The thing about the Villages is that This Is It. For the rest of your life. That is why you came here to enjoy the final years doing exactly what you wanted, when you want to do it and with the sort of people you want to do it with. People like you. It creates a unique community, all 86,000+ plus of them and all over the age of 55 (you have to be to buy a house in the Villages). And every moment of your day is, should you wish it, orchestrated and arranged so you have the day of your life. You can swim, golf, take any one of several hundreds of courses or activities, play tennis or virtually any sort of outdoor game and all in a balmy climate of around 25-30 degrees centigrade every day. It is extraordinary, amazing and it is all thought up by a gentleman called Mr Morse (no relation) who had the nonce to buy several thousand square miles of Floriday swampland and understood the demographics of the USA better than anyone else.
Morse realized the golden opportunity that retiring citizens who had homes to sell in the cold north represented for a real estate man like him who had lots of land to sell in the sun-soaked and verdant South. He also was very clued into what these people would want, to quite simply live a dream, so he went to the fantasy specialists - Disney - and asked them to create the dreams that would make it all happen. Which they did. The dozen or so first-class golf courses, the entertainments, the whole essence of the Villages is just that, the villages or townships that are dotted around which contain ships, cinemas, bars, outdoor dancing venues and all themed to your taste. There is an Old Spanish township, a sixties township, a new Old West township and they leave you exhausted from laughing at the silliness and ridiculousness of it all. Except that it is infectious. I got the bug and bought a house the first time I went there, you just cannot help it. It is all so easy. "Ah sir, and how will you be paying for that? American Express? That will do nicely." Two weeks later my neat and perfect 3-bedroom villa was ready, fully decorated, golf cart in the garage. Perfect. You just can't beat the Americans when it comes to stuff like that. But of course there is a bit of a backside to all of this convenience.
Mr. Morse lets you buy a house in the Villages and everything is for the most part included in the price, plus a fee. Sounds very reasonable. But he also takes a percentage of every part of the extraordinary operation that supports the enormous population of this neverending story with a very definitive end. It is a business and of course that means everyone has to make a profit. Which brings us to the necessities of life. Running an eatery where you are going to be missing a hefty percentage off the topline for every punter who walks through the doors does wonders for maximising the entire supply chain involved.
There are many restaurants in the Villages and they all pay for the privilege of being there. It is surely worth it. A ready-made captive audience of middle american pensioners without great demands on the sort of food they eat or how it gets on the table. No problem you would have thought, to make sure that they get fairly decent stuff served in a courteous manner. Well Yes and No, is the answer because you have to take into account the Human factor. The lazy cook, the in-fighting among the staff to get the big tipping parties, the difficulty of trying to control disdain for the motley groups that fill up the tables and move on. But nevertheless, they take the money so they have a duty to try and keep it all civilized.
One of these outlets can be found at the Palmer Legends Country Club, which is meant to be one of the classier joints catering to slightly upscale retirees in club-like surroundings. The rumour is that this club and the surrounding golf course where actually designed and approved by Arnie himself, difficult to actually verify but there is so much of that in the Villages anyway. It is fantasy with a capital F. It would certainly lead you to expect that the food would likely be a step up from TGIF or Red Lobster just down the road. Which is why people go there and find out this is not quite the case. People like myself, prepared to spend the odd $250 or so for an evening with friends uninterrupted by poor food or service with an attitude. Well that did not happen.
Despite an early reservation with a terrace table overlooking the first tee, our party of six was given a table right outside the kitchen door and in front of the main door from the restaurant to the terrace. The noise level from the already well-lubricated early diners made any normal conversation impossible, so, of course a polite request for re-seating followed. This was not taken kindly. It meant sitting inside, obviously at great inconvenience to the staff in an almost empty restaurant, at a table that could only have been chosen to make it clear we were not the most favoured group of diners that evening. A further request for a different table that was not directly in the path of new guests entering the restaurant resulted in a grudging placement at yet another table on condition "you are out in an hour."
Ouch. These are not the precursors of an enjoyable evening. Some of our party are already looking slightly embarrassed by the "fuss". Not used to getting their own way when dealing with hostile restaurants means they feel uncomfortable and who could blame them? But the youngest diner at a tender six years old quickly got the message. "Daddy why is that man being so horrible?", seemed to sum it up really. We were just there to eat, preferably in comfort, at which point I discovered the minxish waiter who had been mincing around snorting during all of this, had put my chair directly under an air conditioning outlet that dripped steadily and consistently on to my right shoulder throughout the meal.
And so to the food. Shall we? Really? Do we need to even talk about the horrors of that obscene plastic coated menu? My Indian Satay on brioche turned out to be pieces of deep fried chicken treated to a quick microwave experience and slapped on the plate with a cup of treacle with peanuts in it. Others at the table had the novel experience of Ahai Tuna, lightly seared, which turned out to be defrosted cat food with some sort of wasabe and chop sticks to emphasise the far Eastern connection. I could go on, but what is the point? This was a restaurant in name only. No real food preparation was going on, it was just a fleecing pit for those without the courage or motivation to simply take the obvious course. Leave, as fast as possible and make sure that as many people as possible are informed of the profound distress they will suffer should they choose to eat there.
Which, by the way, actually happened to me. I suffered profoundly, alone in my hotel toilet for over 7 hours. So I can truly say the Palmer legend lived on. Oooh, excuse me just thinking about it means I have to rush to the ........oh and by the way, the other Villages restaurants are all about the same. So if you are visiting, take medical precautions or stick to MacDonalds.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.