The first stop of our trip to Orlando was the Coco Key Water Resort, ideally situated on International Drive. When organising the trip we had been looking for a hotel where we could relax for a couple of days but that also offered plenty of facilities to keep the children entertained. After having read what seemed like hundreds of tripadvisor reviews, searching third party holiday sites such as Expedia.co.uk and Lastminute.com we came across the Coco Key Water Resort and found that it was exactly what we had been looking for.
Our journey to Orlando consisted of three flights and an overnight stopover in Dublin on the way out, and so we knew we would be tired, however we also knew that after a few hours the kids batteries would be recharged and they would be ready to run around again, and so we felt that having a couple of days in a central hotel, would help us to get over the tiredness, but also allow the kids to start having fun straight away.
I booked online via their own website, and found that they had some great advance booking deals. I compared these prices to the ones found on the third party sites and was pleased to see that the booking direct prices were lower, which we have found isn't always the case with other hotels. For our family of 5, for 2 nights inclusive of resort fee and taxes it came to approximately £162. There were also other rates available that were inclusive of continental buffet breakfast, however we had already planned to eat out on International Drive and so decided to book it on a room only basis. The deposit was low and equivalent to the first nights stay. This was debited from my card within 24 hours of booking, and meant that on arrival we only had to pay for the 2nd night.
Getting to the hotel was really easy. I had prebooked a luxury SUV from the Mears Transport website which cost $72 inclusive of tip & tolls, however there are plenty of taxis available at the airport and these will cost you approximately $45. We arrived at the hotel just before midnight and the hotel appearance was exactly as I expected it. In addition to viewing the hotel pictures on the website, we had also used tripadvisor and google streetview to get an accurate idea of the hotel and its location. There was a very short queue of people checking in, so after a quick five minute wait we were checked in promptly. I chose to pay cash on arrival for the outstanding balance, as some hotels place a hold on your card, which then takes a while to be a released. This can then have a knock on effect if you were planning on using those funds for spends and so we always choose to pay by cash where possible. I declined the option of leaving my card for incidentals and instead opted to pay a $50 deposit which would be returned to me on checkout. We were given an information sheet on the hotel which also had a map on to direct us to our room, however we didn't need this as it was very easy to find without.
The hotel itself, has a mixture of motel style rooms, in addition to several large blocks of internal hotel rooms. There is ample parking, and if you have one of the outside rooms, it is possible to park your vehicle directly outside your room. There are also a number of rooms that open out directly to the waterpark, which is ideal if you have small children and may have the need to return to your room regularly.
The rooms are basic, but they are large, spacious, comfortable, clean and have all the amenities that you could need, such as a fridge, coffee making facilities, television, safe, and ample storage space. There was plenty of space for all of us without feeling too cramped, and in addition to the two Queen sized beds, there was a seating area, and table and chairs, which meant that there was space for everyone in the evening. We were in block number 6, and although there was no direct view from our window, if you looked to the right hand side, we could see the Orlando Eye all lit up in the evening which was lovely.
On site, there is a lobby area which in addition to housing the reception, also has a computer area for guests, a small arcade which is ideal to keep the kids occupied whilst checking in or out, and a ticket desk where you can purchase attraction tickets. There are also a number of coupon booklets available here, which offer numerous discounts at some of the local restaurants, so I would recommend picking up some of these if you fancy saving a bit a money.
The main attraction of this hotel though is the fantastic waterpark, which offers something for all ages. There is a shallow water area undercover with three small slides that are ideal for the younger children, along with some fountains and water toys. Then there is a large pool area that is deeper and great if you want a swim as opposed to enjoying the slides. There is also a large spiral water slide located in this pool but it goes into deep water so is only ideal for older children. Outside is the main waterpark area that offers numerous slides, toys, large bucket drop, sprinklers and water guns. There are plenty of loungers and tables and chairs throughout the water park area, and in the two days that we were there we had no issue getting loungers. This was great as it meant that we could relax whilst also being able to have full view of our kids at all times whilst they played and had fun. The staff at the waterpark are absolutely amazing and a credit to the hotel. I have never seen lifeguards work so hard or be so thorough. There were plenty of lifeguards who all have there own small area to cover, they then consistently walk up and down watching in the water every few seconds and literally do not take their eyes of the water. They take absolutely no chances with safety and if there is any doubt they jump straight in. This made my husband and I feel very comfortable that our children were playing in a safe environment.
Next to the waterpark is large arcade, where you can purchase an e-card and top up with money to use on the machines. You can then win e-credits which can be exchanged for prizes. The minimum load on the card is $5 which we found would last the kids around 20-30 minutes depending on which games they went on, and they were more than happy with this. In addition to the arcade is a pool bar area, where you can purchase numerous drinks and there is a large selection of cocktails available. There is a also a large restaurant located here and a Pizza Hut so it was nice to have a couple of dining options on site. We didn't get the opportunity to use these, but we did see numerous customers purchase food and it always looked nice and appetising. The restaurant also offers a continental breakfast buffet in the morning, which is great if you don't fancy venturing out for breakfast.
Off site, there are loads of dining options within walking distance. During our research we had seen several previous guests recommend Cici's pizza which is located directly across the road and so we went over there one evening to try out their pizza and pasta buffet. The pizzas were delicious and it only cost $6.99 for an adult. We had picked up a voucher in the hotel reception for a free adults buffet and so it only came to $25.99 for 2 adults, 3 children inclusive of refillable drinks and desserts. Amazing value for money! We also tried the breakfast buffet at the nearby Ponderosa Steakhouse restaurant which cost $41 and offered pretty much everything you can think of that you would want for breakfast and more!
There are also numerous attractions along International Drive including Wonderworks, Ripleys, The Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds, The Sealife Centre, and several mini golf courses. Universal Orlando and Seaworld are nearby and would cost about $12 to $15 in a taxi, but could also be walked to if you fancied a bit of exercise and would probably take about 45 minutes to an hour.
If you need to stock up on snacks and drinks, then there are plenty of small supermarkets along International Drive along with a couple of Walgreens stores. We found this ideal and we were able to stock up our fridge and ensure the children had plenty of snacks in the room.
In terms of staff, everyone that we met were really friendly and helpful. When we checked out of the hotel, a member of staff helped us label up all our bags and stored them in the luggage room for us whilst we enjoyed the waterpark for the day, and when it came to leaving another staff member kindly called a taxi for us to take us to our next hotel, which arrived really quickly.
Overall this is a fantastic value hotel that has plenty to keep children entertained and is great for families. If you are after a 5* luxury experience then this hotel is NOT for you, however if you are looking to have some fun, enjoy some family time, and be in a perfect location to explore Orlando then I highly recommend this place, and we look forward to returning in the future.
Disclaimer: This review was written of my own accord, based on our experience and stay. I did NOT receive any monetary payment, discount, or complimentary nights in exchange for my review.