Attracting more tourists than even New York City, Orlando is a top global travel destination and the fastest-growing metro area in Florida. While it’s nearly impossible to think of Orlando without thinking of its iconic theme parks, the city is also a top business travel destination, hosting hundreds of conferences and conventions each year.
Today we will focus on four signature Orlando hotels that are great for vacationers and business travelers. We will also interview Orlando resident and James Beard-Nominated Chef Kevin Fonzo. We are very excited to explore this great American city on this episode of Destination Everywhere: Orlando.
Watch the episode here.
Top 4 Orlando Hotels And Interview With James Beard-Nominated Chef Kevin Fonzo
Attracting more tourists than even New York City, Orlando is a top global travel destination and the fastest-growing metro area in Florida. The city of more than 2 million is best known for its iconic theme parks. But did you know that it’s also a top business travel destination? The city hosts hundreds of conferences and conventions each year.
Quick Facts about Orlando
- The city was once known as Jernigan and was renamed Orlando in 1857.
- Although theme parks have been in Orlando since the 1940s, the city only became known as a major tourist destination in 1971.
- Orlando rakes in around 75 million visitors annually, making it even more popular than New York City as a tourist destination.
Interview with Chef Kevin Fonzo
Chef Kevin Fonzo is an Orlando native who has run a top-rated restaurant for over 14 years. He is a James Beard-nominated chef in Orlando’s Dining Hall of Fame from Orlando Magazine.
K Restaurant started in 2001 and has been featured in several major food and lifestyle magazines. K Restaurant’s primary goal was to become a neighborhood gem where locals could come by for a great meal, conversation, and wine.
After a couple of years, word got out of the restaurant’s good food and good service, attracting tourists and international travelers to its tables.
K Restaurant offers eclectic cuisine that utilizes local ingredients. It has a unique take on public supper; you show up as strangers with others at a communal table. The premise is to come and have great food, wine, conversation and then leave as friends.
The Orlando Experience According to Chef Fonzo
Orlando is a tale of three cities: the well-known Disney Resort area, the Sand Lake Road area, and Orlando Proper. Whereas the touristy areas are known for their great high-end restaurants, the food scene in Downtown Orlando is much more diverse, offering great Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, and other Asian cuisines all in one area.
Top Orlando Hotels
Orlando does 75 million visitors a year. To cater to all these business and leisure travelers, the city of Orlando has no shortage of great hotels. You can find any property that you want, whether it be high-end star readings across the board.
Here are the city’s top 4 signature hotels that are great for vacationers and business travelers alike:
- Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center
- Gaylord properties are known for their amazing themed atriums and for providing an all-inclusive experience within the property.
- The Gaylord in Palms Resort was opened in 2002 and renovated in 2012. It’s just minutes away from the Disney resorts.
- Boasting 333,000 square feet of meeting space, the hotel offers amenities like a spa fitness center, a waterpark, and nine restaurants.
- The restaurant ranks among the highest properties in meeting planner satisfaction scores.
- Orlando Center Marriott
- Perfect for big meetings and huge family reunions because of its size. It has 77 meeting rooms over 317,000 square feet of meeting space.
- Some of its amenities include a family friendly waterpark and a golf course.
- Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
- More appealing to younger, hip travelers, this newly rebranded hotel is located within the Bonnet Creek Nature Preserve. It is next door to its sister brand hotel, the Waldorf Astoria.
- The Waldorf Astoria
An official Walt Disney World Hotel, which offers transportation and early entrance into the Disney parks.
About Kevin Fonzo
A native of New York City, Chef Kevin Fonzo received his culinary training starting at the young age of fifteen while working in a country inn in upstate New York.
At twenty-one years of age, Kevin became one of the youngest managers in Peabody’s history to run their own outlet. He quickly was promoted to Chef of the Italian restaurant, “Capriccio,” where he earned the “Best Brunch in Orlando” award from “Glamour Magazine”. He was featured on Orlando’s Noon Day News.
Kevin Owned K restaurant for 14 years. Kevin has won almost every award in Orlando, from “Neighborhood Gem” to “Best Restaurant in Orlando.” As one of “America’s Top Restaurants” in Zagat, his restaurant has been featured in “Bon Appetit Magazine,” “Nation’s Restaurant News,” “Orlando Leisure,” “Florida Trend,” The Orlando Sentinel,” and Kevin was added to “Orlando’s Dining Hall of Fame” from “Orlando Magazine.”
Kevin was also honored by The James Beard Foundation in 2010 by being nominated for “Best Chef Southeast”. Kevin has been invited three times to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City.
In 2013, Chef Emeril Lagasse visited K Restaurant as part of his “Emeril’s Florida” TV show focusing on Florida restaurants and chefs. Hearing about what Chef Kevin was doing at “The Edible Schoolyard at O.J.A,” he visited the school the next day. Impressed with the program Kevin started, The Emeril Lagasse Foundation partnered with him in building a new kitchen house/classroom. The new building has been a tremendous success.
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