JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Rating: 4.0 Pearls
International Drive, Orlando, Central Florida

This hotel has undergone significant renovations since our visit.
We will update our photos and review as soon as we can.

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

Cons

  • Valet and self-parking are each charged per day.
  • No Wi-Fi; daily fee for wired Internet
  • No off-site activities within walking distance

Bottom Line

The 998-room JW Marriott is one of the most luxurious resorts in Orlando, and not just because it shares a gorgeous golf course and spa with the adjacent Ritz-Carlton. Its big rooms, streaming lazy-river pool, and acclaimed Italian restaurant are all among the best in Orlando -- a great choice, for business or a family vacation.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

A quiet, luxurious contrast to Orlando's busy theme-park and business hotels

The JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes
The JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes

This is an impressive hotel, but not only because shares all its features with the adjoining Ritz-Carlton. The JW, Marriott's most upscale brand, has always been a step or two behind in the world of luxury hotels, but this is not the case with this massive, 1,057-room resort. With its beautiful marble lobby, large (and very comfortable) guest rooms, enormous lazy-river pool, and fine-dining restaurant from a James-Beard-Award-winning chef, this JW is one of Orlando's best resorts in its own right. And getting to the massive spa and the 18-hole golf course (technically, on the Ritz side of the Grande Lakes property) only takes a five-minute walk through a bright, indoor corridor or along a paved path beside the Greg-Norman-designed fairways. Both properties were renovated in 2011, with rooms receiving even more luxe updates, including a tiled entryway.

And unlike the towering, hyper-dense business hotels of International Drive or the themed-out, rugrat-packed properties at Disney or Universal Studios, the JW Marriott Grande Lakes is a calmer, more self-contained mega-resort. It's about a 15-minute drive from the Disney or Universal theme parks, but its full stock of on-site features keep many guests on the property for the duration of their stay. The on-site convention center draws a great deal of group traffic, but a hefty contingent of family vacationers keeps the vibe mellow and fun. Here, quiet relaxation takes priority over business-trip hustle and theme-park bustle.

Despite slight differences in the rooms -- only some have balconies, and none have iPod docks -- the JW Marriott is virtually identical to the Ritz. Choosing between them is easy: Book at the cheaper of the two.

 Service

Excellent conveniences; friendly, accommodating staff

Nightly turndown service
Nightly turndown service

The scope of JW's services covers the necessary (porter service) to nice flourishes (nightly turndowns). And the staff is remarkably friendly -- they always offered to help me with bags, directions, or restaurant recommendations, each time with a smile.

  • Nightly turndown service; free chocolates and bottled water
  • Poolside drink service
  • Concierge, Universal Studios ticket desk, and Hertz car rental counter on site
  • Express, in-room video checkout
  • Full array of business services -- shipping, transcription, on-site notary public -- available Monday through Friday, with limited weekend hours.
  • Free copies, faxes, and black-and-white printouts at the front desk (up to 20 pages); at the business center, copies are charged per page
  • Same-day dry cleaning and minor alterations; two-hour pressing; self-service laundry open 24 hours
  • Daily fee for valet and self-parking

 Location

On the 500-acre Grande Lakes property, near convention-centric International Drive; at least a 10-minute drive from any major theme park -- or anything at all, really

Like the Ritz-Carlton to which it adjoins, the JW Marriott sits on the sprawling Grande Lakes resort property, bordered by two four-lane parkways and suburban-style residences. On the property, there's a golf course, lots of open space, and -- you guessed it -- lakes. It's all very peaceful and even a little naturalistic, which is uncharacteristic for Orlando. Still, there really isn't anything to do nearby, so you need to drive to get to anything worthwhile off-site.

