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Four Seasons Resort
Master Plan by EDSA


The 443-room Four Seasons Resort Orlando is a Walt Disney World resort in Disney's Golden Oak residential community. EDSA, the planning and landscape architecture firm behind the master plan, designed formal gardens around the Resort Tower, which features 37,500 sq. ft. of event facilities. At the lobby and garden level are restaurants with views of the lake and resort gardens, a fitness center, shops and a spa with gardens.



The 4-sided infinity edge fountain in the formal Mediterranean gardens flows over the weirs into a basin. Stainless steel plates structurally support the cast stone, which conceals the fountain basin, allowing water to flow behind the cast stone into a trough. Kusser FountainWorks supplied and installed the granite to ensure the fountain would be absolutely level, which is crucial for a 4-sided infinity edged water feature. The hardscape surround is a chestnut colored natural flagstone locally supplied.

Opened in August 2014, the 443-room Four Seasons Resort Orlando is a Walt Disney World resort in Disney's upscale Golden Oak residential community. The community reflects the Spanish Revival architecture of Florida's 'Golden Age,' the 1880-1930 period when extensive railroad construction ushered in the building of ostentatious hotels, the chartering of Winter Park and a tourist boom.

The luxurious 36-acre lakeside resort offers a personalized blend of Disney special access and Four Seasons experiences. Set around a manmade lake and adjacent wetlands, the exterior amenities offer a wide variety of experiences.

EDSA, the planning and landscape architecture firm behind the master plan, approached the project and detailed design to accurately reflect the upscale Four Seasons brand, as seen in the formal gardens around the Resort Tower. The formal transitions to active entertainment at Explorer Island, a conceptual 19th century citrus estate, creates a storyline of Florida's history through its design, and furthers the site's offerings as a chic, family-friendly resort.

Guests are immersed in a variety of amenities and experiences, which include an adult pool and spa, family pool and spa, PB&G pool, lakeside restaurant and bar, the Ruinous Mansion family activity area with Kids for all Seasons Club, kids pool with interactive choreographed fountains, two waterslides, Lazy River (11,008 sq. ft. volume), and The Hideaway activity building with outdoor games and activity pool connected to the Lazy River.



Ravello's outdoor dining area has a flagstone hardscape. The centerpiece is an 'AquaLens' sculptural fountain by Allison Armour. The fountain has a 4' dia. acrylic sphere filled and overflowing with water from a concealed pump, and sits on a circular stainless steel platform. Cloward H20 engineered the fountain.


The north end of the Lazy River has an 'eddy' pool that provides access to the 'Hideout,' an area for teens with a game building, a multiuse deck, outdoor stage with tensile shade, built-in daybeds, outdoor extension with pool tables, fire pit, a sand volleyball court and basketball court, and hanging 'nest rest' loungers.

The Resort Tower features 37,500 sq. ft. of event facilities, including a ballroom, junior ballroom and 14 meeting rooms. At the lobby and garden level are restaurants with views of the lake and resort gardens, plus a fitness center, upscale shops, and a 13,000 sq. ft. spa with 18 treatment rooms and outdoor spa gardens. The Resort Spa sits on the lake, which is elevated 42" higher than the west side feature lake. Water flows past the outdoor treatment rooms, then waterfalls into the feature lake, transitioning the formal gardens to the natural/organic Explorer's Island.

Upon traveling through the community of Golden Oak, guests feel a sense of decompression from everyday life as they arrive at the Four Season Resort Orlando. Framed by a colonnade of Italian cypress, the porte cochere greets guests with a simplistic, programmed fountain that creates a column of water that subtly changes in shape over time.

The simplistic design of the porte cochere focuses on the programmable water feature. The 36 fountain heads are broken into 3 zones with their own variable frequency drive pump to allow the fountain shape to change subtly, creating an interesting water sculpture that illuminates in a clean white column of water at night.


Heading north on the property, guests pass through a sculptural tunnel of crape myrtles, Italian cypress and date palms.

