Swizzle Lounge, located across from the check-in
desk in the lobby of Cabana Bay Beach Resort in
Orlando, Fla., serves updated versions of favorite
midcentury cocktails such as the Tom Collins, the
Sidecar and the Manhattan.
Fla. — Just how dipped in amber (and turquoise and
yellow) is Cabana Bay Beach Resort?
into the circular drive of Universal Orlando’s newest
hotel — careful, don’t ding the vintage cars parked
out front — and you can easily imagine bellboy Jerry
Lewis rushing out to "help" a family with their
hard-sided Samsonites. Enter the terrazzo-floored lobby
and you can picture the Jetsons checking in, or Don Draper
sipping an Old Fashioned in the Swizzle Lounge.
had fun with this," confesses a member of Universal’s
creative team. And it shows.
1,800-room property, which can sleep up to 9,000 guests,
blends the exuberant Doo Wop architecture of Wildwood,
N.J., roadside motels with the elegance of the Americana
Hotel, which in 1956 shook up sleepy Bal Harbour with its
exaggerated proportions and oversized lobby terrarium.
expansive courtyards draw inspiration from midcentury
outdoor design and wholesome recreation, with large,
zero-entry pools, a lazy river, a sandy "beach,"
a faux dive tower and 100-foot water slide, fire pits,
picnic pavilions, pingpong tables and bean bag toss games.
All that’s missing are Frankie and Annette.
Bay is Universal’s first moderately priced offering,
with rates starting at $99 for Florida residents through
mid-August. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to
understand why an early Space Age-themed hotel is smart
business in 2014, says Christine Hardenberger, owner of
MMP Travel, an agency specializing in Orlando vacations.
late baby boomers and Generation Xers, checking into
Cabana Bay "is like stepping back into
childhood," says Hardenberger. "As my agents —
most of whom fall into the Gen X category — walked
through the resort, there were constant exclamations of
‘Oh, I remember that!’ as we passed furnishings that
reminded us of a friend’s kitchen, listened to music
that our moms and dads played in the car, and played with
an alarm clock much like the one that sat next to our beds
could see everyone’s mood brighten as they were flooded
with happy memories."
Dagon, a 47-year-old VP and executive project director at
Universal, can relate.
all liked this concept because we were of the age, but the
question was, ‘Will it resonate with a younger audience?’
And it’s actually more compelling to a younger audience
because of the uniqueness. And they’re experiencing (the
era) for the first time here."
the time machine is pimped out with 21st century
essentials such as free Wi-Fi, plasma TVs, easily
accessible outlets for recharging mobile devices, USB
ports in every guest room, and bathrooms that allow
multiple guests to simultaneously prepare for a day of
Harry Pottering. (Just try finding roomy water closets in
a vintage motor court.)
theme may pull families in," says Dave Parfitt, who
operates the family travel site AdventuresByDaddy.com,
"but the modern amenities, comfy family suites and
price point will keep them."
and now also share a booth in the Bayliner Diner food
court, where guests can purchase an electronic-chipped
Sonic Fill cup that allows for endless refills at the
resort’s 10 Coke Freestyle machines.
director of food and beverage, Phil Klinkenberg, who says
he’s in his early 50s, oversaw the development of the
resort’s menus. "It was fun to think about what I
grew up with," he says, "but our challenge was,
we’re 50 years on."
of Tang and Welsh rarebit were out like a backyard bomb
shelter, but Swedish meatballs and tuna noodle casserole
passed modern-day muster to earn spots alongside tofu stir
fry, ginger soy glazed salmon and Brazilian beef churrasco.
(Another period touch: Bulk-candy bins of Necco Wafers,
Mary Janes and Bit-O-Honeys.)
Bayliner Diner’s high-ceilinged dining room, guests can
enjoy their burgers and fries with a side of
"Popeye." Cartoons, commercials and generic
vacation footage from the late 1950s and early ’60s, all
pulled from the NBCUniversal vault, play on four enormous
moving art work as much as anything," Dagon says.
dip, meanwhile, is an option in Galaxy Bowl, a 10-pin
ringer for Hollywood Star Lanes, which was built in 1960
and served as the Dude’s home alley in "The Big
for those who prefer Pike Place Roast to Chock full o’Nuts,
Starbucks selected Cabana Bay as the site of its first
stand-alone location at a Universal or Disney resort. Its
store there features Weeki Wachee-inspired murals, an Old
Florida wink and nod to the coffee chain’s mermaid
is a suitable vacation bedfellow, Hardenberger says.
"Not only are you unplugging from the stresses of
your daily life, you feel as though you are actually
walking back into a more carefree time."
course, not everyone fondly recalls the pre-Cuban Missile
Crisis era. Prior to booking its first rooms in March,
Cabana Bay executives permanently banned several
politically incorrect tunes from the playlist of the
resort’s piped-in music, which is pulled exclusively
from Billboard’s Top 100 charts from 1958 through ‘62.
pools and Galaxy Bowl are the only hotel locations where
the soundscape is largely contemporary.
were willing to walk through the lobby and hear two or
three songs that put them in a place," Dagon said.
to most ears, an uninterrupted stretch of songs such as
"Honeycomb," "Charlie Brown" and
"Splish Splash" translates to headaches by the
Bay Beach Resort, 6550 Adventure Way, Orlando, Fla.,
Aug. 16, Florida residents can take advantage of rates
starting at $99. After that, the average rate per night
starts around $124.
Cabana Bay Beach Resort, mod is in the details:
The sign that towers over the circular driveway promises
color TV and "cold air."
Four gleaming cars greet guests: a 1957 Ford Country
Squire Wagon, a 1958 Chrysler Imperial, a 1961 Chevrolet
Impala and a 1963 Ford Thunderbird Sports Roadster.
Each nightstand is topped with a Westclox analog clock
that ticks it old-school.
The complimentary toiletries? Retro-wrapped Zest and
Alberto VO5 shampoo and cream rinse.
And you know those "men" and "women"
silhouettes outside of restrooms? At Cabana Bay, the male
symbol wears a fedora and a necktie.