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Oyster Hotel Review
Solid range of services; efficient, but not doting, staff
Free flight boarding pass print station
As it usually is with humongous hotels, you'll have to get through a line to get any service. People queued at the Starbucks counter at all times of the day, and dinner reservations are necessary if you don't want to wait half an hour for a table. Waiting aside, the hotel performs a solid range of services efficiently: The bell staff are quick to help with bags, the front desk staff checks people in and out with remarkble efficiency, and an online concierge service facilitates guest requests like booking tickets to Disney. In short, they'll get the job done, but don't expect them to remember your name or make a lot of small talk when 10 people are in line behind you.
- Room service available throughout the day
- Poolside drink service
- Staff concierge; online concierge enables guests to buy theme park tickets and get local area information
- Business services: shipping; copying; faxing; PC, phone and pager rentals; signage printing and audio-visual support for groups; business center attendant available
- Express and video checkout
- Free flight boarding pass printing station
- Babysitting referrals can be made through the concierge
- Shuttles to Disney and Universal
- Enterprise car rental desk on-site
- Valet and self parking available
A Five- to 10-minute drive from Disney World on World Center Drive, a divided highway dotted with large hotels and occasional chain restaurants
The hotel is located just three miles outside the entrance of Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, an area 25 minutes south of downtown Orlando. It's difficult to get around without a car -- there are no restaurants or attractions within walking distance -- and the nearest strip mall is about a five-minute drive away.
- Five-minute hotel shuttle to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom parking lot, followed by a 15-minute ride on a tram and monorail to the park itself; similar commute to Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios
- 15- to 20-minute hotel shuttle to Universal Studios theme parks
- 10- to 15-minute drive to International Drive, a 14.5-mile road parallel to Interstate 4 that's full of hotels, strip malls, outlet shops and restaurants. In the middle of this stretch is the Orange County Convention Center
- 10- to 15-minute drive to SeaWorld Orlando
- 20- to 25-minute drive to downtown Orlando. There's not much to see downtown, although 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 with tourists.
- One-hour-and-15-minute drive to Kennedy Space Center
- 20-minute drive to Orlando International Airport
Spacious and up-to-date, with comfortable beds and large balconies
A newly renovated Standard Room
All guest rooms were renovated to have new carpets and flat-screen TVs between 2009 and 2011.
- At 425 square feet, the standard rooms are especially large, even for Orlando; each has a king-size bed or two double-size beds, as well as a single-size sofa bed.
- Excellent beds: pillow-top mattress; featherbed; down duvet; six down pillows
- Work desk with ample electrical outlets and an oversize work chair
- Two-part bathroom with a marble-top sink and a closed-off room with a shower/tub and toilet; Paul Mithcell products (as of 2012) are offered.
- Average-size, 32-inch flat-screen TV with pay-per-view movies, Internet TV, and 46 channels including HBO HD
- Clock-radio with iPod connection
- Balcony on all room types; view of the pools or the on-site golf course in the distance
- Stocked minibar; coffeemaker with complimentary Gourmet Bean coffee packets
- Electronic safe, large enough for a laptop
- Wired Internet costs $15 per day, which includes unlimited long-distance calls around the US; no Wi-Fi
- Six different suites are also available, ranging from a 477-square-foot Prominade Suite (not too different from a standard room) to a 1,200-square-foot, three-room 3-Bay Vista Suite.
The 24-hour fitness center
- Full-service spa and nail salon; nine treatment rooms; "Around the World in Eighty Minutes" is the spa's signature massage, a sampling of different international massage styles.
- Large, well-lit, 24-hour fitness center (free to access) with two dozen cardio machines (each with an individual TV), 10 weight machines, free weights, and fitness balls; free warm towels and headsets to borrow
- 24-hour business center with five computer terminals, two printers, and two copiers
- Four lighted tennis courts (one of which is also a basketball court); base fee for two rackets and four tennis balls
- Spacious game room with a dozen video arcade games, air hockey, and table tennis
- Free resort activities include family movies shown poolside and karaoke hour
- Two beach volleyball courts
- Shops selling resort apparel, snacks, plus gift and convienence items
- 18-hole golf course (see Golf)
- Convention center encompasses 450,000 square feet
Excellent family option -- daily activities, a huge waterslide, and large rooms that can sleep a family of five
Children's splash pool
The Marriott Orlando World Center Resort doesn't offer all the elaborate, child-focused atmosphere of the Disney or Universal Studios resorts (or the arguably even more kid-centric Nickelodeon Suites Resort) but it does have all the requisite features to make it a superb family vacation destination.
