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Like the adjoining JW Marriott, this quiet, sprawling, feature-filled resort is a quiet, luxurious contrast to Orlando's busy theme-park and business hotels.
The Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes
Like other members of the Ritz luxury chain, this 584-room, 500-acre property in Orlando's Grande Lakes deals in traditional luxury based on doting service and beautiful but conservative design. Check-in clerks fetch lemonade for newly arrived guests. The large rooms all have giant marble bathrooms, iPod docks and flat-screens, and balconies with views of the sprawling, manicured grounds. On-site features are plentiful and luxurious -- a 40,000 square-foot spa, an 18-hole golf course, and a deluxe pool with drink service and giant fish-shaped fountains.
Unlike the towering, hyper-dense business hotels of International Drive or the rugrat-packed properties at Disney or Universal, the Ritz at Grande Lakes is a calm, 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 keeps many guests on the property for the duration of their stay. In addition to the Ritz's kayaks, surrey bikes, lawn bowling, kids' club, and video arcade, guests have access to the adjoining JW Marriott's tennis courts, lazy-river pool, and volleyball court. The giant on-site convention center does draw 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.
The hotel makes a modest effort to establish the Ritz brand's trademark classy vibe, but this resort is far from stuffy. The guest-services book gently reminds guests of its dress code -- avoid cutoff shorts, swimsuits, tank tops, and hats. Still, such subtle touches do little to inhibit the overall family-friendly atmosphere -- there is, after-all, a kids' check-in registry at the front desk.
Overall, the Ritz is a great luxury resort for a family vacation, provided proximity to the theme parks is a lesser concern. But, while not all rooms at the adjoining JW Marriott have balconies, the two properties are virtually identical as they share the same features. If there's a meaningful difference in price, it'd be wise to book at the cheaper of the two hotels.
An excellent array of conveniences and friendly, doting staff
Poolside drink service
Ritz-Carltons worldwide are known for top-notch service, and the Grande Lakes outpost is no exception. A host of valets and bellmen await newly arrived guests, and there's even someone whose sole job appears to be opening the front door. At check-in, the front-desk clerk pours a glass of lemonade and offers to make a reservation at any of the on-site restaurants. When room service made a mistake on my breakfast order, the kitchen rushed to fix the problem and comped the meal -- without knowing I was reviewing the hotel. This kind of personal attention stands out, particularly against the friendly but occasionally bureaucratic offerings at the Disney and Universal resorts.
- Nightly turndown service with free chocolates and bottled water
- Dedicated concierge and 24-hour bell desk
- 24-hour room service -- delivery fee and gratuity added automatically
- Poolside drink service
- Free shoeshine service
- Housekeeping once daily
- Surrey bikes and kayak rentals available through the concierge
- Same-day laundry and dry cleaning service
Like the JW Marriott that adjoins it, the Ritz sits on the sprawling Grande Lakes resort property, bordered by two four-lane parkways and a swathe of 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, which is known more for theme parks and its convention center than beautiful landscapes. Still, there really isn't anything to do nearby -- a car is essential.
- 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 Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom parking lot (parking is free), followed by a 15-minute, free ride on a tram and monorail to the park itself; similar commute to Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios
- 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 the Harry P. Leu Gardens are popular with tourists.
- One-hour-and-15-minute drive to Kennedy Space Center
Large, with conservative decor and up-to-date amenities
A Deluxe Room
Decorated in the slightly bland but traditionally classy style of most Ritz-Carltons, the rooms, all of which were renovated in 2011 or 2012, bear all the markings of a luxury chain hotel -- top-end electronics, beautiful wood furniture, and sumptuous beds. At 420 square feet, the standard rooms are large, but those at the adjoining JW Marriott are about the same size, and several other Orlando resorts, including the Loews Portofino Bay and the Caribe Royale, have even larger accommodations. The rooms at the Ritz distinguish themselves in the details; all rooms have iPod docks, enormous bathrooms, balconies, and Bulgari bath products. The 2011 renovations, which also included all guest hallways, have modernized the decor, introducing clean lines and a neutral color pallate with tasteful pops of turquoise.
- Great beds: luxurious, Frette 100-percent cotton linens; pillows made with duck feather and down filled duvets; Sealy Posturepedic Plush mattresses
- All the rooms have balconies and all have great views of the property
- 37-inch high-definition flat-screen TVs with cable, HBO, and in-room movies
- iHome iPod docking stations
- In-room Wi-Fi charged per day.
- Large bathrooms with marble fixtures, separate showers and bathtubs, Bulgari toiletries, 100-percent-cotton towels, Turkish cotton robes, slippers
- Executive suites -- available with one king or two double beds -- are 960 square feet and have separate living areas and one-and-one-half bathrooms.
- Kids' suites, which connect to the Executive Suites, offer an extra 480 square feet of space with kid-size furniture, games, movies, and toys.
