Sitting amid 1,500 palm-filled acres just outside Disney's back gate, this 18-floor luxury resort hotel has a private lake with watercraft, four golf courses, and miles of trails for strolling, bicycling, and jogging. Tropical plants fill the 18-story atrium, which can be viewed from the glass-fronted elevators. Rooms overlooking Disney have a spectacular view of the evening fireworks. During the day, the Epcot ball is visible, and from the rooms you can watch the giant hot-air balloon rise and lower at Disney Springs. The shuttle to Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld are part of the daily resort fee, which also includes Internet access.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The daily resort fee of $30 covers Wi-Fi, bottled water, transportation within the resort, use of the gym, access to Pitch and Putt course and driving range, use of athletic facilities. The parking fee is $20 a day.
Spacious, bright rooms with clean, modern decor feature Hyatt Grand Beds™ with pillow-top Sealy Posturepedic mattresses and 250-thread count triple sheeting, topped off with a down duvet. Rooms have balconies, air conditioning, ceiling fans, phones, TVs, a mini-fridge, and a Keurig coffee maker. The garden, lake and pool views are all marvelous, but remember that the pool view rooms are also Disney view rooms, and includes nightly fireworks.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The rooms, while beautifully appointed, could use a bit more insulation in the walls between rooms, as noise can be an issue.
The simple vanity has lots of space for your things, and the backlit mirror offers excellent lighting for shaving or applying makeup. The walk-in shower is tiled attractively and has a glass door. Standard rooms do not have tubs.
Bright and spacious, the lobby has spare, modern furnishings, tropical plants, and many windows offering views of lush tropical landscaping. Water-themed art hangs on the walls, and conversational seating arrangements invite socialization. Tip: The lodging caters to the business traveler. When the hotel is hosting a convention, lines at check-in and on-site dining establishments can get long.
Don’t miss the spectacular red and green macaw perched in the lobby. Actually it's hard to miss a macaw when it decides to announce itself.
The pool area is divided into heated and non-heated sections and features many waterfalls, two whirlpools, a water slide and a water-jet splash zone. A rope bridge spans the central area of the pool, giving kids the feeling of being in an action-adventure movie.
The Marilyn Monroe Spa is a bit of heaven taken straight out of the height of Hollywood’s heyday, featuring a full set of services: massages of many types, facials, mani/pedis, makeup applications, waxing, and a full range of salon styling. This salon features organic products only.
The fitness center is well stocked with cross trainers, Lifecycles, treadmills, free weights and strength stations. In fact, just about anything you could need to maintain your workout routine while away from home is available.
Several wonderful restaurants offer a choice between fancy dinners and more casual dining. Hemingway’s evokes the environment one would expect being named for this literary lion. Wicker furniture, ceiling fans, and many windows enhance the atmosphere as you enjoy prime steak and seafood fare. The Lakehouse offers casual dining for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a bright, modern setting. The lodging offers room service as well.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Prices for meals and drinks in this resort, as is true in many resorts whose clientele includes convention-goers, can be steep, and geared toward the corporate expense account.
Hurricane’s Lounge offers cocktails and light snacks, Trellises Bar & Lounge pours Starbucks coffee in the morning and cocktails in the evening, and On the Rocks is your go-to place for by-the-pool food and cocktails.
Guests can play on four Jack Nicklaus designed courses, three nine-hole and one 18-hole, in addition to honing their skills at the Grand Cypress Academy of Golf. The newest course is reminiscent of the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland, with 12-foot pot bunkers, stone walls and other features that bring the challenge of Scottish golf to Florida.
Lake Windsong is a 21-acre lake surrounded by white sand beaches and well supplied with lounge chairs, water sports gear and small sailboats for guest use. Camp Hyatt, a weekend camp for kids, features activities such as biking, rock climbing, boating, scavenger hunts, nature walks, pool and beach games, video games, crafts, and marshmallow roasts. The property features 12 tennis courts, racquetball and basketball courts.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Lake Windsong is a real lake, surrounded by Florida wetlands, thus you should always be aware that alligators and other wildlife could inhabit these waters. Pay attention to the signs.
Scheduled transportation is provided to and from the Magic Kingdom (a Disney hub), Universal Orlando, and Sea World. If you prefer the freedom of exploring at your own pace, on your own schedule, a car or ride-share service would be best.
The closest spot for dining and drinking is Disney Springs (6-minute drive), an eating and drinking extravaganza. Restaurants include the three-story PaddleFish, a modern-day paddleboat, where seafood is king and the outdoor rooftop terrace offers striking views of the lagoon and the entertainment at the Springs. Nearby you’ll find Raglan Road, an authentic Irish Pub owned by celeb chef Kevin Dundon, featuring refined Irish fare and lots of music and dancing; Morimoto’s Asia, an Asian Fusion eatery owned by, and often visited by, famed Japanese chef, Morimoto; and Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ restaurant, showcasing local, Southern food.
Disney Springs (6-minute drive) offers dozens of places to lift a glass. The rooftop bar at Morimoto's Asia offers high-end sake; Raglan Road's Irish pub pours a mean Guinness; wine connoisseurs can head to Wine Bar George, where a master sommelier dispenses a wide range of domestic and imported wines; and House of Blues is the spot for beer.
WHY WE LIKE IT
The number of activities, from golf to swimming to tennis, basketball, biking, and boating, and the mild winters, make this an outdoor person's dream. Those who are not so athletically inclined can find lots to do as well, from getting a massage in the spa to lying on the beach under an umbrella, sipping a cocktail, and simply enjoying the sight of palm trees next to turquoise water. But the main attraction is the location, just minutes from Disney, close enough that in the punishing heat of the summer, you can escape the crowds and return to the resort for a refreshing swim and siesta.