Welcome to the Urban Spa’s Orlando Vacay Blog series! A lot of you have seen our photos on Facebook and are itching to get the full story – and here it is! Over the next several weeks, I will be giving you an in-depth look at our exciting Orlando Adventure from start to finish.
So, without further ado, let’s get started!
On Friday, January 6th, I left work exited as all get-out, knowing that in less than 24 hours time my coworkers and I would be soaking up the sun in Orlando, Florida. This incredible vacation was finally about to happen, something we at the Urban Spa had been looking forward to and working towards for what seemed like forever — especially in the weeks leading up to it, which included an incredibly hectic Holiday season where our schedule had been booked at max capacity throughout.
All of my things were finally crammed into my suitcase around 11:00 pm and so, I tried my best to get some rest. I got about 45 minutes of solid laying-in-bed-in-the-dark-with-my-eyes-wide-open before getting dressed in my travel clothes and waiting to get picked up by lovely colleague Jessica and her partner Everett. We were scheduled to depart from the Urban Spa in East City at 1:00 am sharp in a shuttle to Pearson Airport. We made great time and managed to get ourselves through security and fully checked in with a couple hours to spare before departure. And then an extra one, when our flight was delayed due to increased security checks. We were happy to wait, though, and made the best of our situation by staging a bit of a photo op with some cut-out faces of the two Urban Spa staff members who were staying behind (one of the last things I did before trying to take that “nap” the night before).
Sarah and Mitch are responsible students who had new semesters starting on Monday.
Before too long, the rest of us finally took our seats on the plane en route to Orlando, Florida! After a somewhat turbulent, 3-ish hours (which I mostly, successfully slept through) we began descending into… an overcast, drizzly, humid yet cool day. Needless to say, this was not what we expected from Florida…
Once our bags had been collected, we were divided into our Teams. Some backstory: leading up to our trip, the Urban Spa staff were divided into 3 teams (Team Awesome, Team Beast, and Team C … not especially Creative or Confident, those Team C kids…). We were then given a series of challenges meant to motivate us throughout our busiest time of year. These challenges came with prizes; some known, such as upgraded Park passes for Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure (congrats Team C…) and some yet to be revealed.
This Surprise Challenge was a little different from the sales goals we had back at the Spa. Each team was given a grocery list and had to pick up as many items as possible for under $175. The team with most items and lowest price per item would win.Team C also took this prize (Team Champion, maybe?), which was an exemption from tidying up after the meal Team Awesome had to cook for having lost a previous challenge.
With three rental cars worth of luggage and groceries, we made our way to our resort community home-away-from-home in Champions Gate (fitting) and unloaded our things into a beautiful, 9 bedroom house complete with multiple common areas, a games room/home theatre, not to mention a private pool and jacuzzi.
Once we had figured out how to fit all of our food into the fridge and pantry, we were told about our first Orlando Surprise Outing; Dinner at a Top Secret Location that evening at 9 PM. We now had a few hours to unwind from the day so far and that we did. Some unpacked. Some napped. Some cracked drinks. Some bee-lined to the hot tub. Some (including myself) took a dip in that gorgeous pool… So refreshing after a long day of travel. Let me take this moment to remind you that most of us had been primarily awake (give or take a “nap” or two) since Friday morning, and it was roughly 6 PM on Saturday evening, meaning we had been awake for the better part of at least 33 hours at this point….
Just before 8:30 PM, we loaded back up into our rental vehicles with a set of GPS coordinates and met at the Top Secret Location. The Melting Pot is a gorgeously decorated fondue restaurant, where we were treated to a three-course FEAST. Each course was prepared before our eyes on a magical marble-topped table with a cook-top insert controlled by what appeared to our deliriously tired eyes as a magic wand. Were we in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter already? I thought that was supposed to be happening on Day Two… I am getting ahead of myself! Let me tell you about the FOOD:
The First Course was an amuse-bouche for the ages: a decadent cheese fondue served with generous morsels of bread for dipping. Each table seemed to miraculously concur and ordered the “Classic Alpine”, which, according to their Menu, is:
Featured Cheeses: Gruyere, Raclette, Fontina
Melted with: White wine, garlic, fresh nutmeg
The Second Course was customized to each table’s dietary delights. The Urban Spa is populated by a healthy mix of herbivores and carnivores. Tables whose diets leaned forwards the former ordered the Vegetarian option while the latter ordered the Meat-atarian option:
GOOD EARTH VEGETARIAN
Edamame or onion rings
Baby Portobello mushrooms
Wild Mushroom Sacchetti
Certified Angus Beef® sirloin
Memphis-style dry rub pork
Bacon salt & cracked pepper filet
Herb-crusted chicken breast
Teriyaki-marinated sirloin The
The Third and final course — should choose to accept this late-night challenge to our waistlines (which we all did) — was Chocolate Fondue. There were a number of choices, but it seems that most of us chose between the following two:
COOKIES ‘N CREAM MARSHMALLOW DREAM
Featured Chocolate: Dark
Melted with: Marshmallow crème, Oreo® cookie crumbles
CARAMEL TOFFEE CRUNCH
Featured Chocolate: Milk
Melted with: Caramel, Heath Bar™ pieces
The chocolate course was served with fresh strawberries, blondies, bananas, pineapple, marshmallow treats, pound cake, and brownies… Those last few bites were positively forced down as we are all so incredibly full.
Waddling like a bunch of Turkeys, (or Tofurkies, for the veggie-inclined), we picked up our cars from the valet and made our way back to the house. It was past midnight by the time we got in and I think it is safe to say that after upwards of 40 consecutive hours awake, sleep came swiftly to the Urban Spa team. We all needed our beauty rest for the day ahead, which would start with rope drop at Universal Studios.
More on that later — stay tuned!
On behalf of The Urban Spa