Can you stay safe while having fun at a resort amid the pandemic? Yes, as long as you know what to expect going in. Here’s our experience at the Gaylord Palms Resort.
The Gaylord Palms Resort invited us to a two-night stay to see all the safety measures they’ve implemented to allow guests to have a safe, clean stay. We’ve stayed at the Gaylord Palms many times in the past, so we knew what a “normal” stay was like and we wanted to see the differences.
The Gaylord Palms is a Marriott property, so they go by the Marriott Cleanliness Council standards. In fact, Gaylord has their own 24-page Health and Safety Cleanliness Standards brochure you can read online.
As soon as we entered the hotel, we saw this sign giving all the safety rules. Yes, masks are required in all public areas. Most guests we passed by were wearing theirs, but a few were not. But it was easy to avoid those not wearing them since the resort is very large, as you’ll see in a later photo.
In addition to the sign by the resort’s entrances, there were signs all around telling that the face covering rule was in effect due to a county ordinance. All of the employees we saw were wearing their masks correctly at all times.
For those who didn’t happen to bring their own mask, we spotted this mask and sanitizer vending machine near the front desk.
We also saw hand sanitizer stations scattered around the resort, specifically at all elevators and restaurants. Notice the sign says the maximum occupancy for the elevators is four people or one party.
Inside the elevator were markers separating the four guests if they aren’t traveling together. We never had this issue as our party members were the only ones in our elevator each time we rode it.
This was our room on the eighth floor. It was very comfortable and had all the amenities you’d expect, including a small refrigerator.
We stayed at Disney’s Old Key West Resort the week before, and noticed a few new safety measures that each hotel has done differently. Disney’s resort hotel had the television remote wrapped in plastic so you knew it was cleaned. They also had a placard in the room listing which areas were specifically cleaned.
The Gaylord Palms didn’t have those, but they did provide free hand sanitizer and a wipe. That’s not to say Gaylord didn’t also clean all the same areas Disney did, but they didn’t specifically acknowledge it in the room. The remote control was in a special holder, so we assumed they had cleaned it, but the wipe was there in case we wanted to give anything an extra scrub.
This was our amazing view. The Gaylord Palms main atrium is huge and fully covered, so the afternoon rainstorms didn’t affect us at all. Each area of the atrium is themed as a different part of Florida. They even have real alligators, turtles, fish and snakes around the resort, supplied by Wild Florida (all contained of course).
Since the resort just reopened a few weeks ago, and Walt Disney World’s theme parks were not yet open when we visited, the resort occupancy was low. The great part was it was like having the resort pretty much to ourselves. But the downside is that their restaurants open based on occupancy, so only two of the five were open during our stay. One of their gift shops was open, as well as a small marketplace for snacks. Their coffee shop featuring Starbucks was not open.
One of the main restaurants that was closed is Villa de Flora, because it’s being renovated. They hope to reopen it in August with an enhanced look and feel and all-new furniture, but with the same great food it’s known for. The restaurant was a buffet, but when it reopens, it will be a served buffet with attendants plating your food.
With COVID-19 still spreading in Florida, we have been avoiding eating inside restaurants, but we made an exception one night at their Wreckers Sports Bar, as it has two-story ceilings to house their giant television screen. Plus there were only a few guests spread out around the restaurant. They also offer outdoor seating when the weather allows it.
Instead of having to clean their menus after each guest and you having to touch them, each table has this QR code on it so you can read the menu on your phone. We ate here two nights in a row and Gaylord provided us a credit for one night. Everything we ordered on both nights was delicious.
Gaylord is offering a free Florida Explorer Scavenger Hunt this summer for kids. The hunt sends you all around the indoor atrium looking for these compass symbols. I think we needed a kid with us because we couldn’t quite figure out exactly what to do.
We ended our first evening walking around the atrium checking out the sights and animals. This is the Key West area. When it’s open, you can dine on this ship at Moors restaurant. The whole resort takes on a new look at night.
As part of their SummerFest celebration, there’s a nightly light show in the atrium. Here’s a video showing part of it:
— Attractions Magazine (@Attractions) July 7, 2020
On Friday and Saturday nights this summer, the resort is premiering a summer series called Atrium Vibes. It will feature live performances guests can enjoy from the comfort of their atrium-facing balconies.
We spent the next day by the pool (until the thunderstorms rolled in). As you can see, their low occupancy provided plenty of space. We could relax with out masks off here as no one was around us. We also enjoyed lunch here, delivered directly to us by a poolside waitress from the SandBar restaurant. The adult pool has been changed to the quiet pool for now, so guests have room to spread out. Kids are allowed in both pools.
As you can see, they had markers on many of the poolside chairs to keep everyone socially distant.
Cypress Springs Water Park features a drop slide, racing slides and a kids’ splash tower. All were open. Remember, masks are not required on the slides or in the kids’ splash areas.
You can even go surfing in their FlowRider.
Just behind the pool area is a new expansion to the resort. This will add more guest rooms, event spaces, a lazy river and more once completed. Even though work was active, we couldn’t hear it from inside the hotel or poolside.
We had a great visit at the Gaylord Palms Resort without ever leaving during our two-night stay. It’s a great place to stay while visiting the theme parks, or not. If you’d rather visit when all of their amenities are open (but more busy), we suggest inquiring before booking your stay.