After checking in and exiting the lobby, the infinity edged lakeside reflecting pool welcomes guests to the formal Mediterranean gardens. As guests head north, Medjool date palms line the 600' promenade that parallels the Resort Tower. Guests discover different gardens and visuals as they walk along the lake past the lobby, Ravello restaurant, event lawn, adult pool, spa, fitness center and arrival to the amenity island.

South of the reflecting pool, outdoor event areas and meeting rooms provide a social gathering space for groups along with a tennis club and connection to the resort's 18-hole Tom Fazio designed golf course. Meeting rooms were placed on the lake's edge, with a functional terrace on the lake. Framing the King's Meadow event lawn, allow for views to the north of the lake fountain and Explorer's Island with Italian cypress partitioning the promenade to create comfortable, stunning outdoor meeting spaces with fire pits.

The adult pool sits on a peninsula on the lake. The lake serves as the pool's safety barrier, allowing for an infinity edge to visually connect the pool with the lake. Sections and careful grading studies were researched to ensure the infinity edge effect, as the pool code only allowed for a maximum height of 10" for what is considered a 'raised beam' coping profile. Pool equipment is stored underground to maximize views.




The Oasis pool, the "adult" pool, sits on a peninsula that juts out into the lake. The west side of the pool has a 3-sided infinity edge with granite coping. Columns with fire urns were used to transition from infinity edges to the tension-edge pool coping profile. Careful grading studies were researched to ensure the pool's infinity edge visually connects with the lake. Code allowed a maximum height of 10" for the pool's raised beam coping. The pool equipment is stored underground. The decking is custom 8"x 24" cast stone plank pavers. Custom railings also add a touch of elegance.

The infinity edge adult pool can be seen with a framed view from the open lawn for informal events, an overlook on the promenade, and outdoor dining at Ravello's, a breakfast and dinner restaurant featuring bi-weekly character breakfasts. The restaurant's outdoor dining and lounge area also focuses on the aqua lens. Designed by European sculptor Allison Armour, the sculpture overflows into the reflecting pool with lake views in the background.

Heading north on the property guests pass through a sculptural, tunnel allee of myrtle trees which frame views from the fitness center. The promenade ultimately crosses the gateway bridge to the 5-acre Explorer Island. EDSA proposed an elevated lagoon along the edge of the health spa gardens that would flow from the east side of the tower to the west side feature lake, transitioning from the formal gardens and creating the illusion of an island with a natural Florida feel.




Colonnades of Italian cypress edge the 600' entry to the hotel lobby. Fronting the porte cochere and framed by 4 Medjool date palms is a water feature with 36 fountain heads segregated into 3 zones, each with its own variable frequency drive pump to allow the shape of the water to subtly change, creating thick columns of white water that are illuminated at night with white LEDs. The fountain supplier also did the fountain programming per EDSA's input. A 'Dune Coral Stone' Dominican limestone surrounds the fountain.

After flowing over the waterfall, the canal separates the formal gardens around the Resort Tower from the natural, organic feel of Explorer's Island. The bridge offers views of the waterfall and the PB&G Pool Bar. The Family Pool and PB&G Pool Bar sit on the north end of the lake to maximize sun orientation, enjoy views of the Tower and lake with an infinity edge to connect the pool visually with the lake, seamlessly tying water attributes together.

Emphasizing the citrus plantation ambiance, Explorer Island creates a storyline tied to Florida's history. Guests arrive at Explorer Island with a framed view of the 'Ruined Mansion' and foreground Lazy River, set within a Florida sabal hammock of curved and leaning sabal palms. EDSA developed the design of the Mansion through schematic design, then the project architect, HKS Inc., continued as the architect of record. Creative grading was used to help reveal the project in exploratory fashion, meeting ADA requirements, and providing for great vistas down into the Lazy River. The journey to the mansion rises approximately 13' in elevation revealing views down to the lakeside, infinity edge family pool and pool bar and grill located on the waterfront. The Ruinous Mansion provides a 'Kids for All Seasons' club and outdoor activities for families.



The kid's pool area on Explorer's Island was conceived as backyard estate gardens with an old well and dilapidated colonnades. Zero entry wading pools wrap around an interactive splash pad. Curtains of water pour from the arched columns, and water spouts from the ruins. There are choreographed lighting displays and fog elements. The 4 stand-alone deck columns jet water 30' in the air.



