Category: Features

Picture My Pet Photo Contest

For 16 years, Southwest Orlando residents have showed off the modeling talents of their beloved pets in the annual Picture My Pet photo issue. And for 16 years, the staff of the Southwest Orlando Bulletin has had the privilege of reviewing hundreds of creative — and often funny — shots, showcasing everything from dogs in hats to cuddly kittens to birds and horses.

This year was no exception. Residents from more than 42 neighborhoods submitted almost 100 photos of their furry and fluffy friends, creating an adorable album of the pets that bring joy to the hearts of their owners across Southwest Orlando.

We extend big thank-yous to all the residents and their animal pals who participated in this year’s issue!

A Historical Look at Winter Garden

Cherishing the Past While Progressing Into the Future

by Debra Wood

One of the most successful efforts at embracing history in Central Florida, downtown Winter Garden has become an active, engaging area full of shops, restaurants, a hotel and a theater.

Men, women and children work the fields in the 1900s. (Photo courtesy of the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation)

The city formed a community redevelopment agency in 1992, the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation was created in 1994, and the History Research and Education Center opened in 2015.

Valentine’s Day Wishes

Valentine’s Day is that special time of year when we celebrate the cherished bonds we share with family, friends and loved ones. In honor of the romantic holiday, we asked you to send us your sweet nothings, and the responses touched our hearts.

Read below for outpourings of love from residents across Southwest.

Cupid’s Corner

February brings the season of love, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner. Hands are held, flowers are delivered, and chocolate is consumed by the pound. This year, make your valentine feel extra-special with one (or more) of these fabulous gift ideas. Whether it is a romantic dinner for two, an energizing activity or self-improvement, Cupid’s Corner has the perfect fit for your loved one.

Huntington Learning Center

Meet the SAT/ACT Experts Securing Students’ Futures

Although Arya (left) and Ziya are identical twins, Huntington Learning Center has created a program tailored to each one’s specific needs.

Ipanema Brows & Waxing

Bringing Brazilian Beauty Techniques to Orlando

Osvaldo Marraccini (left) and Mariana Ribeiro, owners of Ipanema Brows & Waxing, pride themselves on offering a clean, relaxing, private solution to beauty care.

Feel the warmth of the environment, relax in tropical surroundings, and let native bossa nova music move you to a peaceful state of mind. These statements might make you visualize yourself on a luxurious beach somewhere hundreds of miles from home.

New Year, New You

Keeping resolutions can be a daunting task; however, Southwest Orlando Bulletin’s first New Year, New You section provides a plethora of advice from local experts to help readers achieve and maintain their goals.

Best of Southwest 2017

More than 15,000 votes were cast in the Best of Southwest 2017, Southwest Orlando Bulletin’s ninth annual survey of residents’ favorite restaurants, resorts and more. Congratulations to this year’s winners:

Stories of the Season

The entries submitted for Southwest Orlando Bulletin’s 25th annual Stories of the Season contest told tales of special visits from Santa, mystical holiday creatures and the joy of spending time with family and friends. Whether they recreate holiday memories or take readers to imaginary places filled with elves, reindeer and their ilk, they are sure to add holiday spirit to all this year.

Congratulations to first-place winner Victoria Hernandez of Sand Lake Hills, runner-up Tabitha Eastham of Ocoee, and child winner Porter MacCabe of Saddlebrooke, all of whom received cash prizes. Also included are submissions selected as honorable mentions.

The staff of the Southwest Orlando Bulletin extends thank-yous to everyone who entered the contest and wishes a happy holiday season to all.

Attorney Richard West

New Year, New Name, New Location, Same Excellent Service!

Attorney Richard West (right), joined by Shane Herbert, Esq., prepares to open West Family Law Group. (Photo by

Longtime Bay Hill resident Richard West, named Orlando’s 2016 Family Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers in America, will be opening an office in Southwest Orlando at 7009 Dr. Phillips Blvd., Suite 130, in February 2017. His new firm name is West Family Law Group.

Richard has been practicing in Central Florida since 1986, specializing in marital and family law. In addition to being named …

The Woodhouse Day Spa

Relax & Rejuvenate in Luxury

If you are searching for the perfect gift for that special someone this holiday season, look no further than The Woodhouse Day Spa. Tucked away in the Dellagio Town Center in Dr. Phillips, The Woodhouse Day Spa has provided locals with impeccable service since it opened in February 2009. With more than 6,000 square feet of amazing ambiance and more than 70 relaxing and rejuvenating treatments, The Woodhouse Day Spa has something to satisfy any need.

2016 Holiday Gift Guide

While November has just begun, and Thanksgiving is still weeks away, many Southwest Orlando residents may already feel pressure in their searches for amazing holiday gifts for everyone on their lists. Southwest Orlando Bulletin’s annual Holiday Gift Guide provides a comprehensive listing of various local stores, as well as gift ideas — from always-handy gift cards to home services to fun fitness opportunities and more — that are sure to please everyone this holiday season.

SWB Promotional Feature – The Rep

the-rep-1Harry Connick Jr.s The Happy Elf Makes Its Central Florida Debut This Holiday Season

Orlando Repertory Theatre delights young audiences with performances of Harry Connick Jr.’s The Happy Elf through Dec. 18.

