To many travelers a hotel is usually just a place to retreat in between tours and adventures. But to those who look for something unusual in lodgings, it can also be a place of memories. Here are some extraordinary lodgings in Florida that may be the highlight of your next vacation:
Astor: The Guest Cottage at Grasshopper Acres is situated on 10 secluded acres of privately owned property at the end of a chain of lakes surrounded by the Ocala National Forest. Guests find miles of hiking, off road vehicle and horse trails in the forest. Trophy bass fishing in lakes or the nearby St. Johns River, and hunting for deer and wild turkey in season, are close at hand. The guest cottage has hardwood floors throughout, central air and heat, one bedroom with sitting area, a convertible sofa in the living room, one bath (shower only), dining room, kitchen with breakfast bar and a large screened porch overlooking the dock and lake. The kitchen is equipped with a four-burner stove and oven, microwave, coffee maker, blender, toaster, plus cookware, dishes and flatware. Info: grasshopper-acres.com. For information on other cottages, log cabins and other rustic vacation rentals, go to perfect-cabin-vacations.com
Key Largo: Jules Undersea Lodge is for adventurous travelers who love the sea, and want an unusual way to enjoy it. Named after that fantasy-lover Jules Verne, this underwater lodge features a 42-inch window in accommodations so guests can admire the watery panoramas after they go diving. A variety of packages and discounts are offered. Visit http://www.jul.com.
Disney World: Recapture the fun and fantasy of childhood at Disney's Saratoga Springs Treehouse Villas. Located adjacent to Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spathe 60 Treehouse Villas are octagonal in shape and built on a pedestal, 10 feet from the ground and offer views of the forest and canal, where often ibises, blue herons and other birds can be spotted. The villas have three bedrooms and two baths, lots of glass to take advantage of the views, as well as many conveniences: from full kitchens with granite counters to washers and dryers to flat screen televisions and cathedral ceilings. Another option at Disney World is the Animal Kingdom Lodge. This lodge sits on a 38-acre wildlife preserve with a savannah filled with zebras, giraffes and other animals – 30 species in all. Guests can watch the wildlife together from select savannah-view rooms as well as from a variety of public areas of the thatched-roof, African-inspired and decorated resort. Guests can also opt for a safari experience either at the resort or at the nearby Animal Kingdom Park. Accommodations are in lodge rooms and villas. Two restaurants at the Animal Kingdom Lodge serve African specialties, and a third serves American cuisine. The lodge also offers a wide selection of South African wines. For information on the Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs and Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, go to disneyworld.com.
Orlando: Fancy the Middle Ages and the Renaissance? Looking like a turreted medieval palace that has been deposited onto Orlando's International Drive, the Holiday Inn Resort the Castle offers 216 rooms and suites. The castle-inspired décor and Renaissance music transport guests back in time, but there is also modern perks including an outdoor circular heated pool and spa with movie screen, fitness center, and free scheduled transportation to Universal Orlando, Wet 'n Wild, and SeaWorld Orlando. Info: thecastleorlando.com.
River Ranch: Unleash your inner cowboy at this dude ranch near Lake Wales: the Westgate River Ranch Cowboy Theme Park Resort. There's horseback riding, extended trail rides, Saturday night rodeo, heated outdoor pool and hot tub, hayrides, catch and release pond, tennis and basketball courts, horseshoes, miniature golf course, and full-service marina. Inn rooms, studio cabins, one- and two-bedroom cabins and courtyard villas are among accommodation choices available. Info: westgateriverranch.com.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times