The premier golf resort in Central Florida is the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate. The combination of luxury accommodations, fantastic golf, and a lush garden setting are unsurpassed in the Orlando area. This oasis is set on a very large and private expanse of land large enough for 36 holes, a par-three course, and the David Leadbetter Golf Academy. All this within a few minutes of Disneyworld.
Omni is known for its luxury properties, and this one is way up the list. The marble entry leads into the lobby of this high rise with the 15 acres of pool and golf facilities in view through the floor-to-ceiling lobby windows. Our room on the ninth floor offered panoramic vistas of the International Golf Course and Leadbetter Academy with no homes or structures in the way. The rooms and common areas are very plush here, including oversized bathrooms, very comfortable bedding, and state-of-the-art electronics.
Most guests will want to start their day at Trevi’s with a mid-morning breakfast buffet in style. This restaurant features Mediterranean-style cuisine in an Italian garden setting. From here it is just steps to the exotic pool area where the non-golfer in your group will be quite happy to spend most of the day. There are two pools here, with a large lazy river running in between. The more ambitious guests will be sure to visit the adjacent fitness center, which is one of the best I have spent time in. It offers 180 percent ground-level views of the pools and golf areas. Take a break from the sun, and try the Broadway Deli for lunch anytime of the day just inside on the ground level.
After your day by the pool or on the links, sports fans will want to adjourn to David’s Club, a very upscale sports bar and steakhouse. They have theater-style seating directed to the massive wall-mounted TV where we were lucky enough to watch an important football game. David’s also offers more formal dining seating and wide selection on the menu. Both the 18 ounce bone-in rib eye and the blackened grouper we ordered were excellent. The service was also very good and attentive.
While it is easy to imagine spending a trip here just for the hotel and pool, most come for the golf. ChampionsGate is a spacious golf resort with 36 holes of championship golf as well as a lighted nine-hole par three course. The practice facilities are top notch and include the headquarters for the famed David Leadbetter Golf Academy. Both championship courses were designed by Greg Norman but are quite different. The International Course is a links-style layout patterned after courses found in Scotland. This layout was designed and is maintained to give the player the feeling of golf in the British Isles. The Natural golf course on the other hand is more “Park Golf” and is spread out over 200 acres of southern woodlands and wetlands. These are both excellent layouts and very well maintained. David Leadbetter is a legend in golf instruction, having tutored Nick Faldo, Ernie Els, and, more recently, Michelle Wie. The Leadbetter Academy offers a state-of-the-art teaching facility with multiple practice areas, including a wedge range. This area has multiple targets for every conceivable wedge distance. We played the par-three course at night, which was a lot of fun since Orlando has warm temperatures most of the year. For complete details visit OmniHotels.com/Orlando.
The Omni Orlando Resort is only 10 minutes away from DisneyWorld and Epcot. While DisneyWorld is always great fun, this time I really enjoyed Epcot. It is more spread out and seems to be less crowded. The park has some great new attractions including Test Track, which my son had me do at least four times. At Epcot there are many restaurant options, and you might even be able to sample your favorite local valley wine. There is a tram connecting Epcot and DisneyWorld with a park-hopper ticket available. The Orange County Convention Center and Sea World are also close, about 20 minutes from the Omni. The Orlando International Airport is about 15 minutes from the property.