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Travel: If you’ve never heard of Lake Nona, you’re not alone but this ‘smart city’ near Orlando bets you’ll visit soon

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If the Orlando planned community of Celebration is often likened to something straight out of “The Truman Show”  for its borderline creepy perfectionism, then a new hotel opening soon in yet another master-planned Orlando community is promising to bring something more Jetsons-esque to mind.

The Lake Nona Wave Hotel, set to open in late fall 2021 in the self-proclaimed “smart city” of Lake Nona, is billing itself as “the most technologically advanced hotel in the world.”

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That’s a pretty big call, with all the high-tech hotels already out there on the planet, including in Japan,  where the Henna Hotel is staffed almost entirely by robots.

But this Orlando property does have some interesting amenities and approaches to the modern guest stay that can certainly qualify as cutting-edge.

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a view of a large building: Lake Nona Wave Hotel (Rendering courtesy of the hotel) © The Points Guy Lake Nona Wave Hotel (Rendering courtesy of the hotel)

Lake Nona itself is already home to 25 shuttles that are part of one of the world’s largest autonomous vehicle fleets. They are run by a company called BEEP (their autonomous shuttles are also in use in places like Yellowstone National Park) that just moved its headquarters to the community.

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And there are some exciting things coming to the skies here in coming years, too, in addition to the hotel’s vertiginous and glassy rise.

Read on for what we know so far about what to expect when the new hotel opens in Florida’s “smart city.”

Where is Lake Nona?

map: (Map courtesy of Google Maps) © The Points Guy (Map courtesy of Google Maps)

Let’s start with the location, which is less than obvious for a stay for travelers coming to Orlando on vacation but has its own appeal.

Lake Nona is a 17-square-mile community about 20 miles east of Walt Disney World and less than 9 miles south of Orlando International Airport (MCO).

It’s well-positioned near toll roads for easy access to the Disney and Universal parks, so you avoid the constant traffic crunch of Interstate 4, Orlando’s main thoroughfare.

Although it has lakes, running trails and its own town center, the upscale community is a place where the landscaping is still filling in, yet townhomes and houses are for sale from $300,000 to well over $1 million.

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The community bills itself as “a modern mecca for technology, innovation and community” and is home to top-level healthcare facilities, with the Lake Nona Medical City at its core, as well as the USTA National Campus (the country’s largest tennis facility).

And while Lake Nona lacks the charm and character of other Orlando neighborhoods we love — like historic Winter Park and Thornton Park — its shiny newness definitely has its appeal.

Are there any point hotels in Lake Nona?

Two Marriott Bonvoy properties are already open in Lake Nona.

The Courtyard by Marriott, Orlando Lake Nona is a Category 4 Marriott Bonvoy property where rooms will cost you between 20,000 and 30,000 points per night, depending on your travel dates. It’s a 100-room hotel right in the Lake Nona Town Center with a nice lap pool and fitness center.

Right next door, the Residence Inn by Marriott, Orlando Lake Nona, is another Category 4 Marriott Bonvoy property with the same award redemptions. It shares the building, lobby and swimming pool with the Courtyard property but has suite-style rooms with fully equipped kitchens and separate living and sleeping areas that work well for extended stays.

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Both properties are within a short stroll of Lake Nona Medical City,  the town center and Boxi Park, which offers food truck-style eateries and a shaded playground for kids.

What can we expect from the Lake Nona Wave Hotel when it opens?

a living room filled with furniture and a large window: One-bedroom suite living room. (Rendering courtesy of Lake Nona Wave Hotel) © The Points Guy One-bedroom suite living room. (Rendering courtesy of Lake Nona Wave Hotel)

Currently slated to open in late fall 2021, Lake Nona Wave Hotel is right in the Lake Nona Town Center, next to Lake Nona Medical City, and is expected to draw a mix of business and leisure travelers to Orlando, says the hotel’s general manager, Suzie Yang.

“Our combination of technology, meeting space and outdoor venues, dining and entertainment — while being minutes away from the airport — is unheard of in the region,” said Yang via email to TPG, “and we can’t wait to welcome guests to experience Lake Nona Wave Hotel this fall.”

The 216-rooms at the property, including 16 one-bedroom suites and two penthouses, will all be outfitted with high-tech touches, including Toto smart toilets, voice-automated in-room controls and special windows that use “predictive intelligence” to adapt their tint in response to the blazing Central Florida sun and other outdoor conditions.

In-room iPads will act as a digital concierge, and guests can also access the hotel’s mobile app at any time, including leading up to their stay, to order items to be sent to their room or just learn about community events.

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The hotel has also partnered with Dr. Deepak Chopra to open the world’s first Chopra Mind-Body Zone featuring yoga and meditation classes as well as spa treatments that include treatments such as myofascial release.

The Lake Nona Wave Hotel is currently taking reservations for late fall stays, with starting rates from $259 per night.

And you can count on the high-tech touches to continue to evolve outside the property, too, where automated shuttles and robotic lawnmowers already cruise the public spaces around Lake Nona Town Center.

Germany-based startup aviation company Lilium even plans to partner with Lake Nona’s developers to build a vertiport here by 2025,  making the Florida community one of the world’s first hubs for jet-powered electric air taxis that take off and land vertically.

George and Jane Jetson would be right at home.

Featured image of a one-bedroom suite courtesy of Lake Nona Wave Hotel

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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