The first time we visited the Gaylord Palms Resort was on Saturday Sept. 26th when we had dinner there with Ray & Jill, our property managers. [We have become very good friends with this British couple who we have known since they emigrated to start their company in 2004. As we only rent out our villa to folks that we know and can trust to take good care of the place, we have a unique relationship with Ray & Jill and we always meet up for dinner whenever we visit WDW, trying out a different restaurant each time.]
Jill had made a reservation for dinner at the Villa de Flora restaurant at the GP which tonight were hosting a Spanish themed “all you can eat” buffet dinner.
Now I`ve never been a big fan of buffet dinners, but nevertheless we went along with Ray & Jill`s choice of venue, also I don`t “do” spicy food, or rather spicy food doesn`t like me, so we went along albeit with a bit or trepidation!
In the event, we shouldn`t have worried as the food was excellent and very varied. Chef`s were on hand to help me to give anything spicy a wide berth, and there was also a carvery section where prime rib was on offer, and even here was a choice of well done or medium cooked meat.
Every time we returned to our table in between courses we noticed that the very attentive server had folded our napkins and placed new cutlery in our places which we thought was a very nice touch.
After we had finished our dinner we went for a stroll around the central area of the resort which was a tourist attraction in its own right and we said that we would return during daylight hours to spend more time there although sadly we ran out of time on this one later in our vacation.
There are huge palms and trees all around and the landscaping beneath the central huge and lofty glass roof is breathtaking….they even have live alligators and turtles in one of their pools!
One area is themed along the lines of Key West. There is a lake with a full size yacht which is used as a bar moored along the shore, and on the beach area are a couple of fantastic sand sculptures. You cannot believe that the sculptures are real, they are so detailed. Ray & Jill told us that they do magnificent ice sculptures here over the festive season which are really worth seeing too.
Based on this experience, we re-visited the resort again the following Saturday, this time with Wendy & Chris.
On this occasion we tried to have dinner at their Old Hickory Steakhouse which looked really inviting. Sadly they were very busy and were only operating on a reservation only basis, so again we went over to the Villa de Flora where again we all enjoyed the experience.
Being determined to give the Old Hickory Steakhouse a try, I made a reservation for my DW and I to dine there on Saturday Oct.10th.
Oddly enough, this time, the restaurant was a lot quieter so a reservation would not have been necessary on this occasion…just my luck.
Now I`ve enjoyed many a good steak in the Orlando area, but the one I had tonight was well among the best yet, and my DW was equally impressed with the fish dish that she ordered.
The service and quality of the food was excellent, and if anything a tad less expensive that many of the fine dining restaurants at WDW.
This place is now definitely on our “must do” dining list for the next time we are visiting the area.