The most amazing discovery that real estate developers and hoteliers can make is that they can partner together to take a seemingly uninspiring piece of property and turn it into something magical. That’s just what happened here. Located on the outskirts of Disney World, deep in the rolling hills of Central Florida, you’ll find Reunion Resort, a Salamander Hotel Group property. But don’t let the word “hotel” fool you. Stretched across 2,600 acres of Kissimmee, this place is more than a hotel for visiting tourists. It’s a town in and of itself for travelers who want to escape the schedule of everyday but not necessarily the comforts of home.
The master-planned community brings together condominiums, luxury estates, Key West-style cottages, and the 11-story Reunion Grande at the center of it all. With three golf courses, 5-star restaurants, resort amenities, a waterpark, and a day spa all intertwined between. If it sounds to you a little like Pleasantville, it is. And it’s only a 2 hour drive from St. Augustine.
If you’re asking yourself “why would I escape from this beach town to the middle of Florida?,” let me state my case.
IT’S A FAMILY AFFAIR
If you’re anything like me (a family-girl at heart), it’s likely your vacations are always with kids in tow. I’m here to tell you, this a place where you and your family can unwind, disconnect from technology, and do the things that vacations call for – together.
Reunion Resort is just 6 miles from Disney World. I call that close enough to see Mickey and far enough from the madness. But let’s not be #basic and make this trip all about Disney – the waterpark is truly where it’s at. Just picture a Caribbean island vibe with giant, lush Bismarck palm trees shading the slowly meandering lazy river, a piña colada in your hand, and the sight of your kids playing with new friends. There is a beach-entry pool, cabanas, a 110-foot water slide, yard games, bike rentals, and the most intense splash playground you have ever seen. Bring the sunscreen, because you’re going to need it with the amount of time you’ll spend here.
When you’re ready for some alone time, send your kids off to Kids Crew for some peace and quiet. The property provides child care in “summer camp” style where the counselors (some moms call them “angels sent from heaven”) entertain your kids from 10am to 4pm with crafts and coloring projects, games and contests, group story time, and lunch. It’ll be the best $45 you’ve ever spent.
Second to families, they are serious about golf in these parts. Reunion Resort is the only property in the U.S. that has golf courses designed by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Tom Watson. That means, whatever challenge you’re looking for, you’ll likely find it here. I wouldn’t know because I don’t golf (yet), but I did try my best at Foot Golf, a unique twist on the use of the greens where instead of golf balls, players kick soccer balls into special holes. It’s a fun way for someone who doesn’t partake in the game of golf to at least partake in some sunshine and athleticism on the course.
SMALL BUT MIGHTY SPA
Heads up – the Spa at Reunion Resort is not your typical resort-style spa. That doesn’t make it any less relaxing, but it does make it a whole lot cozier. Located inside one of the residences overlooking the golf course, the setting is bed and breakfast-esque and very much “boutique.” There are five treatment rooms, three pedicure stations, two nail stations, and a small hair salon to give you an idea of the size. The menu of services range from The Golfer’s Massage and the Hydropeptide Brightening Facial to the Exotic Lime and Ginger Salt Glow and the Reunion Signature Escape that combines a 50-minute massage, scalp massage, and body exfoliation. All fancy words to say you will look and feel amazing after this visit.
THE FOOD IS DELICIOUS.
Food is at the forefront of what the Salamander team does best. In addition to their top-notch room service, poolside grills, and a lobby sushi-bar, the property is home to two award-winning restaurants. Eleven, a rooftop oasis of cured meats, artisan cheese, seafood, meats and … all cooked to perfect by the Chef de Cuisine. For a bonus, the restaurant overlooks the rooftop pool, outdoor fireplace, and a remarkable view of the Disney Fireworks. The Forte Grille, a ground-level Italian restaurant, serves your favorite home-style entrees like Fettuccine Bolognese, Shrimp Scampi, and Chicken Marsala.
THIS PLACE WAS MADE FOR FAMILY REUNIONS
Remember when I mentioned not wanting to leave the comforts of home earlier? That’s because a large portion of the rooms available at Reunion Resort are actually homes and you can rent a whole home with up to 12 bedrooms. The residences are a comfortable mix between estately and cottage-y, and each of the neighborhoods are connected to the rest of the property by winding walking and biking paths, so that you never have to get in your car while you’re here. When the adults want to play, Parents Night Out, the property’s built-in baby-sitting service, will keep the kids occupied with crafts and activities on Saturdays from 6pm to 10pm. The convenience factor of having a kitchen for all the “in between eating out” meals and a private pool (or nearby neighborhood one) to share makes these rentals a no-brainer meeting spot for when the family wants to come together.
IF YOU LIKE IT, YOU CAN BUY IT.
Quite possibly the biggest selling point of all. Since all of the rooms are actually privately owned, managed, and maintained from the hotel group for you to rent, if you find something you like, you can buy it or something comparable. Keep it for yourself or add it the portfolio of rental properties onsite for the ultimate #incomeproperty win.
I can say without a doubt: this is no basic hotel. It’s like a little city where everyone is in a great mood because they are all on vacation too. And that is a reason worth visiting all on its own.
The Reunion Resort is located at 7593 Gathering Dr, Kissimmee, Florida 34747. Visit them online at www.reunionresort.com.