Friday, December 28, 2012

Get ready Central Florida, there's a brand new I-Drive coming soon, and the Wyndham Orlando Resort is revamped and ready

There's a world of new attractions, shops and restaurants coming soon to International Drive in Orlando as part of the I-Drive Live and I-Shops complex. From Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, to the 425-foot Orlando Eye to the 25,000-square-foot Sea Life Aquarium, Orlando's busiest tourist corridor is about to get a lot busier.

Under construction, at the site of the former Mercado complex, the 20-acre I-Drive Live and I-Shops will transform, not only International Drive, but the city's skyline, and, hopefully, the city's economy.

Not sitting idly by as a major construction project takes place next door, the venerable Wyndham Orlando Resort is transforming as well -- into a hip, campus-style resort featuring modern, updated rooms, ample convention space, and a couple of fantastic restaurants.

I was recently invited to sit poolside at the Gatorville Bar and Restaurant with a group of fellow Orlando food bloggers to get a preview of the Wyndham's revamp and sample a smorgasbord of offerings from the resort's menus.

Stepping onto the property, I immediately felt transported to a tropical oasis. The lush landscaping and the staggered placement of buildings does a fantastic job of sealing out the cacophony and eyesores of International Drive. Sitting around the pool area, among palm trees and tropical foliage, you'd never know you're in the heart of Orlando's tackiest "neighborhood."

Gatorville is themed old-school Florida, with fishing nets and wooden paddle boats suspended above the wicker seating. Above the large bar, an even bigger stuffed alligator stares down at you. Tourists must get a kick out of that one. It was a beautiful evening and after enjoying a couple of umbrella-topped bowls of "Swamp Water," we settled down at a long table overlooking the pool area, and the gracious staff presented dish after dish of amazing.

First up was an assortment of sushi, nori, seafood and summer rolls. The spread was beautiful, and my fellow bloggers immediately started snapping off pic after pic. If sushi never had paparazzi before, it did that night. It was a shame to sample, disturbing the artful display, but we did and each bite was delicious.

Dish after dish continued to arrive and dish after dish the bloggers continued to flash off photos and mouth off words like "delicious," "divine," "amazing," and "awesome."

Some of my favorites were the Spinach Salad with goat cheese and rye croutons, the Kalua Cured Beef Short Ribs with a brown sugar and red wine vinegar sauce, Crispy Fried Snapper and (huge) Prawns (lobster-sized prawns to be exact) and the Lollipop Lamb Chops. There just wasn't a dish served that we didn't ooh and aah about.

Being a Southerner, I can often tell the quality of a kitchen by how much loving care is put into its cornbread. The jalapeno cornbread served tonight was moist, full of flavor, texture and some definite love. When every dish is over-the-top good, it's the little details that often shine. The cornbread shone brightly. I wish I had gotten a photo.

For dessert, we were treated to some incredible Bananas Foster flambeed table-side by the Wyndham's chef. As the sun dipped below the horizon, the dessert dripped in rum, brown sugar and cinnamon, ending an incredible meal, and an amazing evening with fellow bloggers.

The Wyndham Orlando Resort features four on-site restaurants offering a wide range of cuisine options that are sure to satisfy any appetite. Building up an appetite is easy with a day of amusement-park visits or business meetings, so our restaurants and bars are the perfect place to entertain and unwind.

The resort offers four dining options: Besides Gatorvile, offering Floridian specialties that merge Key West and Caribbean influences, there's Augustine's Bar and Grille -- is a casual, yet elegant restaurant, and is the ideal choice when craving steak or seafood. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Augustine's Bar and Grille is great any time of day. For quick meals and snacks, stop into Augustine's Market & Deli for a scrumptious sandwich, and then head to Screams Ice Cream Parlor for amazing old-fashioned desserts. Of course, room service is always a nice option, and it is available from 6:00 a.m. - midnight.

The Wyndham Orlando Resort, offering 1,052 guest rooms and suites, is located at the corner of International Drive and Sandlake Road and is near shopping, restaurants, and attractions. Business travelers can enjoy easy access to the Orange County Convention Center, which is only one mile away. Guests will find it easy to access the best the area has to offer with complimentary shuttle service to and from Universal Studios and Sea World theme parks. The pet-friendly resort provides many family-friendly services and amenities including three heated swimming pools (all open 24 hours), a jogging path, fitness center and game room.

Note: I dined compliments of Wyndham Orlando Resort.

Gatorville on Urbanspoon Augustine's Bar and Grille on Urbanspoon


Aldrich Mendal said...

I love Orlando Resort.I am so much interested in this resort and i will definitely come and enjoy your service.Florida Villas

Jimmyhulas said...

Delecious dishes are shown in the pics...just awesome like jimmyhulas