From a focus on wellness and relaxation to some of the best food you will ever eat, ette Hotel sets the standard for what a hotel should strive to be
When we think of a vacation we imagine a time where we can unwind, relax, and recharge from our hectic everyday life. And if we were to plan the perfect vacation we would pick a place where we could sunbathe poolside in the morning, then go to a spa for a one-of-a-kind treatment, and then enjoy a beautiful and decadent assortment of food that blows us away. ette hotels in Orlando is a newly opened hotel that accomplishes just that and more. ette hotels focuses on wellness and creating a peaceful and serene environment. Guests can come here and expect modern décor and finishings, incredible art features displayed across the property, fresh natural ingredients in their dining and drinks, and service that anticipates your needs before you can even think it. ette hotels is a hotel that thinks about every little detail to make sure every guest can have a truly relaxing vacation. And what makes ette even more desirable is that it is conveniently placed a few miles away from the notable theme parks in Orlando making it the best of both worlds for people traveling to Orlando. And we had the amazing privilege of staying at ette hotels during the grand opening and experience all this hotel had to offer.
When we first arrived we were met by the friendly valet service helping us with our bags and offering to take them up to our room while we checked in. The hotel lobby was incredibly chic, boasting modern finishes and having displays featuring some impressive art pieces. The check-in process was painless and the front desk workers were so helpful with directing us to our room and explaining some of the amazing features of the hotel some of which included the spa, the gym, the pool, and their beautiful garden patio area.
We went to our room to freshen up and as soon as we walked through the door to our room we were impressed. The room we were staying at featured two queen sized beds with plush pillows and incredibly soft sheets. And for those that like a nice cover blanket on top, ette hotels includes a nice fluffy blanket with the room in case you like the extra coverage. The bathroom featured a giant mirror with ring lighting around it for extra illumination (and great for mirror selfies for those that partake). The shower included an amazing waterfall showerhead along with a rail showerhead that you can detach and use as well. The overall impression of the hotel room is that is has a level of elegance and refinement while still feeling cozy and a place where you can unwind in.
Our next stop was the garden patio and poolside which is located steps away from the front lobby. The garden space was beautiful and incorporated a chic fountain in the middle that added an extra level of Zen to the space, plants surrounding the perimeter of the area, and a wonderful sitting areas for guests to use while ordering drink and food service. And behind the garden was the pool and cabana area. This pool area was an intimate space filled with a number of beach chairs and towels, complimentary spa water and sunscreen, and a pool that went up to 5 feet so you can submerge your body in the warm water easily. The pool is in direct contact with the warm Florida sun making the water a perfect temperature to go right in to. After some time lounging poolside and sunbathing a bit, we freshened up for our dinner reservations at the hotel.
And if you’re a fitness fanatic like me, ette hotels features a beautiful gym that has equipment where at a touch of a button can create a customized workout for you. You can also train against videos similar to that of a peloton. This intimate gym allows for people who are new to fitness and those years in to enjoy themselves.
One of ette hotels’ main features is their restaurant Salt & The Cellar. This restaurant is special because it is in partnership with Michelin Starred Chef Akira Back. Akira Back is famous for incorporating some of the best Asian techniques and flavors into food and this is definitely the case when dining at Salt & The Cellar. The restaurant is located on the main level of the hotel and during dinner service feels like an upscale lounge you could find in the heart of New York City. A DJ is playing upbeat music, the guests are all dressed up in their best attire, and some of the tastiest looking food and drinks are being served all around. The concept of Salt & The Cellar is a Mediterranean Asian restaurant where Asian flavors are incorporated into familiar Mediterranean inspired dishes. And since one of ette hotels’ principles includes a focus on wellness, the entire hotel is an alcohol-free establishment. That means the beautifully crafted mocktails have been tailored made to be without alcohol (but you won’t miss it). That being said, there is a “Secret Bring Your Own” code that gives guests the freedom to bring their favorite spirit or wine and the servers at ette can create the same drinks they offer as mocktails but with the alcohol included.
And now we have to get into the dining experience at Salt & The Cellar. As soon as we sat down we were met with a sleek black dining plate adorned with a gold engraving of Akira Back. The setup of the table felt sophisticated and elegant which made us even more excited to try the food and drinks being offered.
