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Thread: Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort

  1. #1
    wishes he had a pink frolicing llama under his tagline George's Avatar
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    Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort

    I thought I'd start a thread here, since this is actually on Disney Property, in the ritzy Golden Oak subdivision.

    Interesting article in this morning's Orlando Sentinel:

    Four Seasons chairman explains Disney location choice

    by Paul Brinkmann

    Isadore Sharp, chairman of the Four Seasons Hotel chain, was in Orlando this week for the start of employee training at the companyís 94th property Ė the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World.

    At 83, Sharp is still actively involved in the company he founded in Toronto in 1961. I sat down with him for an exclusive interview about the opening of the 443-room hotel. The company acquired the land from Disney in 2008 and plans an August opening.

    Q. Why did the Four Seasons come to Orlando now?

    Sharp: Now has been a long time coming. Orlando has been high on our priority list, so we started to kick the tires about 15 years ago. I think itís going to be an incredible experience to be under the wing of Disney. Itís an honor for us to be brought into the park. The hotel is just a short distance away from the entrance. When we talk location, Disney is the main draw here, but it has developed Orlando into a destination, driven by the hospitality industry. The other draws are obviously the climate and the convention business, and then all the other attractions.

    Q. Why did it take 15 years to accomplish this project?

    Sharp: Itís been a long journey but well worth it, because weíll be here for 100 years. Like most of our projects, we had to find the right site and the right investment team. When I say this project took 15 years, Iím comparing that to an average time of five to ten years for a new Four Seasons.

    Q. Are you a big Disney fan?

    Sharp: Only as a grandfather. I was here years ago of course. But I respect the Disney brand. Few brands have created something this lasting, that meets high expectations.

    Q. In terms of recovery from the last recession, is this the perfect time to open a luxury hotel?

    Sharp: The industry has recovered, so we are in a sweet spot. But that isnít everything. You canít really time the opening of a project like this perfectly according to the economy. Weíve opened hotels in difficult times, including one that opened a month before the Sept. 11 attacks in New York. You have to prepared for ups and downs. Thatís the reason we took time to put together the investment group we have here.

    Q. Why does Four Seasons focus on operating rather than owning?

    Sharp: When you start out in this business, like I did many years ago, you build a hotel and you own it. In my case, the 1970s came along, and inflation began. What I had accomplished in Toronto and Calgary, I could no longer do in Vancouver, so I decided to change the business model. I borrowed against 70 percent of what I expected to make in fees for the first five years of operating the hotel. That was the beginning of the management contract concept at Four Seasons.

    Q. Why did you sell most of the interest in the company later on, to Bill Gates and other investors?

    Sharp: Thatís different. By that time I had decided to change my role in the company, and the investment was an opportunity to continue the legacy of Four Seasons.

    Q. You have training in architecture; are you still involved in design of the hotels like this one?

    Sharp: My role has always been that, and Iím still involved in the concept and aesthetics, and how it functions. We rely on the expertise of the designers we hire. As long as you have faith and trust in the people you are giving approval to. Art and sculpture in public areas is a little different, the owner still has a say in that.

    Q. How have you stayed focused and successful in one career for so long?

    Sharp: I didnít intend to go into the hotel business. The first project was just a real estate deal. It has to be something you enjoy and have a true belief in. You canít accomplish something like this unless you have a passion and perseverance. My measure of success is the success of people around me. I get satisfaction from what I have personally achieved, not because of the financial security but how many thousands of lives I have touched. Iíve never gotten bored.
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  2. #2
    who gon stop me? HUH? josh's Avatar
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    Somehow I'm not surprised the person that created Four Seasons has a name like Isadore Sharp. Are there room rates available?

    I stayed in a Four Seasons in Atlanta for four nights last month. Wasn't at all impressed.

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    Senior Member BeckyW's Avatar
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    Is there a location for this? I tried to pull up the article but my internet connection is slooooow.

    We stayed at the Four Seasons in Vegas once, it's the top few floors of the Mandalay Bay, has it's own private entrance and private pool (but you can still access Mandalay pool/etc) and they had a buy 2 nights, get 3rd for free offer, which I believe is pretty typical. We loved it! The pool service was definitely the key factor though... we basically had it to ourselves, ate breakfast and lunch on our chaise lounges, and had a ton of drinks. (Actually, maybe the drinks were the key )

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    Josh, I looked at Expedia earlier this week for dates in late January and this Four Seasons came up as one of the options at $400+ a night. Did not look into it in any more detail.
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    wishes he had a pink frolicing llama under his tagline George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeckyW View Post
    Is there a location for this? I tried to pull up the article but my internet connection is slooooow.

    We stayed at the Four Seasons in Vegas once, it's the top few floors of the Mandalay Bay, has it's own private entrance and private pool (but you can still access Mandalay pool/etc) and they had a buy 2 nights, get 3rd for free offer, which I believe is pretty typical. We loved it! The pool service was definitely the key factor though... we basically had it to ourselves, ate breakfast and lunch on our chaise lounges, and had a ton of drinks. (Actually, maybe the drinks were the key )
    I quoted the whole article so you didn't have to click on the link.

