Kissimmee: All The Comfort Of Home And More

D.T. Minich says the old adage of home sweet home may ring particularly true for those wanting to vacation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Minich, CEO of Experience Kissimmee, says his central Florida destination – found a stone’s throw from Orlando – has 60,000 vacation homes available, dwellings he says should look particularly attractive for those wanting to vacation these days but who are concerned about coronavirus.

The homes offer something of a refuge for those worried about the pandemic, he says, noting that they can be stocked with groceries and those booking them can eat all their meals in their homes, avoiding restaurants if they choose.

Vacationers can also opt for homes with the likes of pools, enabling them to enjoy their time at the houses and again minimizing the amount of contact they have with others.

One Kissimmee vacation home has 18 bedrooms and such features as a bowling alley and a theatre.

“You have all the conveniences of your own home with all the amenities of a resort,” Minich said during a recent Toronto visit.

Although close, Orlando and Kissimmee are found in different counties, with the county Orlando’s in not having vacation homes.

Kissimmee also has hotels that range from budget to the upscale, 1,500-room Gaylord Palms.

Florida has often struggled with coronavirus during the pandemic but Minich said his destination is “open for business…We understand that everyone has a different comfort level about travel right now…Some people feel comfortable about travel right now and others may want to wait a while. But we’re definitely seeing an interest.”

Minich said Kissimmee hotels are now seeing more guests.

The website enables coronavirus-cautious visitors to learn, for instance, whether a restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor dining, rather than indoor dining alone.

Minich noted that Air Canada and WestJet are now offering scheduled Orlando service.

Experience Kissimmee scaled back its representation in foreign countries during the pandemic but Minich noted that the Canadian office – along with the Mexican and Colombian ones – has returned to full strength.

Much of Kissimmee’s appeal lies with its proximity to Orlando, and that city’s theme parks, with Minich reporting that Kissimmee is “15 minutes from Disney at the most.”

October will see Disney World begin an 18-month celebration of its 50th anniversary, something Minich said is certain to benefit Kissimmee’s tourism trade.

But he added that Kissimmee has numerous attractions of its own, including an ability to accommodate nature and ecotourism enthusiasts through the likes of ziplines and kayaking, including kayaking the headwaters of the Everglades. Airboat Everglades tours are available.

The area has more American bald eagles than any other spot in the lower 48 U.S. states, he added.

“We have the best of both worlds,” he continued. “We have the new (theme) parks and we have these incredible gems Mother Nature has given us.”

Kissimmee is expected to receive further exposure when the IPW show – which promotes all the United States as a tourism destination — is held in Orlando next year.