Thursday, December 6, 2012

On Location: Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek in Orlando, Florida

One of Orlando's best seafood restaurants, a Rees Jones designed championship golf course and a lobby bar that serves a to-die-for Mojito are just a few of the many enticements at the amenity-loaded Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek.

What To Expect

Stretching 14 stories high, the hotel has Mediterranean inspired architecture and 400 guest rooms.

You enter a spacious lobby accented with fashionable furnishings and carpets. On my visit, the front desk person was helpful and friendly, which put me in a great frame of mind to enjoy my three day visit.

My room had numerous appealing amenities such as a 40-inch flat screen, alarm clock with iPod dock, European style bedding and TrueBlue bath products.

High-profile entertainment and recreation at the resort includes a lagoon-style, zero entry, outdoor pool with cabanas and spas, fitness center, full-service spa, billiards room, arcade room and several dining options (three signature restaurants, two lounges and a coffee bar). 

Location, Location, Location

The hotel is situated in the Bonnet Creek Resorts area, a 70-acre development that also includes the Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek resorts. What makes this area special is that it's the closet thing to staying on Disney property without actually staying at a Disney owned hotel.

Here's why: Bonnet Creek Resorts is bordered on three sides by Disney-owned land and surrounded by the Bonnet Creek nature preserve. While you enjoy easy, minutes away access to all of Disney's theme parks, restaurants and entertainment offerings, you're not deluged with the Disney marketing machine while staying in the Bonnet Creek Resorts area. According to rumors and legend, the foreign owners of the land refused to sell the parcel for many years before relenting about five years ago.

The Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek is located about a 20 minute drive from Orlando International and downtown Orlando. 
Here’s my Top 10 random thoughts and observations of things I liked on my visit:
1. The fire pit at the swimming pool.
2. The unique, easy-to-pull out reading lights on the headboard above the bed.
3. Lots of plugs everywhere in the room for computers, battery chargers and other gadgets.
4. The colorful, fashionable carpeting throughout the hotel in the guestrooms and common areas.
5. The interesting, engaging and tasteful furniture in the lobby, bar and common areas.
6. The Back Bay Pool Bar & Grill has a different and exciting menu that includes a Krispy Kreme Doughnut Burger, Fried Pickles with Chipotle Dressing and a Floridian Salad with Orange Honey Blossom Dressing.
7. The phenomenal Jerk Chicken Sandwich I had at the Back Bay was seasoned perfectly with Pepper Jack cheese, toasted Coco Bread and Mojo Mayo.
8. The mini refrigerator in every guest room.
9. Bar 1521, a sophisticated bar with luxury furnishings near the lobby. Mojito or Sangria, anyone?
10.The oh-so-convenient Barista Coffee Bar near the lobby where you can get your Starbucks Coffee fix, Gelato and Panini sandwiches.


Golf Options

The on-site Waldorf Astoria Golf Club designed by Rees Jones is the primary golf option at Wyndham Grand Orlando. Other nearby possibilities include the four courses at Walt Disney World and 45 holes designed by Jack Nicklaus at the Grand Cypress Resort (both are within a 10-minute drive from the resort).

The Jones course, which opened in 2009, snakes through a large wetland preserve and bunkers are carved to be reminiscent of the hazards designed on courses a century ago. Tall pines and cypress trees line the fairways on the 7,108 yard layout (slope 139 and 74.6 rating from the back tees).

It's very impressive visually with its high impact features and Jones' creative ways to use water and sand as hazards, either in play or perceived to be in play.

I've played it several times and it's an enjoyable resort layout, especially if you don't spray the ball too much. It's not target golf, but pretty close to it.



 Spa Overview

The on-site 5,700 square-foot Blue Harmony Spa has six massage rooms, two outdoor treatment rooms and a 1,900 square-foot fitness center. After a grueling day on the links, try the Signature Blue Bliss Massage, a treatment incorporating marine oil, salt, Lavender buds and steamed, fragrant linen bundles.

Dining Overview

When it's time to dine, you don't have to leave the resort for a great meal. There are three main dining possibilities at the hotel: deep blu Seafood Grille, a fine dining experience; Tesoro Cafe, a family-oriented eatery and Back Bay Pool Bar & Grill, which features al fresco dining, a divergent menu and cocktails.

On the lobby level, deep blu Seafood Grille has instantly become a hit on Orlando's dining scene. It was voted the Best New Restaurant for 2012 by Orlando Magazine and it's chef, Cory York, was voted Best Chef in Orlando.

While I was extremely busy and did not dine at deep blu on my visit, I was told by numerous reliable sources that it's a dining experience not to be missed. Among the popular menu selections are entrees like Grilled Swordfish and the 22 oz. Black Angus T-Bone and side dishes such as Tempura Broccolini with Thai pepper sauce and blu Crab Mac N' Cheese.

The deep blu dining room has an open kitchen, a sushi bar and an excellent wine selection with a "Sommelier's Pick of the Week". A quick perusal of the wine list reveals a wide variety of California, Chilean and New Zealand wines as well as many others.

You'll feel comfortable and at ease with an ambiance dominated by furnishings in soft beige and cream tones and solid wood tables.

Overlooking a lake, the Back Bay Pool Bar and Grill is a great place to unwind after a round of golf or a sojourn to the spa. The cocktail menu is a good one with selections like the Back Bay Blueberry Lemonade (Blueberry infused Bacardi Superior Rum, fresh lemon Sour and simple Syrup) and Oakheart Pina Colada (Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum, Pina Colada and banana puree).  

Meetings Overview

For meetings and conferences, the resort has 25,000 square feet of meeting space encompassing multi-function ballrooms and a Grand Foyer with 19-foot high ceilings, a luxurious 14th floor boardroom and small event area with natural lighting overlooking a private 10-acre lake, a private dining room that can accommodate up to 30 guests and outdoor function areas along the pool deck and resort grounds.

3 comments:

  1. A great resort...visited right after they opened and then again for New Years Eve last year. Rang in the new year from a pool cabana:) I'm a big fan of the course at the Waldorf, although Rees certainly likes to punish approach shots which are long...

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  2. Deej, You must've found some of my golf balls I air-mailed over a few greens out there.

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