I'm heading to orlando with the family in April. I would prefer to avoid a rental car as I doubt we will need it everyday. We are staying at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes and would like to visit the local attactions like Disney and Sea World. Are there shuttles available to these attactions? Are taxis readily available?
Good question. I have always had a rental car but I understand the need to avoid one. Have you contacted the hotel directly to see if they can recommend something? Many larger properties have ties to car services, where you are renting part of a limo or can for just the time that you need it, and this is often cheaper than renting and paying for gas (which seems to be creeping up and up in price daily).
Good luck and try them first.
You are headed for a great property!
You may want to re-consider renting a car though. I have stayed there and the Orlando airport is one of the easiest to rent and drive. I have found that I needed a car so often at the hotel for dining and sightseeing that it turned out to be well worth it.
Again, you will enjoy your trip, just take along all of your spare change for all of the toll booths, or buy one of the pre-pass devices online prior to getting to Orlando.
According to the Grande Lakes web site, the hotel does NOT supply shuttle service. Estimated taxi fee from the airport is $50 and an airport shuttle (Mears) is $17. It appears the rental car you're seeking is an SUV-priced option at one of the "big boy" rental agencies.
If you've never used www.kayak.com, consider looking here for rental cars during your stay. I priced both a Taurus and an Impala for a sample week (04/09-04/16) at a lesser-known agency at $352 thru $386 which includes the tax and airport fees with unlimited miles.
What kind of car are you renting for $600-800?? I can almost guarantee you that you'll wish you'd rented a car if you stay at the JW. Like Jerry said, it's a great place, 1st class all the way, but it's out in the middle of nowhere at least as Orlando goes. I did notice though at the JW that there's always several town cars waiting out front when summoned. Have fun on your trip!
If you wind up renting a car, make sure it is from an outfit that is at the airport. There are some car rentals that appear a lot cheaper, but you must shuttle to/from them. With bags and people it usually is not worth it, and then when you go to turn the car in you have trouble finding the place.
You can compare rental car prices on AOL or others sights. The prices will vary a lot.
It is an easy drive from MCO to the hotel. One place I would really suggest is "Old Towne", in Kissimme, On Friday's they have a Vintage Car rally and the place is really a lot of fun. The is a nice Italian Rest. across the street, Pachinko's that is a family favorite.
One other thing about rental cars: I have found especially in Orlando that it's better to book with two or three of the majors on airport, then check back frequently to see if the rates are lower. In my most recent visit, I saved more thn half at Hertz, during a weekday special, and got a bigger (premium) car for the cost of that mid-size I had ordered.
If you belong to their clubs (Number One Gold, Emerald Aisle, etc.) things are a little better as a renter--more choices, better cars and the like. It is easy to get to the hotel but there are tolls and some companies automatically include an Easy Pass (Hertz does this) in the cars--you still pay the toll and a fee for using or not using the windshield mounted box, but you can avoid it all together by never pulling the actual pass out from the mounted box, and just paying cash.
Some car companies charge for additional drivers, use of GPS, and other add-ons, plus their insurance if you take it, so the price is not always the price. In many cases it can be an additional 25% when all is said and done.
If you can do without a car and just do taxis, why not? It is an expensive decision but one that involves a lot less hassle in the final analysis.
Great "Tips", I did not know this with Hertz. I am a #1 member, but never have asked for the "Toll paying device" in the car. This is a must when driving in Florida. So many people make the lines way too long at the toll booths. I really think so many do not have a clue what to do at the toll booths.
Will be trying this on my next trip to Orlando in June.
We have one solitary toll road in CA and it's in Orange County. Bridges have tolls but I do not live in a toll area so it's all Greek to me. Dulles Airport in VA was where I got the toll thing, and every car in the Hertz President's Circle had one. I used it infrequently, but when I did was glad that there was a way to avoid umbling for change. National Rent a Car also has these in selection locations.
Here's the small print for use of a toll pass (from National cars)
If you or any driver operate the rental vehicle in Northern California, Florida, Colorado, or Texas, and generate an unpaid toll, you will be charged our Toll Pass Convenience Charge of $2.00 for each day you use a toll road or bridge plus the cost of all unpaid tolls. The maximum Toll Pass Convenience Charge for the rental period is $6.00, plus the cost of all unpaid tolls. If you or any driver operate the rental vehicle in areas not served by TollPass and generate any unpaid toll(s) then you will be charged for all unpaid tolls and an administrative charge of up to $25.00 per rental.
Sounds like the instructions on the Federal 1040 but it means you migh pay additonal charges for not using the pass.
Follow up after the trip
First, there did appear to be limo's parked in front of the hotel the entire time and the drivers were eager to accept paying customers although I have no idea what the rate was. I also noticed taxis at the parks like disney and universal that were ready to take you back to the hotels. We probably could have been ok either way but I am glad we got a rental. for my platinum gift, I received free self parking during the stay (16.95/day). The airport was easy to get in and out of and we had a sense of freedom having the car at our disposal. The only issue was with the GPS. For some reason, according to the lady at the Universal studios desk in the hotel, the GPS is programmed to take you to the corporate main offices of universal. We found this to be true and she gave us written directions that came in handy. Disney was easy to find with all of the signs on the highway pointing us in the right direction.
The hotel itself was phenomenal. I would be happy to go to orlando for a week and not leave it. We had trips planned to the parks nearly everyday and the one full day we stayed at the hotel was a treat. the "lazy river" pool was beautiful and lots of fun.
I have stayed on disney property before and it is very convenient. But this hotel was so much nicer than the disney property and it was very close to all of the parks. I wouldn't hesitate to stay there again.