The Waldorf Astoria Orlando and the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek create a luxury oasis in the heart of Orlando’s theme park magic.
The two hotels, within walking distance of each other, but separated by a covered parking facility and a convention center are completely independent, yet share many of their amenities. The 18-hole Rees Jones golf course, the Waldorf Astoria Spa by Guerlain and the many gourmet restaurants can all be enjoyed by guests at both of the hotels.
We spent two delightful nights, a romantic and luxurious interlude, at the famed Waldorf Astoria Orlando. This elegant hotel is nestled in a peaceful 482-acre nature preserve inside the Walt Disney property. It is the closest luxury resort to the gates of the Disney theme parks and complimentary transportation is available daily to all of the major parks.
Since we had visited the parks on previous visits to Orlando, we chose to use our mini-vacation to pamper ourselves completely within the confines of the hotel. Everything we could possible need was at our fingertips and within walking distance. It was two days of magic……our own magic kingdom.
We arrived early in the afternoon and were escorted to our suite on the 12th floor. As we checked-in, the receptionist informed us that the balcony of our suite would give us a perfect view of the nightly fireworks at 9 p.m each evening. As we sipped a glass of wine, it was the perfect ending to each day, as we sat and watched the skyline lights from the various parks which were as spectacular as the fireworks.
For our first morning, we arrived at Oscar’s fairly early, to enjoy their signature Eggs Benedict. However you do it, breakfast is an event at Oscars. You have your choice on a traditional sit-down breakfast of a lavish buffet which includes at least six stations including pastries, eggs made to order and finally dessert…yes, they did have dessert for breakfast. For our second breakfast, we opted for the buffet and I was fascinated at the skill demonstrated by the very capable young man who made crepes to order.
While I was there he was creating a specialty for a young patron in a princess dress and a tiara. She wanted a very large crepe with chocolate sauce, bananas, strawberries and whipped cream. I could only marvel at the luscious creation and wish that I was six again. There must have been a French Chef hidden away somewhere because my croissants and orange marmalade were the perfect prelude to my healthy “with everything” omelet.
After breakfast it was only a few steps to reach the Waldorf Astoria Golf Club where our clubs had already been put in storage and ready for our arrival. The 7,108 yard course is the first and only Waldorf Astoria Golf Club. The course winds through a large wetland preserve where each hole is visually arresting from tee to green and requires intelligent management of the game. Majestic stands of pine and cypress trees line the fairways and each hole is dotted with numerous sand bunkers, many of which are reminiscent of the old Scottish courses.
My game was not quite up to the rigors of the 7,108 yards but that was no problem because there were three other sets of tees including “senior” tees and a special designation called “combination tees” which were partially blue and partially white tees as designated on the card. I had never encountered this special arrangement before. We were paired with a couple vacationing from Denmark, who were staying at the Hilton, and he gave the “combination tees” a definite thumbs-up.
After four hours on the course, we had a quick lunch and relaxed in our air-conditioned room for an hour. David was then off to the pool for a quick swim and a little more exercise, while I headed downstairs to be pampered for two hours at the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Spa by Guerlain. This full-service retreat has become one of Orlando’s most talked-about spa experiences offering personalized treatments in an incomparable setting. With 21 treatment rooms this Super Spa’s beauty experts and therapists offer treatments ranging from massage, facials, manicure, pedicure, hair styling and wellness treatments. I chose the hour long relaxing massage followed by a customized facial.
I was allowed to choose a special Guerlain fragrance for my treatment room, specially flavored water to follow each procedure and four choices of relaxing music. Cindy used her magic hands to relax every muscle in my body, literally from head to toe. And, when she was finished she turned me over to Linda who rejuvenated my much “sun abused” face until it felt soft and supple. At the end of the two amazing hours, I was relaxed and felt “almost beautiful.” It was definitely the best Spa Experience I have ever had and I left with a list of products and tips, which hopefully will continue the value of the experience for years to come. Example: Did you know that just a tiny dab of under-eye cream will also do wonders in keeping your lips and lip area soft and moisturized also.
The restaurants presented an awesome challenge, since there were so many to choose from and we had such a short time. In the late afternoon we relaxed and “did absolutely nothing” which was amazing. Then we dressed for dinner in what we considered to be “proper attire” for the leisurely dining experience we were looking forward to. We started with a glass of wine in the hotel’s “living room”, Peacock Alley, which is located in the heart of the lobby near the famed “lobby clock.”
We did a little “people watching” and agreed that the guests of the hotel were probably gathered from all parts of the world and were there for many different reasons. We watched a smiling grandmother, laden with pool-toys shepherd her two small charges toward the elevator. Not far behind her were a young couple holding hands, who we fantasized were on their honeymoon. The hotel has a fairly new Wedding Studio, which has become quite famous in the area. I love people watching.
For dinner we chose the classic, upscale fine-dining restaurant, the Bull and Bear. This exquisite restaurant was featured in Orlando Home & Leisure as the “Best Fine Dining” in the area. Needless to say many of the patrons were locals. The exceptional service and tableside preparations were incorporated from the older and more famous New York City Waldorf Astoria. The evening was, to say the least, memorable.
Our two days went by quickly, but we could not have asked for a more magic experience. We had truly visited the magic kingdom and we never left the Waldorf Astoria Orlando.