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The majestic hills of Lake County, Fla., attract golfers and vacationers to Mission Inn

The Mission Inn Resort & Club of Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., is located at 10400 County Road 48. For more information about Mission Inn or for reservations, call (800) 874-9053, e-mail reservations@missioninnresort.com or log on to www.missioninnresort.com.

Mastering the El Campeon course, or “The Champion,” is no small feat. While its one of the oldest and most challenging championship courses in the South, it also features some of the friendliest staff and visitors.

From a warm greeting offered by a greens-keeper, to the fellow golfers that pause for a cheerful chat, there appears not to be a sad soul in the entire Mission Inn Resort & Club.

“Everyone is always so friendly here,” says Tom Skinner, a spokesman for Mission Inn, as he greets two morning duffers. “It’s hard not to be in a good mood around here, just look around.”

Golfing

He couldn’t be more right. While resorts are synonymous to Florida, Mission Inn breaks the mold with its tranquil setting of a peaceful plantation nestled in the rolling hills of a small Lake County, Fla., villa known as Howey-in-the-Hills. With its Spanish-Mediterranean style architecture, the resort is perfect for a relaxing getaway in the evergreen slopes surrounding the serene community.

“One of the things I think makes Mission Inn unique is its setting,” Skinner said. “There’s not many places in Central Florida where you can find hills.

“A lot of people don’t know that Lake County has all this natural beauty and it’s so close to Orlando” This is the real Florida here. Rolling hills, spring-fed lakes, that’s what makes us such a unique place.”

While the beauty of the resort can be breath-taking, the quality of amenities offered can be equally impressive. The 200-room resort features luxurious accommodations that include room service, valet, airport transportation, safety deposit boxes, business center, dry cleaning, babysitting, fax machine, a notary and of course The Golf Channel.

Mission Inn Golf and Tennis Resort

The resort’s two golf courses attract vacationers, corporate functions and renowned golf tournaments. The El Campeon is the third oldest golf course in the state. By featuring water on 13 of 18 holes and rare 85-foot elevation changes, the course ranks in the Top 10 in the state, according to Florida Golfing News.

Along with the Las Colinas (The Hills), which is noted for its large, undulating fairways and greens, the two courses make for outstanding tournament play. The resort hosted the Hooter’s Collegiate Match Play Championship in 2004 and will do so again in November 2005.

Excellent golfing opportunities also attract corporate functions. Mission Inn features 30,000 square feet of function space and specializes in accommodating corporate groups of 12 to 350.

Other amenities at the resort include three restaurants. Enjoy majestic golf and plaza vistas during breakfast or lunch at La Hacienda. For a casual lunch or dinner, try Nicker's, located at the golf clubhouse, or discover the elegant culinary delights of El Conquistador, overlooking the Plaza de la Fontana.

While the pleasant atmosphere and pristine nature surrounding Mission Inn tends to breed friendliness, watch out for golfers emerging from the treacherous El Campeon. The signature double dogleg 17th hole, known as “Devil’s Delight,” features a precarious approach with a green fronted by water and guarded by bunkers.

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