The Atrium inside Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center has great restaurants, shops, and a spa, plus a great view of the sky above. (Photo by Michael Freeman).
KISSIMMEE – The rooms at Emerald Bay in Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center seem designed to please, and not just in the traditional sense of providing comfort to the weary traveler. Hotels have come a long way.
The queen-sized bed beckons you to consider relaxing there as you watch television or read a book. On the desk nearby is a computer with a wi fi connection if you want to check your emails. There’s a coffee machine at your disposal, a compact disc on the nightstand, and a balcony overlooking the resort’s huge, very impressive Atrium. You can sit on the balcony and watch the people below you walking by.
Of course, Gaylord Palms offers so much more. There’s a massive pool outside that practically calls your name as the afternoon heat reaches its most oppressive, but if you choose to stay inside under climate control, there are plenty of rewards to be found at the Atrium or the convention center.
When I’ve visited European cities like Berlin, I’ve been amazed at how the underground metro subway system feels just like shopping malls – as you run to catch your connecting train, you’re likely to stop and spot a store that you want to do some window shopping at. The train can wait.
At Gaylord Palms, the outside world is the one that can wait. The Atrium has clothing stores, a health spa, restaurants, and a walkway above a pond filled with alligators and turtles, happily – or lazily, perhaps – coexisting. You can stroll around for hours, discovering something new, from the Key West section to the Everglades area to the old world charm of the St. Augustine corner; it’s all a happy lure away from the comfort of your room.
Spending a night at Gaylord Palms, I was reminded of a few important facts of life.
The alligators at Gaylord Palms Resort will mostly ignore you as they swim below your feet. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

First, Central Florida is the home to some truly world class resorts.
Second, the staff there work very hard to keep you happy – and to spoil you.
Finally, in a stressful world, where it feels like you have to work harder than ever to succeed, there are enormous mental health benefits to letting yourself get spoiled a little.
I went to Gaylord Palms on a Monday night, not usually a popular day for booking a hotel room. So I ask you this: if you’re feeling the stress of work, a struggling economy, a bad housing market or a competitive job hunting environment, have you ever thought about taking one night to let someone else spoil and pamper you a bit — to relax and escape from it all? If you haven’t, then consider it.
The truth is, this morning I feel different – refreshed, reenergized, and much happier. My workload was still waiting for me, but I felt ready for it. I needed that time to get away.
The truth is, we live in one of the world’s great hospitality centers. We’re a Mecca for every imaginable kind of tourism, from outdoor recreational activities at our beaches and lakes to thrill-seeking rides at huge theme parks, to historic old South enclaves like Bok Towers in Polk County, to shopping, dining and water park options galore.
You don’t have to go to the Caribbean for a week to get away from the daily grind. You don’t even have to spend an entire week away from home.
We have some amazing hotels in Central Florida, Gaylord Palms included. There’s no reason to let your life be stressed to the max when there’s a tremendous amount of benefits to be derived from doing something else: spending one night where you treat yourself, and are able to come back home the next day feeling so, so good.
Here’s how you start: Pick a night in the middle of the week, when your favorite hotel or resort might be underbooked. Go to a site like or and see if the hotel is offering discounts – and if they are, book it.
Imagine you could spend $200 and, in one happy evening, feel like you’ve been away from it all for a week, because you let someone else take care of you.
Bottom line: in these stressful times, don’t forget the importance of taking care of yourself. Do this inexpensively, and let it touch on your most important relationship as well. Bring along your spouse, partner, significant other – whoever. Make it your night out together.
There was something so soothing to find myself sitting in a classy restaurant at Gaylord Palms, sipping a glass of wine, relaxing after a filling dinner, and watching the sky above through the Atrium’s dome. At a moment like that, you may feel the energy to walk around for a while, exploring the resort, or you may want to head back to your room to just kick off your shoes and feel how irresistably comfortable the bed is. Either way, this is your night, my friend. Make the most of it.

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