Welcome to our blog about our Orlando vacation villa: The Retreat by the Lake. Here we will be posting updates about the newly renovated house and its availability as a rental villa when we are unable to be there ourselves.
We started this blog in the middle of November, 2010 to chronicle the renovation of the villa. Please see the archive (lower left) to read all about the how the reno went and how The Retreat became a luxury 5-star vacation home where you could stay on your next trip to Orlando to visit the awesome theme parks, to enjoy the many wonderful golf courses in the area, to watch baseball spring training, or for a pre- or post-cruise excursion.
Please feel free to leave your comments about our postings... we'd love to hear from you and what you think about The Retreat.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Our newest addition

When it's nice outside, there's nothing better than grilling up something on the BBQ.  And since it's always nice in Florida, we thought it important to have a BBQ for guests' use at the Retreat. 
Just wanted to let everyone know that we've just put in a brand new one, with a bigger grill area.  So now there's room for accommodating everyone's orders.... hot dogs, burgers, ribs, steaks, chicken.... yum!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Verdict Is In: Part Four

This is a new review from some guests who have been going to the villa, under the previous owners, for a number of years.  The fact that they have been repeat guests speaks to the wonderful location of the villa... south facing pool, close to everything but in a secluded community, etc. 
They are in a unique position to assess the quality of the renovation we have done as well as the upscale accommodation and service that we are striving to provide.  Looks like we exceeded expectations.

Review #1538161 "Our Secret Spot"
We've been staying at this Villa almost twice a year for the past 7 years...and when we heard you had completely renovated everything - we couldn't wait to check it out! To say we were blown away does not even begin to describe the changes. New EVERYTHING! From the fully equipped kitchen (and we cooked almost daily) to the grille outside - nothing else was needed. Beds, linens - all top shelf. Cleanliness? Spotless. LCD's in every room, dvd players, satt radio, wifi and playstations...along with a brand new pool table and darts - kept us all busy. But our favourite part is the pool - the fully screened in, heated pool is where we spent most of our time. Early mornings and evenings we spent fishing the lake (full of largemouth bass) directly behind the Villa. We normally drive but flew this time ...and couldn't bring our gear - then we saw there's 4 rods supplied in the game room, complete with tackle! We picked up a dozen worms at Wal-Mart and our 2 kids were soon busy reeling in 1 - 2lb bass almost non-stop. We've always loved the Villa for the location. It sits backyard facing south - sun all day on the pool and lake...in a quiet, gated community - close enough to everything, but far enough to enjoy the peace and quiet. Restaurants galore less than 5 minutes away. We enjoyed Joe's Crabshack, Kobe Japanese Steakhouse, Smokey Bones and Crabby Bills. Disney is only 10 minutes away - and we also saw Pirates 4D in Downtown Disney. Brand new Super Target and Wal-Mart are practically right around the corner, and we visited the Vans Skatepark and Bass Pro Shop at the Festival Mall. Great job Karen and Mike! We can't wait to come back! Joe, Debbie, Meghan (11) and Travis (9) Longbeach, ON, Canada

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Verdict Is In: Part Three

Rating:  5 out of 5
Great place to relax with children

Ian Ottawa, Canada
Review Submitted: March 12, 2011 Date of Stay: March 2011
Mike and Karen have beautifully renovated this fantastic home. The kitchen is highly functional and we were able to keep our toddlers and children entertained throughout the week with the exceptional collection of kids DVDs and of course, the pool. The views of the lake are gorgeous and not a bad spot for birdwatching either - there is a family of sand cranes about and we actually witnessed a bald eagle going fishing too!

Minutes away from everything thing and yet off the beaten track which limits exposure to road noise etc.

Overall a great spot!

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Verdict Is In: Part Two

Rating:  5 out of 5

A Perfect 10!

