Every Foodie Deserves a Grand Staycation at Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek
This post about my Foodie Staycation at Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek is written as part of a collaboration with Orlando Magazine. All opinions are my own. As always, I only share with you experiences worth celebrating to inspire you to #MakeSomedayHappen one delicious bite, sip and trip at a time!
Have you ever spent a weekend doing nothing but indulging in fantastic food and drinks all while lounging in superbly posh digs? Any foodie would consider this heaven. That’s exactly what we did when we stayed at the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek, located within the Walt Disney World Resort. Every foodie deserves a foodie getaway like this. Whether you live 10 or 10,000 miles away.
What’s a Foodie Staycation you ask?
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “Staycation” as a vacation spent at home or nearby. When you live in Orlando, you don’t have to travel far to get away from it all. The City Beautiful has a plethora of fantastic resorts to choose from.
When you’re looking to make said staycation a foodie getaway, you look for a resort with a selection of fabulous in-house restaurants. Being near Walt Disney World and adding eating and drinking around the world at Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is a bonus!
Enter Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek.
Is there such a thing as “Too Much Of A Good Thing”?
“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful” – Mae West
Relax. Recharge. Indulge. Too much of this can be wonderful indeed. Guaranteed you’ll be happier Monday morning.
Our foodie staycation included a mixology experience, a fabulous wine paired multi-course dinner, delightful macarons and desserts in our luxurious room with a view, fresh made omelettes and waffles at an abundant breakfast buffet, the most decadent French Toast ever, Florida craft beer tastings and funnel fries! Yes, you read correctly. Funnel. Cake. Fries!
But before you think it was all desserts and a million calories, we also indulged in healthy treats and avocado toast. It’s all about balance my friends. At Wyndham Grand, even the healthy treats felt indulgent.
The Fountain of Youth.
If you want to find the Fountain of Youth, eat (or drink) dessert first and you’ll feel like a kid again. That’s what we did at Bar 1521 to kick off our foodie weekend.
The Spanish Mediterranean upscale decor and name is influenced by the era of Ponce de Leon, who discovered Florida in 1513 while searching for the elusive Fountain of Youth. He returned in 1521 to set up his colony because when you visit Florida, you always end up coming back. I feel this way about Bar 1521. I can’t wait to return and sample more of their signature cocktails.
The high back chairs give one of the alcoves off to the side of the bar an Alice in Wonderland feel. Perfect little room to enjoy cocktails and conversation.
The space is fun whether you’re gathering with friends at the communal table or want to have quiet more intimate conversation in one of the hidden corners. They even have a sushi bar and a full bar food menu should you want to nosh.
Let’s talk about this dessert in a glass. Mixologist Jillian allowed us to mix our own “Pharmacy Froth” cocktail. A dreamy concoction of housemade vanilla bean soaked bourbon, Baileys Irish Cream, Creme de Cacao and cream.
“Shake it high and proud” was her advice as we shook our martini shakers above our heads. The frothy libation was topped with whipped cream and Oreo crumbles. I don’t care how old you are, when you’re given a can of whipped cream and Oreos to play with, it’s pure joy that reminds you of childhood. If you want even more happy, they offer Happy Hour daily from 4pm-6pm.
What comes to mind when you think of hotel restaurants? There’s often a misperception of hotel dining as lacking innovation, creativity, or diversity. Many think hotel chains serve the same menu in every location leaving them devoid of local flair. Quality and value are often questioned. Some even believe only hotel guests are allowed to enjoy hotel restaurants and lounges. I, on the other hand, think hotel restaurants have some of the most talented kitchen crews in town and are often hidden gems. After dining at deep blu seafood grill I can say this for sure. Take a deep dive. Go for it and dive right in. Those concerns will vanish.
Chef de Cuisine Wade McLamb joined the hotel in January 2018. He’s infused the menu with his North Carolina roots and the flavors learned from grandma’s kitchen. His focus is on fresh seafood. The dishes are composed and elevated but with a touch of rustic familiarity.
I was thrilled with the little Southern influences from the pork belly jam on a tempura fennel chip which amused our palates to start. Pickled watermelon and fresh made buttermilk ricotta, to the BBQ peach sauce that lightly dressed the tender NY Strip. All full of local fresh seasonal flavors.
Chef Wade plays with flavors, textures and cooking techniques to surprise your taste buds with every course, every bite.
Black and Blu Linquine is his favorite signature dish featuring local made fresh squid ink linquine by Vita Pasta. Chef Wade allows the flavors of the ingredients to shine in this dish. You get the striking black color and salty notes of the sea in the pasta, lightly dressed in a wine butter sauce. Succulent jumbo lump blue crab adds the “blu” mentioned in the name. Cherry tomatoes, arugula and Parmigiano add contrasts of color, texture and flavor. Overall, a winning dish!
I would have been happy ending my meal at this high point and then Miso Glazed Black Grouper arrived. So full of flavor with hints of honey, ginger and orange. Perfectly cooked, meaty and flaky with a delightful sweet and tangy burnt orange shaved Brussels Sprouts slaw.
