Attractions, shopping and dining

Famous for its theme parks, Florida has a number of other attractions to cater for visitors. Benefiting from a humid tropical climate, Florida offers access to some fantastic golf complexes and courses.

Amongst these is the 5-star Southern Dunes Golf Resort, which boasts a beautifully designed course and the complex has an outdoor (and heated) pool and associated spa. The respected magazine Golf Monthly awarded the Omni Resort 4 stars. This resort is situated in nearby Champions Gate, boasts three Professional Golf Association (PGA) accredited courses, with designers including Greg Norman and David Ledbetter, and it will be no surprise to see some world renowned professionals and golfing's household names on any of these courses.

It would be easy to spend your entire holiday within a 50 mile radius of Tŷ Seren such is the allure and number of local facilities and activity options. However, if you have the opportunity, you may wish to consider using Tŷ Seren as a base for overnight excursions. With a base in Florida, the Caribbean is not too far away and local travel agents will be able to assist you in creating the right package.

Shopping Facilities

Most of the times you hear the phrase 'ten minute drive' inevitably the drive turns out to be slightly longer than ten minutes and the time spent trying to find a space to park is almost as long as the journey itself. Without fear of contradiction or exaggeration, within a ten minute drive of Tŷ Seren there are almost all the shops you're likely to need on holiday. The Walmart Super Centre and Publix Supermarket (roughly equivalent in UK store terms to a large Asda/Sainsbury's) are easily accessible and genuinely only a few minutes drive with ample parking!

Located within a few minutes drive there are a wide range of fast food outlets, a Blockbuster, petrol station and two 24-hour chemists/pharmacies. Should the need ever arise; there is a multi-disciplinary health centre with dentistry services located next to Walmart.

Those looking for the larger retail outlets will be thrilled to know that the new $550 million shopping complex of Posner Parc situated right on the Intersection of the I4 and Highway 27 has recently opened its numerous doors to the public. Here you'll find a Super Target with Starbucks inside, Best Buy (for everything electrical), JC Penney (for Premium clothing etc), Belks, Staples and many, many more. As usual there are masses of parking spaces and with a drive time of less than 10 minutes from Tŷ Seren, it's got to find its way on your shopping "to-do" list. Posner's second phase due to start in late 2008/early 2009 will include Florida's largest multi-screen Cineplex and several well established names from the restaurant industry.

Most worthy of a mention is the stunning Mall at Millenia, a short drive North of the Universal Studios exit off the I4 travelling Eastbound. Exit at 78, signposted Conroy Road, and you'll soon experience one of Florida's finest Retail Centres, that hosts a magnitude of large household names, designer fashion outlets and several fine dining houses including PF Changs and the memorable Cheesecake Factory, to name just a few.

Eating Out

You could spend two weeks at Tŷ Seren and eat out every night without driving for more than 20 minutes and you would not exhaust the number of options to choose from. There is an almost inexhaustible number of choices and some people will want to try as many as they have time for, others will find a favourite and regularly go back, others will use the Tŷ Seren kitchen and make the most of the outdoor weather. When you eat out and you're not aware of the local (and national) custom and tradition of tipping then it may be help you to avoid any embarrassment to know that 'tipping' waiting staff at restaurants and bars is expected with the 'norm' being between 10 to 20% of the bill. It is not uncommon for many restaurants to apply an automatic gratuity of 15% to your bill for parties with 6 or more, so we would advise that you ask your server about this at the earliest opportunity. This way it will avoid any nasty shocks when it is time to settle up.

Travelling to Florida

Many of you will be seasoned travellers and know many of the essentials tips and guides to holidays in Florida. Some of you may be considering Florida as a destination for the first time and here are a few tips that you may not find in the vast range of guides, 'how to' lists and websites but have proved to be invaluable to the owners, their families and friends when they have been to Florida. We suggest that you obtain a copy of the book 'The Brits Guide to Orlando' which is published every year.

There are flights to Florida from mainland UK airports every day and most depart at around mid to late morning. Taking in to consideration the flight time of approximately 8 hours and the time differences (Florida is 5 hours behind the UK) you can expect to arrive at Orlando/Sanford sometime during the mid afternoon. Please be aware that airport security and immigration checks in the US are rigorous and it may take time to get through Customs and collect your baggage. If you're travelling with a young and/or tired family, it is in your best interest to be prepared, although the time it takes is relative to the number of flights landing around the same time as yours.

If it is possible, in order to minimise jet lag, try and stay up as late as possible on your first night. If you leave the UK around midday, by the time you have arrived and checked through the airport and then driven to Tŷ Seren it will be roughly 5–7pm in Florida but your body will be telling you it is closer to midnight in the UK. If you can stay up for a couple of hours and get a full night's rest you may well find that jet lag is minimised. It has worked for us so it may help you too.

It is likely that when you leave the arrivals terminal you will head straight for the car rental offices and the majority are based in the airports. Whilst we have chosen not to quote rates and deals etc, we would suggest that you consider the optional extra for a portable GPS/satellite navigation system. These can be invaluable.

Also, if you have not been to a US petrol station before, you will be expected to pay for the petrol before you actually use the pump. This has caused a certain amount of confusion for people unfamiliar with this procedure! Petrol (or gas as Americans refer to it) is sold by the gallon and is significantly cheaper than we are used to paying for it in the UK with an average vehicle costing between $40–$50 to fill up. (Based upon $2.85 for a gallon of Regular Unleaded)

Useful information and suggestions

Casual dress is the accepted norm for all occasions, many visitors and locals spend the majority of time in shorts and tee shirts and whilst there are occasions to 'dress up' you may wish to take this into consideration when packing your luggage for the outbound trip.

Many people, us included, tend to buy quite a lot of clothes during the course of their stay. This is quite normal but you should be aware of the expense of excess baggage costs on return journeys which have been known to cost nearly as much as a seat in the aircraft!

Our advice, and this is merely a suggestion, is to consider bringing fewer clothes with you and purchasing items during the course of your stay. With the current advantageous $ to exchange rates, this may well be a very cost effective way of avoiding excess baggage charges. Please remember to check your entitlements to bringing back items brought from abroad within the Customs Regulations.

About us

Having spent almost two decades visiting the United States & Florida, we decided to purchase our own holiday home. The decision to buy on Calabay Parc was made very simple after having spent weeks viewing numerous other communities, none of which could really match what Calabay Parc at Tower Lake had to offer. Its location, the quality of the homes and the immaculate condition of the community were all streets above the competition. The unique open-plan design, layout and quality of the construction of Tŷ Seren certainly met our own very high standards.