This morning we had tickets for the three of us to go to Epcot. For breakfast we opted to go to Peacock Alley in the Waldorf Astoria. I was thrilled to see that they offered fruit cups as well as dairy free coffee options.
We drove to Epcot and opted for the premium parking. The small added cost is well worth it. There was a rather large line for getting into the park. Luckily none of us had bags so we got to bypass most of the crowds. Once inside the park we decided to see if there were any rides that the lines weren't to long. Our first ride was Mission Space. We decided to go the less intense green team since my friend gets motion sick. The green team worked in our favor as the wait was only 5 minutes! We then tried to get on Test Track and Soarin'. Unfortunately, the waits for those rides was over an hour each and the fast passes weren't available until the evening hours.
We gave up on going on rides and decided to go to the World Showcase. Our first stop is always Mexico. We head down to La Cave del Tequila for some margarita's. We spent a relaxing and fun time having a couple of margarita's along with chips and salsa. My favorite is the Cucumber Margarita (Tequila blanco, orange liqueur, caramelized pineapple juice, muddled fresh basil, agave nectar, muddled cucumber, served on the rocks with a Tajín chili powder rim).
Next we wandered through each of the countries checking out their stores, bars, and restaurants. A couple of the highlights were the Beijing style candied strawberries, buying perfume in Italy, and seeing the lovely garden sculpture of Tink/Peter Pan.
We decided to have lunch at The Rose & Crown. We did have reservations and were seated right away. For lunch we enjoyed beer, cider, scotch eggs, potato leek soup, and oven roasted fish and chips (dairy and gluten free). The service is friendly, I was offered the option to speak with the chef, my allergies were accommodated, and the food was very good.
We continued on our way around the World Showcase. I don't know how but my friend who is originally from New England has never tried maple candy! Luckily Canada was nearby and so we purchased some for her to try. Naturally she loved it! Who doesn't!!
We left the park and headed back to our hotel to cool off and get changed for dinner.
We took a car from our hotel to Disney Springs. Tonight we decided to sit on the outdoor deck of Paradiso 37 for before dinner drinks. We had no idea that we would end up having a lovely experience to go with our drinks. I ordered a Pineapple Caipirinha. Next thing we know the Caipirinha cart pushed by a lovely woman came our way. They custom make your Caiprinha in front of you. On our 2nd round the bartender suggested combining fruit flavors. I opted for a pineapple and mango Caipirinha and it was amazing!!
For dinner we had reservations at STK. We walked over to the restaurant and were seated right away at an outdoor table. Our waitress was wonderful! She was funny, vibrant, professional, and cared that we were happy with our meal. To start our meal we ordered the wedge salad and the beef tartare. The tartare was amazing with it's bright flavor, hint of heat, and crips to enjoy it on. Our entrees came out and my Dry Aged Delmonico came out cold. Our waitress took it back right away. A few minutes later and someone else brings my plate back. I look down and my $63 steak was cut in half and reheated. I called the waitress back over and she agreed that this shouldn't have happened. A few minutes goes by again and the manager comes out and explains that he asked for it to be rushed and that's why the chef cut it in half and reheated it. I explained that this was awful service, a disservice to me and to the steak. Once I received my new steak it was hot, tender, and delicious. Our waitress took $20 off of our bill for our inconvience which I thought was really nice. We ended up adding that $20 to her 20% tip since she was so wonderful.
We left Brunswick early in the morning so that we could maximize our time in Orlando. 4 hours later and we pulled up to the Waldorf Astoria Orlando.
Our reservation was for 6 nights in a Deluxe Suite. Before our stay we contacted the concierge department in regards to booking a pool cabana and ordering a fruit platter to our room. I wrote them back and on Saturday I received a response saying that they were closed on Saturdays. On Sunday we didn't receive a response nor did anyone say anything while we checked in. Needless to say we didn't receive our fruit platter nor did we decide to purchase the cabana.
It was around 11 a.m. when we went inside to check in. Our room wasn't ready yet so we visited the Peacock lounge for a drink and snacks. We received a text that our room 930 was available. We were pleased to find out that we got an upgrade to a luxury suite. This was our third stay at the property and our first upgrade. The room was a lovely layout and very clean except for the sofa bedding which had a bright red stain on it. Our friend met us at the hotel and we opted for lunch poolside. We ordered the Asian salad, tuna tacos, and Caesar salad. The food was good however the drinks were just okay. We decided to relax back in our room for a while. That evening we went out to dinner. When we arrived back at the hotel around 11 pm. We walked into our room and were instantly disgusted by a fried fish smell. We called downstairs and were told that someone would come by to fix it. Housekeeping called us and said that could spray air freshener. We found that the scent was coming from the vent near the front door (air freshener won't solve this problem). We called again and couldn't get through to the front desk. We decided to walk down stairs. After a long wait we were given a room on 4th floor which would be larger. We felt it was a little odd though when the Bellman escorted us to make sure the room would be okay. During our walk to the new room the bellman was the only person who finally admitted that room 930 was above the kitchen. The new room was handicapped, very narrow layout, and felt claustrophobic. We went back downstairs to explain that this wasn't acceptable. Finally we were given a a room smaller than we had and 100 credit. We packed our stuff and made our way to the new room. The new room was fine but it was on a lower level than the room we originally booked, lower than the upgraded room, and did overlook a rooftop.
