many different restaurants in Orlando you could discover a new restaurant every night of the year.  Here are some of the restaurants that we have eaten in as a family which may appeal to you.

Reunion Resort itself offers several dining options.

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ELEVEN is on the top floor of the Reunion Grande building on the eleventh floor and is a modern steakhouse with an open air verandha from which you can watch the Disney fireworks in the far distance.  It is the most expensive restaurant in Reunion so please check the menu before booking. FORTE is the restaurant on the ground floor of Reunion Grande . It is an authentic Italian Bistro and it is a lovely place to eat with family and friends. We advise that you make a reservation at Eleven and Forte to secure your table.  Please also make a note of the days the restaurants are open and the times they close as these vary throughout the year.

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THE REUNION GRANDE LOBBY BAR AND SUSHI BAR offers appetizers and freshly prepared sushi on select nights.  For more casual dining in Reunion THE CLUBHOUSE which is situated next door to Reunion Grande offers American regional cuisine in a casual and comfortable setting. It opens at 6.30am every day and is popular with golfers, members and resort guests throughout the day.  THE COVE AT SEVEN EAGLES  offers a menu of sandwiches, salads, snacks, and smoothies as well as a full bar with daily happy hour specials. It’s very popular at lunchtime. Finally THE GRILL AT THE WATERPARK offers meals and snacks perfect for everyone in the family. Adults can also enjoy cocktails by the pool.

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For a quick meal not in Reunion but just down the road there are several restaurants in Championsgate including McDonalds, Chilli’s Bar and Grill, Millers Ale House and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers.

A short drive from Reunion is  the town of Celebration.  Celebration is a master planned community invented by Disney as an ideal American small town. http://www.celebration.fl.us

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Our two favourite restaurants here in Celebration are CAFE D’ANTONIOS and THE COLUMBIA RESTAURANT. Café D’Antonios – http://www.CafeDAntonios.com and The Columbia Restaurant – http://www.columbiarestaurant.com.

A popular restaurant adjacent to DisneySprings in the Crossroads Shopping Centre of Lake Buena Vista is Johnnie’s Hideaway. (Junction 68 on the Interstate 4)  http://johnnieshideaway.com

The Mall at Millenia is the most prestigious shopping Mall in Orlando. http://www.mallatmillenia.com.  This is situated north of Universal Studios just off the Interstate 4 at Conroy Road near the northern end of International Drive.  Here there are many restaurants and eating places.

The Cheesecake Factory http://www.thecheesecakefactory.com  is situated here and opposite is The Brio Tuscan Grille http://www.brioitalian.com . PF Changs can also be found here http://www.pfchangs.com  and The Capital Grille. http://www.thecapitalgrille.com/orlando-fl

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If you wish to visit DISNEYSPRINGS  there are numerous restaurants to experience.  http://www.disneysprings.com.

The ice creams at GHIRARDELLI ICE CREAM AND CHOCOLATE SHOP will definitely keep the children happy.  http://www.ghirardelli.com The BOAT HOUSE RESTAURANT offers an upscale family friendly waterfront dining experience. http://theboathouseorlando.com

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For those guests staying in FORMOSA GARDENS.  The nearest restaurants are in the Formosa Gardens Shopping Village.  http://www.formosagardensvillage.com.  Here you will find THE OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE http://www.outback.com GIORDANOS ITALIAN RESTAURANT http://www.giordanos.com and several others.

There are several new restaurants along the 192 in both directions.

Other areas to explore are the restaurants on The Sandlake Road.  This is where the locals eat.  It runs from west to east across the centre of Orlando and there is something for everyone’s tastes here.  International Drive is the main tourist strip in Orlando and the home of many restaurants . http://www.internationaldrive.com.  The Loop at Hunters Creek and then all the Disney Restaurants and Universal Restaurants to explore.

Every September Orlando has a Magical Dining Month and this is one of the most anticipated events of the year. It is a five week event and you can experience price fixed dinners for just $35 in over 70 restaurants. See http://www.visitorlando.com/magicaldining/

For more information on our vacation homes see –  http://www.luxuryvillasusa.com

 

 

If any restaurant is interested in writing a  separate blog or advertising on our website please contact us via the website for more information.

 

 

 

 

Driving in Orlando.

Driving in Orlando is not as hard as you think it may be.

It is very easy to find your way around on well signed roads.

It is very easy to find your way around on well signed roads.

