It had been more than a decade since I last visited the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando, Florida and I'm glad I returned recently.
Always one of Orlando's premier high-profile properties, the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress has benefited greatly from a recent property-wide enhancement program that included a new spa, new pool bar, expanded fitness center, additions to its expansive pool complex and refurbishments of its guestrooms and common areas.
"We have spent over $75 million overhauling every inch of the property," says Chris Regan, sales manager/leisure travel for the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. "These improvements have left us with a property that has the feel of a brand new resort."
What hasn't changed is the hotel's always appealing other attributes: Its great location near Walt Disney World and shopping (close to one of the nation's largest upscale outlet malls), excellent golf courses and academy and consistently supberb on-site dining. Better still, you're only minutes away from great attractions like Cirque du Soleil, House of Blues and Rainforest Cafe.
For golfers traveling with other family members who don't know a golf ball from a bowling ball, this resort offers the best of both worlds. You've got world-class golf (and a spa to soothe those aches and pains) as well as an unparalleled swimming pool complex and outdoor recreation menu so kids and spouses can enjoy the day while you're sinking birdie putts, or, uh, making triple bogeys.
For Jack Nicklaus design fans, this property is pure nirvana. The Golden Bear fashioned 45 holes of championship golf, which includes a 27-hole Grand Cypress configuration comprised of three nines, the North, South and East and the New Course, a tribute to the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland.
North, South and East--These superbly maintained nines offer some of Orlando's best golf. All play to par-36 and feature terraced fairways and platform greens. Nicklaus did a fantastic job of framing the fairways and greens with mounds and foliage and the nines are as beautiful as they're challenging. While not totally target golf, you don't have lots of leeway on many fairways for big off-the-tee mistakes.
New Course--It's actually not new--it opened 27 years ago. Nicklaus named it on a whim and the somewhat confusing name stuck. Lending an air of authenticity to the New Course are replicas of St. Andrews' stone bridges and walls, a snaking burn (creek), a starter's hut overlooking the first tee, seven double greens, deep pot bunkers (some as deep as 12 feet) with ladders and simple white fences. There are few trees in the interior of the course, however, water comes into play on seven holes. Nicklaus offers golfers lots of room for imagination around the greens with many options to bump and run shots.
Greens of Lake Windsong--An engaging, on-site, par-3 course with holes ranging from 37 to 90 yards.
Grand Cypress Academy of Golf--One of the most innovative instructional facilities in the world, instructors use the science of biomechanics, with video and computer swing analysis and techniques, to help improve performance of golfers of all skill levels. Whether you're a Tour pro who needs a few tweaks or a struggling beginner in need of good fundamentals, this place can accommodate you. It has excellent practice facilities that include a 3-hole academy learning course where you can apply what you've learned without the intimidation you might feel on a regulation course. I highly recommend this facility to improve your game.
The recently refurbished rooms have a sophisticated, airy, ambiance with a wide range of amenities. There are 815 rooms, including 48 suites and 317 kings.
Here are some of the amenities in my room:
--A 37-inch flat-screen TV
--Wi-Fi high-speed Internet access
--Ceiling fan and private balcony
--Temperature controlled cool box for beverages
--A comfortable and well-designed work desk
--An adapter panel for multimedia plug n' play
--Individual air conditioning control
--iHome alarm clock radio
Resort amenities include:
--Half-acre outdoor pool with 12 waterfalls, two whirlpools, waterslide tower pavilion and water jet splash zone
--Hyatt StayFit gym with fitness center
--12 tennis courts (5 lighted)
--Jogging paths and bicycling trails
--Marilyn Monroe Spa
--White-sand beach and water sports on 21-acre Lake Windsong
--65,000 square feet of meeting and function space/45 meeting rooms
--24-hour in-room dining
--FedEx Business Center
--Hertz car rental on-site
10 Little Things I Liked
1. The spectacular views from the balcony of my 14th floor room with panoramas of Walt Disney World theme parks and Lake Buena Vista
2. On The Rocks, a new pool bar, where I enjoyed a frosty Stella Artois on a sunny January day.
3. The excellent Internet service in my room.
4. The spacious and comfortable 18-story high lobby where I relaxed with a cup of coffee to check my emails, tweets and posts.
5. Hemingway's Restaurant, which has wonderfully prepared crab cakes and other seafood delicacies.
6. The 9-hole, on-site, pitch and putt course.
7. The beautiful Marilyn Monroe Spa where I enjoyed a relaxation massage.
8. The 12 waterfalls at the half-acre size swimming pool.
9. Friendly and helpful bellmen and front door staff that anticipate your needs.
10. The fabulous lounge at the Regency Club on the 12th floor where you can sip on glass of wine, cocktail or beer inside or on a outside patio and enjoy Disney' fireworks displays in the evening.
MARILYN MONROE SPA
DINING AND LOUNGES
Cascade American Bistro--You can get breakfast, lunch and dinner daily at this restaurant with a two-story atrium and views of Lake Windsong.
Hemingway's--If you love superbly prepared fresh seafood, this is one of the best places to dine in Orlando. My favorite items are the crab cakes, scallops (pictured below) and Alaska style Key Lime pie (best I've ever tasted).
Palm Cafe--This casual dining spot has sandwiches, burgers, salads and snakes with outdoor patio dining.
Hurricane's Lounge--Offering views of the swimming pool and gardens, this popular bar has hand-crafted martinis, tropical blended drinks and an extensive wine list.
Trellises Bar & Lounge--Featuring glass walls, leather banquettes in the open air setting of an 18-story lobby, this is great place enjoy the grandeur of the hotel while drinking a cocktail or glass of wine.
On the Rocks Poolside Lounge--Situated along Lake Windsong with views of the lagoon pool and 1,000-foot beach, the lounge has four 60-inch TVs and shaded seating with misting fans.
Situated near Lake Buena Vista, one mile from Walt Disney World, 5 miles from Sea World Orlando, 18 miles from Orlando International Airport and 2 miles from outlet mall shopping.
GET THE SCOOP
For more information and or reservations, click to Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress or call 407-239-1234.