Julie and Errol Ottawa, Ontario
Review Submitted: May 18, 2011 Date of Stay: March 2011
The owners have thought of everything in this well appointed and conveniently located villa. The Retreat is spacious and the furnishings comfortably accommodated our vacationing group that included children ranging in age from 5 to 17. The Moms enjoyed the tasteful and comfortable decor (you'll love the luxurious linens and the spa-like ensuite bathroom), and relaxing by the pool after a day of touring Orlando's attractions that are within easy driving distance. The teens appreciated the private bedrooms equipped with TVs (video games and movies included), while the younger children especially enjoyed the pool and walks by the lake. The home is spotlessly maintained. Reservations and check-in are hassle free and the owners are more than pleased to answer questions on touring the area. We highly recommend!

Julie and Errol
Recommended for:  Girls Getaway, Families with Teenagers, Families with Young Children, Romantic Getaway

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Verdict Is In: Part One

We thought we'd share some of the reviews we are getting from our guests.  We are very pleased that they have liked their stay at our villa and that we have been able to contribute to the enjoyment of their vacation.

Rating:  5 out of 5

Luxury and convenience are key here!!

Cleanfreak! Seattle, WA
Review Submitted: May 5, 2011 Date of Stay: April 2011
First, our trip was amazing - 7 days 90 degrees...Awesome!!

This home is exactly what we needed to relax but plug in if you need to(teens and the internet..uggh! :-)). We were in the pool a lot (we're from Seattle...we don't have pools here...LOL), quiet for sleeping in, and we got to many parks in both Tampa and Orlando with ease. Local amenities were close by and plenty of restaurants if you don't want to cook in the well equipped ,very nice kitchen. We cooked!!

The owners have taken great care to ensure everything is available for use. We were not missing one thing!! Super clean and well taken care of. This is truly like coming home to a very clean house!! I was excited to see of some other upgrades coming soon. This is definitely a place you'll want to stay. We'll be back very soon!
Recommended for:  Age 55+, Girls Getaway, Families with Teenagers, Families with Young Children, Romantic Getaway

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Here's the new pool table!

In addition to the new pool, the new pool furniture, the Retreat now has a new pool table.
Actually, we have set up the garage as a games and fitness room.  There is a 7 foot slate pool table with both regular and short cues, an electronic darts game (with plastic tips for safety) and a bar table and stools (bar table will arrive this week).  In the fitness area, we have a treadmill, exercise cycle, free weights and an exercise mat.  Now there is even more space to have fun and stay fit.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Here's the new pool/patio furniture

The new furniture was delivered and it fits so nicely with the new pool tile and the colour/color of the walls.  The old furniture has gone off to be refurbished and will find a new home.  We did, however, keep the old table which is a bit smaller than the new one.  It will be kept in the covered lanai area (which is out of view just to right of the new furniture in this picture), along with some additional chairs for extra seating.  By the way, the lanai also has a lighted ceiling fan and is a wonderful place for extra shade as well as to sit and watch the spectacular thunderstorms that roll quickly through from time to time. 
So, we have a new pool, we have new pool furniture and coming soon will be a new pool ???? I will post about that this coming weekend!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Here's the new pool

All the pool work has been finished and we have what looks like a brand new pool.  Compare it to the picture to the left and you will notice the new soft blue stone tile....it's quite a different look.  We just love it!  What you can't see in the picture though is the bright, sparkling interior finish.  It really does look brand new.

We've picked out the new pool/patio furniture and it's going to be delivered on the 16th.  I'll post a pic soon.

We're also working on a couple of surprises.  Make sure to check in from time to time.


Friday, April 29, 2011

Busy, busy pool work

The pool area was a busy bee hive of activity yesterday.  With the new finish applied, the pool has been transformed from ugly concrete grey to bright, white and pristine.  Once it has been "brushed", the finish will have a beautiful speckled blue aggregate showing through.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tile is in

Yesterday, the new pool tile was put in.  We chose a beautiful blue stone tile for the waterline and pool features.  It has a lovely soft feel and certainly gives the pool an updated look.  Many thanks to Kenny at All-In Construction who arranged to have tile samples couriered to us so that we could make the right choice!
This is extending the contemporary and modern feeling of the villa to the exterior pool area.  Given the orientation of the villa, which baths the backyard in sunshine all day and provides such a beautiful vista, we know that we and our guests will be spending just as much time outdoors as inside, if not more!


