Velvet Sessions at the Hard Rock Hotel Presents Bret Michaels September 24

Every month, except November and December, the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando hosts a live concert called Velvet Sessions. It’s a 21 and over event that features classic rock and pop artists performing in an intimate club-like atmosphere.

Velvet Sessions at the Hard Rock Hotel Presents Bret Michaels

This month, Bret Michaels, lead vocalist of Poison, will be playing a special Pinktober version of the event benefiting breast cancer research on Thursday, September 24.

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Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort to Get Expansion

It was announced today that Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Orlando will be getting an expansion.

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Work will soon begin on two new towers at the south end of the property, near the Continental and Americana Towers. This will add an additional 400 guest rooms to the value resort.

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Food & Wine Weekends Return to Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Bonnet Creek in September

Food & Wine Weekends at Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek will return for your culinary pleasure September 25 through November 15, 2015.

Food & Wine Weekends at Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek

Designed as a complement to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, both resorts will offer great events during the weekends with foodies in mind. Led by Food and Beverage Director Francis Metais, Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek consistently receive notoriety for the refined menus offered at all twelve dining venues.

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Renaissance Orlando At SeaWorld Executive Chef Receives Marriott 2014 Award Of Culinary Excellence

Congratulations to Executive Chef John Janucik of Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld, who has been named 2014 Chef of the Year for the Americas, an Award of Culinary Excellence from Marriott International.

Executive Chef John Janucik of Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld

Janucik, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, joined Marriott International in 2006 as an executive sous chef at the Orlando World Center Marriott. He transferred to the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld in 2010 as executive chef.

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The Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes to Host Fun and Dine Foodie Weekend July 31-August 2

If you love to eat, The Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes has a Fun and Dine Weekend planned for July 31 through August 2.

Highball & Harvest at Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes

It starts on Friday, July 31, with a resort Pub Crawl. This guided tour will visit various restaurants, where guests will enjoy a specialty beverage paired with a signature food item. This is the planned itinerary, which includes seven stops:

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Christmas at Gaylord Palms to Include ICE!, Cirque Dreams, Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt and More

Yesterday we told you about the all-new ICE! that will be coming to the Gaylord Palms Resort this holiday season, now here are the rest of the reasons this year’s Christmas at Gaylord Palms will be a must-do.

Christmas at Gaylord Palms

So, a display of nearly 2 million pounds of hand-carved ice isn’t enough for you? Gaylord Palms isn’t done yet.

For starters, Alpine Rush Snow Tubing is returning to the resort for the holidays. Once again there will be an 18’ 8-lane giant snow hill created with 1.5 million pounds of real Florida snow to slide down. I did this last year and I think I enjoyed it as much as the kids.

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Gaylord Palms Announces ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Theme for ICE! 2015

One of the highlights of the Christmas season in Orlando for me is an annual trip to see ICE! at the Gaylord Palms, and the resort has just announced this year’s ICE! theme.

Twas the Night Before Christmas Theme for ICE! 2015 at Gaylord Palms

Get ready for a trip through the favorite Christmas fable, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, as nearly 2 million pounds of hand-carved ice will be transformed into vignettes from the famous poem.

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LEGOLAND Hotel Florida Now Officially Open For Guests

Early in the morning of Friday, May 15, LEGOLAND Florida officially opened the doors to the LEGOLAND hotel with confetti, Legos and more.

LEGOLAND Hotel Florida grand opening May 15

The grand opening was honored with thousands of colorful LEGO® minifigures blasting out of cannons atop the hotel and a child discovering a key to open the hotel built for kids.

The new LEGOLAND Hotel debuts several features unique to LEGOLAND Florida Resort, including the only LEGO Friends themed suite in the world, and daily build sessions with a Master Model Builder inside a Model Shop in the hotel.

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Four Seasons Orlando Makes Conde Nast Traveler’s The 2015 Hot List

Every year, the high end travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler publishes their Hot List of the world’s best new hotels. This year, one Orlando hotel made the list.

Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Only 60 new hotels were chosen, and the Four Seasons Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World made the list under the “Family Friendly” subcategory.

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LEGOLAND Hotel to Open May 15 at LEGOLAND Florida

The final bricks are being put into place, and the first East Coast LEGOLAND Hotel is a go to open on May 15 at LEGOLAND Florida.

