Central Florida enjoyed a luxury hotel infusion this week, as the Four Seasons Resort Orlando (FSO) began hosting guests at a prime location at the Walt Disney World Resort. Mickey himself was on hand for the ribbon cutting (along with executives from both Four Seasons and Disney), symbolically marking the brand’s entrance into the Orlando market.
Zero entry, to infinity and beyond: the opulent family pool — Photo courtesy of A.D Thompson
This new high-end stay option for the millions who make the Disney pilgrimage each year boasts 443 rooms – none with square footage below 500. Its 68 suites have multiple configurations designed for individuals, couples, friends and – of course – families traveling together. One such option offers an eye-goggling nine bedrooms; in fact, the entire 16th floor can be booked for guests seeking the ultimate in Four Seasons privacy and immersion.
As Disney is the locale – the property is neatly nestled into the tony, lesser-known confines of Walt Disney World’s posh Golden Oak residential community, accessible only via its grand, guarded gate. Family-friendly features abound.
The five-acre Explorer Island section features an expansive zero-entry pool, beach volleyball, a winding lazy river immersed in mature foliage (that truly seems decades old), water slides, Splash Zone, a gaming center and more, all set amid an opulent castle-ruin motif. Kids ages four through 12 can enjoy the complimentary, fully supervised Kids for All Seasons camp, while parental units take refuge at an opulent adults-only pool.
Even the tots enjoy Four Seasons' opulence: these are mini cabanas at the Kids for All Seasons camp — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
“I think the opportunity to have our own water park amid a luxury hotel is something that’s very unique,” says Sally Mjoseth, the property’s social media manager. “If you want to go to the Disney parks, you absolutely have that availability – we offer complimentary transportation. But if you want to stay at the hotel and relax and have fun, there’s something for everybody.”
Staffers are looking forward to next month, when the FSO’s signature, Spanish-style steakhouse Capa opens its doors – and its 17th-floor balcony, from which diners can see all four parks and views of the nightly Magic Kingdom and Epcot fireworks.
Upstairs at Ravello, guests can unwind in a chic, well-appointed lounge setting — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
Director of Food and Beverage Stephen Wancha says its romance factor will make it a prime first-date venue. “After a few outings, when you’re more comfortable, I’d head to Ravello.”
This chic eatery boasts a lounge and a pizza/pasta menu with small plates aplenty.
“But whether upstairs or at Ravello, my favorite nice, easy bar bite is our pork belly lollipops! We cure the pancetta in grappa, deep-fry them and serve with a little roasted garlic aioli. They look super cute and they’re perfect in lounges. No fork and knife required!”
Ravello will also host the property’s twice-per-week character breakfasts, featuring Goofy, Mickey and Minnie. While families enjoy the buffet and Disney charm, other guests can enjoy a quieter, a la carte setting upstairs. Also notable: each dining venue has a separate children’s menu specific to its concept.
Top floors at Four Seasons Orlando boast fireworks views — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
Outside, the Four Seasons’ "PB&G" (that stands for Pool Bar & Grill) serves as a comely culinary buffer between the energy at the family pool and the sumptuous relaxation of the 21-and-up oasis with its reservable private cabanas.
Disney and Four Seasons execs make the opening official with customary giant scissors and the world's most famous mouse — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
Golfers will be delighted to note that the property’s Tom Fazio-designed course – locals and longtime WDW duffers might remember its previous incarnation as the Disney’s Osprey Ridge – will be opening, completely refurbished, in September 2014. The 18-hole, par-71 course is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. It’s not surprising, given the sprawling woodland views enjoyed from the Capa patio.
This property brings the Four Seasons count to three in the "Sunshine State"; it joins two sisters - Four Seasons Hotel Miami and Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach.
"It’s an amazing place to be,” says Wancha, a 10-year Four Seasons veteran. “There are so many options here. Guests can come and stay three or four nights, and those who live locally can stay a night or just come try out a new place for dinner.”