The Equestrian Hotel: The Ultimate Luxury Resort in Florida’s Horse Country


If you’re keen on horses, probably you’ve already heard of the World Equestrian Center. It’s the biggest equestrian heart on this hemisphere, spanning some 380 acres in Ocala, Florida, just a bit over an hour north of Orlando. The property has its personal gasoline station, basic retailer, chapel, laundromat, retailers, and 23 arenas the place you’ll discover all the pieces from volleyball tournaments to automobile reveals to concert events. And horse reveals. Lots and plenty of horse reveals.

But whereas Ocala and Marion County are well-known because the Horse Capital of the World, the WEC isn’t only for equine fanatics. Thanks to The Equestrian Hotel, which opened in 2021, it’s a vacation spot for riders and their households in addition to on a regular basis of us trying to bask in its signature model of luxurious.

Curious? Check into The Equestrian to see what it’s all about. Here’s a sneak peek inside.

Luxury Flair and Effervescent Fun

World Equestrian Center Lobby at Night. Photo Credit: Ethan Tweedie

When you enter the resort’s luxurious foyer, you understand you’re in for a deal with. There’s an unmistakable sense of stylish: hovering ceiling, glittering chandeliers, the gleam of mahogany and porcelain. A grand piano performs softly within the nook whereas the scent of fresh-cut flowers wafts ever so delicately by the air.

One factor that can undoubtedly catch your eye, and positively delight any youngsters in your celebration, is the paintings lining the partitions. They’re dozens of portraits of canines. The well-bred pups add a delicate attraction to the grand room. Indeed, it’s this juxtaposition — studied class with a splash of caprice — that’s discovered all through the resort, making it in contrast to wherever else I’ve ever stayed. 

Case in level, as I turned down the hallway, passing Lugano Diamonds, the place bespoke jewellery sparkled within the home windows, I got here to an outsized pink teddy bear sitting beneath a portray of an eagle sporting a go well with. This space of the resort was designed particularly with kids in thoughts, however extra on this under.

Creature Comforts

World Equestrian Center VP Suite. Photo Credit: Ethan Tweedie

The rooms present simply as a lot consideration to element, from the interlocking bridle sample within the hallway all the way down to the bit handles on the nightstands. The toilet, particularly, with its marble flooring, frameless bathe with two bathe heads, and luxurious cleaning soap and hair care merchandise from the on-site Calluna Spa. At the top of a busy day, falling into the European linens on the plush mattress was bliss. And I might solely think about what the view from our room overlooking the 145,000-square-foot Grand Arena could be like with horses and riders leaping hurdles under.

There’s equestrian and animal artwork on the partitions within the rooms and all through the resort. At the seating space simply off the elevator, for instance, there’s artwork that rotates out. When I acquired off on the second ground and seen the type of artwork was totally different than on our ground, I visited each subsequent ground to see it. It’s cool. And the health heart, which we used, was very nice.

Speaking of consolation, the spa, additionally on the second ground, is the right place for pampering. They do every kind of massages in addition to hair styling, skincare, manicures and pedicures with periods as transient as 50 minutes or so long as 5.5 hours if you happen to so select.

Dining on the World Equestrian Center

Emma’s Patisserie. Photo Credit: Ethan Tweedie

There are eight eating places on the property with extra on the best way. The present lineup contains:

  • Stirrups Restaurant, the fantastic eating possibility on the bottom ground of the resort
  • Yellow Pony Pub & Garden, that includes a horseshoe-shaped bar the place beer, bourbons, whiskeys, and cocktails movement freely and stay music performs on patio
  • Emma’s Patisserie, each French and acquainted sweets (like doughnuts) plus breakfast sandwiches
  • Horse to Water Pool & Bar, for poolside drinks and snacks like a virgin daiquiri and a tuna quinoa energy bowl
  • Filo’s Mexican Cantina, serving Mexican favorites, together with breakfast, in an informal indoor and outside venue
  • Viola & Dot’s Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria, by the slice or by the pie
  • Ralph’s Burger & Sandwich Shop, the place you’ll be able to’t go fallacious with a burger, shake, and fries
  • Miss Tilly’s Lollipops, for ice cream cones and do-it-yourself fudge with old-timey candy store vibes

I attempted the primary three on this record, starting with Stirrups — and what a starting it was! This Southern steakhouse focuses on prime steaks and chops in addition to contemporary Florida seafood, and the grasp sommelier can assist you discover the right pairing in your meal from 6,000 bottles of wine.

Stirrups Restaurant. Photo Credit:  MAVEN Photo+Film

Dinner right here is an expertise, not in contrast to the competitions within the Grand Arena, which the restaurant’s terrace overlooks. Like an occasion unfolding in acts, every course makes you excited for the following. We started with an amuse bouche from the chef, a heat chunk of freshly made agnolotti. Then biscuits and rolls got here with honey butter and blueberry jam. Bread is one in every of my love languages, and people rolls had been beautiful.