LEGOLAND Hotel Florida - exterior

The Hotel is built with kids in mind, from the lobby to the rooms. When families arrive, a special “Kid Check-in” takes place in front of the minifigure wall, which is made of 5,000 minifigures.

The lobby itself is home to a Castle Play area, complete with a pirate ship surrounded by a moat filled with LEGO bricks.

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Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen and The Brewery Opens at JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes

Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen is the newest farm-to-fork experience at JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes, featuring ingredients grown on property.

Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen at JW Marriott

Food from The Kitchen will utilize seasonal ingredients from the 7,000-square-foot on-site garden at Whisper Creek Farm as well as fresh eggs from a recently added chicken coop. The menu features snacks, small plates and sandwiches, charcuterie and cheese boards, and flatbreads, created under the direction of Chef de Partie Jason Shapiro, who has also been involved in the creation of Whisper Creek Garden.

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Extreme Sports Resort Planned for Central Florida

Xero Gravity Action Sports LLC extreme sports resort mockup

Xero Gravity Action Sports LLC announced this week plans to build a $309 million resort in Osceola County that will feature extreme sports-related amenities to guests.

The project would be anchored by a 250-room Hyatt-flag hotel featuring a rooftop pool/bar, a 2,000-seat amphitheater, swim-up bars and grotto, restaurants, and more. The International Action Sports Hall of Fame would also be located on the grounds.

According to the press release, the extreme sports resort would offer:

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Four Seasons Resort Orlando Receives Five Diamond Award by AAA @FSOrlando

Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Open less than four months, the Four Seasons Resort Orlando has been recognized by AAA with a Five Diamond Award, the highest they offer.

Less than one-third of one percent of AAA Diamond Rated properties receive the prestigious Five Diamond Award designation, and the Four Seasons is the only Orlando resort to achieve this recognition.

“We are humbled to receive this designation and vote of confidence while establishing a loyal following of guests for this exciting destination,” says Thomas Steinhauer, Regional Vice President of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and General Manager of Four Seasons Resort Orlando. “The AAA Five Diamond Award is a true testament not only to the incredible amenities our Resort offers, but to our first-rate team of employees, who go above and beyond every day delivering exceptional guest service.”

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Out and About: Tasting My Way Through the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic

5th Annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic

On Saturday, November 1, I attended the second night of the 5th Annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic, and had a wonderful time sampling all of the offerings as I walked the grounds of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resorts.

I started the afternoon with my friend John from The Disney Blog in a seminar called Bordeaux Wine Blending. Our teacher, Tony Porcellini (Director of Food & Beverage at the Swan and Dolphin), led us through a tasting of five different Bordeaux reds – Cabarnet Savignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec – along with educating us on wine tasting terminology.

5th Annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic - Bordeaux Wine Blending
My blending work station; Me with my final blend

Then he let us loose with blending the five wines into a mixture that pleased our own palattes. I was a little tentative at first but finally came up with a combination that made my taste buds happy: 2 parts Cabernet Savignon (for the base); 2 parts Petit Verdot (for the spicy notes and higher alcohol zing); and 1 part each Merlot and Malbec to round off the blend. I actually felt like I learned a lot in this seminar, and Porcellini kept it light and fun.

5th Annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic
Roasted tenderloin from Shula’s; weiner schnitzel from the beer garden, BBQ pork from Cib’s Smokehouse

Then John and I headed out to eat and drink our way around the walkway between the Swan and Dolphin. The resorts’ main restaurants were all represented with food booths – Todd English’s bluezoo, Shula’s Steakhouse, Kimonos, Picabu, and Il Mulino – and there were wines from all over the world to sample.

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Out and About: The Four Seasons Food Truck Tour at Four Seasons Resort Orlando #FSFoodTruck


Four Seasons Resorts food truck tour

Yesterday afternoon we headed out to the Four Seasons Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World. It’s a stunning place, but we were there to check out the Four Seasons Food Truck, which made a stop at the resort as part of it’s east coast tour.

The menu was prepared by Executive Chef Fabrizio Schenardi of the resort’s Ravello restaurant, and had a distinctive Italian flair.

Arancini al Brasato - Four Seasons Resort Orlando

We tried several items off the menu. The first was Arancini al Brasato, a ball of risotto with braised short rib and peas inside, coated in breadcrumbs and fried. It just exploded with flavor in my mouth. Everything was well-balanced, and I could’ve eaten these all day. Thankfully we only had two in the order, and there were other things to try.

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