Family-friendly places in Orlando top the experts’ lists
A bustling summer travel season is in full swing, and AAA’s team of anonymous inspectors have been busy conducting on-site evaluations of nearly 59,000 hotels and restaurants across North America.
To give travelers a taste of the many great places to stay and dine this summer, they’ve selected a few of their favorites in the top 10 North American destinations, based on AAA Travel bookings for trips scheduled for June 1 through Aug. 15, 2017.
Inspector 591’s Favorite Hotel: Disney’s Port Orleans Resort-Riverside
(Three Diamond): Recreational activities include taking a stroll along the river or going on a surrey bike ride, a fishing excursion or horse-drawn carriage ride. Inspector 591 shares, “Opportunities for both relaxation and fun activities are plentiful.”
Inspector 591’s Favorite Restaurant: The BOATHOUSE Waterfront Dining
(Three Diamond): Beautifully restored boats from the 1940s to 1960s are creatively placed around the restaurant. The menu is just as interesting with options like Prince Edward Island steamed mussels and Atlantic swordfish.
Inspector 450’s Favorite Hotel: Blue Horizon Hotel
(Three Diamond): These spacious suites have a unique double bank of windows and balconies. Higher floors offer incredible views of the city, English Bay or nearby mountains, depending on room location.
Inspector 450’s Favorite Restaurant: Bistro Absinthe
(Three Diamond): This tiny spot has a bohemian feel with vintage chandeliers, absinthe posters and exposed ceilings. Recipes are classic with a simple clarity of flavor and appealing display. Inspector 450 says, “For what you get, the price is right: high quality, attractively presented, delicious food and the portion size is not too bad either!”
Inspector 601’s Favorite Hotel: Hyatt Ziva Cancun
(Four Diamond): Newly renovated, this hotel sits between two great swimming beaches and is walkable to local nightlife and shopping. Inspector 601 exclaims, “This is where I’m bringing my family! A spa for us old folks, a brewpub for Gen X and a sweet shop for the grandkids.”
Inspector 601’s Favorite Restaurant: La Habichuela Sunset
(Three Diamond): Sporting a dramatic Mayan-themed décor, this restaurant prepares the time-honored recipes of the owners and hosts, the Pezzotti family, including seafood ceviche, chilled avocado soup and chicken mole.
Inspector 31’s Favorite Hotel: Fairmont Olympic Hotel
(Four Diamond): A historic icon, the Italian Renaissance-style hotel is in the heart of the city. It reflects the grandeur of the past, but with modern conveniences.
Inspector 31’s Favorite Restaurant: Altura
(Four Diamond): The prix fixe menu features only the freshest seasonal ingredients in unique preparations, including foie gras torchon with rhubarb and strawberries, squid ink tagliatelle and king salmon with fried ramps. Inspector 31 raves, “I love how the chef takes the freshest ingredients available and, by creatively combining flavors, fashions the most exotic dishes.”
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Inspector 450’s Favorite Hotel: Sanctuary Cap Cana by AlSol
(Four Diamond): This gorgeous, all-inclusive resort has a historical feel with breathtaking sea views. All units have full living room areas and beautiful bathrooms with separate showers and tubs. Inspector 450 declares, “If I had just one last place to go, this might be it. Fantastic food, beautiful rooms and wonderful service are just the tip of the iceberg.”
Inspector 450’s Favorite Restaurant: Api Beach Restaurant
(Two Diamond): Featuring views of a beautiful pool and a sandy beach, this restaurant features dishes with a Latin flair, including ceviche, arepa and empanadas.
Inspector 569’s Favorite Hotel: Hokulani Waikiki by Hilton Grand Vacations Club
(Three Diamond): In the heart of Waikiki, this property is surrounded by many restaurants and shops. The rooftop pool offers spectacular views of the city, the ocean and Diamond Head, as well as complimentary cabanas.
Inspector 569’s Favorite Restaurant: Chef Mavro
(Five Diamond): Elegant island décor immerses diners in a soft, mellow glow. Imaginative and creative dishes delight with flexible four- and six-course menus as well as the grand tasting menu, all with optional wine pairings. Inspector 569 shares, “Dining here is always a treat for me as this chef can make something as basic as creamed corn make your eyes roll to the back of your head!”
Inspector 603’s Favorite Hotel: Disneyland Hotel
(Four Diamond): A surprise awaits guests on arrival, as an intricately carved Disney castle comes to life with lights and music on guestroom headboards. Children’s wishes will come true when they run into the many Disney characters around the property.
Inspector 603’s Favorite Restaurant: Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen
(Two Diamond): New Orleans-style food, décor and entertainment are combined to provide a whimsical experience. This is almost as good as visiting the original “Big Easy!” Inspector 603 proclaims, “I cannot leave without having one of their delicious Beignets!”
Inspector 334’s Favorite Hotel: Crowne Plaza Anchorage Midtown
(Three Diamond): The spacious lobby at this hotel is beautiful. Guestroom and bathroom highlights include luxurious bedding, multiple outlets and USB ports and high-end bath products. Inspector 334 raves, “After a long day, I am overjoyed to find a sleep kit on my bed with pillow mist, resting cream and foot balm; the lighted makeup mirror is a bonus.”
Inspector 334’s Favorite Restaurant: Kincaid Grill
(Three Diamond): It’s no surprise that visitors flock to this small restaurant featuring inviting décor and an innovative menu that changes with the seasons. This is one of the finest dining experiences in the city.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Inspector 39’s Favorite Hotel: ARIA Sky Suites
(Five Diamond): The pampering begins with a complimentary limo ride from the airport to a private drive where guests are greeted by name. Suites on the 25th floor and up give each room panoramic views of the bustling city of lights.
Inspector 39’s Favorite Restaurant: Joel Robuchon
(Five Diamond): This fine-dining gem is one of the city’s most highly touted restaurants. Chef Joel Robuchon’s sumptuous menu caters to the sophisticated palate while flawless service prevails in the intimate and refined dining room. Inspector 39 proclaims, “This is the most spectacular dining experience I’ve ever had. Every course is a piece of art and tastes as amazing as it looks.”
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Inspector 450’s Favorite Hotel: IBEROSTAR Rose Hall Suites
(Four Diamond): This upscale, all-inclusive resort has a large modern lobby and lounge. The grounds are lovely and feature a lazy river, kid-oriented water park and fountains.
Inspector 450’s Favorite Restaurant: MVP Smokehouse
(One Diamond): This rustic open-air eatery offers quite a bit more than your typical Jamaican restaurant. Renowned for its smoked jerk chicken and pork, the restaurant’s signature sauce is sold by the bottle. Inspector 450 shares, “Not only is this place loaded with finger-licking value, it’s smoking good too!”
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