Enjoying a semi-tropical climate and fondly known as the ‘Sunshine State’, Florida is considered to be one of the world’s favourite playgrounds, home to over a thousand miles of beautiful, sandy beaches and world-famous theme parks – including four at Walt Disney World plus Universal Studios® and Universal’s Islands of Adventure® – whilst the one and a half million-acre Everglades National Park and the coral-reef-rich Biscayne National Park make it a haven for wildlife enthusiasts - it’s easy to see why Florida is so popular with families and thrill-seekers alike.
If it’s non-stop fun and full-on adventure you’re after, then our featured resorts in Orlando are for you. Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando™, Hard Rock Hotel® at Universal Orlando™, close to Universal Orlando® Resort and the
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa ,
Disney’s Beach Club Resort and Disney’s Yacht Club Resort , close to Walt Disney World® Resort are perfectly placed to take full advantage of the theme parks, whilst those who prefer nature and lots of fresh air will love The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes , where highlights include guided family kayaking tours, eco-tours and bird watching.
Established as a resort over one-hundred years ago by the oil tycoon, Henry Flager, Palm Beach offers natural beauty and miles of sands, as well as its long standing association with opulence and exclusivity, making it it one of South Florida’s most beautiful and sophisticated beach destinations – one of our featured properties The Breakers sparkles with glamour and offers guests five-hundred acres of tropical beachfront setting to play amongst.
Located off the shores of Florida’s Gulf of Mexico, the city and its islands are a renowned beach destination, offering a wonderful blend of laid-back elegance and a varied cultural scene. Guests of our featured resort The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota will enjoy a host of amenities that span the charming city, including both a bayside and beachside swimming pool.
On Florida’s southwest ‘Paradise Coast’, where more than eight per cent of the land is protected in nature reserves and beautiful beach communities abound, Naples provides the perfect blend of elegant beach living and The Ritz-Carlton Naples , conveniently situated on 3 miles of pristine beach, features rooms and suites decorated in a fresh colour palette reminiscent of luxurious beach homes whilst the beachside retreat, Waldorf Astoria Naples offers easy access to Downtown Naples.
Palm Beach offers plenty of opportunities for sun-worshipping, water sports and boat trips - those guests staying at Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach can look forward to the Friday Night Clam Bake, held directly on the beach.
At Sarasota’s Lido Key you can enjoy dolphin-spotting from the beach which is a far-reaching stretch of sand, ideal for sunbathing.
Walt Disney World® Resort
Magic Kingdom® Park with Cinderella Castle at its heart is a place of fantasy where you can meet Disney characters and monsters, and watch amazing parades with spectacular fireworks. For glitz and glamour Disney’s Hollywood Studios® offers exciting live shows, thrilling attractions and backstage tours. Epcot, meanwhile, celebrates land and space and you can even explore the cultures of different countries. If you like wildlife, do visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Park – the largest animal-themed park in the world.
Universal Orlando® Resort
Amongst the attractions of the resort’s Universal Studios Florida® are rides with Shrek or The Simpsons™, Universal’s Superstar Parade and Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular, showcasing one-hundred years of memories of the movies. At Universal’s Islands of Adventure®, where you’re favourite films are brought to life, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter ™ offers a range of exciting Hogwarts-themed rides or you can take a thrilling jungle riverboat-ride at Jurassic Park River Adventure®, attempting to avoid the dinosaurs that have escaped from their enclosure.
LEGOLAND ® Florida
150 acres of rides and attractions, including a water park – suitable for children aged 2 to 12 years.
This premier marine park showcases wildlife experiences, incredible rides and shows. See sharks, turtles, dolphins, watch Killer Whales perform amazing routines, feed the sea lions or take the ‘flying’ roller-coaster ride that mimics the actions of a Manta Ray.
Orlando’s wonderfully tropical, watery paradise and a great place to spend the day. Snorkel amongst the fish and rays, relax on one of the sandy beaches or at In-Water Relaxation Station, swim with a dolphin and feed stunning tropical birds.
The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
Palm Beach's centre for Japanese arts and culture features six gardens, each reflecting a different Japanese style. Alongside the museum, showcasing Japanese art and a restaurant serving Pan-Asian cuisine, cultural events are held throughout the year.
Sarasota’s Jungle Gardens
Explore ten acres of tropical trails leading to a variety of Florida’s native and exotic wildlife, including parrots, birds of prey, crocodiles, butterflies and iguanas. There are special bird and reptile shows and it is one of the only places you can feed pink flamingos.
Naples is an excellent place to enjoy some water-based activities including kayaking, stand-up,, fishing and sailing.
The North Collier Regional Park
For family fun, this park offers a state-of-the-art interactive playground and the Sun-N-Fun Lagoon water park with water slides, pools and a lazy river.
Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens
Developed around historic tropical gardens, the zoo provides visitors with the opportunity to see a range of trees, plants and animals - including honey badgers and cat-like fossa, that are rarely seen in zoos, as well as specially presented shows.
From Naples, take a tour of the Florida Everglades on a shallow-draft airboat to explore the wetlands and get up close to the indigenous birdlife and wildlife, including alligators, as you learn more about their natural habitat from your Captain. It's an excellent activity for families.
Downtown Sarasota’s bayfront offers lovely walks, while Myakka River State park offers walking trails (including a wooden walkway above the treetop canopy), opportunities to go hiking, kayaking, cycling, bird-watching and fishing plus scenic airboat tours across upper Myakka Lake.
Naples Botanical Gardens
Head to the 'secret garden' within the Smith Children’s Garden and little ones will be delighted to discover shoes, lamps and other items transformed by floral displays, while butterflies fly around, and there is a treehouse, a maze, a waterfall and a cave to discover.
Pure Naples, Jet Boat, Odin
Take a narrated sightseeing cruise with Pure Naples, Jet Boat, Odin along the Gordon River, through Naples Bay and the Gulf of Mexico as you search for wildlife including dolphins, are shown luxurious homes and learn about local history.
Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Centre
To learn more about nature in Florida, visit this venue in Naples where those with children in particular will love discovering the Loggerhead Sea Turtles at the Dalton Discovery Centre.
The Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, Palm Beach
Henry Flagler, a founder of Standard Oil and the Florida East Coast Railway network, was instrumental in the development of East Florida and Palm Beach. He lived out his days in Whitehall, a stunning mansion house that has became a National Historic Landmark and public museum. Take a guided tour and discover more about this fascinating character who was so important to Palm Beach.
Norton Museum of Art, Palm Beach
This museum features collections of photography and American, Chinese, European and contemporary art, and hosts exhibitions throughout the year.
The John and Mable Ringling Estate, Sarasota
The Ringling family, who developed a renowned circus entertainment empire, invested in Sarasota in the early twentieth century and were responsible for many of Sarasota’s cultural attractions. At the heart of their beautiful oceanfront estate is the Ringling’s mansion house, Ca’d’Zan, which was completed in 1925 and has a distinctly Italian influence. The estate also includes The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, which boasts art from America, Asia and Europe including a collection of Rubens; the Circus Museum with exhibits of parade wagons, costumes and props, and the Bayfront Gardens, where you will find Mable’s Secret Garden and Mable Ringling’s Rose Garden.
Theatre Arts District, Sarasota
The Sarasota Opera House is an intimate venue offering a variety of world-class performances, while The Florida Studio Theatre has three performance areas and offers a programme of plays and music. The Florida West Coast Symphony hosts orchestral concerts here.
The Sarasota Ballet is the Gulf Coast of Florida’s only professional ballet company and its repertoire includes beautifully choreographed classics and contemporary works.
If you can tear yourself away from Orlando’s theme parks for a day, you’ll find everything from top department stores such as Bloomingdale’s to unique boutiques Downtown. Palm Beach’s Worth Avenue is renowned for its shopping; lined with legendary designer boutiques including Chanel, Hermes, Cartier and Jimmy Choo as well as a host of speciality stores. Meanwhile, the Waterside shops in Naples feature over sixty stores and restaurants along with personal shoppers and valet parking. The mall is particularly stylish, with a stunning design where water features and lighting are used to great effect.
In Orlando you can enjoy a round of golf at a range of great courses, including the 18-hole, par 72 Greg Norman Signature Golf Course at The Ritz-Carlton Grand Lakes; The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota’s Tom Fazio designed course also offers 18 holes whilst the Naples Grande Golf Club is accessible from the Waldorf Astoria Naples.
To experience the best of Orlando, Elegant Resorts can assist with all your travel arrangments including pre-booking your tickets for the theme parks. If you wish to extend your holiday, the Florida Keys works well with Orlando - as always our Travel Consultants would be happy to advise and recommend.
Family Fun, Palm Beach
Your family might like to spend a day at Palm Beach Zoo or perhaps, if your little ones are budding scientists, a visit to the Science Museum would appeal - it features many hands-on exhibits, as well as freshwater and salt water aquariums, a star-gazing observatory and outdoor science trails. Alternatively, you could take an African-themed adventure at Lion Country Safari, a drive-through safari park, featuring animals including giraffes and zebras, and a walk-through amusement park with a selection of animals, amusements, restaurants and shops.
Tours, Palm Beach
Take an air boat tour of the Florida Everglades' wetlands and get up close to the indigenous bird life and wildlife (including alligators), as you learn more about their natural habitat from your Captain.
Jungle Gardens, Sarasota
Families may like to visit the ten-acre Sarasota Jungle gardens, where tropical trails lead to a variety of Florida's native and exotic wildlife, including parrots, birds of prey, crocodiles, butterflies and iguanas. There are special bird and reptile shows and it is one of the only places you can feed pink flamingos.
