The Traveling Steve's

The Villages: Return to Sumpter Landing!

After our two night stay at The Village of Spanish Springs, we decided to extend our mini Stay-Cation by adding a night and switching over to our favorite Village, Lake Sumpter. Lake Sumpter was the second of the three major Villages built, and to us it has the most charm; almost Disney-like with the Lake and Boardwalk areas.

We stayed at the Waterfront Inn, which like the Marriott Towneplace Suites, is the only hotel in the respective Village. We had stayed at the Waterfront Inn several times over the years, however our last stay in 2018 was such a disaster, we didn’t think we would ever stay there again. I’ll spare you the details of that visit, but if you’re curious you can read the end section of my previous post from 2018. Fortunately on this return visit to The Waterfront Inn, we had a nice stay, with none of the problems we had before.

I don’t know if The Waterfront Inn has new owners or they received a ton of COVID stimulus money, but it’s definitely been refreshed and everything seemed to be in working order since the nearly three years since we were last there.

While we didn’t reserve a suite for this quick overnight visit, our room with balcony was fresh and clean, and had the same view as the suite, overlooking the pool, lake and golf course and light house in the distance.

Before driving over to Sumpter Landing, (and after checking out of the Towneplace Suites), DOS and I had an early lunch at Panera Bread in Spanish Springs Village.

We then drove the 15 minutes or so from Spanish Springs Village over to Lake Sumpter Landing Village. While The Villages are connected via golf cart friendly trails, we drove via car, so we went via one of the main roads.

We love Sumpter Landing as it has a much more relaxed feeling to it than Spanish Springs, and even the newer Brown’s Village. Sumpter Landing reminds us of the Boardwalk at EPCOT, which like here, we love to walk around.

The Town Square is similar to Spanish Springs, although due to late afternoon thunderstorms, we didn’t get to see the entertainment this day. Also, like all three of The Villages, Sumpter Landing also has it’s own movie theater adjacent to the town square.

After checking in and getting settled at The Waterfront Inn, we headed out on foot to one of our favorite venues there: GarVino’s Wine Bar. Garvino’s is walking distance from the hotel, just down a couple blocks from the Village Square. Over the years, a visit here has become a tradition, and in past years our friends Ben and Tom would join us, usually on my birthday weekend in August. We didn’t go to the Villages last year due to COVID, and this year Ben and Tom had just acquired a huge St. Bernard and couldn’t make it understandably, so it was just the two of us Steve’s then; Uno and Dos.

I enjoyed my red wine, while DOS had a bottle of Fiji water.

After finishing up at Garvino’s, we headed back to The Waterfront Inn. It was incredibly hot outside in the late July heat, so it was not conducive for long late afternoon walks.

In the evening, we had 7pm dinner reservations at the Arnold Palmer Country Club, which is a short 5 minute drive from the hotel. Like our previous stays at the Waterfront Inn (and also when our friends Ben and Tom joined us), we would always eat at the Arnold Palmer Country Club one night. The last time we were here in 2018, however, the restaurant was closed for the summer, supposedly due to low demand. This visit in 2021 however, the restaurant was alive and thriving, no doubt to COVID and people staying home more instead of overseas and other travel.

We love going to the Arnold Palmer Country Club (Legend’s Restaurant) for dinner, (which is open to the public for dining), and always have a great quality meal and excellent service there. We requested to sit in the rear bar area as it’s more roomy and not ultra library-quiet like the front, more formal section. There is a nice outdoor patio section of dining, but with the 90 plus temperatures, we opted for the comfortable air-conditioned inside seating.

Our leisurely evening of dining at Legend’s started with a delicious AHI Tuna appetizer, complete with ginger and wasabi, and chop sticks for each of us. The AHI Tuna appetizer was wonderful, and we paired the evening meal with a bottle of Kenwood Jack London Cabernet.

After the delicious tuna appetizer dish, we each had a salad course. DOS had a Caesar salad, while I had a mixed green salad with Gorgonzola crumbles.

Like many times at a fine dining restaurant, we requested a slight break in the meal delivery after our salads, giving us time to chat a bit and not be rushed into the main course. Our server gladly paced the meal service appropriately, and when we were ready, the main course of Chateaubriand was wheeled into the dining room, with smoke arising, and heads turning to see it!

The Chateaubriand is carved table side, and I took a short video of this, complete with the smoking hot flames rising above it as it’s being sliced!

I thought the lady slicing the beef looked familiar, and sure enough, she was the manager, and had been working at Legend’s since it opened over 20 years ago. I told her I’m sure we have photos of her over the years slicing the beef, as we always get the Chateaubriand at Arnold Palmer’s!

Here are a couple photos once our delicious beef was plated for us.

And finally, no fancy meal is complete without dessert, so DOS and I shared a huge slice of cheesecake!

We had a delightful dinner at Arnold Palmer’s Country Club, and headed back to the hotel around 10pm.

After a great night’s sleep, we checked out of the Waterfront Inn and were pleased to tell the front desk manager how much we enjoyed the stay, after explaining what a bad experience we had previously in 2018. The manager actually remembered that ‘horrible day’ when both hotel elevators were broken – three years ago but the moment is not easily forgotten! LOL!

Before heading home to Orlando, we had lunch at Johnny Rocket’s in Sumpter’s Village, which like most places there is walking distance from the hotel, or for residents a golf course ride from their homes.

We were first introduced to Johnny Rocket’s on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships, with their singing wait staff, and loved it! While the servers don’t break into singing and dancing “Staying Alive” at this land-based Johnny Rocket’s they have an identical menu and it’s the place to go if you want a burger, fries, and/or onion rings. Oh, and maybe a signature shake too. But no, we stuck with Diet Cokes instead.

I love the simple things they do, like making a smiley face with the ketchup bottle!

We had a quick and filling lunch at Johnny Rocket’s, and then headed back to Orlando, an hour an a half’s drive to home. It was a quick but fun three day stay-cation, and we will certainly go back to the Villages again soon, if for no other reason that I want to try making my own wine at The Corkscrew Winery in Spanish Springs!.

Until then, Welcome Home!

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