    The resort is right next to Fort Wilderness and just north of POR.

    http://pic90.picturetrail.com/VOL2150/847827/22364569/379301318.jpg

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  6. #6
    wishes he had a pink frolicing llama under his tagline George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toodles View Post
    Josh, I looked at Expedia earlier this week for dates in late January and this Four Seasons came up as one of the options at $400+ a night. Did not look into it in any more detail.
    There's an introductory every-third-night-free special if you book directly through Four Seasons.

    Considering that a resort like Poly charges upwards of $600 for their rooms and offers nowhere near the amenities and services of a Four Seasons resort, that's not a bad tariff.
    http://pic90.picturetrail.com/VOL2150/847827/22364569/379301318.jpg

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  7. #7
    who gon stop me? HUH? josh's Avatar
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    $400-$500 would be a bargain. I read something about the restaurants that made it sound like the one on the top floor would have some spectacular views.

  8. #8
    wishes he had a pink frolicing llama under his tagline George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by josh View Post
    $400-$500 would be a bargain. I read something about the restaurants that made it sound like the one on the top floor would have some spectacular views.
    I'm getting a rate of $363, including the third-night-free discount, for a six-night stay. Not so bad. There's no resort fee either, but if you have a car there's a $24/night valet fee, so they get you either way, I guess. Still, there's no wifi, pool, etc., charges either.

    The top floor restaurant (a Spanish steakhouse "concept") does look quite spectacular. The park view rooms will afford views of the fireworks over MK.
    http://pic90.picturetrail.com/VOL2150/847827/22364569/379301318.jpg

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    Senior Member BeckyW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    I quoted the whole article so you didn't have to click on the link.

    The resort is right next to Fort Wilderness and just north of POR.

    Cool thanks! I wasn't sure what I was missing on the link and didn't want to be all "hey George, please be my Google" but then again, I could have easily mapped it. Duh me ;)

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    Senior Member runDisneygirl's Avatar
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    I'm looking forward to reading reviews about this place. Hint, hint... George.... ;)

    I'm also curious how it will compete with the Waldorf-Astoria on the other side of WDW property.
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    Senior Member hinkey's Avatar
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    It looks like the pool area will be awesome. George please take a dip and enjoy the lazy river. Then report back so that I can continue my envy of your travels.
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  12. #12
    who gon stop me? HUH? josh's Avatar
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    Four Seasons should be far more convenient than the Waldorf?

  13. #13
    wishes he had a pink frolicing llama under his tagline George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by josh View Post
    Four Seasons should be far more convenient than the Waldorf?
    I guess it depends on which part of the property you're going to be spending ore time, but both are pretty equidistant from the center of The World.

    Press info is promising twice hourly bus service to MK and hourly to the other parks.
    http://pic90.picturetrail.com/VOL2150/847827/22364569/379301318.jpg

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  14. #14
    wishes he had a pink frolicing llama under his tagline George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by runDisneygirl View Post
    I'm looking forward to reading reviews about this place. Hint, hint... George.... ;)

    I'm also curious how it will compete with the Waldorf-Astoria on the other side of WDW property.
    I'll provide reviews. I think this resort will be a lot more "Disney," since it's right on property and Disney will be working with Four Seasons to provide a superlative guest experience. There will be a Disney Guest Relations desk in the lobby, and also twice weekly Disney-sponsored character breakfasts in one of the hotel restaurants that actually serves good food!

    Quote Originally Posted by hinkey View Post
    It looks like the pool area will be awesome. George please take a dip and enjoy the lazy river. Then report back so that I can continue my envy of your travels.
    I'm more interested in the "adult" pool and its services.
    http://pic90.picturetrail.com/VOL2150/847827/22364569/379301318.jpg

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  15. #15
    he's right
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    since it's right on property
    The Golden Oak plot was de-annexed from RCID---it had to be, as it has permanent residents, and Disney would not want them to vote in District elections. I vaguely recall that the FS plot was also de-annexed, but I am not 100% sure. Likewise, the plot that the Waldorf occupies also looks like it is part of the District, but is not (and, unlike the Golden Oak or Celebration developments) never was.

  16. #16
    wishes he had a pink frolicing llama under his tagline George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bnoble View Post
    The Golden Oak plot was de-annexed from RCID---it had to be, as it has permanent residents, and Disney would not want them to vote in District elections. I vaguely recall that the FS plot was also de-annexed, but I am not 100% sure. Likewise, the plot that the Waldorf occupies also looks like it is part of the District, but is not (and, unlike the Golden Oak or Celebration developments) never was.
    There are some maps (Google?) which highlight the Golden Oak area, so maybe that's the de-annexation area.

    This, of course, gives me new hope that FSROAWDWR won't feature WDW's ubiquitous smelly water.
    http://pic90.picturetrail.com/VOL2150/847827/22364569/379301318.jpg

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    he's right
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    There's a slimline Brita pitcher in my OL for a reason.

