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The Peabody Hotel in Orlando Has A Unique Duck Theme

by Jeff Voth

"It's almost eleven o'clock; do you know where the ducks are?"

As strange as this question sounded coming from the well-dressed woman stepping off the elevator, it is one heard countless times each morning by the staff of the Peabody Orlando.

The twice-daily red carpet procession of the ducks is a long-standing tradition at the hotel. Though it is nowhere near as dangerous as the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, it is equally as renowned in the South. Unlike bull running however, if anyone were to be gored in the procession, it would be strictly by accident and most likely consist of only a minor scratch caused by a stray Gucci handbag.

The history of the ducks is an integral part of the overall Peabody experience. The tradition began in the 1930's when Frank Schutt, the general manager of the original Peabody Memphis and his good friend Chip Barwick, Sr. returned from a hunting trip in Arkansas. Both avid outdoorsmen, they decided to pull a prank and place live ducks in the beautiful, but otherwise uninhabited marble fountain of the hotel.

The reaction by guests was magical, and so the tradition has continued at both the Memphis and Orlando properties to this day. Teams of Peabody ducks are rotated every few months, with five ducks always in residence. At the end of each appearance, the ducks are ceremoniously returned to their $100,000 penthouse Duck Palace for refreshments.

The duck theme isn't confined to the marble fountain found in the main lobby of the Peabody Orlando. Duck art is placed throughout the hotel and each room is graced with the presence of duck shaped soap and hotel notepaper. Not surprisingly, you won't find duck on the menu at the Peabodys.

The Peabody Orlando is a four-star, four-diamond hotel. It also boasts the only four-star rated restaurant in Orlando, named, (what else) the Dux. A member of the prestigious Preferred Hotels & Resorts Group, the 27 story Peabody Orlando graces the Florida skyline offering 891 rooms, 58 suites and 57,000 sq. ft of meeting space.

The Peabody Orlando is considered by many to be the finest hotel in Orlando, having won numerous awards of significance. This includes making the 2004 Travel & Leisure top 500 list.

From the moment you enter the driveway of the Peabody Orlando, it seduces you with lush vegetation and the pleasing sounds of cascading water. The décor of the hotel can be described simply as magnificent. Ceramic columns and marble floors blend together with brass accents and fine art to create a rich tapestry of elegance and sophistication. Plush carpeting entices guests to make their way down the extra wide halls and into their comfortable rooms. Once inside, the beauty of abody Orlando continues to shine through, with attention being paid to even the smallest detail.

A 12 million dollar renovation completed in 1999/2000 decorated each room with lightly stripped wall paper and neutral colors, providing a traditional atmosphere to the surroundings. Personally, I found it restful and inviting, while at the same time offering all the luxuries and technology demanded by today's traveler.

The bathrooms are cozy, but large enough to accommodate two people at a time, easily. Thick towels are in abundance, with extra attention given to providing guests with the best in hair care and cleansing products. Should there be a sudden need to get the latest news or sports from around the world, just turn on the portable TV located on the bathroom counter, which is included in many of the hotels' rooms.

Three restaurants situated within the hotel provide guests with an excess of dining choices.

The aforementioned Dux restaurant is the multiple award winning and signature restaurant at the Peabody Orlando. It offers the best of fine American cuisine in a formal setting. From seafood to a vegetarian entrée, the Chef has prepares meals that are sure to tickle the palette and please even the most finicky patron.

As an open concept restaurant located at the heart of the hotel, guests are attended to by white jacketed servers who present their meals on fine china and crystal, making the surrounding atmosphere chic and intimate.

Capriccio is a traditional pizzeria, serving an assortment of Northern Italian dishes from angel hair pasta to mesquite-grilled meats and seafood, and of course gourmet pizza. It too is an award winning restaurant in the Orlando area.

Desiring something on the lighter, less formal side, we chose to eat at the B-Line Diner. A throw back to the 50's, it remains open 24 hours a day and serves the best hamburgers and fries, along with red-snapper and smoked chicken.

Decorated in black and white ceramic tile with chrome accents and a soda fountain this thoroughly modern, charmingly cool restaurant has it all. Try the desserts and make sure to have a milk shake for good measure. They're both to die for! (

If, like me, you find eating a late night snack a temptation hard to resist, working it off the next day is made easier by spending time in the almost Olympic size pool, on the multiple tennis courts or at the Peabody Athletic Club.

Not only is the scenery surrounding the pool lush, there are enough chaise lounge chairs to seat a small army of tired vacationers. Children can amuse themselves in their own pool nearby, complete with a waterfall. After a good workout at the club, make sure to unwind in the equally large whirlpool just around the corner.

There are two main reasons people choose to visit Orlando. The first of course is Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld/Discovery Cove - the theme parks. The Peabody Orlando is conveniently located on International Drive and is no more than a fifteen minute drive from all the action.

This assumes of course, your trip down International Drive isn't undertaken during the evening rush hour. If it is, allot for up to an hour of added driving time, as the street gets packed with traffic.

Secondly, Orlando is the unofficial "convention capital" of Florida. Not coincidentally, the Peabody is conveniently located directly across the street from the Orange County Convention Center. With an onsite business center and 57,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space, the hotel offers the perfect compliment for the serious business traveler.

During our stay at the Peabody Orlando, we chose to spend a day at Discovery Cove, a mere 10 minute drive south from the main entrance of the hotel.

A truly amazing adventure awaits those who visit this unique setting. I suggest you come early to maximize your time in the park. Crowds are never a concern, as daily attendance is limited to no more than a 1,000 guests.

The list of things to see and do is almost overwhelming. Discovery Cove provides each visitor the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with a bottle-nose dolphin. Hold on tight as they take you for a ride, and don't forget to thank your mammal host afterwards with a kiss on the nose.

Set amidst lush gardens and a tropical lagoon, a picturesque waterfall leads to several free-flight bird aviaries. Here the hands-on experience continues as tropical birds and other animals are encouraged to interact freely with the guests. As if this wasn't enough to overload our senses, the splendor of a coral reef provided the perfect place to snorkel amidst thousands of rays and tropical fish.

The next day would hold many equally interesting adventures. But for now, it was time to relax in the comfort of my own room. Only one decision remained. Should I take a nap, or call for room service?

Awaking from a dream of six-foot tall duck waiters serving dinner at the B-Line Diner, I realized quickly the nap had won.

"Duck waiters," I mused. "What will they think of next?"

As ridiculous as the idea was, it made me smile. One should never underestimate the creativity that exists in Orlando, Florida. And at the Peabody Orlando, the possibilities seem endless.


The Peabody Orlando
9801 International Drive, Orlando, Florida 32819

Telephone: (407) 352-4000
Reservations: 1.800.PEABODY

Discovery Cove
6000 Discovery Cove Way, Orlando FL 32821

Telephone: 1.407.370.1280
Reservations: 1.877.434.7268
Package price range: $229- $249 all-inclusive
$129- $149 non-dolphin swim

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