- The Presidential Suite is 2,400 square feet and has five balconies and a dining room table that seats eight.
- "Club-Level" rooms and suites offer access to the large club lounge, which has a library of DVDs, CDs, books, and magazines, as well as a private concierge.
Loaded with impressive facilities, plus guests get access to even more at the adjoining JW Marriott
It's hard to beat the Ritz's assortment of features, which include an 18-hole golf course, a giant spa with its own pool and restaurant, and plenty of activities like kayaking and lawn bowling. Plus, guests get access to features at the adjacent JW Marriott, creating an enormous variety of recreational opportunities.
- 40,000 square-foot spa includes a full range of treatment programs (including several designed for kids) and its own pool; specialty treatments include Tuscan Citrus Cure and the Ionithermie Cellulite and Toning Program.
- Large, free-form pool with cabanas, cushioned lounge chairs, free floaty rafts, and drink service available
- Guests can also use the streaming, lazy-river pool at the JW Marriott (a short walk from the Ritz's pool).
- Free access to bright, spacious fitness center: weight machines; free weights; stationary bikes; stair steppers; treadmills; fitness classes (including yoga) available for a 50-minute session; personal trainers also available
- 18-hole golf course designed by Greg Norman (for more on that, see the Golf section)
- 24-hour business center with faxing, photocopying, Internet; base charge for first 20 minutes of computer access, incremental charges thereafter; printing charged per page; free faxing; free boarding-pass printing
- Access to the tennis courts and beach volleyball courts at the JW Marriott, next door
- Four-person surrey bicycle rentals
- Kayak rentals
A beautiful, 18-hole course by Greg Norman
The 18-hole course was designed by Greg Norman.
The Ritz-Carlton sits on a long, challenging golf course designed by two-time British Open winner Greg Norman. It is surrounded by the woods, lakes, and wildlife of the Grande Lakes property.
- 18-hole; 7,122 yards; par 72
- Kids play free with each paying adult
- Kids' golf etiquette class for ages five to 12
- Driving range
- Practice putting green, 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; reduced twilight rates available
More family-focused than the typical Ritz
For the most part, it's safe to ignore any grown-up connotations the Ritz name might conjure. There are some areas -- like the well-regarded Norman's restaurant and the lobby lounge -- that definitely cater more exclusively to adults. But beyond that, this hotel targets families, going so far as to include a kids' check-in registry at the front desk and kids' spa treatments.
- Enormous pool, playground, and kiddie pool; plus access to the lazy-river pool at the JW Marriott
- Ritz Kids club offers activities like swimming, tennis, golf, arts and crafts as well as video games and movies
- Concierge can arrange babysitting services through a seprate company; 24 hours' notice required,
- Hotel provides baby care products, kids' amenities such as movies, bathrobes, coloring books, crayons, cribs, high chairs, playpens, strollers, thermometers, toys, games, playing cards.
- Kids' treatments available at the spa
- Kids play a free round of golf at the Ritz Golf Club with each paying adult.
- Rollaway beds are charged per night; cribs are free.
- Executive Suites adjoin Kids' Suites, which have kid-size furniture, games, toys, and kids' robes and bath products.
There are no noticeable flaws in the Ritz's rooms and public areas.
Dinner at Norman's
- Norman's -- James-Beard-Award-winning-chef Norman Van Aken's seafood restaurant -- is open for dinner; no shorts or sandals.
- Vineyard Grill: Seafood and steak with emphasis on wine; open for breakfast (buffet or a la carte), lunch, and dinner.
- Bleu: Poolside restaurant with pub fare and frozen drinks; open only for lunch in the winter (November through February) and for lunch and dinner for the rest of the year (March through October).
- The Lobby Lounge serves drinks.
- Fairways Pub, at the golf course's clubhouse, is open daily.
- 24-hour room service comes with a service charge and gratuity automatically added to the bill.
- Five-minute indoor walk to the JW Marriott, which has five other on-site restaurants, including an enormous sushi bar right off the lobby.
Located about 15 minutes from both Disney and Universal Studios on the beautiful (and massive) Grande Lakes resort grounds, the Ritz-Carlton is one of the best luxury hotels in Orlando -- swanky rooms, great pools, and a giant spa. But, since it shares all its features with the virtually identical JW Marriott, it's worth comparing rates.
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Things You Should Know About The Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes
- 4012 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando, FL 32837
Hotel Is Also Known As...
- Orlando Ritz
- Orlando Ritz-Carlton
- Ritz Carlton Orlando
- Ritz Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes
- Ritz Orlando
- Ritz-Carlton Orlando
- Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes
- Club Garden View Room
- Club Lake Fron Room
- Club Lake Front Executive Suite
- Club Lake View Room
- Deluxe Garden View Room
- Deluxe Lake Front Room
- Deluxe Lake View Room
- Lake Front Executive Suite
- Presidential Suite