Imagine a recreational oasis with a range of resort-style accommodations spread out on 2,300 acres, nine miles from Walt Disney World. That’s just a small part of what makes Reunion, A Salamander Resort, a one-of-a-kind experience for families of all ages and interests. “Getting here is an easy drive of less than 30 minutes from the airport, and once here, you never have to leave,” says general manager Kevin Baker. “Reunion makes a family feel at home. We call it staying in the bubble.”
Mingling in a Mansion
My introduction to Reunion began with checking in to an opulent yet comfy 10-guestroom mansion, built for a cool $7.8 million. It’s among the private estate homes on campus belonging to the Reunion Resort Rental program, all with different decor chosen by the owners. These are well suited for family getaways, says travel advisor Shelly Phillips, owner of Travel By That Girl and v.p. of Southeast ASTA. “The rental homes have a welcoming atmosphere with a fully functioning kitchen, up to 13 bedrooms, and washer and dryer. The majority of the homes have a private pool and/or hot tub, which is a great convenience,” she notes.
Our media group home also had an amazing game room, with such amenities as a $45,000 red leather L-shaped sofa, pool table, and state-of-the-art home theater where we sipped cocktails, munched on popcorn, and watched a fun flick—proving first-hand GM Baker’s observation that a group home “fosters camaraderie.”
In addition to vacation rentals, the resort offers a variety of all-suite accommodations, with a grand total of roughly 2,100 guestrooms on the campus. Anchoring the property is the Reunion Grande, an 11-story traditional resort-style building with a sushi bar, gourmet restaurant, and 1- and 2-bedroom luxury suites.
Reunion’s wide range of recreational options offer activities for everyone from the tiniest toddlers to golfing grandparents. “I love suggesting Reunion Resort to my clients,” says Phillips. “Whether it’s playing on the golf courses, relaxing with an intimate and personalized spa treatment, swimming in one of the 11 pools, or floating down the lazy river, there is something that appeals to all ages.” As well, kids can enjoy structured interactive activities and adventure-filled games at Camp Reunion and Kid’s Night Out for teenagers.
With three signature courses designed by legendary golf pros Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Tom Watson, Reunion is also a top golf destination. What impressed a non-golfer like me is that anyone can have a good time getting on the green and learning the basics from friendly pros. “I’m proud of our really good golf staff,” says Baker. “Many are internal hires who have moved up the ranks. I hire attitude, and then comes training. If guests don’t feel welcome, it’s no fun.”
I enjoyed uniformly delicious food during my visit, whether catered by one of Reunion’s chefs in our home-away-from-home dining room, or at one of the resort’s six restaurants. For a special family gathering, Eleven atop the Grande boasts farm-to-fork fare, a rooftop pool, and panoramic views of the Disney fireworks. I also recommend the melt-in-your-mouth, flavorful creations of chef Ha at the Grande Lobby Sushi Bar. Tip: Advise clients to sign up for sushi-making lessons from the charismatic chef, who makes it easy to create your own signature roll with lots of laughs along the way.
Destination weddings are also trending at the resort, notes Baker, and for groups of any kind with 12 people or more, Reunion assigns an onsite coordinator who works directly with travel agents to set up every detail. “You’ll feel the personalized service every step of the way,” he says.
While Reunion offers a campus shuttle service, a majority of guests rent cars at the Orlando airport. That gives them flexibility not only on site for driving to Reunion’s restaurants, golf courses, spa, and pools, but also for driving to many nearby
Among the off-the beaten-path attractions is Tree Trek Adventure Park, with aerial adventures for high-adrenalin thrills in a 15-acre pine tree forest. Most families, though, visit Reunion for its proximity to Walt Disney World just 15 minutes away. On their first day, says Baker, they tend to spend all day at the Disney parks. On their second day, they come back to Reunion in the afternoon and head to the pools. On their third day, they return to the resort even earlier—if they leave at all. “After a few days at Disney, families just want to hang out here and relax.”
Reunion, A Salamander Resort: reunionresort.com