I took my three-year-old son along to visit the Nickelodeon Suites Resort, the reinvention of the former Holiday Inn Family Suites in Orlando. I figured he was part of the target audience, and he could give me the honest kid reaction to this new, Nickelodeon-themed hotel which, undeniably, is all about kids.
There was only one problem. The entire plane flight up, the time we spent waiting in baggage claim, and the ride to the hotel, he could only think of one thing: "I want to go to Universal and see Spider-Man." He was even wearing his Spider-Man costume in anticipation of the big meeting.That is, until we arrived at the Nickelodeon Suites Resort, and he saw the Lagoon Pool. We hadn't even opened the door to our suite. This was the view outside the door.His tune immediately changed. "I want to stay at the hotel and swim."I asked him, "What about Spider-Man?"He replied, "Where's my bathing suit?"
Spongebob Squarepants Suite
My three-year-old had his own room in our family suite, decorated with a large mural of Spongebob Squarepants and his pineapple house. Spongebob's best friend, Patrick, was painted in the hallway.Our suite had bunk beds; other suites have two twin beds. Both configurations include a pull-out cot, so up to three kids can share the suite.
TV and Video Games in the Kids Suite
The Spongebob Squarepants suite also included a television for the kids, with a Sony Playstation 2 (games are available for rent in the arcade).
The small room also had a kid-sized table and two chairs, with a boom box. Each bunk had a reading light. The door was a curtain.The Playstation turned out to be a real blessing, as some nights, that's the only way we could persuade our son to come out of the swimming pool: by tempting him with "The Incredibles" or "Spider-Man" video games inside.
Our master bedroom in the family suite was a bit more subdued (well, as subdued as lime green gets). We had a King sized bed, a television in a wall unit with a few built-in drawers, a closet with mirrored doors, and a dressing area with a blow dryer and makeup mirror.
The bed was raised off the floor to provide storage underneath, in case things get a bit cluttered. On top, the bed was piled high with thick, fluffy pillows. A blackout curtain kept it nice and dark.The room did get a bit loud at night, since the pool was just outside. Music and laughter lasted until the pool closed down at 11:00 PM. On the plus side, the kids' room is in the back of the suite, with no window. As a result, it's much quieter.
The living room of the Nickelodeon Suites Resort has a pull-out sofa bed for sleeping two more people, a rocking chair, and another television.
A mini-kitchen, or kitchenette, included a small refrigerator, a microwave oven, a coffee maker and a sink. Next to it was a small table and two chairs.
Down in "The Mall," we found a buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This was where we ate most meals, and it turned out to be a good deal, since kids twelve and under eat free.Choices were fairly basic during the week, and expanded to include seafood like snow crab legs on the weekends. My favorite, by far, was Chef Randy's French Onion Soup -- yum! My son's favorite was macaroni and cheese, but that's pretty much the choice he makes wherever we go.
The highlight of the buffet was seeing Spongebob Squarepants wandering through the tables. He can normally be seen at the character breakfasts at the Nicktoons Cafe across from the buffet, along with his colleagues Dora the Explorer, the Rugrats, and the Fairly Oddparents.Right about this time, my son was saying, "Spider-Man who?"
A larger view of the Mall in the Nickelodeon Suites Resort. Besides the buffet and the Nicktoons Cafe, the Mall also is the place to find fast food, souvenirs, and food items like Lunchables, tuna fish and cereal.
The Mall is also a place for family entertainment. A theater holds nightly "Nick Live" shows, which include plenty of audience participation and usually include someone getting slimed and/or pied in the face. Family karaoke also goes on in this theater.A kid's spa offers temporary tattoos, braiding, manicures and pedicures. The Mall also has a large video game arcade with a ticket redemption center. Families can visit the Mall to arrange to have a professional portrait taken.
Zero Entry Lagoon Swimming Pool
The Lagoon swimming pool outside our door was only one of two water-park-like areas in the Nickelodeon Family Suites, but it kept us occupied for several days. Pictured is the zero-entry side of the swimming pool, which makes it very easy for a three-year-old like my son to go in and out, and splash around. (It was also great for a youngster in a wheelchair, who was able to roll right in.)
Next to this, water slides ranging from just a few feet high to six stories up twisted and turned, finally ending in just a few inches of water (more good news for water slide fans who aren't strong swimmers). The water in the slides was very, very cold; but adventurous sliders could warm up in the main pool.
Older kids flocked to the side of the pool for the shows, which were held several times each day. The shows got everybody applauding and dancing, and usually involved both green slime and feats of skill. One show had kids tossing balls backwards, to be caught in giant pants held up by suspenders worn by parents.
Some nights, movies were shown by the pool as well; we were able to catch "Shrek 2" and "The Spongebob Squarepants Movie" while floating in the pool.
A separate section for little kids had two small water slides and fountains spraying up from the ground. Next to this, kids could play basketball, shuffleboard or mini golf, all complimentary. There was no shortage of activities at this hotel.
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