The roads are wide and well maintained and once you know where you are driving to then it is very easy to drive from A to B.

Our dream rental homes are just a 40 minute easy drive from MCO.

Our dream rental homes are just a 40 minute easy drive from MCO.

https://www.luxuryvillasusa.com/35861

The first journey you drive will be from the airport to your accommodation so do study the directions and look at the maps before you depart so you know where you are going and to make driving easier.   Get to know your new car in the parking lot before you depart and nominate a co pilot to help you.  All the rental cars are automatic but sometimes the handbrake is different from UK ones i.e a footpedal under the dashboard.

The easiest option for guests is to rent a car from Orlando International or Orlando Sanford Airport.  All main car hire companies are at the airports and you can reserve a car before you leave the UK.

To rent a car you need to be 21 years at the time of rental. You do not need an international driving license to drive in Florida if you are travelling from the UK but you do need to take your photo ID with you and you will need to carry your driving license with you at all times.

There are many types of car to choose from dream sports cars to vans that will fit your extended family.

A popular family rental car parked outside W83

A popular family rental car parked outside W83

https://www.luxuryvillasusa.com/40842

A Few Driving Tips

  • Drive on the RIGHT – Remember to drive on the right. The driver should always be in the middle of the road.
  •   Keep your rental documents in the car at all times and a map.
  • Undertaking – You will notice that on the highway people will undertake you by driving past you in the slow lane. Remember to use your mirrors all the time. Trucks overtake and undertake not just cars so stick to an inside lane. Use your indicators and common sense if you want to undertake.
  • You can turn right on a red. If you arrive at an intersection and the lights are red then you need to STOP. But if you are planning to turn right you can usually go ahead and make the turn even when the light stays red as long as it is safe to do so and the road is clear ahead of you and there is no sign telling you that you cannot. No right turn on red.
  • You can turn left on flashing amber. As long as it is safe to do so.
  • Always STOP at STOP signs. You should always come to a complete Stop at a red stop even if the road is clear and you are the only vehicle at an intersection.
  • Buying Gas/Petrol. When filling up its usual to pay for the gas first by going into the kiosk. If you don’t use the full amount that you’ve paid just head back into the kiosk to get your change.
  • If you are stopped by the police for any reason stay in the car and wait for the police officer to come to you.
  • If it starts raining whilst driving it is Florida Law to turn on your headlights at the same time as your windscreen wipers. If there is a storm and you have difficulty seeing the road ahead,pull over and stop until visability improves.
  • If you have an accident in a deserted or dark place and there is likely to be minimal damage indicate to the other driver to follow you and drive to a populated area ( a garage/gas station is ideal.). Make sure you follow the instructions on your rental agreement and inform your rental company if you have an accident.
  • Keep your windows closed as this helps the airconditioning and keeps bugs out of the car.
  • Drinking and driving is not allowed under any circumstances. It is also against the law to carry any alcohol in the car so put all bottles in the boot/trunk of the car to avoid any problems.
  • When parking on the street you should always park facing the same way as the flow of traffic. If you park facing the other way then you may get a parking ticket. Do not park near a firehydrant.
  • Speeding is taken seriously so do drive with care and consideration keeping an eye out for road signs which will tell you the road’s speed limit.
  • If you see a school bus (big bright yellow bus) stopped with its lights flashing you are required to stop immediately and wait for the school bus lights to stop flashing. This applies even if you are on the other side of the road.
  • Florida Law requires safety belts for all front passengers and that children 5 and under MUST be restrained in child restraint devices and children 3 years and under MUST be placed in infant carriers or child car seats. Children 4 and 5 MUST be in a safety seat or wear a seat belt in the rear of a car.

    These two guests enjoyed driving from Orlando to Naples on their holiday.

    These two guests enjoyed driving from Orlando to Naples on their holiday.

A few tips on saving money in Orlando.

There is no doubt that a holiday to Orlando is expensive but with a little bit of thought and planning there are ways in which to save money during your holiday.

First of all book a vacation home.  http://www.luxuryvillasusa.com

There are homes to suit all families and  most budgets.  From two bedroomed condominiums to the 13 bedroomed supervillas. Choose wisely and you will save money rather than booking rooms in a hotel.

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 Drinks – not every drink needs to be bought from a vendor or in a restaurant. Visit the supermarket and buy bottles of water and take these out with you. I always freeze a couple of these (take a little bit of the water out first) and these will slowly defrost during the morning to ensure you always have a cool drink.

images-10You can also place the frozen bottle on the nape of your neck to help you cool down or on your forehead.