Monday, April 25, 2011

Someone took the pool!!

Mike flew down to Orlando today and when he arrived at the villa it looked like someone had taken the pool! 
Actually, All-In Construction began their work today on renovating the pool.  They've stripped out all the old tile and old finish.  We'll post more pictures of the process as the work goes along .... it's going to take a couple of weeks... but it will be all ready for our next guests at the end of May.
All-In Construction is the same company that did the interior renovation of the villa.  If their previous work is anything to go by... the pool is going to be stunning. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring's new arrivals!

Springtime at Sunset Lakes always means new arrivals.  There is a new family of Sandhill Cranes and we have a picture courtesy of a neighbour/neighbor who snapped it a couple of weeks ago.  The babies are SO cute!

Spring is also bringing some additional upgrades to the Retreat.  After having completely renovated the interior of the Villa, we are now turning our attention to the exterior and have some great plans.

To begin, in May we will be installing a gas BBQ for the use of our guests.  We believe that when you are on vacation, everything should be easy.  A BBQ will provide the opportunity to cook up a quick meal and that certainly falls into the EASY category.

Check back later for our plans for the pool.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Watch the show!

Brad and Jeff, from HSDPros, who helped us furnish and decorate the Retreat, have put together a little show about the villa.  Please click on the link to watch it.  You're going to love it.


Please feel free to share the link with anyone whom you think may be interested.  They can contact us through   http://www.theretreatbythelake.com/

Our first review

The Retreat is now "up and running", so to speak.  It hosted our first guests earlier in the month and they very kindly posted this review on HomeAway, where we advertise the villa.  We are so very pleased they enjoyed their vacation.

Great Vacation Home
5 out of 5
Carolyn Scott      Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Review Submitted February 17, 2011      Date of Stay February 2011
The Retreat was a home away from home. It has a beautiful location on the Lake and the development itself is in an ideal location; close to all the amenities and attractions. The interior of the home has been beautifully updated with all the modern amenities (i.e. WiFi, digital cable, and the internet radio) and the extras provided by the hosts (i.e. books, games, DVD's and Playstation) helped to ensure you're always entertained even on the rare rainy day. We had a great vacation at the Retreat and would return in the future with no hesitation.

Visit our website for availability and rates:   http://www.theretreatbythelake.com/

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Welcome to the renovated Retreat by the Lake

The renovation is now complete and the villa is accepting rentals.  Many, many thanks to Rachel Whited for the beautiful photos she has taken.  Please go to our website where we have posted the full suite of pictures:  http://www.theretreatbythelake.com/

There are many lovely photos, but here is our hands down favorite/favourite.  Wish we were there.  

Thursday, January 20, 2011

We're going scent-free

When we were looking for a villa to purchase last August, our realtor Dan Palmer of Team Donovan, shepherded us through 17 vacation homes in two days.  We noticed that in many of those houses there were strong scents from cleaning products and room fresheners.
We've decided that The Retreat will be scent-free as much as possible because there are many people who have environmental sensitivities and we want them to feel welcome in our villa.

All cleaning products used in the villa will be scent free and the linens will be laundered using scent free laundry detergent.  And, we are currently looking for a supply of non-scented guest soaps to provide for our guests.  


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Decisions... decisions

Rachel Whited, the photographer who took the professional pictures of the villa last Sunday, has sent us the proofs to review.  It's a bit overwhelming... she took so many.... so many, in fact, that she had to send them to us in 4 separate emails.  We are finding it rather difficult to make our selections because they are all so wonderful.  However, we want to publish the pictures on our website and here on the blog, so tomorrow is our self-imposed deadline for letting Rachel know which ones want.  After that, she'll do whatever photographers do and then deliver the final pictures to us so we can share them with everyone.  I've added a link to her website on the left.

Monday, January 10, 2011

We've got pictures!

At long last, here are pictures of the Retreat.  They're not the professional ones.... Rachel was in yesterday to do the photo shoot and we'll have them in about a week or so.  In the meantime, here are some of Mike's pictures.

