Rare find: Cheap, tasty hotel food in Orlando

Yes, those are French fries. Real, freshly cut French fries. And they’re awesome.

What’s more awesome is that you can get those French fries, and the accompanying double bacon cheeseburger for $5.99 at the new CoCo Key Hotel and Water Resort in Orlando. And you can wash it down with a $1.50 large soda.

Oh, and that cheeseburger? Freshly grilled right in front of you and put on a bun that was baked in-house that morning.

A bargain on a hotel room is not hard to come by in Orlando these days, but if you have to pay $18 for a sandwich and $3.99 for a soda at the hotel, is it really a bargain in the end?

That’s why I was so impressed with the food prices at this new resort. Besides the aforementioned burger and fries at lunchtime, CoCo Key offers up an amazing full breakfast buffet, complete with an omelet bar, for $11.99 ($5.99 for kids). There’s also a reasonably priced full-service restaurant open for dinner.

CoCo Key is the latest renovation of the original hotel built on Orlando’s International Drive – which opened as the Hilton Inn South in May 1970, 17 months before the ribbon was cut at Walt Disney World.

The big attraction here is the 54,000-square-foot water park on property, which has three big water slides and plenty of splash play areas and shallow pools for little kids.

The hotel partners with Universal Orlando Resort to offer vacation packages and free transportation to the park. (You can also get shuttles to SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica and Walt Disney World.) Regular rates start at $99 per night. Resort execs say they are booking packages like crazy in conjunction with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opening in June.

Just eat at the hotel before you go to the park, because I can pretty much guarantee you that Hogwart’s food will be more expensive.