The next morning housekeeping rang our doorbell at 8:30 and wanted to know when we would be out of the room. The housekeeping manager Angie called during the day to express an apology for our experiences. We came back to a bottle of red wine, chocolates, and extra amenities. The next day someone else called to check on our happiness. Unfortunately the staff are all trained to ask what would make you happy to correct the issues. We agreed that we felt that this question is inappropriate.We were the ones wronged, you know the value of our loss, and yet you want me to tell you what I want? Okay comp all my extras, give me back my 130k points, etc. We would never ask for compensation however if you ask how our stay is going we will tell you (especially for this being our 3rd stay and for 6 nights). The other offering is a free breakfast. I have a dairy and gluten allergy and never eat breakfast. In the end Angie called again to check on us. We explained our feelings about their procedures and she went above and beyond by working with the front desk staff to remove our daily fees.
The highlights of the Waldorf Astoria is valet staff are definitely efficient and friendliest of the resort, the women at the coffee bar are always smiling and warm, the coffee is very good, peacock lounge is always a nice spot for drinks, pool chair attendants are fast and friendly, and room service is lovely.
We checked out of the hotel very early in the morning and the process of bell service, check out, and valet was nice and smooth.
We would still return to the Waldorf Astoria thanks to the beautiful surroundings and the special staff like Angie.
This evening we went to Downtown Disney for drinks and dinner with our friend. We first opted for the Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar. The drinks were delicious. We ordered the Himalyan Zing - Gochujang Pepper Sauce wings. While the wing sauce was flavorful and not too spicy things wings themselves were unappetizing. I'm not sure if it's because of my allergies but the fat wasn't rendered and the skin was very chewy.
For dinner we had a reservation at The Boathouse. We opted to sit outside on their beautiful deck. The wait staff were definitely some of our favorites! The staff was warm, concerned about guest happiness, and a few of them were hilarious! The chef did come out to discuss options for my dairy allergy. Our octopus appetizer was chewy and stringy and our waiter sent it back when we weren't in love with it. A new one was sent out and it was much better. Our entree's were fried fish, swordfish, and tuna. They were all prepared well, very flavorful and were large portions.
The nigh before our flight we went online to check in for our American Airlines flight. We were beyond excited to be offered the chance to upgrade to First Class for hardly anything! I called our friends traveling with us and sure enough they received the same offer.
We booked car service with Valley Coach of North Andover for the 4 of us to be picked up at our house at 6:45. The car service was a little late and when it showed up it wasn't the right car. Apparently something happened to the original car and we were left with an SUV that seated 3 plus luggage. Our friend Tom took a leisurely ride while resting on the floor. I wrote an email explaining the situation and asked that the return pick up would be better suited. I'll write more about our return pick up later but I did want to state that Valley Coach of North Andover got back to us appropriately and on the return trip informed us that there wouldn't be a charge for the mix up. Excellent customer service!
After checking in for our flight and headed to the nearest Starbucks for some beverages. We were the first to board our flight and the seats were roomy and the service was friendly. However, on the 757 from Boston to Miami it's an older plane, no individual tv's, and you are unable to tell them if you have a food allergy. Needless to say with my dairy allergy the only thing they were able to offer me was fruit (I'll be offered a lot of fruit all through Miami and the cruise as well...grrrr).
We landed in Miami and hopped in a cab to the South Beach Marriott. It was still pretty early so we correctly assumed that our room wouldn't be ready. The hotel held our bags for us and we headed out for some lunch. Sadly it was a cloudy, windy, and cold day in Miami so that meant the beach was out.
The four of us decided on Joe's Stone Crab. The restaurant was extremely busy and by the time we got done the lunch service was over and so I think the service suffered a bit. We enjoyed the shrimp cocktail, stone crabs, nicoise salad, ribs, and lobster blt. The shrimp were a bit over cooked for my taste but everything else was delicious and seasoned beautifully.
After lunch we headed back to the South Beach Marriott and our room was ready. Before heading up the room the staff offered us a complimentary Mojito. That is the way to start a vacation!! We decided to share a room since it was just one night and the room was perfectly appointed. The room was bright, airy, and modern with two full size beds, a view of the ocean (no balcony but did have a sliding window), counter top, chair, coffee maker, refrigerator, shower, and large bathroom.
My friend Robyn and I decided to go walk up Collins Ave and do some shopping while the guys hung out and got some beers. After noticing the time we hurried up and ran back to the hotel to get ready for dinner at Zuma.