Usually when you visit a hotel for the first time, you have a vague idea about what to expect. The 146-room Villas of Grand Cypress in Orlando, however, was a surprise. The 1,500-acre resort is entirely surrounded by native greenery, thousands of palm trees and 45 holes of Jack Nicklaus Signature golf. When you’re here you feel completely removed from the city, although the property borders Disney so you’re not far from Orlando’s business and leisure infrastructure.
During the golf cart ride to the room, we passed herons walking around the lakes and well manicured fairways. Birds were chirping while gardeners tended flowers along the road. The villas line up facing the golf courses and/or lakes in single unit attached condos, and the overall setting is very residential. Even the 10,500-sf Executive Meeting Center, with great natural light, feels like a golf clubhouse.
However, upon entering the suite I stopped instantly in the entryway amazed at the smart metropolitan vibe following a $15 million renovation completed in February. Maybe I had come here with notions of this being a golfer’s man cave, with sports memorabilia and oak paneling. I wasn’t even close.
First off, the rooms are huge. The standard rooms start at 650 sf while the 1- to 4-bedroom villas run 1,000 sf and up. I’m in a 1-bedroom unit and there’s a glass dining table for six leading into an all-new kitchen with subdued marble counters, stainless steel GE appliances and walnut cabinets. From there you walk into the living room with an enormous American leather sectional sofa sleeper and club chair.
The bathrooms are bigger than in any comparable price tiers I’ve seen, with dual vanities, vessel tubs, glass rainshowers with spa jets, and those nifty TVs embedded in the mirror. The bed is great. I’m not a bed expert but I didn’t wake up at night, which is rare. There’s an 8-foot desk with TV hook up, and the walls throughout are covered in a hip Zebrano wood and natural Shabui stacked stone.
That isn’t even the best part. The bedroom and living area have wall-to-wall windows and French doors with shutters. So because the units are all on ground level, you can walk out your room and sit on your patio facing the golf course or lake. I have rarely been so content to work in a hotel all day and feel that connected to the outdoors.
“So far, the meeting planners who’ve seen the new look in the villas have been completely amazed, especially the ones who’ve been here before,” says Mark Cox, general manager. “I told one group that I thought we had hit a home run. And one of them said, ‘No, you hit a grand slam.’”
I mentioned I was surprised how relaxing it is to have a walk-off almost directly onto a practice putting green surrounded by nature. In the middle of the city.
“We’re unique in central Florida with the privacy, security and gated community,” says Cox. “A group can easily feel like they own the hotel and golf courses. I tell you, your heart rate goes down 10 points when you pass through our front gate.”