Business and Golf: Orlando
Orlando is known as one of the great public golf destinations in the United States.
Tourism and hospitality continue to power Orlando's economy, but the city is also home to the largest concentration of modeling, simulation and training technologies in the U.S. More than 100 companies here specialize in computer-simulation applications used for military training, aviation and aerospace modeling, education, film and television production, theme-park rides and gaming. In addition to the more than 150 biotechnology and life science companies located in the area, a 600-acre "Medical City" complex is under construction. It will include research facilities for institutions such as the University of Florida, the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, and Nemours Children's Hospital and Research Campus, among others.
Opened in 2003, the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes (4012 Central Florida Pkwy., 407-206-2400) is a spacious, 584-room resort located just 10 minutes from Orlando International Airport and set in a 500-acre watershed preserve near the headwaters of the Everglades.
Downtown's Boheme Restaurant, in the Grand Bohemian Hotel (325 S. Orange Ave., 407-313-9000), serves an impressive power breakfast-crab benedict, New York strip steak and eggs-in an ornate setting, adorned with one of only two Bösendorfer Imperial Grand Pianos in the world.
Seal the Deal
Perfectly prepared steaks and Manhattans are served up in the warm, clubby atmosphere of the newest Capital Grille restaurant (9101 International Dr., 407-370-4392), conveniently located in the bustling Pointe Orlando convention corridor.
Chef Norman Van Aken brings his new-world cuisine-a melange of Latin, Caribbean, Asian and American flavors-to his eponymously named dining room and outdoor terrace, Norman's (normans.com), at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grand Lakes.
Orlando is known as one of the great public golf destinations in the United States. Most of the major resort courses are located on the southwest side of the city, while hills and large sand ridges in the citrus country to the west and north provide more adventurous diversions.
Orange County National (ocngolf.com, $54-119), located about 30 minutes west of downtown, features two courses, a nine-hole short course and an advanced practice facility with a 360-degree driving range-all with no surrounding real estate. The more polished Panther Lake course, frequent host of the PGA Tour's Q-School finals, plays through sections of a former orange grove, with an emphasis on target golf and aerial play. Crooked Cat is more wide open and rambling, with holes scattered with long roughs and pot bunkers.
The 498-room Waldorf Astoria Orlando (14200 Bonnet Creek Resort Ln., 407-597-5500), which opened this past October, is the first new Waldorf Astoria built outside New York City. Just outside the hotel, in a secluded nature preserve, the new Rees Jones-designed Waldorf Astoria Golf Club weaves evocatively back and forth through deep bunkers, lakes and corridors of pines and cypress.
Stay an Extra Day
One of Florida's most acclaimed courses, the World Woods Golf Club (worldwoods.com), is located in Brooksville, approximately 90 minutes west of Orlando. Here, Tom Fazio sculpted two monumental designs, including the Pine Valley-inspired Pine Barrens course; both were hollowed out of the site's unusual sandy soil and oak-lined hills.
When to Go
May and October, considered shoulder months, are the best times to avoid the suffocating heat and humidity, and rates and crowds are lower than peak season.