For our drinks we started with the Moonchild and the Queen Bee. As you look at the mocktail menu there is also a cute poem under each drink to give you a little insight on what to expect. The Moonchild is made with fresh watermelon shrub, lime, agave, lavender saline, and paired with a lavender aromatic mist. The presentation of the drink was incredible. The drink was placed inside of a round, egg-like glass and placed on top of a nest to resemble something close to a bird’s nest. The server then pours the lavender scented liquid over the nest where a bed of dry ice is found which then creates a giant mist that engulfs the whole table leaving a beautiful lavender scent for guests to enjoy. And the taste of the drink matches the experience of being served it. The Moonchild has a smooth and pronounced watermelon taste that pairs beautifully with the bits of agave and lime which helps brighten up the watermelon taste. We recommend this drink as something you should order if you are sitting poolside in the morning since it is so fresh and sweet and feels like something you would bring to the beach.
The Queen Bee was just as impressive. The drink came in a cute bee shaped glass with the abdomen part of the bee being the glass. The drink also came with dehydrated pears resembling the wings of the bee. The drink was made with smoked pear and parsnip, lapsang souchong tea, honey, rice vinegar, 0% mezcal, and topped with the dehydrated pair. The drink had a beautiful smooth sweetness to it, the forward sweetness coming from the pear and parsnip, and a lingering sweetness coming from the honey. The tea added a lovely herbaciousness to the drink that balanced out the incoming sweetness well. Each mocktail had a lot of whimsy and creativity to it and even though it doesn’t have alcohol, you don’t miss it at all considering how thoughtful each drink is.
For our starters we opted for the Akira Back Pizza and the Toro Tartare. With the Akira Back Pizza, when it arrived to our table it conceptually looked very similar to a pizza. The “crust” of the pizza was a lightly fried tortilla with thinly sliced pieces of tuna on top and was topped with micro shiso and had a white truffle oil drizzled on top. The tuna, although sliced very thinly, was packed with so much flavor. There was a burst of umami with each bite and it paired so well with the tuna’s natural sweetness. The truffle oil comes out with each bite but isn’t so pronounced where it overwhelms the entire dish. The crispy tortilla was a great choice and the vessel because it offered a nice crunchy texture and wasn’t too doughy where it made it feel tense especially paired with the delicate tuna. The dish as a whole was packed with so much flavor but still felt so light and delicate.
And what makes this dish even more memorable is that the plate the pizza is served on has a painting done by Akira Back’s mother. The idea of plating this pizza on top of this dish is Chef Back welcoming diners into his family by plating it this way. So as you eat each slice of the pizza, you slowly get to see the entire painting in full.
The Toro Tartare was next and was made with fatty tuna, tosazu dashi, and topped with decadent caviar. Wontons were also provided to act a vessel to eat the tuna if diners pleased. This dish had such a beautiful presentation to it. The tartare was placed as the center and was topped with gold flakes and caviar. The dashi is then poured around the tartare and adds a beautiful brightness and vinegar taste that accentuates the sweetness from the tuna. Diners can then pair the dish with an assortment of toppings which included items such as ginger, pickled daikon, pickled radish, scallions, salt, and much more. The level of possibilities with the pairings was too much to count but no matter what you pair it with the tuna’s sweetness shines through. The wontons are also a wonderful addition and adds a nice diversity of texture to the dish too.
The next dish we tried was the Togarashi Fries side dish. The fries were cooked perfectly, having a nice golden crisp exterior while still maintaining a fluffy and moist interior. The togarashi seasoning adds a bit of spice to the fries when having it alone which is enough to activate your palate and leave it wanting more. For those that enjoy spice and heat a bit more, the fries come with a sriracha mayo dip that adds a budding heat the envelopes your palate.
For our main course we opted for two dishes, the Miso Black Cod and the 14 oz NY Strip Steak. The Miso Black Cod was paired with a yuzu air and pickled cauliflower. The plating in itself was beautifully done having the golden glazed cod as the center paired with the white yuzu foam and the purple cauliflower added a beautiful rainbow effect to it. The cod itself was beautifully cooked making it extremely flaky while pulling it apart while still being moist and tender in the middle. The yuzu foam adds a wonderful lightness and airiness to the cod and the glaze adds an extra level of sweetness to the dish. The pickled cauliflowers adds a bright acidity to the dish wish plays perfectly with the sweetness of the cod. This dish is definitely something we would have to order again because it had the perfect balance of savoriness and sweetness while also being very light.
