Look Inside Evermore Orlando Resort, Disney World's New Billion-Dollar Place to Stay
When the Villas of Grand Cypress, located beside Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, closed for redevelopment in late 2019, regular visitors to Central Florida despaired about the death of "one of the most popular buddies-trip resorts in one of the country's best golf destinations."
The Spanish moss–draped vacation rental units, which were situated alongside a Jack Nicklaus–designed course, were as large as residential condos and calmly hidden from the tourist fray. No wonder they consistently topped online user review rankings. Frommer's loved the Villas, too, awarding them our highest rating and saying they delivered "solitude so simple you can hear the night frogs sing," exemplifying "what you envision when you dream of a Florida vacation."
In early 2024, the Villas of Grand Cypress reemerged on the Orlando visitor scene as part of Evermore Orlando Resort, a reportedly $1.5-billion project that has re-sculpted 1,100 acres of wide-open golfing grounds and added brand-new elements to attract a wider audience of vacation rental seekers and luxury hotel guests.
Frommer's took a tour during Evermore Orlando Resort's first preview days to show you what this Disney World vacation rental resort now has to offer. Here's why families traveling to Orlando should include the splashy new Evermore pleasure campus in their searches for accommodations.
First, here's what was not torn down during the redevelopment: those award-worthy Villas that Frommer's loved so much.
They're still at the center of the new Evermore Orlando Resort, still under old Spanish moss dangling from a gathering of trees planted decades ago. The rental units are still called The Villas, except now they're considered the Villas at Evermore Orlando Resort.
The Villas' free-form pool has also been retained for Villa guests—but the pool has been joined, at a grand scale, by an all-new 20-acre swimming-and-boating "bay" freshly dug for Evermore Resort. While two 18-hole Jack Nicklaus courses have been kept (and refreshed), some east-facing Villas that used to look out on greens now have direct doorstep-to-sand access to the new Evermore Bay instead (more on that below).
The 41 Villas at Evermore Resort come mostly in 2-bedroom (1,800 square feet) or 4-bedroom (2,800 square feet) configurations, and they're pretty much exactly as they were in 2019.
Originally built to attract golfers in the 1980s, units have all the generosity of space and style that was prevalent in that era, including sunken living rooms, kitchens as big as what you have at home, and those groovy Singapore-style wooden louvers that keep harsh Florida heat locked outdoors. Some units are comprised of two levels, including an indoor loft overlook (like the unit pictured above). The Villas are some of the few vacation rentals in Orlando that are big enough to be able to be converted into single-family homes overnight without changing a thing.
The cream-colored leather couches alone (another holdover from the Grand Cypress days) make each Villa feel like the condo of a golf-addicted family member.
Here's what typical bedrooms look like in the Villas now. They're huge.
Villas also come with washer/dryers.
The bathrooms, too, are many notches higher in quality than just about any other vacation home you could rent near Walt Disney World. Thank goodness they weren't ruined in the changeover.
So if the Villas are more or less the same—albeit with less open space nearby now—what was added to make Evermore Orlando Resort?These are called The Flats, and they're 206 apartments that have been custom-designed for the vacation rental market.
In the Flats, every unit has a fully equipped kitchen, a living area big enough for everyone, a dining area with a table large enough to accommodate everyone occupying the rental, and a washer/dryer.
Evermore Orlando has 206 Flat units (from 1,800 to 1,950 square feet) of four bedrooms each, accommodating up to 11 guests apiece.
If you're staying in the top two floors of a Flat in the Evermore Bay View category, you'll likely be able to see nightly fireworks at Magic Kingdom just over the treetops. The world's most popular theme park is only about 3 miles west.
Evermore is located at 1590 Evermore Way in Orlando, just north and west of the Disney Springs area. To give Disney fans a sense of how close that is to the Mouse, Evermore is actually the next resort north of Disney's Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter, with only some backstage areas in between. Just drive a few minutes west on Vista Boulevard past Fort Wilderness Resort, and you'll be in the Magic Kingdom zone. Evermore is practically a part of the Disney World campus, which is a major reason why the Villas have always been so popular.
Stays at Evermore do not come with Disney-bestowed perks like early entry to the theme parks, but it's a pretty rare thing to be this close to Walt Disney World in a vacation rental. Because of local laws, most home rentals are situated several miles west of the Disney resort in towns like Davenport, Winter Haven, and western Kissimmee. But the Villas' long history in the area permitted developers to carry over vacation rental rights into Evermore Resort. Pretty much everything else so close to Disney will be a hotel room instead.
