HGTV Winner Weekend in Florida!

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Pool At The Ritz Carlton

So this past weekend we all went to Orlando for the HGTV Dream Home Winner Weekend!  We stayed at the Ritz Carlton (WOW!) and had some free time the afternoon we arrived so we took a walk around the property and then relaxed at the pool.  That evening there was a cocktail reception followed by a dinner for the Sponsors of the Dream Home.  There were representatives of the various companies that donated materials, i.e. the flooring, faucets, paint, Quicken Loans and GMC etc…  There were also some Execs from HGTV and the Scripps Networks Senior Management as well.  Part of the program included the story of my transplant as well as the ambush that happened at church on Palm Sunday.  They then showed a short video clip of the ambush when Tiffany Brooks announced me as the Winner, which was very exciting to see.  I also said a few words of thanks to the sponsors and HGTV.  After the dinner I met as many of the sponsors as I had time for which was very nice.  After the dinner Kate, Kenny, Carolyn, Meg and I went to the lounge in the Ritz Lobby.

IMG_0386At The Sponsor Dinner

Friday we had the morning and early afternoon free to ourselves.  Meg and I had an early morning walk around our hotel grounds and over to the Marriott in the same complex then to the golf course and back to the Ritz and then had the buffet breakfast.  As we finished the rest of our crew texted that they were finally up and had we had breakfast.  We stayed for another cup of coffee/tea while our crew had breakfast.  After breakfast they went off to try out the pool at the Marriott and we  did some window shopping at the Ritz and Marriott and then went to relax at the pool.  At 3:00 PM we headed to Merritt Island to tour the Dream House.  It was about an hour drive to Merritt Island where we stopped about 15 minutes from the house to get miked up and have some make-up applied.  Then we headed to the house stopping just short of the driveway so they could install go-pro camera’s in our vehicle and make sure everyone was in place at the house.  Once everyone was set and in place we drove the last 100 yards and turned down the drive to the Dream House.

IMG_0399It was an amazing experience!  There were like 80 people in the driveway and I was greeted by HGTV Host Tiffany Brooks when I got out of the car.  I was brought over to the GMC Acadia Denali  where the GMC Executive gave me the keys and the keys to the Bryant Speranza Boat.  Then Tiffany brought me to the Quicken Loans Executive and he presented the big check for $250,000.  Then Tiffany introduced me to the project manager and contractor for the Dream House and they presented the biggie – the Keys to the HGTV Dream House!

IMG_0412We approached the house and I was introduced to the designer, Brian Patrick Flynn and he took me to the door and we opened it a crack and then time stopped for  about 45 minutes while the crowd dispersed and they moved the camera and sound crews inside the house and re-set everything after the tour they gave the sponsors while we drove to Merritt Island.  During this time we hung out in the brand new three car garage that is probably bigger than my whole house in Connecticut.  It was so beautiful I probably would be afraid to put a car into the garage.  Once we were all set again we went back and did the big dramatic entrance into the Dream House.  It is hard to describe but fortunately we will all see it on May 27th!

The house is amazing!  The photo’s on the web site are impressive but in person the Dream House is much more impressive.  The sheer scope and magnitude are hard to imagine or describe and the attention to detail is amazing.  The floor to ceiling windows in the Living Room allow amazing access to the million dollar view.  My family was the first to actually sit in the furniture and touch all the furnishings.  It was also fun to hear Brian

IMG_0426Patrick Flynn tell stories about why he choose different pieces in the house, or dis-agreements with contractors about the back splash in the kitchen (which he won and the back splash goes to the ceiling).  We toured the Living Room, Kitchen, Dining Room, Media Room, and the two down stairs bedrooms – the Terra Cotta Room (which on the web site looks Coral or even Orange) and the Blue Terrace Bedroom.  Each room seems to be more impressive than the previous room.  Even the bathrooms are amazing and huge – we actually had six of us plus a camera operator or two and a photographer comfortably in the bathrooms.  Then Brian took us up to the Master Bedroom – WOW!  It is hard to describe.  It has a huge bed and a sitting area in the main room and two leather chairs at the foot of the bed.  Off the bedroom is the bathroom, which is bigger than my living room in CT.  It has a shower that like 10 friends could shower in together (not that that is ever going to be an option).  There is also a large soaker tub and lots of floor space.  There is also a giant walk-in closet.  Almost forgot there is also a deck off the master bedroom so that you can enjoy the view.

After the bedroom Brian had to leave to catch a flight but we stayed and toured the back yard which includes a Lanai, Outdoor Kitchen, Patio, Pool, Luxury Dog House – it goes on and on!  Then there is the dock and the Bryant Speranza 21 foot Speed Boat.

We ended the outdoor tour with a sunset toast to our new Dream House!

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I Won’t Ever Tire of This View!

After the toast on the back deck we had to get inside as a storm was coming across the river.  Once back inside we did final interviews in groups.  First Meg and I were asked questions in the Kitchen, then Kate and Kenny in the Living Room and finally Carolyn in the Media Room.  I hope they got everything they need for the Reveal Show.  We finally left the Dream House around 9:00 PM, and got back to the Ritz at 10:00 and had drinks and dinner in the Lounge.  I am sorry for not having more pictures to share with you but they did have two photographers there and they will get me their pictures in time.  The weekend didn’t end then for on Saturday we did Universal Orlando but that is a story for another time!

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