We'd love to know what you think... feel free to post a comment.

living area

dining room

master bedroom -  King

master bedroom - Queen

twin bedroom

Option 1: Mickey theme

Option 2: mature theme

second bathroom - 2 vanities

ensuite bathroom

The special things

We are putting the final touches on the Retreat..... so we can start listing the amenities that make this villa one of the very nicest in Orlando.  It's a long list.  Here goes:

4 bedrooms, 2 full baths
breath taking lake view with no rear neighbours
private pool - south facing with sun all day
covered lanai with ceiling fan
located close to the theme parks and golf courses
on a quiet cul de sac with no through traffic
fully renovated
professionally decorated with gorgeous original art
fully equipped modern kitchen
welcome package of coffee, tea and herbal tea
radio controlled solar clock
secure wireless internet access ... WiFi
flat screen TVs in all bedrooms and living room
Blu-ray in living room
DVD players in all bedrooms
PS2 + games in twin bedroom
internet radio
ipod dock/speakers
library of "vacation reads" including Rick Mofina's thrillers
board games
selection of family-oriented DVD movies
optional Mickey Mouse themed room (optional bedding)
new comfy beds
ceiling fans in all bedrooms
clock radios in all bedrooms
Egyptian cotton sheets on queen and king beds
selection of pillows
lots of soft fluffy towels
pool towels provided
deep soaker tub in master ensuite bath
tiled showers
make-up mirror in ensuite
hair dryers in bathrooms
green energy saving technologies
scent free
the very best professional property management team avalaible 24/7
really super owners who love the Retreat and don't want to leave....

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

We're absolutely delighted - some pictures

Here are some preliminary pictures, courtesy of Mike, of the master bedroom and the new hall bath.  We hope this will give you an idea of the quality of the renovation.  A suite of professional pictures providing a  full tour of this impressive place will be posted next week.

master bedroom - 32" HD TV
master bedroom - love the lamps!

hall bath

what we woke up to yesterday
We also want to share with you the view we had yesterday morning ... it was breathtaking.

Reminder:  any bookings made before January 15th will qualify for our special "take a chance on me" rates.  Please check the website and contact us at  theretreatbythelake01@gmail.com

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Blown away!

Mike and I travelled down to Florida on New Year's Eve for the "big reveal" and we were blown away.  This place is even more spectacular than we anticipated.  The work has been first class and the decorating is absolutely gorgeous.  There is still a little bit of tweaking to do, e.g., installation of new blinds and a new bookcase.  Photos will be done probably on the weekend for posting on the website next week, but we'll see if we can post some preliminary ones here on the blog in a day or so.

We've been running around all over Orlando picking up all the special extras for the villa:  internet radio (we're listening to Ottawa Morning on CBC right now), Ipod dock/speakers, kitchen equipment, Disney dinnerware for kids, etc.  We will be posting a full list of all the amenities as soon as I'm finished the shopping.

We hope to have all the work done by the weekend to ready the villa for rentals.... so, we can sit back, relax and enjoy this wonderful place ourselves.  The weather has been absolutely wonderful here... we are taking credit for it  :-)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New additions

Here are some photos of the latest additions to the villa.  First, we have the microwave.  It was a challenge to find one that fit the space but the All-In Construction guys saved the day and found us the perfect one.

And then we have the safe.  It has been installed in the master bedroom closet and is big enough to hold laptops and any other electronics that you wouldn't want to leave behind unprotected while you're away at the theme parks or playing golf.   It's the same style of safe that hotels use... very easy to operate.  Another "extra" that is offered at The Retreat!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sneak peek at bedroom furniture

Twin bedroom #1
All-In Construction have now pretty much finished their work at the villa.... they've just been doing some last touch-ups... they call it a "bump out" (another new term for us).

New blinds were installed last week and now the furniture is being delivered and set up by Brad and Jeff of Home Staging and Design Pros.  Here's a sneak peak at the furniture we've chosen for the twin bedrooms.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Being green

I was going to title this post "Retreat extras 4", but changed my mind because the "green" aspects of the villa are not really extras... they're just what you should do from our perspective.

