By Roger Cox, Editor
The starting size for lodging at Reunion is a 1,292-square-foot, one-bedroom villa with a full kitchen, abundant living space, 24-hour room service, and even a washer-dryer. But there aren't many of those, so I ended up in an even larger two-bedroom in the hotel tower, Reunion Grande, at the heart of the resort. There are other equally appealing options in low-rise buildings scattered around the various neighborhoods, including the one anchored by the tennis center and another by a water park. There are also neighborhoods of individually owned houses, the largest of them with 13 bedrooms, the most unusual of those bedrooms hidden behind a bookcase, which when opened reveals a Hogwarts Train with bunk beds. We contentedly made do with a kingsize bed and a long deck with views across the golf driving range and, at night, the distant fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. Besides, we had a swimming pool and steak-centric restaurant called Eleven on the 11th floor roof, and Italian restaurant on the main floor, and a comfortable lobby with a bar that, among other things, served sushi.
It was also an easy walk to the courts, making the free shuttle unnecessary. We'd signed up for the morning clinic and joined three locals on the clubhouse court, one of six Har-Tru courts that wrap around an attractive brick and stucco clubhouse. As guests, we expected an easy hour of drills. It turned out to be rather more intense.
"You're not on vacation on my court," tennis director Jamie Feagan told us. He kept us moving throughout with rapid feeds and well- orchestrated patterns, including playing situations in which he sometimes took part. Afterward, we tried to lure another couple who'd taken part into a set of mixed doubles, but they had made other plans.
"I don't have a lesson coming, so the two of you can stay and hit on this court," Feagan told us, referring to the show court adjacent to the clubhouse. "Do you want some music? I have speakers in the roof I put in for Cardio tennis. I have several kinds of music on my iPod. What do you like?"
This 2,300-acre resort/residential property is located in southwest Orlando, next to Disney's town of Celebration and six miles from the entrance to Walt Disney World Resort. At its core stands that 11-story Reunion Grande, It holds the two main restaurants and is just steps from the first of two golf clubhouses (a third is coming), one for each of the designer courses laid out by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, or Tom Watson. Like the courses, the other amenities are scattered through various neighborhoods, the fitness center and bocce courts in one, tennis in another, the 5-acre Water Park in a third. There's also a small spa in a repurposed Florida Colonial-style house. A free shuttle links everything together as do bike paths. Apart from the restaurants and spa, all these amenities are for residents and guests only.
Pro Shop: 407-662-1630
At the helm of the tennis operation is Jamie Feagan, a lefty who played for the University of North Florida and was assistant director at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club before coming to Reunion Resort in 2006 to set up its tennis program. He offers a variety of tennis options, including a daily drill clinic, Cardio tennis, New-To-Tennis, and junior clinics (in groups from age 4 to ages 13 and up) as well as group and private lessons, game matching, round robins on busy weekends, and a monthly exhibition. He also offers three junior programs: Future Stars (ages 4-8), Hot Shots (ages 8-14), and Top Guns (for juniors looking move up to state and national tournaments).Courts & Fees. There are six clay courts and two permanent pickleball courts arrayed around three sides of the full-service pro shop, a handsome structure reached along a brick pathway lined with magnolia trees and flowers. Off to one side is a swimming pool and children's playground.
Spa & Fitness
A program called Kids Crew operates Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and takes kids ages 4 to 12 on nature hikes, adventure outings, and time at the swimming pool supplemented by arts and crafts, story time, scavenger hunts, and games.
Lodging one- and two-bedroom kitchen equipped condos either in Reunion Grande, the 11-story tower at the heart of the property, or in various neighborhoods, each with a swimming pool and its own collection of amenities. For those needing more space there are private rental houses ranging in size up to 13 bedrooms.
The two principal restaurants are both located in the Reunion Grande tower: Eleven perches atop the tower and features steaks while also offering more varied fare; while Forte, off the main lobby, satisfies a craving for Italian fare. Otherwise, there are grills in the golf clubhouses, the Cove at Seven Eagles, and at the Water Park.
For comparison's sake, also check out:
Options range from 1-to-3-bedroom villas to 3-to-13-bedroom private residences. Highest rates occur in spring.
Visit the website for current rates
Travel Instructions. The hotel is 28 miles from Orlando International Airport (MCO).
General Tourist Information. For general information about travel in this part of Florida, visit the Experience Kissimmee website or phone 407-569-4800 toll-free.