When the bottle is empty you can fill it up from the water fountains and add a little bit of juice (prebought) to help make it taste better. You can also ask for some water from any of the vendors who will give you some tap water free of charge.

It is important that you drink plenty of WATER  so that you don’t dehydrate.

Snacks – These are important to help keep up your energy levels. Snacks such as biscuits in individual packets,small packets of crisps, raisons, cereal bars and sweets can all be pre bought and taken out with you.

If you have a cool box it is a good idea to pack some snacks for the car journey back to the villa. Again freeze some drinks to help the cool box keep cool throughout the day.

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http://www.luxuryvillasusa.com

 

 

 

USTA National Tennis Campus

If you or anyone in your family is a keen tennis player or if you enjoy watching tennis then you will be interested to learn about the new tennis facility currently being built in Orlando.

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This is the USTA National Campus which is due to open in Orlando in 2017. This will be the new home of American Tennis where tennis enthusiasts can come and watch, learn and play at one of the largest tennis facilities in the world.  The campus will be the home base for USTA player development and the USTA’s Community Tennis development.   The new campus will be built over 64 acres of land.  There will be over 100 tennis courts, including plexicushion acrylic courts, european red clay courts,har-tru hydro courts, six rebound indoor courts and a cluster of 36 for and 60 foot sport court power game courts. There will be pavilions throughout the development as well as off court amenities including a lounge,cafe,pro shop and locker rooms and there will also be two championship courts with 500 seats each for fans to watch feature matches and Team USA events.

The facility layout is intended to be inclusive to all with a family tennis area which is to include 16 courts to enable youth and adults develop their games.  There is to be a player development area featuring 20 courts.  The Collegiate area will feature 12 courts and finally the tournament and league area with 52 courts.

If you are interested in the game of tennis you can find more details out via the USTA website https://www.ustanationalcampus.com/en/home/news.html

The facility is approx a 30 minute drive from our rental homes in Orlando.  It is just south of the International Airport in Orlando in The Lake Nona area.

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Holiday 2016 and 2017

Thanksgiving Day is a federal holiday in the USA.  Thanksgiving is one of the most family orientated holidays on the calendar.  It can be one of the most relaxed holidays as it is generally spent at home with family and friends.  Families gather for a traditional turkey dinner and assorted traditional side dishes.

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Thanksgiving 2016 is set to be the busiest for travel in 9 years according to Time Magazine.  Over 48.7 million Americans are predicted to hit the roads and take to the skies.

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When is Thanksgiving? Thursday November 24th 2016, Thursday November 23rd 2017.

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Thanksgiving Events

Some thanksgiving events include:

  • Watch on television as the U.S President “pardons” a turkey provided by the National Turkey Federation.  This tradition started after Ronald Reagan issued an official presidential pardon to a turkey in 1987 and sent it to a petting zoo instead.
  • Watch professional and college football games on TV.  The NFL has been playing “turkey bowls” for as long as it has existed and college football games are very common on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving.
  • Watch a Thanksgiving Parade.images-6
  • Shop on BLACK FRIDAY the day after Thanksgiving when stores open early and late and have huge sales it is is the busiest shopping day of the year.

Why Thanksgiving? The first Thanksgiving was in 1621 when the Plymouth Pilgrim community and local Indians celebrated the first harvest that the colonists reaped on American soil. In 1941 a law was passed to have thanksgiving day on the last Thursday in November which has continued annually.

We look forward to booking you and your guests into  luxury villas in Orlando.  With over 250 luxury homes available browse our website to see which home is most suitable for your needs. http://www.LuxuryVillasUSA.com

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.http://www.LuxuryvillasUSA.com

Christmas is coming! Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration at the Magic Kingdom Park

Do you love winter sunshine in November or December?  Are you a snowbird who just loves the festive celebrations at this time of year. Did you know that as soon as the Halloween decorations have been taken down at the beginning of November then the Christmas decorations are hung in Walt Disney World?

A visit to the Magic Kingdom has to be on everyone’s bucket list to experience the Christmas decorations at least once in their life and to attend “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party”.  This year the party debuted on November 7th 2016 with “Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration”.  In the show Mickey and his friends have invited some of their friends over to a Christmas party filled with music,dancing, lots of colour and of course lots of fun.  You will see Clarabelle cow, Woody and Jessie, Donald,Jose and Panchito as well as a host of other favourite characters.

