Florida Homewood Suites adventure begins in Lake Buena Vista

It all started a few weeks ago with a call from Hilton. Would I be interested in writing for a Web site run by Homewood Suites, they wondered.

Homewood Suites? Now there’s a name I don’t hear very often — which is actually a good thing.

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I looked through my files. No serious complaints about Homewood Suites. It’s squeaky clean, on a par with Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons. Not bad for an upscale, all-suite chain with close to 300 properties.

Then I realized that I knew almost nothing about Homewood Suites, other than that it belonged to the Hilton family of hotels, and recognizing its distinctive duck logo.

So this weekend, I packed my family into the car and we drove to the Homewood Suites property in Lake Buena Vista, which is just a stone’s throw from I-Drive, SeaWorld and, of course, Disneyworld.

We were not disappointed.

Homewood is an unpretentious hotel chain. It offers big rooms (our family of five stayed pretty comfortably in a one-bedroom suite), thoughtful amenities and a generous, self-service breakfast. But you could have probably gotten those facts off the Hilton Web site.

What you won’t read there is this: Everything is bigger. The hallways are wider, the accommodations more spacious — it’s all slightly larger than life, right down to the waffles you make yourself in the breakfast buffet. If you’re worried about running out of room when you’re on vacation like we are, this is a worthwhile option.

My criticisms are minor. Our breakfast didn’t have any fruit, and I’m dying for an espresso. The pool was a little chilly, but considering the cold winter we’ve just suffered in Central Florida, it’s amazing it wasn’t any colder.

There are another 26 Homewood Suites properties in Florida, and I’ve decided to visit all of them in the next year. There’s a reason for this hotel endurance race. I’ll be contributing to a site called SuiteLiving, and by golly, if I don’t know anything about the “suite” life, how am I going to offer any credible advice to my readers?

Beyond that, my family tells me they actually like staying here. That’s something I don’t hear after every hotel visit.

I’ll check in from another Homewood Suites property soon with a completely unvarnished, no-holds barred look at the suite life.

The bar is set pretty high. Let’s see if the other 26 hotels are this good.