Serving Guests with Excellence
The staff at Grand Oaks Resort is united by a common purpose of providing outstanding guest experiences. Whether you are staying in one of our cottages, training with our equestrian instructors, attending a special event or enjoying any of our other amenities, you can be certain that our entire team is working to make your visit to The Grand Oaks truly memorable.
Owner Tom Golisano
In March of 2011, a new plan for development of an equine destination resort in central Florida was launched with Tom Golisano’s purchase of the Florida Carriage Museum, rechristened The Grand Oaks Resort and Museum. Golisano’s vision and love for the open spaces and green grasses of the ranch promised the preservation of the museum’s heritage along with the addition of resort-styled amenities that would embrace not only driving enthusiast, but those of every other equine discipline. Today a new 54,000 square foot covered arena and 45 RV coach sites are complete. The property is already rated one of the finest “go to” resorts for equine enthusiast and vacation experiences, weddings and social events.
Tom Golisano is a noted American entrepreneur and philanthropist. Golisano is the Founder and Chairman of the Board of Paychex, Inc., the second largest payroll processing company in the U.S and had served as its President and Chief Executive Officer until 2004. He founded the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation in 1985, to provide and improve services for individuals with developmental disabilities and is Special Olympics’ largest individual contributor. Golisano has often been recognized for his entrepreneurial, civic, and philanthropic achievements and endeavors. Paychex is a Fortune 1000 company and Golisano was listed among Forbes’ Top 10 Bosses in the U.S. for three consecutive years, beginning in 2002.
Concept to Completion
Thomas Warriner, V.P. & General Manager of the Grand Oaks Companies
Mr. Warriner was no stranger to the Museum and its holdings and along with the rest of the equine community held the efforts of the founder in high regard. Market conditions post 2007 severally compromised the value of all Florida properties and made a business plan to breathe life into the project a challenge much greater than initially anticipated. Both Oliver and Warriner developed several plans, all with the intent of expanding the offering of the property while keeping the equine influence alive. One investor with an intimate knowledge of the Museum and its holdings was B. Thomas Golisano, a successful businessman with many turn-around-successes to his credit. Crafting a plan that fulfilled his requirements and would lead to a potentially profitable plan demanded all of the team’s resources and the scrutiny of Mr. Golisano. The exercise also revealed one of Mr. Golisano true passions; a good business plan that also embraced his appreciation for the richness and colors of the land.
Warriner had been instrumental in marketing both resort and competition based equine ventures throughout the US, South and Central America and the Pacific basin. He has a 40 year history in real estate specializing in properties with an economic or functional obsolescence.
The team crafted a mission statement that included embracing all equine disciplines, the remarketing of the property as a full service resort, full food and beverage services and a country club environment with the primary amenity remaining equine pursuits, vacation rentals and tourism based attractions. When Mr. Golisano accepted the business plan from the team the acquisition and commencement of the business plan began in early 2011.
Laureen Oliver, Chief Financial Officer of the Grand Oaks Companies
In mid-2010 the nucleus of a team designed to sell and/or address the obsolescence of the Florida Carriage Museum was formed at the invitation of the Founder of the Museum. First on board was Laureen Oliver, a longtime friend of the Museum with a keen understanding of the financial conditions of the property and the dynamics of the financial markets and demographics of nearby populations. Ms. Oliver is a 30-year veteran of financial management interest including acting as principal of her own tax advisory group and CPA organization.
As her investigation began Ms. Oliver quickly learned that a second member of the team would be needed, one with an understanding of equine markets both from that as a competitor, farm owner as well as developer of equine inspired activity sites, horse parks and residential investment opportunities. Mr. Thomas Warriner was invited to join the team and collaborate on a business plan would mark the next chapter of the Florida Carriage Museum.
To date the team has completed the following;
- Design and construct an outdoor arena with flexible footing and lights (145X275)
- Design and construct an indoor/covered arena with flexible footing, lights, seating (170X300)
- Build an outfitters/tack store that is an official ORVIS sales center for fly fishing and a full service harness and carriage sales facility.
- Design and construct a 45 slip premium RV facility that will support the visitors to the resort and add to the housing inventory.
- Design and construct a full service café and lounge suitable for weekend live entertainment and social events throughout the year.
- Add additional hazards and arenas in support of driving, dressage and polo.
- Salon and Spa
- A complete redesign of irrigation, grass types designed for heavy use, landscaping and designated performance areas.
- The recognition and ultimate redesign of an aging hay barn into a period wedding venue/chapel that is now home to weddings almost every weekend and our very own cowboy church on Sunday mornings.
The concept was clear, take a magnificent property whose target market was narrow and expand it to multi-discipline/entertainment and tourism. Develop shoulder and summer seasons to enhance the successful winter program already in effect. Make the resort a year-around destination for vacationers, travelers, tourist and neighbors.
Completion is some time away. The business plan addressed each of the bulleted points above and those have been completed. The future holds the elements that secure revenue on an annual basis including but not limited to a boutique hotel, expanded food service, pool and enhanced barns and RV opportunities.
Equine Manager — Kacy Tipton-Fashik
Equine Manager Kacy Tipton-Fashik moved to Florida from her native South Texas in 1999 to work at what is today Grand Oaks Resort. A CAA Certified Level 1 & 2 Instructor and Level 1 Evaluator, Kacy specializes in fine-tuning guests’ driving skills. She gives lessons from single up to 4-in-hand driving, drawing upon her 16 years of driving experience. Kacy organizes the Resort’s successful equine events, including the Grand Oaks Classic, Central Florida HDT and more.
“I have seen the Grand Oaks Resort grow into an amazing place!” Kacy says. “The Grand Oaks Resort has flourished into a great show facility. The grounds around it are excellent for training. Now that we are adding the HDTs into our program, we have new training obstacle for all types of disciplines. The addition of TG’s Deli and the Players Club helps make this an excellent equine destination and show facility. I come to work everyday enjoying what I do.”