We look forward to accommodating you in our luxury vacation homes just a short drive away from the Parks whilst you enjoy everything that Orlando has to offer at this special time of year.  The Christmas week and Christmas time is THE busiest time of year in Orlando so if you know that you want to visit at Christmas it is important that you do BOOK your accommodation early.

www.LuxuryVillasUSA.com

 

 

THE BEST LARGE MANAGEMENT COMPANY OF THE YEAR

pooltwilight-9We are delighted to report that Jeeves who are one of our partners in Orlando have been named as THE BEST LARGE MANAGEMENT COMPANY  OF THE YEAR 2016 by the Florida  Vacation Rental Managers Association.  The Annual Awards Gala was held in one of the beautiful custom rental homes in Reunion over the weekend.  This award is a testament to the whole of the staff team at Jeeves.  Jeeves is owned and managed by Paul and Sharon Harley who we have worked with now for over ten years.  Both Paul and Sharon work incredible hours to ensure that the highest standards are maintained in every aspect of their business.  We know they are the best property managers  who manage some of the best houses in the area in the hope that YOU as guests will have  a great experience staying in the homes and it is great to see that their work has been recognised in this way.

We send them our congratulations and we are absolutely delighted that they have received this honour.

When you book a home through our website www.LuxuryVillasUSA.com you can be sure that once in Orlando you will be looked after by the best in the business!

Travel Documents required for your trip the USA

passportWhen travelling to the USA it is important to have the correct travel documents before you travel.

  1. Esta – When travelling to North America from anywhere outside the USA, you will need an Esta. This is not a visa. Esta stands for Electronic System For Travel Authorisation.  It is a fully automated,electronic system for screening passengers before they begin to travel to the USA if arriving by air or sea.  It is recommended that applications are made 72 hours before you travel.  Airlines may decline check in to passengers without a valid Esta.  There are many sites online offering the Esta so do make sure you only use the official site as all the other sites will charge you more than the $14 per person. If for any reason you are turned down for an Esta , you will have to apply for a visa.  Canadian citizens do not require an Esta but permanent residents who are eligible for the visa waiver program must obtain one. For more information see the official website   www.esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta
  2. Visa – If travelling from Australia, Britain, Canada and most EU countries  to the USA then you do not need a visa for stays of up to 90 days. If you are unsure about this at all please check the official guidelines. Visitors who have been arrested even if the arrest did not result in a criminal conviction, visitors with a criminal record and visitors with certain communicable diseases are not eligible for the visa waiver program and must apply for a visa.  Please check official guidelines.
  3. Travelling with Children – Children travelling with adults who are not their legal guardians or travelling with one parent rather than two parents are advised to bring a signed letter from the legal guardian indicating that permission has been granted to leave the country of their citizenship and enter the USA.  If a single parent has sole custody its advisable to bring a court custody document to substantiate this.
  4. Passports –  only need to be valid for the duration of your stay in the USA  but must be the type that is now known as an e-passport. These passports have a camera symbol on them and are embedded with an electronic chip. You will need to show this upon arrival in the USA.
  5. Travel insurance – is essential and always make sure any insurance you take out has plenty of medical cover as all medical treatments in the USA are charged for.
  6. Driving Licence – If you are planning on driving whilst visiting Orlando, you will need to take your driving licence with you.  Even if not driving then your driving licence is an extra ID card which you can use if required.

Luxury Villas to rent for your vacation in Orlando.

With LuxuryVillasUSA there is no need to worry about the quality of our properties as all our homes in Reunion Resort, Championsgate and Encore are all looked after by the same management company. This means that each home is inspected after each guest has left by the home inspectors before the housekeeping staff have arrived to organise the clean and to prepare the home for the next guests arrival.
Our homes are very secure. Each home is alarmed and has a secure wifi. The codes are all changed after a guests departure. The developments are gated. Reunion and Encore have manned security on the gates. The main office is close by and personnel are always just a phone call away if you need them to call in.
Through LuxuryVillasUSA you will also benefit from our advice and contacts if you need help in planning your day and we are always available to answer any queries that you may have. Depending upon your needs we can arrange anything from allocating bedrooms to ordering groceries, booking chefs and even in helping you to choose your activities.

We are confident that you will enjoy your holiday experience with LuxuryVillasUSA.