    Edited to add: According to a recent Sentinel article, the Four Seasons *is* in RCID, but *is not* on Disney-owned land. But, since votes accrue by the acre, the dilutive effect is minimal. :-)

    http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/...rict-tom-moses

  18. #18
    wishes he had a pink frolicing llama under his tagline George's Avatar
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    But wasn't the Eagle Pines golf course (which was taken for the Golden Oak subdivision) part of Disney property? Or was that before the land was de-annexed?
    Last edited by George; 06-21-2014 at 05:03 PM.
    http://pic90.picturetrail.com/VOL2150/847827/22364569/379301318.jpg

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  19. #19
    Cannot wait to hear all about your stay. They are still running the special if you book directly through the FS website. I got a rate for September that's less than what Disney is charging at the GF. We decided to stay at the GF in December, but may look at FS next trip if they are running a special.The best hotel I have ever stayed at was The Four Seasons Maui. Everything was perfect- the food, the ambiance, the service, the rooms, the spa, the beach, everything. Not all FS resorts are as aesthetically pleasing as Maui, but I have never had bad service or bad food at any FS property. We have huge expectations for this new Orlando property. Pool looks amazing, and it seems to be a better deal than the Waldorf. Thanks for putting up the map. I was having a hard time visualizing the location of the property.

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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    But wasn't the Eagle Pines golf course (which was taken for the Golden Oak subdivision) part of Disney property? Or was that before the land was de-annexed?
    If I remember the timeline correctly, Eagle Pines was in RCID, but the land was de-annexed shortly before the sub was created.

  21. #21
    wishes he had a pink frolicing llama under his tagline George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bnoble View Post
    If I remember the timeline correctly, Eagle Pines was in RCID, but the land was de-annexed shortly before the sub was created.
    That makes sense. In any event, FSO will be working with Disney (and vice versa) to provide the Four Seasons guest with a Disney experience and the Disney guest with a Four Seasons experience.

    Four Seasons has taken measures to design an upper-end resort which will also contain some (not-so?) subtle Disney whimsy, like these fireworks-reminiscent chandeliers:

    http://pic90.picturetrail.com/VOL2150/847827/22364569/379301318.jpg

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  22. #22
    wishes he had a pink frolicing llama under his tagline George's Avatar
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    From yesterday's New York Times:

    A Four Seasons at Walt Disney World Resort

    By SHIVANI VORA JULY 5, 2014 10:00 AMJuly 5, 2014 10:00 am

    Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts is opening its first Orlando location this August. The 443-room Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort is set on 26 acres in Golden Oak, a Disney-developed residential community rich with palm trees, lakes and protected wetlands and is the biggest resort the luxury brand has opened.

    The property will have 1,000 employees and Disney-centered amenities including a character breakfast on Thursdays and Saturdays, free transportation to all the Disney parks, views of the nightly fireworks show at Magic Kingdom and a dedicated concierge who can help plan detailed park itineraries, buy tickets and arrange for V.I.P. entrances.

    Other on-site highlights include a five-acre water park with a lazy river and two water slides, beach volleyball, a rock climbing wall, a recreation center with the latest gaming systems like Wii and Xbox, an Italian gelateria and a complimentary camp for kids four to 12 years old.

    For adults, there is an 18-treatment room spa, an adults-only pool with private cabanas, an 18-hole golf course and a 24-hour fitness center with free yoga and cardio classes.

    Guests can choose among five dining spots: a quick-serve cafe and sit-down Italian, Cuban, Southern rotisserie and Spanish steakhouse eateries.

    “We want to be the most luxurious and comprehensive property in the area, and we think we can do that because of the land we have, our commitment to service and all the ways we cater to different ages,” the hotel’s general manager, Thomas Steinhauer, said in a phone interview.

    Rates from $545 with an opening offer through mid-December of a third night’s stay free.
    http://pic90.picturetrail.com/VOL2150/847827/22364569/379301318.jpg

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    The price seems high when you realize that you won't get all the benefits of staying in a Disney resort (EMH, for example).

    It is my understanding that Walt Disney wanted Fort Wilderness to be an oasis, away from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks and the other resorts. It is a shame that it now has hotel looming over it.
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  24. #24
    wishes he had a pink frolicing llama under his tagline George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Momof6 View Post
    The price seems high when you realize that you won't get all the benefits of staying in a Disney resort (EMH, for example).

    It is my understanding that Walt Disney wanted Fort Wilderness to be an oasis, away from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks and the other resorts. It is a shame that it now has hotel looming over it.
    I doubt you'll even know there's something there, and it's really not that close.

    That article was a bit disappointing. It's essentially a recap of the press release.
    http://pic90.picturetrail.com/VOL2150/847827/22364569/379301318.jpg

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    Campers have been watching it being built for many months and it has already impacted some of the canals that run through the campground, plus closed off some of the walking areas. :(
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