I attempted the soup of the day, a corn bisque that was simply essentially the most surprisingly memorable dish I had the entire weekend, vibrant and summery with layers of taste I couldn’t determine however didn’t must as I savored my bowl. The scallops I ordered had been pleasantly massive and completely scrumptious as was my husband’s burger. The dessert, beneficial by our server, was a masterful mix of taste and artistry: a mousse injected with gelée and dipped in white chocolate, styled to appear like an entire lemon. 

The Yellow Pony, the following night time, was far more informal. This is a spot for convivial dialog and drinks late into the night time (they’re open until no less than midnight day-after-day). I can think about jockeys swapping suggestions or John Travolta, who’s been identified to cease in, grabbing a saddle seat at a excessive prime.

Yellow Pony Pub & Garden. Photo Credit: Ethan Tweedie

They say their starters are shareable, and that’s no exaggeration. The mushy pretzel appetizer was the scale of my head, and the perimeters are beneficiant too — my lobster mac and cheese was creamy and decadent, and I used to be glad to separate it. The menu stars burgers, nevertheless it’s rounded out with world fare like fish and chips, flatbread, a bao bun, poke and extra. I wanted one thing veggie-centric after my indulgence the earlier night time, so the Cobb salad with avocado, peas and corn was excellent. Be certain to ask what their pie of the week is. Or you’ll be able to’t go fallacious with the citrus and berry crumble.

And then there’s Emma’s Patisserie. If you don’t go to Stirrups and order the epic Florida Citrus talked about above, strive one of many fruit mousse confections at this counter-service store. Like each different dessert on the resort, every merchandise was conceived by their on-site French pastry chef. They use one of the best components, like butter imported from France, to create a glistening pastry case to rival the wares at Lugano Diamonds throughout the hallway (nicely, relying in your proclivities — it did for me).

Raspberry Tart

Raspberry Tart. Photo Credit: Cheryl Rodewig

During breakfast, they’ve sandwiches on biscuits, bagels, or croissants. Go for the croissants and assume you’ll need no less than a pair pastries, possibly an entremet or macaron. Order just a few in your celebration and encourage sharing. It’s finest with a latte. Grab-and-go choices like salads and sandwiches spherical out the menu. 

Especially for Families

Toy Shop. Photo Credit: Ethan Tweedie

This all would possibly sound very fancy, and it’s. But the resort’s creators had been pondering of their grandchildren all through its inception, and that shines by in particular touches of playfulness all ages will get pleasure from.

Here are just a few we cherished:

  • Mr. Pickles & Sailor Bear Toy Shoppe, the emporium of your childhood goals with an particularly huge collection of collectable Breyer Horses
  • The 15-foot Geoffrey the Giraffe from the FAO Schwarz flagship retailer in NYC, positioned contained in the toy store 
  • A big singing bear and roaring lion, additionally within the store (Yes, they’re on the market.)
  • Rainbow candies and colourful murals at Miss Tilly’s Lollipops
  • An animal-themed splash pad subsequent to the zero-entry pool
  • Topiaries formed like a dragon, bear, elephants, and extra
  • Kids’ actions at particular occasions, just like the inflatables and yard video games on the WEC Spring Festival the weekend we visited

World Equestrian Center Splash Pad. Photo Credit: Ethan Tweedie

There are additionally extra lodging choices on the property, together with an RV park and totally furnished Home Away From Home leases excellent for big households. Next 12 months, a brand new resort is opening on the WEC that can provide much more rooms for households at totally different value factors, broadening your choices.

Events and Activities

Oktoberfest. Photo Credit: MAVEN picture+movie

Before you go, test the calendar to see what’s on. It is perhaps Arabian horses one weekend and ladies in extravagant hats one other for Derby Day. There’s plenty of canine reveals in addition to horse reveals — equestrian occasions are essentially the most frequent in season throughout summer time, fall, and winter. Many of the occasions are free to attend, though if you would like one of the best seat in the home for the Grand Arena, reserve a desk on the terrace at Stirrups. This can be the go-to spot for the Mother’s Day and Father’s Day brunch.

If it’s St. Patrick’s Day or another vacation, you’ll be able to nearly assure they’ll have one thing happening. There are artwork reveals, spa reveals, bull using, highschool marching band performances, and extra, relying on the day. During Christmas, they placed on a gala Winter Wonderland.

If you are feeling like purchasing, you’ll be able to browse greater than 25 boutiques on the WEC. There’s additionally a golf course subsequent door at Golden Ocala. Or you would possibly cease by the statue of Sgt. Reckless to study in regards to the Marine Corps mare’s navy service.

Even if you happen to simply tour the grounds and gardens, maybe selecting up a rainbow lollipop the scale of your head at Miss Tilly’s, it’s a pleasing strategy to spend the day.

About the Author

Cheryl Rodewig is storyteller, marketer, and award-winning function author specializing in journey. Her Venn diagram contains minimalism, waterfalls, French, and the em sprint. Find her at or on Twitter at @cherylrodewig.

Feature Photo Credit: MAVEN Photo+Film










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