Everyone knows that Florida gets hot.... that's one of the key reasons we go there, right?  That means a lot of electricity gets used.  We decided that we would go green as much as possible in the villa. Here's some of the things we're doing with respect to energy conservation.

First, we've installed a programmable thermostat that monitors the temperatures with minimums and maximums and will shut off the air conditioning if patio doors get inadvertently left open.... no one should try to cool global warming with air conditioning...  :-). 

We've also installed a hot water tank controller that will make sure that the system is working only when it's needed... that is, when people are staying at the villa. Of course, we hope that the Retreat will always be full, with lots of guests when we are unable to be there.  But, we know that there will be times when the place will be vacant for a bit... so no need to heat water when there's no one there to use it.  Our property manager always visits the villa just prior to the arrival of a guest to make sure that everything is perfect.  They'll make sure the system is operational upon the arrival of a guest... so no worries about there being no hot water when you arrive.

All of the new appliances we've installed are energy star rated.  And, lastly, there will be low energy use compact fluorescent light bulbs in all light fixtures that will take them.

So not only is the Retreat going to be a luxury place to stay, it is modern in all senses of the word, including being energy efficient.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's getting there....

 Looks like all of the construction work on the villa is going to wind up this week.... right on schedule.  The kitchen's all in except for the installation of the microwave.  That should be done in the next day or two.


And the bathrooms are awaiting the installation of mirrors and glass shower enclosures.  

It's really just the finishing touches this week.  Then, between Christmas and New Year's, Brad and Jeff of Home Staging and Design Pros will be installing the furniture, art and all of the other wonderful accessories that will make the Retreat something special indeed.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Retreat extras 3 - sleeping with Mickey

Option 1
Because our villa is in the Orlando area, we expect that many of our guests will be visiting for the "Disney experience" and will be travelling with children.  An extra at the Retreat is the option of having one of the two twin-bedded bedrooms done in Disney themed linens.

Option 2
The other option is for those who don't care to sleep with the mouse.  All a guest will have to do is let us know in advance and the property management team will make sure the room is fitted out as requested.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

There or here?

Where would you rather be?

This is there:

This is here:

Light fixtures and fans

here we have them in their boxes
 Here is a sneak peak at the fixtures in the villa.

There will be all new lighting fixtures and ceiling fans.

Another "extra" is ceiling fans in every bedroom.... for those times when it's not too hot and you just want to open the windows and have fresh air. 

bedroom fan

fan in master bedroom

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Retreat extras 2 - fine linens

Time to talk about the linens at the Retreat.

When you rent our villa,  you are getting a lot for your money.  You are getting a superior location that provides fast and easy access to the theme parks and golf courses.  You are also getting 1733 sq ft of modern, luxury accommodation with your own pool and a breathtaking lakeview.  These are things you cannot get from a hotel or even from the premium Disney resorts. 

Click for a larger view
Master bedroom linen collection

Moreover, it is important to note that you are also getting all of the fine touches that premium hotels provide:  lots of soft, fluffy, white towels and silky, smooth Egyptian cotton sheets in the King and Queen bedrooms.  All the beds are comfy and new.  There are also 100% cotton blankets in all the bedrooms and allergy-free duvets.  You can be assured that with duvets, the covers will be freshly laundered and you won't have to worry about how many people have slept with those unwashable  "comforters" which most vacation rentals provide. 

And, on top of all of that.... there will be large, absorbent pool towels available for your use!

Lots of painting going on

Now that the cabinets are in, All-In Construction is moving at lightening speed to paint the interior of the villa.  The ceiling's been painted, the walls are almost done and the new baseboards have been painted too.  I think they must have been working all weekend.

Brad and Jeff of Home Staging Design Pros picked the interior color/colour for us .... I think it complements both the tile and the cabinets very nicely.  The contractor has used Sherwin Williams paint for both the exterior and interior.... seems to be very popular in Florida... good thing, too.... it's an excellent quality paint.

I think the electricals (lighting and fans) are next.

new cabinets are well protected
new electrical fixtures to be installed