Thomas L. Dempsey, then Chairman and CEO of Penton Publishing, a subsidiary of the Fortune 500 Pittway Corporation, developed Saddlebrook Resort after Pittway purchased the 480-acre property in 1979. Dempsey envisioned a resort that would allow guests to experience a side of Florida many had never seen, an abundant wildlife that thrives thanks to the preservation of the surrounding lakes and woodlands. The resort itself is located within a gated and secure nature preserve that is home to colorful birds such as sandhill cranes, wood storks and great blue herons – and a few gators – that make their home in the verdant vegetation that exists in harmony with the natural layout of the hotel grounds.
Saddlebrook Resort formally opened in 1981, with a thoughtful, car-free Walking Village design that allows guests to easily walk throughout the resort without the need of a car. Saddlebrook continues to flourish as an acclaimed destination for area conferences and events as well as a nationally recognized training center for golf and tennis.
In 1992, the Saddlebrook Preparatory School was founded to offer student-athletes a comprehensive educational experience with concurrent enrollment in either the Harry Hopman Tennis Program or Saddlebrook Golf Academy. Saddlebrook Prep is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Florida Council of Independent Schools.
Saddlebrook Resort has been named one of the “Top 100 Golf Resorts in North America, The Caribbean and The Atlantic, Ireland and Scotland” by Condé Nast Traveler, listed among the “Top 25 Tennis Resorts in the World” by Tennis Resorts Online, and has received 27 Pinnacle Awards from Successful Meetings, as well as 29 Gold Key, 23 Gold Tee and 9 Gold Platter awards from Meetings & Conventions magazine, which also lists Saddlebrook as a Gold Hall of Fame member.
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