Seven wonders of Florida resort travel

By Patti Roth

Gaylord Palms Resort, Kissimmee

Lush Florida-theme environments – including alligators, snakes and a waterfall – are showcased in an expansive indoor atrium, providing a grand focal point at this resort with 1,400 rooms and suites. Outdoor amenities include two pools – a family-friendly water park with waterslides and a palm tree-lined adults-only pool with a bar. An assortment of eateries includes a yogurt shop, fine dining at Old Hickory Steakhouse and Wreckers Sports Bar, where the action is broadcast on a two-story, 37-foot-wide screen. For extra fun, book a suite with jukebox or pool table. 6000 W. Osceola Parkway, Kissimmee, 877-350-3236,

St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, Bal Harbour

Poised between the Atlantic Ocean and the fashion-rich Bal Harbour Shops, this towering resort offers art deco design elements, a crystal deer sculpture in the lobby and butler service for suite guests. For those who appreciate extra roomy accommodations, the presidential suite on the 24th floor encompasses 2,800 square feet. Other amenities to savor include private oceanfront day villas, fine dining with panoramic windows overlooking the ocean, live music at the St. Regis Bar, an adults-only pool, and yoga and other fitness programs on the beach. 9703 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour, 305-993-3300,

The Breakers Palm Beach

The oceanfront resort on the island of Palm Beach packs an impressive list of amenities, including four pools, 18-hole golf course, eight restaurants, eight bars, lighted tennis courts and a newly added indoor-outdoor fitness center overlooking the ocean. Noteworthy visuals include Italian Renaissance-style design elements and hand-painted ceiling in the lobby. Looking for even more indulgence? Snag a private poolside beach bungalow, which includes concierge service. One South County Road, Palm Beach, 888-273-2537,

Loews Miami Beach Hotel

The curvaceous heated pool at this hotel on the beach is accessible 24 hours and shares the deck with eight two-story cabanas that include butler service and rooftop sundecks. To savor the sea breezes while toning up, exhale Spa offers yoga on a rooftop terrace. Visual highlights include a walkway between the hotel and pool lined with palm trees. 1601 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-604-1601,

Tween Waters Inn Island Resort
& Spa, Captiva Island 

As its name implies, the resort sits between Pine Island Sound and the Gulf of Mexico, offering scenic and recreational bonuses. A marina and tennis courts are on site, and water-based activities include kayaking among the mangroves and paddleboard yoga in Pine Island Sound. The resort’s Old Florida vibe is bolstered by accommodations that include historic cottages and Captiva House, a restaurant in a vintage schoolhouse. The staff can accommodate requests for a private dinner on the beach. 15951 Captiva Drive, Captiva, 800-223-5865,

South Seas Island Resort,
Captiva Island

Private homes with pools are among a diverse selection of accommodations at this resort, which offers a beachfront executive golf course, an array of pools and two waterslides. Set amid a lush natural backdrop, tropical plants and wildlife play a feature role. Guests delight in occasional sightings of dolphins and manatees frolicking in the marina. Other activities include eco tours, WaveRunner tours and navigating-by-the-stars tours. 5400 Plantation Road, Captiva Island, 866-565-5089,

The Ritz-Carlton Orlando,
Grande Lakes

Eco tours on the winding tree-lined Shingle Creek, an 18-hole golf course and a soccer-golf hybrid game known as FootGolf are among the activities at this resort with a design scheme that’s inspired by grand palazzos of Italy. Among the 11 restaurants and snack bars, Highball & Harvest offers a twist on the usual dining experience. Reserve the cocktail table for an interactive encounter with a bar chef, who mixes personalized cocktails during the meal. The 582 guest accommodations feature a royal suite on the 12th floor. The 2,645 square feet of amenities includes a soundproof media room. The suite is expandable, upon request, to about 4,300 square feet. Another indulgent treat: a massage while suspended in a hammock is offered on the spa’s rooftop garden. 4012 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando, 407-206-2400,

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