Orlando Repertory Theatre (The REP) presents Harry Connick Jr.’s The Happy Elf, sure to become a new holiday classic onstage this season. The production is presented by Orange County Arts & Cultural Affairs.

El Inka Grill Ceviche: Experience the Flavor!

Born in New York to Peruvian parents, Ivan Colombier’s childhood memories are full of family, friends and delicious food.

“My parents are both from Lima, Peru,” he said. “My brothers and I were raised with the Peruvian cuisine. Growing up, friends always wanted to hang out at our house because of the incredible dishes our mother would make.”

Ivan was so inspired by the delectable food and the way it brought people together that he decided to attend culinary school.

“Shortly after my wife and I, along with our two sons, moved to Orlando, I attended Le Cordon Bleu [College of Culinary Arts] and graduated as a chef in the culinary arts.”

Years later, Ivan decided to open his first restaurant.

Read more →

Southwest Orlando Boo-tiful Baby Photo Album

This Halloween, homes across Southwest Orlando will be enchanted by fairies; kept safe by superheroes; and visited by lions, tigers, bears and their companions.

Blake is the son of Kris and Amy Hanigosky of Winter Garden.

Southwest Orlando Bulletin’s 13th annual Boo-tiful Baby Halloween Photo Album is a sneak preview at what to expect from this year’s youngest trick-or-treaters, with costumes ranging from princesses to super heroes and even some villains. The SWB staff extends a heart-felt thank-you to all the residents who participated in this year’s contest.

Associates in Dermatology Combats Skin Cancer With Patient-Centered Care

A Leading Dermatology Center

While we may be approaching the cooler season in Florida, don’t be fooled into thinking that you couldn’t get more sun exposure than necessary and increase your risk of deadly skin cancer. As our skin, the largest organ in the human body, protects us in so many ways, we must care for and shield our skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s deadly ultraviolet rays. By failing to do so, we run the risk of developing various forms of skin cancer.

Andy Phillips State Farm Insurance Co. Offers a Wide Variety of Insurance and Financial Products

It’s All About Helping People

Andy Phillips of Andy Phillips State Farm Insurance Co. thrives on helping members of the community with all of their insurance needs (photo courtesy

There is no better feeling than a sense of security when an unforeseen circumstance or catastrophic event happens. That’s what Andy Phillips State Farm Insurance Co. is able to offer — peace of mind.

Dr. Philip Phillips … The Legacy

The Beginning of Dr. Phillips, Central Floridas First MasterPlanned Community

by Debra Wood

Southwest Orlando residents and visitors can see the name “Dr. Phillips” on everything from schools to a hospital to a road. So who was Dr. Phillips and why is a community named after him?

SW Orlando Team Pride

Nothing gets spirits riled up more than a good sporting competition, and Southwest residents are as proud of their teams as anyone. We collected a few snapshots of them wearing their favorite teams’ gear.

Colby Silveira of Regency Oaks at Stone Crest and his aunt, Lauren Bocken of Westfield Lakes, root for the Florida Gators at a home game.

A Historical Remembrance

Winter Garden’s Sept. 11 Memorial

by Karen V. Contino

In a small park behind Winter Garden Fire Rescue Department headquarters, between East Cypress and Main streets, rests a marked and rusted, 700-pound I-beam fixed to a smooth granite base. The beam, recovered from the World Trade Center wreckage, is the prominent centerpiece of the city of Winter Garden’s Sept. 11 Memorial, dedicated to the first responders who perished in the terrorist attacks just 15 years ago.

“The memorial that we were able to build provides a local remembrance of 9/11 for our residents, visitors and many others who have relocated to Winter Garden from New York City,” said Winter Garden Fire Rescue Department Fire Chief Matt McGrew.

Messages of Support

Every day men and women in uniform set their personal safety aside to protect and serve members of our community. Whether they are police officers, firefighters, paramedics or other first responders, Southwest Orlando sleeps a little safer each night thanks to these individuals.

See below for outpourings of support from residents across Southwest.

There are not enough words to describe how thankful my family is for all the dedication and hard work that has been put forth by all first responders. They have dedicated their lives to keeping our community safe, and we are forever grateful.

Claudia Kelly

Silver Woods

Mama Louise Restaurant

Offering Authentic Italian Food Prepared With Love

There is nothing like a home-cooked meal, especially if the recipe has been passed down and perfected through generations. Mama Louise Restaurant is one place where you can have that experience without pulling out your own pots and pans and heading to the kitchen to try to prepare fresh Italian dishes.

The Orlando Repertory Theatre


Seeking to Educate and Enlighten Young Minds on the Merits of Theater

Sixteen years. That marks the number of years children in Orlando and beyond have been impacted by productions and theatrical opportunities of Orlando Repertory Theatre in Partnership With UCF, fondly known to many as The REP. First emerging in 2000 in partnership with UCF, The REP has continued its initial goal to …

SW Orlando Family Vacation Photos – 2016

Whether they involve snowballs, swimsuits or sightseeing, family vacations are often the most anticipated events of the year. From San Francisco to London to Jamaica to Thailand, Southwest residents have traveled the world with their families, creating picture-perfect memories along the way. The Southwest Orlando Bulletin staff extends a big thank-you to all the residents who participated in the seventh annual Family Vacation Photo Album, which is a true celebration of family and fun.