It doesn’t take a genius to tell you that Orlando, FL, is known mostly for one thing: the theme parks. For decades, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and the rest of the area’s thrill ride-based attractions have lured clients to the region with promises of family fun, adrenaline rushes and unforgettable experiences. And sure, the theme parks are fun. But there’s more to Orlando than rollercoasters and Mickey Mouse.
Case in point: Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate. There’s nothing Mickey Mouse about this ultra-luxe resort. Offering plenty of active alternatives to the theme park experience—as well as a full roster of indulgent, inactive ones—the Omni Orlando gives clients a taste of the grownup side of central Florida.
attractive accommodations With golf greens and natural marshes surrounding the resort, there’s not a bad view from any room or suite here—making the balconies attached to some of the rooms in even the lowest room categories even more valuable. This is the perfect place to enjoy in-room breakfast in the morning, or to indulge in a midday snack, courtesy of the Omni Orlando’s roving snack cart. Shortly after check-in, hotel staff arrive at the guest’s door with the cart, piled high with chips, cookies, nuts, sodas, beer, wine and more. Whatever guests choose on that first day will be replenished throughout their stay at the resort, ensuring that there’s always chilled wine on hand for a pre-dinner drink, or snacks to tide them over before their dinner reservations at one of the resort’s exemplary restaurants.
The rooms themselves have a fresh, modern feel, with a bright palette of yellows and greens matching the nature outside. Mini-bars, bathrobes and triple sheeting on the beds come standard in all room categories; guests can also choose between foam, feather and down pillows. Another perk is the complimentary wireless Internet access.
going green Golfers, welcome to your own personal boot camp. The Omni Orlando resort is home to the headquarters of the David Leadbetter Golf Academy, where seasoned pros school you in all aspects of your setup, swing and follow-through. Sure, this is a lot friendlier than Basic Training, but they get results all the same. Whether you’ve never swung a club in your life or you play every week, the instructors here can help you improve your game. First, they watch your swing (or, if you’ve never played, they go over the basics of how, exactly, one does that), and offer helpful hints on how to tweak your form to better connect with the ball. Then they’ll get out the video camera, taping you as you swing so you can see what you’re doing right, and what you need to change. In a screening room, instructors line up your video on a split screen next to video of pros like Michelle Wie and Ernie Els—both of whom have trained at the academy, by the way—so you can see what you’re doing right, and what you need to change. And that’s just the beginning of the technology that the center has at its fingertips. Simulators, weight resistance tools and more are all on hand to give golf clients that extra push to greatness.
When they’ve finished at the academy, clients transfer right to the golf course, choosing from the Omni Orlando’s two championship 18-hole courses, the International Course and the National Course, both designed by Greg Norman. The International Course is a link-style course modeled after similar courses in the British Isles, while the National Course, naturally, has a more traditionally American feel. A 9-hole, par 3 course sits right next to the academy as well, and is lit for night play—a unique, fun challenge for golfers of all ability levels.
what’s for dinner Golf is just one thing the Omni Orlando does exceptionally well; cuisine is another. With three fine dining restaurants and a handful of more casual options, the resort offers plenty of choices, with quality to match.
With its refined wooden decor and plush couches and chairs, David’s Club is a nostalgic take on “Mad Men”-era sports bars—classy yet comfortable. Clients can dine in the center of its massive space, where steak is the specialty, then transfer to the long bar lined with plasma TVs for a drink. Rows of overstuffed leather chairs at the front of the room face even more plasma TVs, making this a great spot to catch the sports game of the day, while pool tables and dart boards in the back of the bar beckon clients who’d rather play games of their own.