Water flows past the spa's outdoor treatment rooms, then waterfalls into the lake that borders the high-rise hotel and meeting facilities. The bridge offers views of the waterfall and the PB&G Pool Bar, which is on the north end of the lake to maximize sun orientation and views of the Hotel Tower.

Located on the eastern edge of the Walt Disney World® Resort's 43 square mile property, the site's attributes included the Bonnet Creek Canal and adjacent wetlands, thus lacking prominent natural amenities to orient the development. To maximize the site attributes and offerings, working with the developer, the design team opted for a Tower configuration to allow for a large resort amenity oasis and provide great views of the entire Walt Disney World Resort. The master plan oriented the Resort Tower for equal angle views of Magic Kingdom and EPCOT from the guest rooms and rooftop Capa steakhouse to capitalize on views of the nighttime fireworks. The site was mass graded and site ready for the developer (Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Silverstein Properties, and Dune Capital) prior to development, thus EDSA needed to ensure the finished Resort would look like a mature landscape at opening. While some may deem this a challenge, they viewed this aspect as an opportunity. With the adjacent golf course slated for renovation to become the Tranquilo Golf Club, EDSA identified several mature live oak trees for transplant. Each tree had its own unique character, unlike a nursery oak, which helped create the feel of a resort that was designed around the oaks. EDSA also faced challenges with poor soil conditions. Due to the magnitude of soil replacement needed, the team pursued the option of a large underdrain network to help maximize the plant health. Overall, there are 114 different plant species on the property, with a total of 2,500 trees and approximately 80,000 shrubs and ground covers.


EDSA carefully leaned and oriented 125 sabal palms along the river to create the effect of a natural Florida wetland.


Floating down the Lazy River past the 'Ruinous Mansion,' guests are splashed by waters from a spring, the story goes, that surfaced after the mansion was built. The waters cascade through the ceiling and walls of the damaged mansion's wine cellar. Those on the Lazy River are also sprayed (button-activated) by authentic bourbon barrels from Kentucky. Sorry, no whisky, just water.


Aligned with the family pool, the Mansion Tower is a climbing wall and has two 32' drop water slides.

The Four Seasons Resort Orlando is the largest purpose-built Four Seasons in the world and has already received the first and only AAA 5-diamond award in Orlando. With 36 acres of lake, beautiful pools, spa, gardens, nature areas and a championship golf course, Four Seasons Resort Orlando - Walt Disney World(R)'s first true luxury hotel - has raised the bar for luxury in the area.


Disney's 36-acre lakeside Orlando resort is set around a manmade lake, but surrounded by very real wetlands and aquatic wildlife.

Project Team Owner/Operator: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Owners/Developers: Silverstein Properties, and Dune Real Estate Partners

Landscape Architect: EDSA, Inc.

Architect: HKS, Inc.

Water Feature Engineer: Cloward H2O

Civil Engineer: Atkins

Irrigation Designer: Design PSI

Interior Designer: Anderson Miller, Ltd.

MEP Engineer: MMM Group

Structural Engineer: WSP Group

Lighting Designer: Lang Lighting Design, Inc.

General Contractor: Turner Construction

Landscape Contractor: Brightview

Pool Contractor: Weller Pools

Theming Contractor: The Nassal Co.

Waterslide: White Water West

Fountain Components/Design: (Arrival and Kids Interactive): Crystal Fountains

Artist (AquaLens fountain): Allison Armour

Structural Concrete Contractor: Baker Concrete Construction

Lighting/Electrical Contractor: Tri City Electrical Contractors

Site Gas: Lake Mechanical

Site Earthwork: JCB / Hardy Tractor

Wood Bridge Contractor: York Bridge Concepts

Tensile Structure: Pioneer Awnings

Playground: Landscape Structures and Rep Services

Lakeside Fountain Granite Supplier/Installer: Kusser Fountainworks

Cast Stone Manufacturer: D.C. Kerckhoff Co.

As Seen in the July 2017 Issue of Landscape Architect Magazine

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