Week four of Deej's Florida Swing takes us near Tampa to the legendary Innisbrook Golf Resort and Spa. Beware...you just might spot the Loch Ness Monster.
The Sunshine State has been called home for my entire life, but I have only known one version of Florida. The one which resulted from a man and a cartoon mouse transforming an uninhabited swampland into something he called "The Florida Project." Almost forty-one years later, it is hard to find places that allow one to connect with what Florida once was, but if you look hard enough they are out there. A perfect example is the Innisbrook Golf Resort and Spa outside Tampa.
Passing through the front gates, one can see that Innisbrook dates to a time when resorts were built out, not up. Sprawling 800 acre resorts would never get off the drawing board today, but Innisbrook's size yields a level of seclusion rarely seen in Florida.
|The Osprey Clubhouse|
The tree lined road winds past the resort's 28 lodges, and eventually leads to the Osprey Clubhouse. There's a giant nest in a tree out front, and the familiar call of an osprey in the distance explains where the clubhouse gets its name.
|One of many osprey families around the resort|
As I meandered about before checking-in, I couldn't help but think that the resort does a good job of hiding her age. I later learned it was mostly thanks to a recent $28 million renovation, and as best I could tell it was money well spent.
For the second time in two weeks, I had a craving for a little French Toast, so I popped into Market Salamander Grill for breakfast. It took me a while to reach the hostess stand, however, because I was a little distracted by the gourmet market out front. It was right about now that I was glad my wife wasn't with me, because my wallet would have been in some serious pain.
After scarfing down my breakfast, I stepped outside to enjoy the sights and sounds of mother nature. Taking a deep breath of the smell of fresh cut grass, there was a noise in the distance which I couldn't quite peg. It wasn't an osprey or hawk, nor the sound of cheering golfers on the course. It almost sounded like...kids? And they were...having fun?
I simply had to investigate this strange phenomenon, because after all, this was a sleepy golf resort. Kids don't have fun here. Or do they? Well, as it turns out, kids do love golf resorts, so long as their pool is shaped like the Loch Ness Monster...
If pools resembling mythological swimming dinosaurs aren't your thing, there are plenty of other places to relax throughout the resort. There are 5 additional pools, none of which have a laughter inducing water slide, and the Indaba Spa is sure to melt away any remaining stress from the real world.
After an afternoon on one of Innisbrook's four golf courses, I headed to the room for a much needed nap. Each of the lodges at Innisbrook is named for a famous golf course, and my one bedroom villa was located in "Dublin."
Although their design clearly dates to 1970, the look of each lodge started to grow on me after a while. Mostly because they reminded me of my favorite hotel in the world, which happens to be from the same era...Disney's Contemporary Resort.
|The Dublin Lodge|
While the exterior may be a throwback to 1970, the inside is all 2012. Of course, I didn't notice the amenities at first, because I was trying to figure out what to do with a 900 square foot villa all to myself...
As with every hotel I visit, the first order of business was to check out the view. My patio opened right out onto the golf course, allowing me to replay a hole which earlier in the day resulted in my mouth being washed out with soap.
|I made par the 2nd time around...|
Long overdue for my afternoon nap, I practiced my swan dive onto the white duvet, and slept away some of the afternoon. For the record, white duvets should be standard in all resorts. Any hotel still sporting a bedspread will never see their "confirm reservation" button used by me. But I digress...
Fully refreshed, I decided to get a little work done and watch the US Open on the living room's flat screen TV. The only thing the room lacked was Wi-Fi, but the free wired access was speedy, and allowed me to pretend to work while watching the golf.
One of the downsides to traveling without my wife is that I'm forced to do her dirty work. I knew if she were here, then the Gilchrist & Soames toiletries would be heading home with us. After battling my conscience for about 12 minutes, I dumped them into my bag in one quick motion. The shame...
The Innisbrook Resort successfully debunked two myths during my short visit. First, it is possible for families with kids to have a great time at a golf resort, even without a theme park nearby. While the target market of any golf resort will always be corporate outings and the like, families with kids in tow will be right at home here. The Loch Ness Monster will see to that.
The second myth Innisbrook debunked has to do with her age. More often than not, places associated with "Old Florida" are just that...old. Innisbrook is a glowing exception, with its feet firmly planted in 2012, even though its soul may date to another era. The advantage to a resort built 41 years ago is the luxury of space and solitude, and at the Innisbrook Golf Resort & Spa both are in ample supply.
Enjoy Your Stay
Special thanks to the Innisbrook Golf Resort for hosting Deej's Florida Swing. As always, all opinions are my own.