- A family of five can fit in a standard room with two double beds and a single-size sofabed -- most rooms at the Disney resorts can only sleep four people; larger suites also available
- Free, organized kids' activities throughout the day, like bingo or a water ballon toss
- Children's splash pool
- Sandy playground
- No lifeguards on duty; unlike some of the Disney resorts, like the Wilderness Lodge and the Animal Kingdom Lodge
- More affordable kids' menu available for room service and at two on-site restaurants, Solaris and High Velocity
- Kids ages three and younger eat free at Solaris, the lobby restaurant open for breakfast and lunch.
An 18-hole course surrounds the hotel
Hawk's Landing Golf Course
- Hawk's Landing, an 18-hole, par 71, 6,600-yard course
- Pro shop
- Callaway rental equipment
- GPS available
- Bill Madonna Golf Academy has covered bays, putting and chipping areas, bunkers, and manicured grass tees; hourly, half-day, one-day, and two-day lessons available, including swing analysis using video
Clean and well maintained, rennovations completed as of early 2011
Of the hotel's 2,000 rooms, all were upgraded (beginning in 2009 and ending in early 2011) with new carpets and flat-screen TVs. The new rooms are bright and spotless.
One small cleanliness issue, however, pertains to the free-roaming wildlife. I spotted wild ducks swimming in the pool, yet no staff member bothered to shoo them away. For some guests, however, the avian visitors were more than welcome -- some kids took the opportunity to feed the admittedly cute (but probably unclean) quackers.
Hibachi style cooking at Mikado
- For breakfast, your only options are a pastry at Starbucks or an impressive buffet at Solaris, which has over 80 items including Belgian waffles, sour-cream pancakes, and various meats and cheeses.
- For lunch you can go to Solaris(buffet is a better value than the similarly priced a la carte options) or grab a salad or sandwich from the Mangrove food court or the pool bar.
- For dinner, you have a choice of three restaurants -- Ristorante Tuscany (homemade pastas), Mikado (Japanese, teppanyaki-style meats cooked in an iron griddle in front of diners), and Hawk's Landing (steak, seafood, and a great wine list); reservations are essential.
- For a drink, there's a huge sports bar, High Velocity, and the lobby bar (both also serve bar food)
- Room service includes sandwiches, entrees, and pizza from Pizza Hut
- Tip: If you want to avoid the perpetual long line at the on-site Starbucks, get your coffee fix at the espresso counter at the Mangrove food court.
The world's largest Marriott, drawing much of its business from conventioneers
Guests and conventioneers at the lobby bar
There are only two obvious reasons why you would book a room at this hotel. The first -- and, apparently, the most common one -- is that you're attending a conference, caucus, or convention within the hotel's 400,000 square feet of meeting space. Vast as that is, the free-standing convention center takes up just a small portion of the world's largest Marriott, a sprawling, 200-acre property that includes 2,000 large, comfortable guest rooms (each with a balcony), an 18-hole golf course, scenic pools, a full-serivce spa, and time-share villas.
Which brings me to the second reason -- you plan to visit Disney World, a shuttle ride away to the parking lot (and a 15-minute tram ride from there). Of course, if you opt not to stay at one of the Disney resorts, you miss out one some of their nice perks, like extended hours to access the park with fewer crowds, room options that include bunk beds, and over-the-top thematic decorations that help to keep you immersed in cartoon land, rather than the corporate world. But the advantage of staying at the Marriott for a Disney vacation is a big one -- more comfortable beds.
It's the world's largest Marriott -- 2,000 rooms; a huge free-form pool and waterslide; extensive convention space; a great gym and spa; a golf course; seven restaurants. Though largely a business hotel, its location (a 5-minute shuttle from Disney) and large, very comfortable rooms, make it a solid option for families as well.
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Things You Should Know About Marriott Orlando World Center Resort
- 8701 World Center Drive, Orlando, FL 32821
Hotel Is Also Known As...
- Marriott Orlando
- Marriott Orlando World Center Hotel
- Marriott Orlando World Center Resort & Convention Center
- Orlando Marriott
- Executive Suite
- Fairway Suite
- Promenade Suite
- Standard Room, Pool View
- Standard Room, Resort View
- Three Bay Vista Suite
- Two Bay King Suite
- Two Bay Vista Suite