Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate treats travelers to deluxe lodgings with a tropical touch. Guests roll into the resort beneath an imposing arch and cruise a palm-tree-lined parkway prior to arriving at the hotel's expansive lobby. Within a premier room, a king bed or two doubles topped with foam and feather pillows greet sleepers to be, speaking of dreams sweet enough to use as sugar substitute. Visitors inspired by views of the surrounding beauty, which includes a 36-hole golf course and 15 acres of pools and recreation activities, can craft hotel-themed poetry in an easy chair or invent a new facial expression in front of the marble vanity. After the night gives way to anti-night, vacationers cocooned in luxury linens and more than 400 square feet of butter-hued walls will emerge from their plush pupae, ready for a new day of blinking and walking around. To satisfy morning appetites, Trevi's unfurls a bountiful breakfast buffet for suitemates or sweethearts.
You could say that Orlando Balloon Rides' crew of FAA-certified pilots is impressive, but that would probably be an understatement. One has flown across the English Channel three times, another trained stunt pilots for the Bond movie The World Is Not Enough, and a third manned a balloon up to the stratosphere. It's a good thing they're so talented?and have an unblemished safety record among them?as they fly one of the largest balloons in the Western Hemisphere.
The 11-story, 425,000-cubic-foot behemoth can carry up to 24 people in its 1,600-pound basket, which is made of aircraft-grade steel and basket-grade wicker. Or put more simply, an average balloon can fit inside this balloon. Whether choosing to ride in this or a traditional-size balloon, passengers are treated to expansive views of orange groves, swampland, Orange County mansions, and sometimes, a certain magical kingdom on the horizon's distance, which actually isn't a mirage. After any flight, a champagne toast contributes to what USA Today called a "spectacular sunrise adventure" and one of Orlando's 10 most romantic attractions.
Mystic Dunes Resort & Golf Club's fairways could rightly be called oases?and not just for their radiant, dreamy green hue. For players having trouble keeping their tee shots on the straight-and-narrow, they also represent relief from the diverse array of natural hardships that lie just outside their borders. On the front nine, wayward golf balls frequently get ensnared by native wetlands, or, if they're really off-course, lost among the oak and cypress trees. On the back nine, the famous dunes rear their sandy heads. The lush Bermuda grass fairways arc over broad sweeps of arid wasteland, spelling trouble for players who prone to diving into water mirages.
After triumphantly plucking their golf balls out of the 18th cups, players can head to Kenzie's Restaurant and Lounge for drinks and lunch on the outdoor terrace. They might also check out the pro shop and its selection of gear and apparel, convenient for players whose on-course side bets have left them in need of a shirt.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 7,012 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 73 from the back tees * Course slope of 131 from the back tees * Five sets of tees per hole * View the scorecard
Six-time world champion. Number one in the world. Dishwasher safe. All of these phrases have been used to describe prolific water-skier Sammy Duvall. At his self-titled watersports center, Mr. Duvall helps visitors discover the aquatic activities that have defined his life. Piloting speedboats, his staff pulls tubers, wakeboarders, and water-skiers across Bay Lake. A parasail, emblazoned with a smiley-face design, elevates tandem riders over views of Florida's natural terrain and nearby theme parks. The water sport experts also lead jet-ski tours through Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon.
Since 1986, Windermere has welcomed sultans of swing to relax and hone their skills with friends and family in a sophisticated, yet relaxed country-club atmosphere. The course recently finished a complete cosmetic makeover, renovating the greens, bunkers, driving range, and clubhouse with fresh bermuda-grass seed. Originally designed by Ward Northrup, the 18-hole, par 72 championship course caters to handicaps of all levels with 6,558 yards of meticulously manicured fairways, making it one of the newest and most handsome semiprivate clubs in the area. Thirteen holes border lakes, and 63 strategically placed bunkers challenge experienced golfers and give amateurs multiple chances to supplement their income with hidden sand dollars.
When he was just 6 years old, Franck Desboyaux started skiing with his parents in the south of France. His early experiences led to a lifelong fascination with water-based sport?one that led him to competitions around the globe and also to build his home on the back of a giant turtle. In 2009, Franck finished second at the Waterski and Wakeboard World Cup Stop in Russia, and in 2012, he splashed his way into third place at the U.S. Masters.
At Florida Ski School, Franck transforms from competitor to coach, drawing on a lifetime of aquatic wisdom to teach beginners, experts, and everyone in between. He leads lessons and camps in skiing and wakeboarding, and in some cases, takes his expertise on the road to conduct two-week clinics around the world.