Florida Guide > Dining
Christmas Brunch at the Renaissance
For the first time this year there were just the three of us at our Florida home, Tropical Dream Villa, so we decided to take a break from all the cooking, and to try something completely different. Although I love cooking in my big American oven, and have prepared several Christmas dinners at our Florida home, I am always more than pleased to let someone else do all the work.
So, following on from several recommendations, we booked the Christmas Brunch at the Renaissance, Seaworld. We were not to be disappointed. This stunning hotel, which overlooks Seaworld, dominates the skyline, and as we drove up to its impressive entrance we all had a feeling of anticipation and excitement.
From the outset, everything was well organised, and as we got out of our car at the entrance it was spirited away by one of the uniformed valet parking staff. Valet parking was free for those attending the Brunch, and it certainly made our arrival very easy. As we walked across the marble floor of the reception area we were greeted by smartly dressed staff, lined up ready at the entrance to the atrium. Our names were checked off the list and then a very pleasant lady escorted us to our table, and told us what to expect.
Inside, the Renaissance it is breathtaking. There is a soaring atrium with the hotel rooms built around this huge landscaped central area. There are glass elevators, rising up on both sides, and at Christmas they are decorated with red ribbon and look like giant gifts.
A large bird aviary dominates the front of the atrium, with numerous birds flying free inside – throughout the day we could hear these colourful tropical birds, including a noisy kookaburra, chirruping away. To the right there are steps leading up to a bar and lounge area, and from here waterfalls cascade from a height into deep rock pools stocked with huge glistening gold and white koi carp. They were absolutely massive, and in good health so they obviously enjoy their surroundings. To the front of the atrium there was a huge area laid out with traditional gingerbread houses, with a train running past, and a quartet played Christmas music while we dined. Of course, all around the area there were huge sparkling Christmas trees covered in twinkling decorations.
The whole atrium area was laid out with tables of varying sizes, covered in crisp white cloths, and scattered around were a variety of food stations, with something to suit every taste. We sat at our table and were immediately asked what we would like to drink – champagne and all drinks are included – so naturally it was champagne to start with, but there was orange juice, tea, coffee and all the usual fruit juices if you preferred. The brunch starts at 10.30 and there is continuous service until about 2.30, although we didn’t actually leave until 4.00 pm, and there were still people sitting enjoying the atmosphere. Although many people don’t stop all day, the table is yours for as long as you wish.
How can I describe the food? Well there was everything you could possibly want, and unlimited quantities. For the early birds there was breakfast with a whole host of items such as omelettes, eggs, bacon, sausages, a huge variety of rolls and breads, pastries, and muffins etc. Around the aviary were various food stations with such offerings as cheeses of all varieties, fresh fruit – including wonderful strawberries and raspberries, with a bowl of chocolate to dip them into. Something I had not tried before was strawberry soup, but I could not resist dipping into the huge ice bowl to sample it. The bowl itself was a work of art, being made of ice, with flowers frozen inside it. I have to say it was as good as it looked and tasted absolutely delicious. Served chilled, it is made from real strawberries and fresh cream, and as one of the waiters assured us, it was not made up from a packet.
But for me, the highlight was the carvery, where chefs, in sparkling white, carved the succulent joints of roast beef, the mouth-wateringly tender lamb cutlets, and salmon en croute, But even that was not the end of it, as yet another food station with domed silver hot dishes revealed huge, thick slices of tender turkey, chicken, quail, mahi mahi, various fish dishes, pasta, and a wide range of vegetables. No roast potatoes, which was my son’s only moan, but this was more than adequately made up for with the creamy and delicious mashed potato. For the children there was a special station with little hamburgers, macaroni, and a variety of child friendly dishes.
And as if all that were not enough, there was a huge area dedicated to desserts that put the pounds on as you looked at them. There were chocolate delights – the mousse cake was to die for – Key Lime pie, and every conceivable gateau and pie. Throughout the day these were added to. There was even a freezer full of Hagen Das choc ices and lollies, which you could dip into. A nice touch was the foil wrapped chocolates and candy canes that were scattered liberally over each of the tables.
We thoroughly enjoyed our day, and met up with friends, which was nice. The time seemed to pass in a flash. There was plenty to see; just watching the comings and goings was fascinating. There were large family parties with grandparents, parents and children, small parties and couples. Some opened presents at the tables; others brought crackers and Christmas cards to open.
Outside there is a magnificent garden and pool area, with a simply stunning swimming pool. There are plenty of sun loungers and little gazebos, with fountain areas and landscaping, so if you wanted a breath of fresh air this would be the ideal place.
If, like me, you fancy a Christmas with absolutely no work then this is a great option, and wonderful value for money.
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Page added on: 26 March 2006
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