As guests arrive at the stunning 300-acre estate of the World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida, there’s a wonderful feeling of bliss. The wind blows gently, the Spanish moss hangs beautifully from the oak trees, the vibrant flowers are blooming, and show jumping horses are trotting about with world-class equestrians in riding boots escorting them along the walking trails. At the heart of this place in the “Horse Capital of the World” is The Equestrian Hotel.
Bask in The Equestrian Hotel Experience
Offering unparalleled luxury, this magnificent full-service property features 248 elegant rooms including regal suites. There are custom designs by The Estate Collection by Ric Owens and the Roberts Design team. Guests can enjoy seven restaurants, a rejuvenating spa, relaxing pool, salon, fitness center, high-end retail shops such as Lugano Diamonds, and weekly equestrian competitions featuring world-class show jumpers. Stunning art spotlighting local artists and beautiful décor can be found on each floor of the five-story, European-inspired hotel. At their leisure, guests can relax in the Grand Lobby with its 20-foot ceiling, floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace, crystal chandeliers, grand piano, Mahogany fixtures, and Italian porcelain.
Retreat to the Finest Accommodations
Many of the regal guestrooms and suites overlook The Grand Stadium, allowing guests to have an amazing view of the World Champion equestrian competitions that go on throughout the day. They can also view weekly events such as the fabulous Grand Prix. The 2,000 square foot Presidential Suite features two bedrooms, two and a half baths, a living room, a dining room seating eight, a full kitchen with Wolf/Sub Zero appliances, custom-made Ralph Lauren furniture, and 18-inch mattresses covered in fine Italian linens, and 24-hour VIP service. The 1,100 square foot Vice Presidential Suite has a king master suite with a living room, dining room with a table for six, hand-laid mosaic tile in the shower, and a claw-foot soaking tub.
Guests in rooms and suites can enjoy meticulously designed accommodations created for their comfort with plenty of equestrian accents such as bit handles on the nightstand, framed horse art on the walls, and saddle designs on the accent pillows. Other elegant amenities include marble flooring, pillowtop mattresses, 65” televisions, make-up mirrors, spa-style toiletries, bathrobes, slippers, hairdryers, frameless showers, lighted mirrors, and a great in-room dining experience.
Watch Olympian Sharn Wordley and Other World Champions Compete
On Saturday night, as many as 7,500 spectators gather in the stands to watch spectacular competitions such as the Grand Prix which draws world-class equestrians from around the world including New Zealand’s Sharn Wordley. He competed in the 2008 Olympics, numerous Nations Cups, and more than 50 Grand Prix competitions. Guests of The Equestrian Hotel can revel in a magnificent VIP viewing and dining experience on the terrace. They’ll watch show jumpers compete for the grand prize which can be as much as $100,000. The delectable 3-course Chef’s dinner includes beer and wine served by the exceptional staff at Stirrups Restaurant. There are several competitions that are held during the day as well.
Get Renewed at The Calluna Spa
Escape to The Calluna Spa and get lost in this amazing 7,000 square-foot oasis. Your mind, body, and spirit will be revived with exceptional offerings such as the Calluna Signature Facial, HydraFacial Experience, Calluna Signature Massage, Rider’s Recovery, Milk & Honey Nourishing Wrap, Body Glow, and Steamed Lavender Milk Pedicure. Guests can also make reservations at the full-service luxury hair salon.
Dine at Extraordinary Restaurants
The hotel has cuisine to suit every palate. Whether you prefer fine dining or casual fare, there is certainly something for you. Dressed smartly in uniforms designed by Ralph Lauren, the excellent staff at Stirrups is ready to serve guests great menu items including Bananas Foster French Toast, chilled oysters, Summer Corn Hush Puppies, Artic Char, Maple Brined Duroc Pork Rack, and Bucatini Carbonara. The Yellow Pony Pub & Garden serves flatbreads, sushi, and starters such as buffalo smoked chicken dip, Tatanka Blue Burger, Beef Short Ribs, and more. There are sweets galore like macarons, Dulce de Leche, and Chocolate Ganache Croissant at Emma’s Patisserie. Guests can stroll around the WEC to visit restaurants such as Miss Tilly’s Lollipops, Filo’s Mexican Cantina, Ralph’s, and Viola & Dot’s Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria.
Confer with a Master Sommelier
While dining at Stirrups, visitors may have an opportunity to meet Master Sommelier and Director of Beverage Roland Micu. Achieving the level of Master is a rarity. There are only 269 in the world, and in 2012, he became the youngest Master Sommelier at the age of 28. He curates the wine and beverage program for The Equestrian Hotel’s restaurants and in-room dining service. The extensive wine list at Stirrups has more than 1500 bottles with several that are quite rare.
Take Riding Lessons at Crown View Dressage
While visiting this beautiful hotel and seeing horses and equestrians around the estate, one may want to take riding lessons as well. Nearby Crown View Dressage, with more than 60 years of experience, is a great place to start. Jessica Howington, trainer, and owner has an oversized arena with a dressage ring. The property has access to trails, 12×12 stalls, lessons, training, and exercising.
Upscale Living Contributor Leslie E. Royal is a global travel writer, author, micro-influencer, and multi-media journalist. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications including ESSENCE, AAA Midwest Traveler, Black Enterprise, The Ashro Blog, FORTUNE.com, Medium, Upscale Living, and AAA Southern Traveler. She is an Ashro Brand Ambassador and the host of their popular video series called Onward and Upward with Leslie E. Royal. The creator of the Leslie’s Lane consumer information blog, she has two books: Leslie Lane The Book!: Your One-Stop Internet Resource Guide to Links for Jobs, Inspiration, Discounts, FREE Stuff, Scholarships, Travel & More ( $14.95) and How to Write and Self-Publish Your Book for FREE with Amazon’s KDP: An Easy Way to Complete Your Manuscript in Seven Stress-Free Steps ($9.95). Follow Leslie on Instagram @LesliesLane and see her Amazon Author Page.