Huge compound; intra-resort shuttles necessary from most rooms
Additional "lodging service charge" added to bill
No Wi-Fi in rooms
Older electronics: tube TVs; no iPod docks
Just 15 minutes south of Disney, the sprawling 411-room Reunion Resort is one of Orlando's priciest condo resorts outside those at Disney. Despite having older TVs, however, its beautiful one-bedroom villas with full kitchens, daily kids' activities, huge water park, 54 holes of golf, excellent restaurants, and polished service make it well worth the price.
Massive 411-room condo-style resort that strives to please everyone -- and usually does
A sprawling, meticulously groomed mini-city of a resort with 411 condo-style time-share guest rooms, the Reunion Resort is many things to many people. While it is indeed a terrific place for groups -- the Atlanta Braves and Detroit Tigers baseball teams both stay here during spring training -- it's also a popular venue for weddings and it can host big families thanks to ample space in the rooms, which start at 754 square feet. A bevy of varied and high-quality dining options, a spa, 54 holes of golf, tennis, kids' activities, and multiple pools (including the most elaborate water park south of Orlando) all work to keep guests on the property -- even if the Disney theme parks are just 15 minutes away by car.
While many of Reunion's features are also on offer at other nearby Orlando resorts like Mystic Dunes and the Omni ChampionsGate, the experience here is far more luxurious (and often more expensive). The most basic guest room, a massive, 754-square-foot one-bedroom villa, is comparatively stylish for Central Florida, with high-quality materials, private balconies, and understated golf-themed accents like throw pillows. Even bigger units, including full-size homes with thousands of square feet of space and as many as eight bedrooms, are also scattered around the property. An experienced front desk, concierge, dining, and housekeeping staff get to know repeat guests by name and treat first-timers just as well. Plus, as a cashless and "tipless" resort (all gratuities are added automatically to you final bill), you don't have to grease palms in order to get special attention.
In 2011, the Reunion Resort came under Salamander Hotels and Resorts and, together with the Innisbrook Resort in Tampa and Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, formed the Grand Golf Resorts of Florida. While no changes to the property itself occurred, the union of the three resorts promises specials for golfers looking to experience the some of Florida's best courses during one vacation.
For families looking for sports and activities, poolside relaxation, and high-quality dining -- rather than proximity to Disney's parks, like you'd find at the more expensive Boardwalk Villas -- the Reunion is a good value, particularly given its near-luxury level service and features.
Reunion's 2,300 acres are situated just east of Interstate 4, 29 miles southwest of Orlando International Airport and 10 miles south of Disney's Magic Kingdom. As at most Orlando resorts, a car is essential, even if it's just used for driving to nearby strip malls, chain restaurants, or the grocery store.
The closest grocery store is a mile away.
The Disney theme parks are about a 15- to 20-minute drive away.
Downtown Disney, a retail and dining complex that also provides park-and-ride service to the Disney theme parks, is 20 minutes distant.
30-minute drive to Orlando International Airport (five to 10 minutes farther than most Orlando resorts)
SeaWorld Orlando is 20 minutes north along Interstate 4; the drive to Universal Orlando Resort takes about the same amount of time.
It takes half an hour to drive to downtown Orlando; there's not much to see downtown, though Orange Avenue has a notable dining and nightlife scene, and non-theme-park attractions like the Orlando Science Center and Harry P. Leu Gardens are popular with tourists.
Getting to Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center takes about 90 minutes by car.
Offering much more than a typical hotel room, the guest rooms range from one-bedroom condo-style units -- like the cheapest room category, the One-Bedroom Villa -- to private, eight-bedroom homes. Like most Central Florida resorts, the rooms have a tasteful-if-muted color palate, and while the details of decor in each unit may vary, all are more stylish, modern, and impressive than you'll find at other nearby resorts, like the cheaper Mystic Dunes or the often more expensive Boardwalk Villas.
Please note, however, that exactly where you stay within the resort is important: Because of the size of the property, trips from your room to the water park, the spa, or the golf course may necessitate using one of the free resort shuttles (they run 24 hours a day). The most convenient rooms are those in the central resort building, Reunion Grande, where the front desk, concierge, golf clubhouse, and most of the restaurants are located. Other units are farther afield, though all are near something -- the Seven Eagles section of Reunion, for example, is just a two-minute walk from the Seven Eagles pool, the fitness center, and The Cove bar and restaurant. If you find a particular amenity important, it's worth requesting a room nearby.
Three well-regarded courses: one by Arnold Palmer; one by Jack Nicklaus; one by Tom Watson
Some of the best golf in Orlando, featuring 54 holes designed by pros even non-golfers would recognize. While green fees are steep they're in line with what other resorts, like the Ritz-Carlton and Omni ChampionsGate charge.
Designed by Arnold Palmer, the 6,916-yard Legacy Course has more than 50 feet of elevation change, a rarity in Florida.
The 7,244-yard Tradition Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, is notable for its 18 flat, parkland-style holes.
The Independence Course, at 7,154 yards, has garnered a number of accolades from the golf press.
Green fees are $180, which includes the cost of a cart.
On-site ANNIKA Academy has golf lessons and training, including sessions with Annika Sorenstam herself -- for those that can afford her time.
Callaway rental equipment available, charged per 18 holes.
A clubhouse with a restaurant, bar, assorted golf gear, and locker rooms
There's plenty to eat; options range from a casual breakfast at the Clubhouse to Asian fusion entrees at the rooftop restaurant and lounge, Eleven. Hours vary according to season, but there's always something open. Additionally, all rooms have complete kitchens, so self-catering is an option -- as is room service.
Forte, an upscale modern Italian restaurant open for dinner only, offers first-course portions of pastas, seafood entrees, and steaks and chops for a bit more. There's a great wine list, too.
Located on the roof of the Reunion Grande building, Eleven is a restaurant, bar, and poolside lounge with an Asian fusion menu and creative cocktails; on busy nights, the bar stays open past midnight and has a DJ some evenings, depending on the season.
The Clubhouse restaurant serves breakfast as well as classics like burgers, sandwiches, and salads for lunch and dinner.
The Cove, a small bar next to the Seven Eagles pool, serves a light menu of Caribbean-influenced bites like chicken, mango, and jicama salad, shrimp tacos, and jerk pork sliders, along with beer, wine, and cocktails.
Longboards, at the water park, serves finger foods like chicken wings, sandwiches, and pizzas, as well as umbrella drinks.
A few off-site dining options are just a five- to 10-minute drive away, including a handful of chain restaurants like Pizza Hut and Red Lobster, a Publix grocery store, and the good restaurants at Omni ChampionsGate.