Upscale family resorts are sprouting all over Orlando as quickly as timeshares. One of the newest entries is the Grande Lakes development that includes a Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott. These two luxury resorts, which share a Greg Norman-designed golf course, are located about equal distance from Walt Disney World and Universal Studios and a few miles from Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center.
And besides the convenience of being near the theme parks (most families' destination), the airport is just 15 minutes away.
My daughter and I recently stayed at the J. W. Marriott (407/206-2300 or 800/682-9956) for a Disney World vacation. The hotel is really lovely with its beautiful fountains and gleaming lobby. With 1,000 rooms and 100,000-square-feet of meeting space, the hotel is very attractive to groups looking for an upscale meeting venue combined with terrific recreational amenities. Next door, the more luxurious Ritz-Carlton offers 584 rooms. But individual families will also appreciate these fine hotels.
The highlight of large and comfortable rooms at the Marriott is the gorgeous bathroom! My daughter, Anna and I especially enjoyed using the plethora of quality bath products, each with a special scent. The separate, glass enclosed shower is also a plus. The view from our room included the awesome pool and grounds.
Fabulous Family Facilities
This 24,000-square-foot winding, lazy river pool offers several swimming areas, a zero entry pool and a few hot tubs. Be careful with young swimmers. The pool is so large that it was a challenge to watch Anna swim the length of the river without losing sight of her! Lifeguards are posted throughout the loop and we found some flotation devices to borrow. Also poolside is a beach volleyball court, playground and campfire pit for evening roasts. Dive-in movies, where guests watch an outdoor screening from their roofs or chaise lounge, are shown on Saturday nights, weather permitting.
Close to the pool is the Marriott’s activity center. (This room is staffed, but does not have a supervised children’s program. There is one, however, available next door at the Ritz-Carlton (407/206-2400 or 800/682-3665) as an evening program priced at $80/D per child from 4-10pm with dinner. The day program is $20/hr per child and is open to kids between 5-12 years of age (Hours: noon-6pm). The Marriott’s activity room is filled with games, toys, videos and comfy chairs. Family and children’s activities and crafts are scheduled throughout the day, some for a small fee. Next store is the video arcade. Families can also play tennis, croquet or rent bikes to ride around the property. And then there is the golf…
Great Golf and Super Spa
The Ritz Carlton Golf Club proudly presents 18 holes and offers a unique service: the Golf Caddie-Concierge program. Golfers are provided with a knowledgeable caddie-concierge to assist in locating golf balls, providing accurate yardages, cleaning your clubs, repairing your ball marks and raking bunkers!
For those seeking some relaxation, the 40,000-square-foot spa is housed in a Mediterranean style villa by the Ritz-Carlton. With a Florida citrus theme, the world’s first citrus consultant is available to suggest citrus-inspired treatments and products, and to provide advice on incorporating citrus into skin care and diet. The spa showcases 40 treatment rooms, a private heated lap pool for spa guests, fitness center, salon, and boutique. In addition to treatments, the spa offers wellness and workout programs from around the world. You can try Hawaiian Hula dancing, African Tundra Trekking and South American Salsa dancing along with your yoga and Pilates! Spa treatments for kids and teens are also available including facials, massages, manicures and pedicures.
There are plenty of full-service places to dine too. You can choose from nine dining options including an Italian restaurant, upscale New World Cuisine, Starbucks, spa cuisine and pool snack bars.
For the past few winters, both hotels have offered different family packages that include two connecting rooms and such amenities as free self parking, Ritz Kids club, breakfast, unlimited ice cream, late check-out, free kid’s meals and welcome gifts. Rates start around $438 for two rooms at the Marriott and $538 for two rooms at the Ritz-Carlton.
We hope you enjoy your stay at Grand Lakes as much as we did. Learn more about it and its sister properties at www.Marriott.com.
Resort Report Card
|Name:||JW Marriot Grande Lakes|
4040 Central Florida Parkway
|Seasonal Rates:||$$$ – $$$$|
|Choice of Activities:||A+|
|Quality of Amenities:||A+|
|Bonus:||The lobby lounge rolls fresh sushi, yum!|
|Note:||With so many outdoor activites (horseback riding, hiking) nearby, you'll never run out of things to do.|
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