Florida Guide > Dining
It was late one Saturday evening in November, 4 days before we had to return from Orlando, when my husband’s cell phone pinged with a message. It was from our son, with news of a surprise for me. He had booked afternoon tea for us at one of the most prestigious hotels in the area – the Ritz-Carlton. Having experienced the delights of afternoon tea at Disney’s Grand Floridian, we were thrilled at the prospect of a new and different venue – we have a penchant for sampling afternoon tea around the world, and this would be an interesting comparison with a similar repast at the Berj Al Arab, Dubai, one of the few 7 star hotels in the world, and Disney’s Grand Floridian.
After a busy morning, we got in the car and the heavens opened, in the way it can only rain in Florida. Undeterred, we hit the road, wipers going 19 to the dozen and a misty haze enveloping the road. By the time we had reached the exit of the 528 the rain had diminished to a fine drizzle, but it didn’t matter, as my son had organised valet parking for us – no dashing through puddles from the car park for us!
We arrived at the entrance to Grande Lakes, and drove up a beautifully landscaped and winding drive which bordered the amazing golf course. Taking the first exit off a roundabout – a rarity in Florida – we could see the towering and most imposing Ritz-Carlton ahead of us, and as we rounded the canopied entrance we were greeted by uniformed valets, who welcomed us and ushered us inside. Our car was whisked away and we passed through the doors into the foyer of this magnificent hotel. We had no idea what to expect, but we were already very impressed.
Afternoon tea is served in what is known as the Lobby Bar, but less like a lobby is difficult to imagine. With marble floors, chandeliers and intricate moulded ceilings, huge floor to ceiling windows overlooking the amazing pool area, and comfortable leather sofas, this area stretches across the full width of the hotel. As we entered the foyer we were greeted by a lady who appeared to know who we were, and who greeted us by name. She welcomed us and escorted us to our table in the lounge area. It was already set for tea with bone china and silverwear.
If our welcome was anything to go by, our afternoon tea would meet all our expectations – and more. We sat back ready to enjoy the experience.
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Page added on: 11 January 2013
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