  • Five-minute drive to International Drive, a 14.5-mile road parallel to Interstate 4 that's chock-full of hotels, strip malls, outlet shops, and restaurants. In the middle of this stretch is the Orange County Convention Center, the second largest convention center in the U.S.
  • Five- to 10-minute drive to Universal Studios theme parks
  • 10-minute drive to SeaWorld Orlando
  • 12-minute drive to Orlando International Airport
  • 20-minute drive to Disney theme parks
  • 20-minute drive to downtown Orlando. There's not much to see downtown, though Orange Avenue has a notable dining and nightlife scene, and non-theme-park attractions like the Orlando Science Center and Harry P. Leu Gardens are popular among tourists.
  • One-hour-and-15-minute drive to Kennedy Space Center

 Rooms

Comfortable, spacious, and high tech -- the Ritz has a few better touches, but the difference is minimal.

A Standard Room
A Standard Room

Wonderfully soft beds, all-marble bathrooms, floor-to-ceiling glass windows, high-tech appliances, and space -- lots of space -- make the rooms at the JW Marriott a significant step up from similarly priced hotels elsewhere. Compared to the Ritz, the size of the rooms and the in-room comforts are about the same, though a room at the Ritz comes with an iPod-docking radio (rather than a CD player) and Bulgari toiletries (rather than less notable Nirvae bath products).

 Features

Impressive facilities on-site, free access to even more at the adjoining Ritz-Carlton

The tennis courts
The tennis courts

Counting its shared features with the Ritz-Carlton next door, the JW has a great array of features.

  • Streaming, lazy-river pool (see Pools section)
  • Bright, well-equipped fitness center (free to access); personal training and fitness classes, including yoga, available; access to steam room and sauna, charged per day
  • Business center with three computers, a printer, copier, and shipping materials; Internet access is charged per minute.
  • Free access to three tennis courts (lit in the evening); free used balls, racket rental costs is inexpensive
  • Beach volleyball court
  • Small game room with six, coin-operated arcade games and air hockey
  • Surrey bikes (four-wheeled bikes that seat four) with kids seats attached, available for 30 minute rentails; mountain bikes also available, scenic routes are a 25-minute ride away.
  • Shops sell snacks, convenience items, gifts, resort apparel and local guide books.
  • 70,000 square feet of meeting space

 Pool

Massive, streaming, lazy-river pool, plus a smaller (less "windy") pool on the Ritz's property

The entrance to the lazy-river pool
The entrance to the lazy-river pool

Holding 900,000 gallons of water, the hotel's lazy-river pool can accommodate 1,562 people at one time. A canopy of trees dips towards the winding river, which opens up to two bays, one with a zero-entry entrance and a sandy shore. But if you prefer a pool that doesn't draw its inspiration from The Jungle Book, JW guests have free access to the elegant pool at the adjoining Ritz-Carlton resort.

 Spa

It might be part of the Ritz-Carlton, technically, but guests have free easy access to an excellent spa.

Guests of the JW Marriott can easily walk to the massive, 40,000 square foot Ritz-Carlton spa. In true Floridian spirit, the spa emphasizes citrus-based treatments, and even has a full-time "Citrus Consultant" on staff. Specialty treatments include Tuscan Citrus Cure and the Ionithermie Cellulite and Toning Program. The spa building also houses a lap pool, a beautiful fitness center, and a sauna and steam room.

 Golf

Beautiful, 18-hole course designed by Greg Norman

The 18-hole course was designed by Greg Norman.
The 18-hole course was designed by Greg Norman.

This challenging, 18-hole course winds through the woods, lakes, and wildlife that surrounds the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton properties. Golf Digest rated it as one of the top courses in Florida in 2006.

  • 18-hole, 7,122 yards, par 72; designed by golf great Greg Norman
  • Driving range, practice putting green, 55,000-square-foot practice tee, 16,000-square-foot teaching tee; full-size bunker and short-game area
  • Calloway and Taylor Made clubs and FootJoy shoes available for rent
  • Reduced green fee for hotel guests, which includes golf cart rental and use of the driving range (rediced twilight rate after 2 p.m.)