But wait there’s more…. Bourbon Peppercorn Crusted Prime Strip Steak came next. A lovely sweet tangy peach BBQ sauce contrasted the smoky parsnip puree. BBQ to the next level. This dish had the most surprising component of the night! You’ll never guess what it was. Check out my full deep blu seafood grill dinner experience with wine pairings.
Just when you think another bite is impossible. Banana Cream Pudding filled any empty nooks and crannies in our stomachs and provided a wonderful end to our dinner. The crisp meringue, housemade vanilla wafers and bourbon caramel topping were over the top!
The restaurant’s look, service and cuisine is upscale with a resort feel. There’s no stuffiness and the view of the Pirate Ship pool next door had us imagining ourselves sailing the high seas. We were convinced deep blu seafood grill is a hidden gem in Orlando.
Treats with A View.
It’s tough to leave your room when you have this beautiful view. The pool, the 10 acre lake and the Walt Disney World Resort area in the distance provided a great backdrop at all hours of the day.
In the morning…
In the afternoon…
In the evenings…
We were sad we missed the Disney fireworks on this visit but I bet it would have been spectacular to see from our room with a view.
Wyndham Grand Orlando offers 24-hour room service so you could stay in, relax and enjoy the view if you want to.
How could this plate of gorgeous macarons not bring a smile to your face? Look at all the beautiful colors. Every room should come with this as a standard. Just like a bed and a TV. Macarons should be required!
After dinner, Executive Chef Jonathan McCann surprised us with decadent chocolate panna cotta topped with caramel and coconut. The almond cookies that came on top were sinful and we could not resist.
We saved the desserts for the morning to enjoy with the view. Sitting in our balcony with spoons in hand digging into our cups, we definitely were not counting calories.
Which is why we were so grateful for the array of healthy snacks chef McCann sent us the following day. He understands balance very well. Gorgeous tropical fruit parfaits, trail mix, edamame, fried chickpeas, banana chips and cookies with coconut water. Perfect!
The Most Important Meal Of The Day.
If you believe breakfast is the most important meal of the day then you know it’s important to have plenty of options so you never skip it. Tesoro Cove, the hotel’s casual breakfast restaurant features an all you can eat buffet with something for everyone.
Made to order omelettes, waffles and pancakes.
The air is filled with the scent of fresh made waffles and bacon goodness.
Have you ever had pizza for breakfast? Here it’s on the menu!
Donut towers. Hello! (I need one of these in my house!)
Smoked salmon and bagels with all the fixins.
I started my morning on Saturday with a light healthy selection. I was saving my calories for Epcot International Food & Wine Festival!
The buffet is certainly a great value. But if you miss the plated specialties, you will miss a lot! I ordered a colorful Avocado Melt on Sunday, looking for something lighter but still delicious.
Not truly a “melt” because the Feta cheese crumbles weren’t melty but that was ok. It offered a gorgeous contrast of flavors and textures (you’ve heard me say this a lot but this is important to a foodie.)
The gluten-free English Muffin was surprisingly soft and pillowy (I half expected cardboard so it was nice to be wrong). Topped with apricot, kale salad, avocado, grilled tomato, Feta cheese crumbles and crispy kale, so tasty!
My head was saying “healthy” but my heart was saying “Let’s Go!”
As if by magic, the best French Toast I’ve ever had in my life showed up at my table. Not kidding. Best. French. Toast. Ever!
I bet you’re drooling right now. Fresh baked cinnamon buns are dipped in French toast batter and griddled. Then topped with bananas foster, caramel maple sauce and toasted pecans. My attempts to eat light were futile. I could not resist taking bite after bite. The combination of flavors was magical. Chef de Cuisine Myra Buerkle knew the way to my heart.
For your caffeine fix, don’t despair. You’ll find Starbucks coffee and Teavana teas on the menu. Our servers were like stealth ninjas refilling our coffee and tea mugs so quickly to the point we wondered if we had even drank any. (ahem. my husband drank 5 cups!)
The Barista Coffee Shop featuring Starbucks specialty coffees can be found in the lobby. Caramel Macchiatos and Vanilla Lattes just steps away.
Eating and Drinking Around The World Minutes Away.
As a Walt Disney World Gateway Hotel, you can purchase tickets at the Guest Services Desk and take advantage of complimentary shuttle transportation to all the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks including Epcot, which is THE foodie destination.
After breakfast on Saturday we headed to walk off the previously consumed calories by walking around the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Of course, we indulged in many of the festival’s Must Eat & Drink treats so it was zero loss / zero gain. (I hope) The festival runs through November 12th and it’s wonderful to be able to stay at a nearby resort and not have to drive.
If you’re headed to the biggest food festival in the world, you’ll want to check out my Ultimate Guide to Epcot Food & Wine loaded with festival tips. I’ve been attending every year since 1997 and spent 35 days in a row at the Festival last year! I’ve learned some insider tips and tricks along the way.
Here’s one tip to keep in mind: Don’t forget to take water with you. Hydrating is important when you’re out and about in this Florida heat and we often forget to drink water. The two complimentary bottles in our room were perfect.
