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October 1, 2013updated Feb 17, 2014

Orlando’s Secret Garden

By Chris Boyle

Four Bedroom Villa / Villas of Grand Cypress Golf ResortWith a fairway-straddling, tree-lined entrance calling to mind Augusta National, Villas of Grand Cypress Golf Resort offers pure southern opulence from its first impression forward.

The lush 1,500-acre expanse, discreetly removed from Orlando’s bustle, sprawls outward from its majestic clubhouse with 146 Mediterranean-inspired villas, 45 holes of Jack Nicklaus-designed golf, and one of the best golf academies in the country.

Book your stay in a perfectly appointed, split-level Four Bedroom Villa ($2,475 a night), the highlight of a recent $15 million-plus renovation, outfitted with American Leather sofas and 2,800 square feet of elbow room.

And while pulling yourself from your villa—featuring its own kitchen and dining area—may be tough, make sure not to miss dinner at NINE18, the resort’s signature restaurant where the only thing more impressive than the wine collection are the greenside views afforded through floor-to-ceiling windows.

And with some of the world’s greatest golfers calling the Villas their home away from home, no trip would be complete without experiencing the resort’s many varied course configurations firsthand.

If you only have time for one round, however, make sure it’s on Nicklaus’s New Course, the Golden Bear’s Scottish-links tribute to The Old Course at St. Andrews; 12-foot-deep bunkers dauntingly included.

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