The Horse Capital of the World Simply Obtained Its Second Luxurious Resort — Right here’s What It’s Wish to Keep

Central Florida has a protracted historical past of being neglected by vacationers certain for the Gulf Coast to the west, the Panhandle, and the state’s Atlantic-facing seashores (learn: anyplace with lovely Florida seashores lapped by salt water). However intrepid vacationers trying to divert from the state’s storied coasts know that to see a few of Florida’s most beautiful, rolling landscapes and ethereally lovely freshwater springs (rivaling Mexico’s cenotes), detouring inland within the Sunshine State is the place it’s at.

And that’s the place The Using Academy Resort, sister property to The Equestrian Resort, enters the image as an idyllic vacation spot for a special Sunshine State trip.

Located within the coronary heart of the state’s horse nation in Ocala (about 90 miles northwest of Orlando), the property had its smooth opening in mid-March of 2024 and formally opened April 1, simply in time for the World Equestrian Heart — the most important equestrian complicated within the U.S., sprawling throughout 400 acres, and the lodges’ residence — to host the U.S. qualifier for the Longines League of Nations, a serious equestrian showjumping occasion.

With 390 rooms in comparison with The Equestrian Resort’s 248 rooms, The Using Academy is bigger than its sibling and caters squarely to the dog-friendly and family-friendly crowd. (It is also only a 10-minute stroll away by way of the pedestrian-friendly grounds.)

DAVE MILLER/Courtesy of Maven Photograph & Movie

All rooms are pet-friendly, and 250 are outfitted with two queen beds and a settee, making all of it the simpler to welcome households past two or three folks.

Whereas The Equestrian Resort nods to formal, European-inspired aptitude, The Using Academy, which has a barely lower cost level, was designed to really feel extra informal, says Rick Owens, the senior designer at Roberts Design Group, which is behind the resort’s very turning into seems.

“We took conventional equestrian motifs however added extra intense hues just like jockey silks — vivid greens, purples, navy blues, and vivid butternut colours reflective of saddle leathers,” Owens advised Journey + Leisure. “The usage of these brighter, robust plaids offers a pop to the darker leather-based sofas and provides a brisker, extra present really feel.”

Throughout an antiquing journey to a furnishings market in Excessive Level, North Carolina, Owens stated his crew noticed an vintage carved picket horse signal behind a store with “Using Academy” on it.

DAVE MILLER/Courtesy of Maven Photograph & Movie

“We knew it was an indication concerning the resort’s title since we had been initially struggling to think about one thing,” he stated. “What do you title one other property following The Equestrian Resort? This unbelievable vintage simply actually solidified that.”

There are clear hyperlinks between the 2 properties, after all — maybe most obvious within the many nods to canines, probably the most beloved pets of the lodges’ proprietor. However whereas oil work of canine portraits dominate The Equestrian Resort, The Using Academy’s considerable paintings skews extra informal and kooky, with canines dressed up as jockeys, riders, and professors within the work, prints, and sculptures displayed within the public areas and visitor rooms.

DAVE MILLER/Courtesy of Maven Photograph & Movie

“It has this type of collegiate yearbook vibe to it that performs into the academy facet very well,” Owens added.

Floor has already been damaged on the street-facing aspect of The Using Academy for an 80,000-square-foot outside procuring venue to return that can characteristic roughly 30 new outlets, two rooftops, an occasion area, and 4 new eating places, which is able to begin opening in mid-2025.

For now, come to take pleasure in The Using Academy’s beneficiant and opulent rooms, beautiful pool, and all of the facilities, eating places, and spa space on provide at The Equestrian Resort, too — only a scenic stroll (or golf cart tour) away by way of the oak-lined grounds of The World Equestrian Heart. 

Learn on for T+L’s full evaluation of Ocala’s latest luxurious resort.

The Using Academy Resort

  •  Friends can hire golf carts throughout their keep, good for zipping round with the youngsters and canines. 
  • The massive pool has a zero-entry space on the far finish for households to play like on a seaside, and there’s a devoted children’ water play space close by. 
  • Nearly all of the rooms are one-bedroom suites with two queen beds and a further couch sleeper in a separate dwelling area, nice for privateness. 
  • The onsite market off the foyer sells Starbucks espresso, gourmand salads, craft beers, and seltzers, accessible by the can to take pleasure in poolside or in your room. 
  • The massive outside fire on the sundeck patio is an attractive place to collect come night.

The Rooms

DAVE MILLER/Courtesy of Maven Photograph & Movie

All 390 rooms have wood-like ceramic tile flooring, marble bogs with rainwater showers, outsized closets designed to accommodate all of the attire horse folks usually must journey with, and luxurious Bellino Italian linens on the beds. We’re speaking critical room to unfold out in these lodging, too, with the smallest amongst them (a king studio) sprawling throughout 439 sq. toes. A two-bedroom suite is greater than 1,100 sq. toes.

Additionally, a perk for the canine-loving equestrian set: In contrast to its older sibling, all rooms on the Using Academy Resort are dog-friendly for a one-time charge of $100 per canine as much as 75 kilos.

DAVE MILLER/Courtesy of Maven Photograph & Movie

Of the rooms, 250 are one-bedroom suites with two queen beds and a separate pull-out couch in one other room that may be closed off with a door, accommodating six folks — hey, giant households! Playful paintings incorporates animals: canines dressed as jockeys, chinchillas parading atop zebras, you title it. There are delicate equestrian touches, too, similar to Ralph Lauren stirrup sconces, customized trophy lamps, and customized leatherwork on throw pillows harking back to a bridle and reins. In-room espresso makers and Sub-Zero mini-fridges spherical out the residential touches.

Meals and Drink

For now, there’s just one onsite meals possibility at The Using Academy, a gourmand market, which is an efficient possibility for a lightweight breakfast or lunch to go. Hit The Tack Room, proper off the foyer, for Starbucks espresso drinks, grab-and-go charcuterie platters, gourmand salads, and a smooth serve machine the youngsters will beg to hit each time you stroll in. You may order breakfast gadgets on the counter, together with smoked salmon, bagels, avocado toast, cinnamon rolls, croissants, quiche, and English muffin sandwiches. From 11 a.m. onward, nachos, chorizo flatbreads, baked hen wings, Bavarian pretzels, and smoked brisket grilled cheese sandwiches are additionally accessible.

Friends at The Using Academy can stroll or request a complimentary shuttle to achieve The Equestrian Resort and the eating choices scattered round The World Equestrian Heart that embody Mexican and Italian counter-service eating places, Filo’s Mexican Cantina and Viola & Dot’s; an cute sweet and ice cream store referred to as Miss Tillly’s Lollipops; Ralph’s Burger & Sandwich Store; and extra upscale choices just like the pub-style Yellow Pony and steakhouse and seafood restaurant, Stirrups. Don’t miss bringing the household to Emma’s Patisserie for a candy deal with within the type of freshly baked macarons and different beautiful European-inspired pastries and sandwiches. 

Actions and Facilities

DAVE MILLER/Courtesy of Maven Photograph & Movie

Loads of lounge chairs encompass The Using Academy’s freeform swimming pool, which is on the coronary heart of the resort in an outsized courtyard full with a separate water splash space for teenagers and an out of doors fire that’s a beautiful place to collect within the evenings. Two health facilities on-site at The Using Academy have all the trendy gear and free weights you want.

Friends even have entry to the pool at The Equestrian Resort, surrounded by lovely oak timber and residential to an onsite cafe and bar referred to as Horse to Water, the place the Palomino punches, Mai Tais, and frozen cocktails circulation.

Renting a golf cart from the resort’s fleet is a enjoyable strategy to set out exploring your complete property, shaded with old-growth dwell oak timber, and the place there’s normally some horse occasion or one other occurring at one of many many arenas. Of the beautiful close by freshwater springs to discover inside a half-hour drive of the resort, bookmark Rainbow Springs State Park, which is great for swimming, and Silver Springs State Park, good for a ship cruise down the river. Each have waters teeming with fish and turtles that appear to glow turquoise from inside.

The Spa

Whereas there’s no spa onsite at The Using Academy, company can ebook sizzling stone massages, collagen-boosting facials, decadent wraps, pedicures, hair styling, and extra at The Equestrian Resort’s 7,000-square-foot Calluna Spa, adorned in shades of purple as an ode to lavender. The spa’s 5 remedy rooms embody one designed for {couples}, and there’s a full-service hair salon onsite. 

Household-friendly Choices 

The World Equestrian Heart’s walkability and frequent schedule of occasions — they go all out for the vacations, together with Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, Christmas, Easter, and extra — make staying at The Using Academy family-friendly by nature.  Children love the soft-serve ice cream machines and an unlimited array of ice cream sandwiches and popsicles on the market within the Tack Room, which they will seize and produce outdoors to take pleasure in at The Using Academy’s colossal pool. And the youngsters’ splash pad space, adorned with colourful outsized critters, is its solely little watery wonderland to discover collectively, too. 

Accessibility and Sustainability

The property options ADA-accessible resort rooms with roll-in showers and lodging for hearing- and visually-impaired company. Greater than 700 dwell oak timber have been planted since development started on the 400-acre property, and if any have to return down, two extra are replanted to switch them. To preserve water, the World Equestrian Heart doesn’t irrigate turf areas past the Saint Augustine turf grass. All flowers on the property are from the proprietor’s farm, which grows greater than 650,000 annual flowers yearly — a median of 90,000 annuals are planted onsite on the WEC every year.


Onsite at The World Equestrian Heart, on the east finish of the property that’s being newly developed, The Using Academy is only a 10-minute stroll or three-minute golf cart journey throughout the complicated from The Equestrian Resort. Ocala will be reached in about 90 minutes (roughly 90 miles) from Orlando Worldwide Airport to the southeast. You’re greatest off renting a automobile when you don’t arrive right here in your personal car to profit from exploring the encircling area’s freshwater springs and the gorgeous downtown district of Ocala, about 10 miles (20 minutes) away, brimming with eating places, breweries, and outlets of its personal.

How one can Get the Most Worth Out of Your Keep

Rooms at The Using Academy hover at a lower cost level than these at The Equestrian Resort. However you’ll wish to remember to plan your keep round any main horse present sequence’ when you’re not coming for these occasions (examine the occasions calendar). Basically, off-peak months when room charges fall are Could, early June, late August, and September.

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