Some hotels go out of their way to replicate a residential experience for guests. Then there’s Encore Resort, the 963-acre, master-planned vacation community just west of Orlando for which the saying “home away from home” is both spot on and an understatement.
On the one hand, Encore (855.828.7767; encorereunion.com) puts those presidential hotel suites to shame by offering access to sprawling luxury estates at incredibly reasonable nightly rates. On the other, it complements that lodging with all of the amenities one would expect from a first-class resort.
Here are just a few reasons Encore, less than 10 miles from Disney World, should be on anyone’s short list of summer, fall or high-season getaways.
• House party: Encore adheres to the go-big-or-go-home philosophy when it comes to its accommodations. Oh, sure you can book a four-, five-, six- or seven-bedroom estate. But why stop there? Large groups can rent 11-, 12- and 13-bedroom homes (all models, big and small, come with private pools). The mega properties can host more than 20 people, perfect for family gatherings, wedding weekends, parties and corporate events. The Elite 13 rentals feature a game room, home theater and flat-screen TVs in every bedroom. Even better, offseason rates for the largest of Encore’s homes start as low as $751 a night.
• Let the fun begin: As if there weren’t enough attractions already in Orlando, Encore adds to the experience with its own AquaPark—featuring requisite drop slides, enclosed water slides, a pool, splash zones and more. The Hang Ten Hideaway, an indoor recreation facility, adds to the kids’ excitement with crafts and gaming systems. In addition, Encore plans activities throughout the month—scavenger hunts, giant Jenga, water balloon nights, pingpong tournaments—and wine tastings and special cocktail nights for the adults. For sports enthusiasts, there are soccer fields, and tennis, basketball and sand volleyball courts, along with a fitness center and personal training classes. Championship golf at Reunion’s three courses—one designed by Jack Nicklaus, one by Tom Watson and one by Arnold Palmer—is only a 5-iron away. However, Encore doesn’t offer deals/packages connected to the golf.
• Dan’s the man: Miami Dolphins fans will appreciate the connection between Encore and Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, who serves as official brand ambassador. Down the road, the partnership will spawn an onsite sports facility and a Marino Sports Academy that will train young athletes, and host youth football camps and adult fantasy camps.
• Dine in: In addition to casual fare at Bis Grill (hot dogs and burgers), Shark Lounge (finger foods and bar bites) and Finns (think flatbreads, salads, burgers, wings, grilled fish and stir fry; anything on the Finns menu can be delivered to your door), Encore offers a gourmet Chef Experience—a three-course meal prepared right in your kitchen by one of the resort’s world-class cooks. You can select off a menu brimming with savory options or work with the chef to create a customized feast based on your tastes or dietary restrictions. In addition, Encore has in-home bartending services for travelers throwing a party.
• The pleasure is theirs: The resort experience at Encore extends to a concierge staff that will tend to all the details. Call for restaurant reservations, theme park tickets, babysitting services, transportation, grocery delivery, spa services and more. Speaking of the latter, Encore works with Ultimate Touch Professionals to provide mobile spa services that include massages, manicures, pedicures, facials—and even spa parties.