Updated: Feb 29
It was January 28th when Allison Hunt, a supplier representative from Cape Town, South Africa who I had met at the We Are Africa conference in Utah in August 2019 reached out to say that she was coming to the US and did I live anywhere near Winter Park, FL as it would be great to meet up again for lunch on the 17th February.
It was 580 miles to Winter Park, 1,160 miles round trip for lunch, but having not traveled since the beginning of the year and nothing planned until the end of March, I asked Allie to give me 24 hours to think about whether I could make it happen.
With clients booked into the Four Seasons in Orlando later this year, returning clients booked into Sea Island, Georgia in May, several clients interested in The Perry Lane Hotel, in Savannah, and several other groups heading to South Africa, including Cape Town throughout the year, this was a perfect Road Trip just waiting to happen. I just needed an excuse – lunch in Winter Park, FL to make it happen!
My plan was to travel to Savannah, just a 4-hour drive from Wilmington and spend the weekend exploring Savannah and some of the nearby areas of interest, such as the beautiful coastal town of Beaufort, SC, Wormsloe Plantation, just outside of Savannah and the world-renowned Bonaventure Cemetery
Savannah has several great hotels, the Bohemian, the Adelphi, and the Cotton Sail on the Riverfront, but one of the gems in the city, and the only Virtuoso property, is The Perry Lane Hotel, situated in the heart of the city, just a couple of blocks from the river and nestled among the many delightful squares that can be found throughout the center of Savannah. With 167 rooms this hotel is in two buildings across a narrow one-way street. A member of the Marriott Bonvoy Luxury Collection, Perry Lane offers a delightful retreat to end your day after exploring the area at the rooftop bar looking out across this historic city. Having the opportunity to explore the city and several of the hotels, I am now able to provide my clients with so much more information prior to their visit to this gem in the South. It is perfect for a three- or four-night stay and is most definitely a year-round destination.
On Monday morning I left Savannah at 7:00 am for the 4-hour drive to Winter Park, FL to meet Allison Hunt of Inspirational Places in South Africa. I arrived a little early and was excited to find that Winter Park is a delightful town to wander around, with some beautiful boutique shops, great restaurants, a park running through its center and a train station for the Sun Rail Train services. What a perfect place to have found so unexpectedly. Lunch at the Turkish restaurant Bosphorous, was well worth the trip and I was able to learn more about the portfolio represented by Inspirational Places, including one of Travel & Leisure’s It list for 2020, Camissa House, in Cape Town.
Tuesday morning I left my hotel in downtown to visit the Four Seasons, Orlando, another hidden gem, this time in Walt Disney World, which means that clients are able to add their reservation to the Disney App, and have the same access to booking opportunities such as Fast-Pass and early / late hours admission to the Magic Kingdom. BUT it has the incredible benefit of being in its own secluded area. With a Disney Character breakfast on-site once a week with Goofy, Mickey & Minnie, a Disney Concierge Desk on-site to assist with any dining reservations at the Disney Parks, guests have all the benefits of a Disney property, but with the luxury and service of a Four Seasons.
The hotel has a five-acre water-park, with adult only, and family friendly pools, a lazy river, a splash zone, and many different seating areas all around the park, enabling guests to find their own spaces to relax and enjoy the Four Seasons. They have an ultimate Kids Zone, with games, a water slide and a rock-climbing wall. Having had the opportunity to visit, I am now even more excited for my clients stay at this wonderful property and of course, their time visiting the Disney parks.
Tuesday afternoon, I turned northwards again to The Cloisters at Sea Island near Brunswick, Georgia, just a 3 hour drive from Orlando. Reached by causeway from St. Simons Island, Sea Island is an internationally acclaimed resort. The Sea Island Company features two of the world’s most exceptional destinations: the Forbes Five-Star Cloister on Sea Island and The Lodge at Sea Island, a Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond property located on the southern end of St. Simons Island. Sea Island is the only resort in the world to achieve four Forbes Five-Stars twelve years in a row.
Prior to arriving I found the Indigo Coastal Shanty, a favorite with the locals the Indigo Coastal Shanty serves some of the very best southern food. I tried the Pimento Cheeseburger and Sweet Potato Fries followed by the Georgia Pecan Pound Cake and Ice Cream – both of which were delicious!!
Arriving at Sea Island you can almost feel any stress melting away as the entire team are so friendly and helpful. There wasn’t anyone who didn’t greet me with a smile and a good morning/afternoon or evening. Sadly, this is becoming less common, but certainly not at Sea Island.
Having had the opportunity to learn about the expansive list of activities available to guests, visit the incredible spa facilities, check out the state-of-the-art equipped fitness center and just walk along the beautiful beach, I believe this is an ideal destination for everyone of all ages. From a solo traveler seeking a wellness retreat, a destination wedding, an extended family escape, a couple looking for active adventure to a group of seasoned golfers, there really is something for all ages and interests.
One of the most fun and popular activities offered is Bingo Night – a spectacular evening that is held in the Grand Ballroom with up to 500 guests, tickets are usually sold out well in advance. Dress code is a jacket, collared shirt, slacks or well-kept denim, are required for gentlemen and boys over eight. Jackets are requested to remain on for the duration of the Bingo experience. Cocktail attire is recommended for ladies. I can’t wait for another opportunity to visit Sea Island and experience the Bingo as it sounds so much fun!
On Wednesday morning, after exploring Sea Island, I headed north to Wilmington and was home in ~ 5 hours. This was such a great trip, providing me the opportunity to be more informed on options for my clients and therefore improve their vacation experience. Perhaps even more exciting was seeing the potential of designing a perfect Southern East Coast Road Trip for any local clients that don’t like to fly. With so many options I am looking forward to designing a Road Trip for you or your friends!