Although architects made efforts to equalize the bedrooms in the Flats at Evermore Resort as much as possible—standardizing size and making sure each has its own bathroom—the bedrooms facing Evermore Bay are, naturally, the most appealing.
Some bedrooms are just off the kitchen with a transom window for light. They're still nice enough—just no view. This is where you'll stick the last person to arrive for your girfriends' getaway at Disney.
Kids can take these bunk bed rooms.
The bunk bed room's bathroom is done in subway tile with a trendy trough sink.Travelers who need more space than what the Flats can furnish are still in luck. A fourth section of Evermore Orlando, the newly constructed Vacation Homes (called Houses on the Evermore website) were designed to serve as vacation rentals for large groups traveling for stuff like family reunions and meetings. The homes were built with the same one-bathroom-per-bedroom formula and with as much equality in bedroom size as possible. The buildings are so fresh that construction crews were still at work on the day Frommer's visited Evermore.
The 69 Homes/Houses range from 5 bedrooms (up to 15 guests, 3,700 square feet) all the way to 11 bedrooms (32 guests, 7,800 square feet). Each unit comes with a private heated saltwater plunge pool and a gas grill. Evermore Bay is a short walk away, but these accommodations are not set right next to the blue water, as is the case with the Flats, the Villas, and the Conrad Orlando (more on that soon).
Outside, the freshly created, 8-acre Evermore Bay brightens views with a cool, crystalline shade of blue recalling the Caribbean. The lagoon's center is 8 feet deep. Kayaks, paddleboards, and beach volleyball are available. So is a family-sized raft water slide.
The water in Central Florida's natural lakes may not be safe for swimming these days—in recent years, Florida's lakes have become some of the most polluted waterways in the United States—but Evermore Bay is clean and gator-free. The 17 million-gallon lagoon uses advanced technology to desalinate salt water and turn it into fresh water. Sand for the zero-entry beaches has been imported from Florida's Gulf Coast.
You'll find a few places to grab drinks and snacks, like the converted surfer bus Barbara Ann's.
To think this used to be a golf course.
Serving the entire resort, The Landing is the loftlike common building where you'll find a store for upscale groceries and alcohol, a food court (pizza, burgers, and the like priced at $12–$14 a plate in early 2024), a bar, a restaurant, and some lounge areas. Wi-Fi is free inside buildings throughout the resort property.
There is just one mainstream hotel option at Evermore Resort: the new (in 2024) 433-room Conrad Orlando (pictured above, across Evermore Bay). This is the first and only Conrad hotel in the city.
The Conrad is the one part of Evermore Resort that follows a traditional hotel model rather than the vacation rental one.
At the Conrad Orlando, the target audience is decidedly upscale, and the guests are bound to be a little different from the families and friends convening in Evermore Orlando's Flats, Villas, and Vacation Homes. The Conrad Orlando has some 65,000 square feet of meeting spaces, so you can expect a lot more guests who are staying there for work (ostensibly anyway—after all, Disney is right around the corner) than in the other parts of Evermore.
Pictured above is a standard room, which is noticeably plusher than many of the other rooms marketed to luxury travelers in Orlando, particularly inside Walt Disney World.
Evermore does have some rooms suited to families. Forty-two units are categorized as Luxury Suites—essentially junior suites with bedrooms that can be made private (thanks to pocket doors) and couches that pull out to sleep another two guests, for a maximum of four. Meanwhile, Family Suites come with added bunk beds and another bathroom and can sleep six—but there are only 10 of those suites at this Conrad, so expect them to be occupied often.
Conrad rooms will give you a Lagoon view (of Evermore Bay, which guests may use), a pool view (of the hotel's private, loungey pool, pictured above), or "Nature View," which is a polite way of saying you won't see much that's interesting.
The Conrad isn't the only high luxury hotel in the orbit of Walt Disney World now. Four Seasons got there first, and that resort offers perks like a free kids' club and on-site character breakfasts.
Still, the Conrad holds its own when it comes to amenities. There's a rooftop gourmet Mexican restaurant (Ceiba), a Southern Italian trattoria, a lagoon-side contemporary tiki bar, a spa with a novel "water garden" for treatments, and an arrivals-and-departures lounge that guests may be invited to use so they don't have to kill hours at the airport on travel days. On balance, the lavish lazy river and play areas at the Four Seasons resort, plus its free kids' activities, give people traveling with young children more to do.
Evermore Orlando Resort's website is EvermoreResort.com. In early 2024, nightly rates started around $280 for a two-bedroom Villa, $615 for a four-bedroom Flat, and around $1,380 for a five-bedroom House. Reservations: 855/341-9527