At Salt & The Cellar, we highly recommend getting an Off The Grill selection because it is a whole experience. The server informed us that the steak is purposefully under seasoned because before the steak is delivered to you, you will have the choice of choosing the kind. Of salts you want to pair the steak with. And right before your steak is delivered, you are met by the “Salt Sommelier” who walks you through the six different selection of salts you can choose from. On the menu of salts, diners can choose an espresso infused salt, a smoked hickory salt, a black truffle salt, a black truffle salt, a red Hawaiian salt (very similar to pink Himalayan salt), and a Black Hawaiian salt (activated charcoal is infused while crystalizing). For this we opted for the espresso infused salt, the black Hawaiian salt, and the black truffle salt. The espresso salt on its own has the essence of espresso in it without the salt taking on the bitterness that you would expect from espresso. In fact, the salt does more of a job to activate you palate and re-energize it than anything. The black Hawaiian salt had a lovely hint of earthiness from it that comes from the activated charcoal infusion. And the black truffle salt is something that any truffle lover would adore. The pronounced bits of black truffle in it make for such a decadent and refined salt. We ordered our steak medium rare and it was cooked perfectly. Each bite was so tender and pairing it with the variety of salts was an experience like no other. There are also sauce pairings diners can order which includes a wasabi butter that packs so much umami in it, a bearnaise sauce that is creamy and delicious, and a chimichurri that adds a wonderful brightness and acidity to the steak. The amount of combinations one can enjoy this steak with is limitless. The experience of picking the salts is something we have never experienced before and we will never look at a steak experience the same way again.
To finish up our dinner, we ordered the Yuzu Curd dessert. The dessert came with yuzu curd pieces that was topped with a sugar tuile and paired with a strawberry gelato. This dish had a nice sweetness to it that wasn’t overpowering and had beautiful notes of yuzu and tropical fruit. The best part of the dish was getting a spoonful of the curd, the tuile, the gelato, and the cookie crumbles placed underneath it in order to get a wide variety of textures and flavors that all balanced each other out. It was no understatement to say that it was the perfect bite.
And at ette hotels, there is another restaurant to try that is now open on the 6th floor of the property. Also created by Akira Back, the rooftop space is called LIPA and is described as the creative crossroad of old and new-world Asian cuisine. We definitely recommend coming to the rooftop, especially when the Disney fireworks go off since it can be seen so clearly from LIPA.
The next night was ette hotels’ grand opening party. The theme was James Bond attire and guests from all over attended in beautiful gowns and elegant black tie attire. From the moment guests arrived at the property, they were welcomed by a fleet of Aston Martin vehicles at the main entrance. And when walking in, the sounds of DJ Marcio Pandoja surrounded the room.
The party had an electric feel with guests sampling some of ette’s signature cocktails (and if guests brought their own libations those could be incorporated into the drinks as well). Guests could explore the property from the main lobby to the social room to even the LIPA rooftop to enjoy the views from the 6th floor. Chef Akira Back provided wonderful hors d’oeuvres the entire night which included Miso Glazed Cod lettuce cups, Big Eye Tuna Pizza drizzled with truffle oil, Rock Shrimp Tempura with Korean chili aioli, Crispy Tofu Skewers with a spiced Korean glaze, Kumamoto Oysters with a Tosazu salsa, and a mouth watering Truffle Bomb including Sea Urchin, Sweet Shrimp, Gejang, Smoked Potato Foam and Caviar before ending the culinary journey with a Strawberry Coulis Twisted Cheesecake and graham cracker crumble.
And towards the middle of the party, guests made their way to the garden where ette servers displayed all the signature cocktails in a grand performance and interactive mist presentation (similar to the mist we experienced at dinner the other night).
The night of festivities continued with drinks flowing, guests laughing and enjoying themselves, and a lot of picture taking in front of the art displayed across the main level of the hotel.
After a night of partying and festivities, the only natural thing to do is go to the ette spa and get a facial. We received the 80 minute facial from our wonderful facialist Graciella from ette spa. The facial was an immersive mind and body experience. To start we were told to inhale essential oils to help relax our body and calm our mind. Throughout the facial, we enjoyed a wonderful scalp massage as well as getting our arms and hands rubbed down too. The calming music playing paired with the dim lighting let us fade away and immerse ourselves in this experience. The facials at ette use their exclusive product lines of Natura Bissé, Tammy Fender, and Florivera. The amount of care that went into the facial was incredible. Having our face scrubbed of any unwanted substance with exfoliators and then having serums and moisturizers rubbed in left our skin feeling refreshed, soft, and glowing. Once the 80 minutes were done, our bodies felt relaxed and tension free and our minds felt at ease and fully relaxed. And with the facial done, that concluded our experiences at ette hotels.
Our lasting impression of ette hotels was that it succeeded in its mission of provided guests with an incredibly restful and relaxing stay while also providing some of the best experiences around. Sitting poolside and enjoying a mocktail was one of the simplest pleasures we could have experienced at ette. And needless to say the dining experience at ette is like no other hotel. We would be happy to make the trip back to ette solely for the food at Salt & The Cellar alone. And if you are at ette hotels, we highly recommend trying the spa services for yourself since the facial we received was in a league of its own. Whether you are in Orlando for some of the theme parks or for a cute vacation, we cannot recommend ette hotels enough.