Palm Cottage, Naples
If you are interested in history and heritage, do visit the charming Palm Cottage, a treasured, wonderfully preserved home that is now a museum dedicated to Naples' past. Built in 1895, it is the oldest house in Naples and has five historic gardens - The Garden of the Senses, The Palm Collector's Garden, The Edible Garden, The Pioneer Garden and The Shade Garden. From here, Naples Historical Society leads tours o the Naples Historic District.
Boasting sunny days – up to six hours of sunshine a day – November to May (winter) is a pleasant time to visit Florida. Winter is almost tropical in climate – very mild, but sometimes with relatively short periods of cold weather, however frost and snow is not very common.
From June to October (summer), you can expect higher temperatures and increased humidity. Sunshine hours can peak to as many as ten, but afternoon cloud build-up can lead to heavy rain and thunderstorms.
Florida has the most thunderstorms of any of the states, and sometimes these are severe tropical storms, or even hurricanes. June to November is hurricane season with the months of August and September being particularly susceptible.
These figures show monthly average maximum temperatures and monthly average rainfall for Florida.
British Airways direct from London Gatwick and Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick, Manchester and Glasgow to Orlando. British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines direct from London Heathrow to Miami.
From London Gatwick to Orlando: 9 hours, 15 minutes. London Heathrow to Miami: 9 hours, 20 minutes.
Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country (for example, South Africa) or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
Visa and Advance Passenger Information
All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.
Travel Advice Update
The FCO travel advice for the USA has been updated with an amendment to the Entry requirements section - on 18 December 2015, the US Congress passed a Bill updating the requirements for the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP); under the new rules, with effect from 1 April 2016 all travellers wishing to enter the US under the VWP will need to hold a passport with an integrated chip.
The web-based Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) requires all passengers (including infants) travelling via or to the USA to apply for authority to travel a minimum of 72 hours prior to travel. You may be denied boarding or refused entry to the US if you have not registered and obtained authorisation. To apply visit the official website: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/ A charge of UD$14 per person (subject to change) will apply and must be paid by either credit or debit card.
Customs and Border Protection programme Global Entry gets pre-approved travellers through border control faster at some US airports. If you’re a British citizen and a frequent visitor to the USA you can now register to get a UK background check on www.gov.uk/apply-faster-entry-usa. If you pass the background checks, you’ll be invited to apply for Global Entry.
Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.
For up-to-date resort information, visit www.fco.gov.uk
Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs from your general practitioner or a specialist clinic as early as possible before travel. Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with Zika. For information about Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya), Lyme Disease (caused by tick bites), and to receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures, please visit http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/insect-tick-bite-avoidance/
In addition, we highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations ie, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling.
Visit the FCO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Additional sources of information include: www.hpa.org.uk, http://nathnac.net,
www.fco.gov.uk, www.hpa.org.uk and www.nathnac.org, your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated its travel advice for Florida to reflect the health advice of The National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNac) in relation to the Zika Virus.
ZIKV is a dengue-like virus that is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. The infection often occurs without symptoms but can also cause an illness similar to dengue. The condition is usually mild and short-lived; severe disease is uncommon and insect bite avoidance measures are recommended. http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/insect-tick-bite-avoidance/
Recently, a possible link between exposure to Zika virus (ZIKV) in pregnancy and microcephaly and other congenital malformations has been identified and investigations are ongoing. Whilst investigations continue,
NaTHNaC advises that it is recommended that pregnant women should postpone non-essential travel to areas with active Zika transmission until after pregnancy. This is a change to the previous advice which encouraged pregnant women to consider avoiding travel and seek travel health advice.
In addition it is recommended that women should avoid becoming pregnant while travelling in an area with active Zika virus transmission, and for 28 days following return home. If a woman develops symptoms compatible with Zika virus infection on her return to the UK, it is recommended she avoids becoming pregnant for a further 28 days following recovery. If travel is unavoidable, or you live in areas where ZIKV is reported, you should take scrupulous insect bite avoidance measures, both during daytime and night time hours.
Symptoms of Zika virus infection may include fever, joint pain, rash, conjunctivitis/red eyes, headache, muscle pain and eye pain. No specific anti-viral treatment is available for Zika virus infection.
Elegant Resorts advises that pregnant women already booked to travel to any of the destinations affected, should seek medical advice from their GP and talk to their travel provider. Where it is necessary to change or cancel their holiday arrangements in light of the NaTHNaC advice, they should request that their GP provides them with a medical certificate in order to assist with them with any possible insurance claim.
Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with ZIKV and receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures. http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/insect-tick-bite-avoidance/
Visit the FCO website and select your destination country for the latest travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice