Fun fact: The Horse Capital of the World is tucked away in the tranquil town of Ocala, Florida. If you haven’t heard of Ocala you’re not alone, but the World Equestrian Center wants to change that.
Located in the middle of the World Equestrian Center’s 380-acre property lies a 248-room $800-million resort that is truly a sight to behold. The hotel opened in 2021 and is quickly becoming a favorite of design and equestrian fans worldwide. The interiors breathe opulence, courtesy of the Swarovski crystal chandeliers, grand floor-to-ceiling fireplace, Ralph Lauren staff uniforms, and horse-themed furniture and decor (yes, you read that correctly!).
Ric Owens of Roberts Design gave the hotel interiors a cool, yet approachable feel with neoclassical French flare. All of the rooms are styled with equestrian accents, like leather saddle accent pillows and harness-shaped dresser handles. The bedside lamps even resemble trophies. But the neoclassical French aesthetic helps refine the equestrian theme.
The hotel owners Ralph and Mary Roberts love animals and have more pets than you can count. So it’s no surprise that the hallways are lined with eccentric gold-framed portraits of animals, dressed to the nines. Some of the hotel carpets include charming illustrations of dogs, too.
Sights at the Equestrian
The Equestrian Hotel has many amenities, but you won’t feel overwhelmed. Justin Garner, the Director of Hotel Operations, will appear like magic to answer any question you may have. Guests visiting the center can head to an extravagant toy shop, home to the original 15-foot-tall Toys “R “Us Geoffrey from Times Square, a life-size mechanical lion, and so much more. While your kids are on their own adventure, you can enjoy incredible French pastries at the neighboring shop, Emma’s Patisserie (trust me, you’ll come back for seconds). On the first floor, glossy floors lead to Lugano Diamonds, a fragrance shop, and an epic spa for riders and guests.
The hotel has a horseshoe-shaped pub named the Yellow Pony, with barstools that resemble a saddle. Or, if you can enjoy a fine-dining experience at Stirrups (it gives a glorious view of the Grand Arena). When you’re curiosity piques, you can reserve a golf cart to peruse the WEC’s grounds, whether it’s to watch competitions, visit various restaurants, or take in the sunset. Visitors can find hundreds of RV campsites, state-of-the-art climate-controlled stalls for horses, and a pristine chapel.
The Equestrian Hotel brings the entire Ocala community together. There’s no fee to enter the grounds, even if it’s for a special event hosted by the property. The hotel isn’t reserved only for passionate equestrian fans. You’re free to watch huge competitions at the indoor arenas with experts from around the world. Depending on the show, you can prepare to grab a cowboy hat for a rodeo competition or dress up for a race under the stars. The crowd and hotel staff are knowledgeable and kind enough to explain how to engage as active spectators. This hotel is a memorable place for equine-loving guests to return! Stay up to date with the competitions and special events with the WEC calendar.
Book your room at The Equestrian Hotel here.
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