 Family

Lots of family-friendly amenities, though it's not connected to a theme park

The game room
The game room

On its own terms, the JW is incredibly family-friendly. It's of a different level, of course, than some Disney and Universal Studios hotels, where kids can get a wake-up call from their favorite movie character, but it is still an excellent choice for families looking for a little more luxury from their Orlando vacation.

While the JW has the better pool, the adjoining Ritz-Carlton does have a couple extra features that the JW doesn't have: a kids' check-in desk that provides its junior guests with a welcome kit, and Kids' Suites, which have kid-size furniture, games, toys, and kids' robes and bath products.

  • Standard rooms can include two double beds; rollaway beds are charged per night and cribs are free.
  • Concierge can arrange 24-hour babysitting services through a separate company with 24 hours' notice.
  • Kids' menus available for in-room dining as well as at the Citron and Quench restaurants
  • Long, winding, lazy-river pool and a splash pool
  • Giant chess set, tether ball, and playground.
  • JW guests can enrool their kids in the Ritz Kids day camp, which offers supervised activities like swimming, tennis, golf, arts and crafts as well as video games and movies; "Kids' Night Out" evening care, which includes dinner
  • Arts and crafts activities include tie-dye T-shirt making and building electronic race cars. Some activities, however, cost extra.
  • Free outdoor family-appropriate film sceenings every Saturday evening
  • Specialized kids' treatments available at the spa
  • Free golf for kids, with each paying adult; golf etiquette class for kids ages five to 12

 Cleanliness

Tidy rooms, bright hallways, and gleaming marble lobby

All rooms received new furniture and carpets in 2010.

 Food

Four restaurants, including one helmed by a James-Beard-Award-winning chef

Dinner at Citron
Dinner at Citron

There's good dining variety at the JW -- a fine-dining Italian restaurant; a sushi bar; a poolside grill; and a brasserie with New American cuisine. Once you've tried all of these, you can always head next door to the Ritz, which has several other upscale options.

  • Helmed by James-Beard-Award-winning-chef Melissa Kelly, Primo is an Italian restaurant (open for dinner only) with a menu focused on fresh, local ingredients (some of which are grown on-site, in the restaurant's organic garden).
  • Citron is a charming brasserie (i.e., a casual restaurant) that features American standards with a twist, like an egg salad with arugula on brioche, and meatloaf with tomato jam spread on foccacia
  • Quench Bar and Grill (open lunch and dinner) serves burgers, salads, and quesadillas poolside.
  • The Lobby Lounge (open for dinner) has a sushi bar and also serves traditional bar food, like pork sliders; the lounge's outdoor patio is a great place to sip a cocktail beside a firepit.
  • On-site Starbucks coffee shop
  • Cafe Bodega is the hotel's grab-and-go sandwich shop, also featuring pizza, wraps, and snacks for lunch.
  • 24-hour room service -- delivery fee and gratuity added automatically
  • Five-minute indoor walk to the Ritz-Carlton, which has another four on-site restaurants, including Norman's (from another James-Beard-Award-winning chef)

 Bottom Line

The 998-room JW Marriott is one of the most luxurious resorts in Orlando, and not just because it shares a gorgeous golf course and spa with the adjacent Ritz-Carlton. Its big rooms, streaming lazy-river pool, and acclaimed Italian restaurant are all among the best in Orlando -- a great choice, for business or a family vacation.

Things You Should Know About JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes

Address

  • 4040 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando, FL 32837

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Marriott Orlando
  • Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes
  • Orlando Marriott

Room Types

  • Deluxe Lakefront Room
  • Deluxe Room
  • Executive Suite
  • Grande Suite
  • Presidential Suite
  • Studio Suite

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 1000
Pool: N/A
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Jacuzzi (in room): N/A
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Hotel Information

Location: International Drive, Orlando
Address: 4040 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando, FL 32837
(See Map)
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