In search of the perfect orange, part 4

Left a good hotel (the Inn on the Lake) in an average town (Sebring) and drove not to Orlando as planned but to Mt. Dora, an hour north of the city. Drove past the small park we saw five years ago when we left the kids at Disney. Ate at the same restaurant near the lake and the railroad tracks, Pisces Rising—nice but a bit pricey. The town is quaint but overrun with hundreds of thousands of people during several festivals each year, according to a very nice woman at the local chamber of commerce.

We said we live in a resort area and complimented her on the sign hanging on the door: “We treat our visitors like family.”

She laughed. “But we treat our family like crap.”

“That part of the sign must have fallen off.”

Instead of touring the town, we headed to the post office. We have to carry heavy client training manuals home and decided that we’ll never get them on the airplane without hocking the rental car. So we’ll mail them. The guy at the post office was very friendly. Then we drove around Lake Dora and through Eustis (a tad too commercial) around Lake Eustis and north on CR 452 past Lake Yale (an OK place but few trees for that all-important shade in summer). Then west to Leesburg and Lake Griffin and Lake Harris and finally south to the Rosen Centre Hotel on International Drive. Dinner at Thai Thani, a chain that didn’t feel like a franchise, its interior dark and ornamental, the food spicy, the service attentive.

Tuesday, Jan. 11. The Rosen is a tall, wide hotel that aspires to elegance and succeeds in most ways. The public spaces are vast and tastefully decorated, the rooms small but comfortable. Some guests complained there were no refrigerators or microwaves in the rooms but we didn’t miss them. The hotel charges extra for everything—parking, Internet and use of the spa—but does a good job with housekeeping and food service.

Breakfast in the Café Gauguin was hot and fresh, a buffet with everything from oatmeal to eggs to fruit, although the orange juice wasn’t as good at the liquid gold in Sebring. We sat through a sales meeting in the afternoon for our client Aqua Glass, then joined a group dinner (14 of us) at the Everglades Restaurant in the Rosen. Very elegant, with three wait staff and pictures drawn on plates in edible gel. Big, rich, expensive meal but a nice way to kickoff the show, in the company of some very interesting and considerate people.

Sunset on Lake Eustis

Sunset on Lake Eustis