There are Florida luxury golf resorts, and then there is Streamsong Resort, which turns common Florida golf resort conventions upside down, steering clear of the familiar manicured tropical coastal template one associates with five star resorts of the state. The 16,000-acre property is inland, and two hours from both Orlando’s and Tampa’s airports. Its take on a luxury escape is decidedly minimalist, yet warm and rooted in nature—specifically, its distinctive expanse of savannah and lakes surroundings framed by dunes, Spanish moss trees and tall grasses. The rustic terrain of the courses evokes African savannah and the Australian outback depending on where you look.
Architect Alberto Alfonso’s design is fittingly achieved not by a palate of color but one of texture derived from stone, wood and glass that flows into the lakes and waterways running through the property. Under the design direction of noted golf pros Tom Doak (Streamsong Blue), Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw (Streamsong Red), and Gil Hanse (Streamsong Black), serious players are not only guaranteed challenging rounds, but also an experience that at times can double as a safari with the terrain’s surprising array of wildlife. The interior design of the lodge and clubhouses, realized in its spa, restaurants, private rooms and event spaces, is informed by the shapes and earthy tones of leaves, roots and branches which enhance rather than overshadow the outdoor space.
Above all else, Streamsong is decidedly golf-centric, which makes it a wonderfully tranquil place for enthusiasts to try out its three challenging courses without distractions. After all, the Blue and Red courses have been listed in GOLF Magazine’s top 100 golf courses in the U.S. While it is an obvious choice for a father-and-son or “guy’s weekend” (or weekend destination for “golf couples”), its location, concierge services, thoughtfully conceived culinary program and secondary focus on outdoor activities lend themselves to corporate retreats free of distractions and stress.
In addition Streamsong’s up-to-the-moment audiovisual equipment and WiFi, event planners will find the 24,600 total-square feet of indoor conference and meeting space and 40,000 square feet of outdoor event space truly unique to the property and yet utterly flexible. While the 13 dedicated meeting rooms, conference center and various patios capture the vision of architect Alfonso and the property’s owners, they are thoroughly adaptable for a variety of business occasions as are outings on the different courses.
While all of its restaurants have private dining spaces and large tables, one can also book one or more of the property’s airy signature spaces, noted for panoramic windows that blur the lines between outdoors and indoors during daylight hours. These include the Pegasus Room (which can be transformed to a screening room after dark), sports bar-meets-cocktail lounge Fragmentary Blue and its wrap-around outdoor terrace, and the large foyer outside the meeting rooms that would make the Rat Pack feel right at home.
The resort further distinguishes itself with a selection of deliciously different extras for bespoke meetings and retreats, running the gamut from luxury swag bags for meeting participants to specialized breakfast buffets in the Lodge’s “Leaf Lounge,” and a snack station at the lodge entrance stocked with hand-crafted drinks and snacks (i.e. chocolate and toffee pretzels; basil popcorn; pineapple aqua fresca) waiting for players on their return. An in-lobby massage chair, regularly available for all guests, is the proverbial cherry on top.
Other activities provide both business and leisure visitors a genuine appreciation of this hidden corner of Florida. Before or after a round of golf, guests can try their hand trick golf shots on floating platforms or bass fishing, simply lounge by the infinity pool or stroll the grounds on a nature hike. Non-golfers in the group just may become converts thanks to the enjoyable golf lessons taught by the resort’s pros along with its “Gauntlet” 18-hole putting green allows everybody to enjoy Streamsong’s decidedly un-snobby take on the golfer’s lifestyle.
The AcquaPietra Spa (which offers an extensive menu of treatments, facials, and massages and features organic Naturopathica products), facials and treatments scores points on a number of levels. Rather than affecting a Southeast Asian or European setting, it exists on its own terms in a way that’s harmonious with the outdoor landscape and architect Alberto Alfonso’s concept that blends an unlikely but effective mix of materials, shapes and colors. Use of the four thermal pools, cold plunge pool, and saunas, arranged in a modern grotto setting, are available to visitors throughout their stay.
While executives on retreat (whose bosses selected a Leaf Lounge brunch option for their program) will enjoy special treats from the kitchen such as lemon French toast, egg white asparagus frittatas, and Eggs Benedict with chorizo, vacationers will not be starved for quality or variety at the five restaurants. Breakfast-lunch-dinner restaurant P2O5 (a nod to the area’s phosphate mining history) features a fine weekend breakfast buffet along with sandwiches and mains with a pronounced southern influence and creative snack fare from homemade potato chips with an intense cheese dip to horseradish onion rings, blue crab grits, and the subtly flavored but addictive truffle tots.
On the lower lobby of the lodge, SottoTerra provides nice, unstuffy fine dining that blends influences of classic Italian pastas, appetizers and main courses along with expertly paired wines, and a bit of regionalization through the careful adaptations of recipes to locally-available ingredients. The stone ovens not only bake pizzas to perfection but also finish off the day’s roasted fresh catch with sides like hazelnut pesto and eggplant caponata. Noodles, raviolis, baked dishes, and main courses are tweaked regularly and the menu also features plenty of tasty options for vegetarians.
The clubhouse restaurants at Streamsong both weave together an inventive mix of Southern, “New American,” and Tex-Mex sensibilities while maintaining their distinctive personalities thanks in part to the direction of Executive Chef Michael Ford. Restaurant Fifty-Nine is a USDA Prime steakhouse in the Streamsong Red-Blue Clubhouse with updated seasonal preparations of beef and seafood mostly harvested off the Florida coast. At dinner hour, expect to find favorites such as lobster bisque, cedar wood salmon, pork chops, and inventive chicken dishes alongside an impressive selection of chops, sauces, and sides. By day, gastropub Bone Valley Tavern, inside in the recently completed Streamsong Black Clubhouse, serves fresh takes on favorites such as nachos, pretzel bread bites, salads and sandwiches by day. At night, the menu takes a brasserie-inspired route with its casual-but-elegantly plated dishes.
Even with the gorgeous contemporary sit-down dining environments, some of the most memorable holes-in-one, food-wise, are the grab-and-go items found in unassuming shacks located between the 8th and 9th greens of Black, Blue and Red courses. While the street tacos served on the Streamsong Blue Course are bonafide crowd pleasers, the BBQ shack on the Streamsong Red Course offers a simple portion of beef brisket that will bring connoisseurs of the dish to tears of joy. Streamsong Black’s snack bar was closed during my stay, but is said to offer a delicious riff on a New England lobster roll.
While the aforementioned Fragmentary Blue is the perfect rooftop happy hour hangout with its novel nibbles, generous artisanal cocktails and the night’s PGA, NFL, NBA or Major League Baseball playing in the background (that is, when its not tied up for a private event), it’s important to note that excellent wines and cocktails are threads that weave throughout the entire resort, thanks to the creativity and innovation of Beverage Director Michael Foote and Executive Chef Michael Ford.