July 27--The new Four Seasons Resort at Walt Disney World opens to guests this week, the culmination of more than a decade of work and planning.
The resort hosted a media preview last week for the $370 million property, highlighting the touches of luxury that permeate a Four Seasons. Here are some odds and ends from that event:
--You'll almost never open a door in one of the hotel's public spaces. Staff members, who manage to be both omnipresent and unobtrusive, reflexively get the doors as guests approach.
--Many staff members, including front-line workers, have been with the company for years. Perks of working for the company include free nights at any Four Seasons around the world.
--The resort offers Kids Camp for children ages 4 through 12 at no extra charge. Camp runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parents can drop their children off for a few hours or all day.
--The resort is inside the Disney development of Golden Oak, one of Central Florida's most expensive communities. Prices start at more than $1 million, with the midpoint around $3 million to $4 million. Thomas Steinhauer, the hotel's regional vice president and general manager, said he expects Golden Oak residents to become customers in the resort's restaurants, spa and golf courses.
--If you try to book a room online, you'll likely find room rates around $600 a night. But the hotel is running a Florida resident special for several weeks after it opens on Aug. 3. Between Aug. 17 and Oct. 9, Florida residents can get a room that sleeps two adults and two children for $279 a night.
SeaWorld debuts plant-based cups
SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. has been phasing in souvenir cups made with natural sugars found in plants instead of traditional plastic resins.
The new cups are available in the Orlando-based company's three SeaWorld and two Busch Gardens parks. SeaWorld ultimately wants to have two-thirds of its total supply of souvenir cups use the material.
It's called PlantBottle technology, and it was devised by Coca-Cola. SeaWorld sells Coke products in its parks. SeaWorld said its switch to PlantBottle plastic in its refillable cups is expected to remove 35 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually -- the equivalent of saving more than 80 barrels of oil a year.
Disney offers military discounts
Walt Disney World last week announced it is giving discounts on four-day tickets to active and retired U.S. military personnel or their spouses for a little more than a year. The discounts are available to active and retired members of all four major branches of the armed services plus the Coast Guard, National Guard and reservists.
The discounts are as follows:
Four-day tickets with either the "park hopper" or "water park fun and more" options cost $177 each, plus tax. Those tickets typically cost $354 plus tax.
Four-day tickets with both the park-hopper and water-park options cost $207 each, plus tax. Those tickets typically cost $380.
The tickets may be purchased from Aug. 25, 2014, through Sept. 30, 2015. They may be used Sept. 28, 2014, through Oct. 3, 2015. They have blackout dates of Dec. 22, 2014 through Jan. 2, 2015 and March 29 through April 9, 2015.
Media buzz for Orlando tourism
The folks at Visit Orlando -- the region's chief tourism marketing agency -- must be feeling pretty good.
The agency points out that in recent months, Orlando has been on something of a hot streak in generating media buzz. Wine Enthusiast has highlighted the local restaurant scene, and the British publications The People and OK! featured Orlando after English television personality Jeff Brazier vacationed here with this sons.
The biggest hit was likely a 20-page spread in Brazil's largest travel magazine, Viagem e Turismo.
Brazilians' obsession with Orlando is well documented, and the country is now Central Florida's biggest source of overseas travelers. The magazine piece, Visit Orlando said, was headlined "Orlando is the Hottest Thing!" -- well, in August at least -- and focused on theme parks, restaurants, hotels and shopping.
Marriott income up in 2nd quarter
Marriott Vacations Worldwide last week reported a quarterly adjusted net income of $31 million, up $4 million from the second quarter of 2013. Earnings per share were 87 cents compared with 73 cents last year. Total revenue declined from $421 million in last year's second quarter to $410 million this year.
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