Pool time is a required must of any weekend getaway and the Wyndham Grand Orlando did not disappoint. We easily found two loungers, soaked in the hot tub and took a dip in the pool. I understand the property is now renovating the pool so I can’t wait to return and see what they’ve done to make this retreat area even better.
Tropical pool cocktails are also a must and I opted for the Sunrise Daiquiri. Loved the frozen Bacardi rum blend with peach, mango and strawberry.
A stay at the Wyndham Grand also includes use of the many amenities located around the 10-acre lake from the other towers in the Wyndham complex. Lazy river pools, pirate ships and more. I didn’t get a chance to enjoy those but that’s all the more reason to return.
Craft Brews and Funnel Fries.
Swimming builds up an appetite and just when I thought I could not eat another bite, I was ready to sample the menu at Back Bay Bar & Grill.
We started with Buffalo Cauliflower Bites at the recommendation of our server. The hot sauce is mixed into the batter so the bites have a nice heat already built in and are less messy to eat than if they were coated in the buffalo sauce afterwards. (Although I wouldn’t have minded that at all!) They had a nice kick that was perfect with the blue cheese dip. I would definitely order again.
Florida’s craft beer scene has exploded in the last few years. It was nice to see Back Bay featuring local brews. From Daytona to Orlando, Key West to Tampa to a surprising one from the small town of DeLand, it’s a nice selection where beer lovers and beer novices can both find something to enjoy while watching the football game or lounging by the pool.
Crooked Can Cloud Chaser Hefeweizen, the German style wheat beer, is one of the most popular from the Winter Garden brewery. I always tell Florida visitors looking for local beers, whenever you see Crooked Can on the menu, order it.
The Reef Donkey APA from Tampa Brewing Company was a nice surprise. I had never tried an American Pale Ale and tend to shy away from IPAs as I’m not a hops fan. This one drinks like a session IPA with great citrus notes and not quite as hoppy. Perfect pool beer.
The last beer sampled was the Beach Hippie IPA from Persimmon Hollow Brewing in DeLand Florida. This small town north of Orlando has a few foodie surprises and this is definitely one of them. The East coast India Pale Ale offered a higher ABV and more pronounced notes of malts and hops to make IPA fans happy.
For lunch, we ordered Watermelon & Tiger Shrimp Salad with a creamy sumac dressing and Grilled Portobello Mushroom with melted Swiss sandwich. Casual pool dining without a lot of fuss but with lots of flavor was my overall impression of the menu.
The winning dish was the Funnel Fries! Warm funnel cake cut into fries loaded with mounds of powdered sugar. It’s a Must Eat!
The Little Things.
As a 20 year hospitality industry veteran, it’s tough for me not to notice the little things whenever I’m in a hotel or restaurant. These are often the big things that make a lasting impression.
From our guest room to the public areas, the place was spotless. Cleanliness is important but so is comfort. The new furnishings in the room were elegant yet understated. The bed and pillows were plush and heavenly so we had a good night’s sleep and felt at home. A recent $4 Million renovation upgraded the televisions, added plenty of chargers to plug in all our devices and updated soft goods in the room.
No matter how nice a place, it’s the people that make the difference. Chatting with Executive Chef Jonathan McCann upon my arrival, his excitement for his culinary program was immediately palpable. In turn it made me excited to check out everything the hotel had to offer. That same excitement carried through with all staff we encountered in each of the restaurants and bars. I often have to ask a lot of questions to get information to share in my articles, here they couldn’t wait to tell me more about specials and new menu items and local products they were using. It was nice to see staff excited about their place of work.
Staff greetings make big first impressions. There’s a common rule in hospitality called the 10-5 rule. Staff within 10 ft of a guest should make eye contact and acknowledge. Within 5 ft. they should offer a verbal greeting. I experienced this throughout the property including with our housekeeper as we approached in the hallway. That was impressive!
And before you think I was treated this way because of this review, I watched how other guests were treated and was happy to see I was not the exception.
Staff goodbyes are just as important. Walking out of deep blu seafood grill, all the staff we saw said good night or thank you, including the culinary team in the open kitchen. Open kitchens are meant to encourage guest interaction but this does not always happen. I was happy to see cooks in both deep blu and Tesoro Cove interacting with guests.
In the end, all these little things won me over. We were treated like family and the compass in the lobby floor was guiding us home each night of our stay.
Is a Foodie Staycation Right For You?
If you’re a “foodie”, which means you’re a person with an avid interest, love and appreciation of food, this is for you. If you need a getaway to recharge and renew, this is for you. I highly recommend getting away for the weekend on a Foodie Staycation. Click here to learn more about Wyndham Grand Orlando Bonnet Creek. It belongs on your Must Visit List in Orlando.
I hope you’re inspired to plan your next foodie staycation (or vacation)! Make Reservations. Go #MakeSomedayHappen. Mondays are always better after a weekend staycation like this.
Disclosure: This post is published in partnership with Orlando Magazine and Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek. All opinions are mine alone. As always I only share with you products and experiences I love to inspire you to #MakeSomedayHappen one delicious bite, sip and trip at a time. For more information on my guidelines, click here. Cheers!