Near SeaWorld, midway between Universal Studios and Disney World
Free Wi-Fi (included in daily resort fee)
Not affiliated with any theme parks (a pro for some)
Daily resort fee (includes Wi-Fi, limited kids' club access, shuttles to theme parks)
Daily fee for parking
Midway between Universal Studios and Disney World, The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes is one of few five-pearl properties in Orlando. Its 582 rooms and suites are stylishly decorated and outfitted with luxe amenities, and the hotel is packed with great features. Families can take advantage of the gorgeous pool, outdoor kids' splash zone, and the Ritz Kids club, while couples and business travelers can check out the spa, modern fitness center, and 18-hole golf course. Four excellent dining options appeal to all kinds of travelers, and the adjoining JW Marriott’s amenities are free to use. The Ritz isn’t affiliated with any nearby theme parks, which may not be ideal for families. The Four Seasons Resort Orlando is located within Walt Disney World, and offers Disney related perks, but rates are pricier.
Luxury resort that attracts all kinds of travelers
The Ritz Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes is located in the prestigious Grande Lakes resort community, which also consists of sister properties the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes and Marriott’s Lakeshore Reserve. The Ritz and its sister hotels appeal to travelers who want to be within close proximity of Orlando theme parks, but also space to escape from themed restaurants and character-inspired decor. There’s no hint of Mickey here, and its minimalist aesthetic throughout the property wows with marble columns, sophisticated furnishings, and well-manicured grounds. But the high-end look doesn’t mean the Ritz isn’t family-friendly. In fact, families with kids make up half of the guests here, alongside couples and business travelers.
In an upscale resort community, midway between Disney World and Universal Studios
As we’ve mentioned, The Ritz Carlton is located in Grande Lakes, a sprawling resort community home to prestigious names like the JW Marriott and Marriott’s Lakeshore Reserve. The Ritz is connected to its sister properties via a winding foot path, so guests can walk between all three hotels within 10 to 15 minutes. Within Orlando, Grande Lakes is convenient to most attractions. The Ritz Carlton is a 10-minute drive from SeaWorld, a 15-minute drive from the Orange County Convention Center, and a 20-minute drive from Disney World, Universal Studios, and Orlando International Airport.
Contemporary decor, luxe amenities, marble bathrooms, and outdoor balconies
Rooms at the Ritz Carlton feature modern decor and luxe amenities, and with standard rooms measuring 408 square feet, they’re also fairly spacious. Their beige palette is brought to life through aqua-colored accents found in bolsters, bedside lamps, and cushioned chaise lounges. Dark-wood accents and mirrored headboards feel sleek, while lighter, embellished desks, armoires, and nightstands provide rooms with traditional elegance. Rooms were last renovated in 2011, and may seem a bit too old-fashioned for some, and some wear and tear is evident. Nevertheless, top-notch amenities include flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, USB charging stations, Nespresso machines, fully stocked minibars), and the brand’s signature pillow-top mattresses. Marble bathrooms have double sinks, glass-enclosed shower stalls and separate tubs, and private water closets. Vanities are stocked with Asprey toiletries, along with thoughtful extras like combs and mouthwash. Closets are equipped with terrycloth robes, electronic safes, and ironing facilities. All rooms have outdoor terraces that overlook the resort’s grounds. We don’t think upgrading to a premium view is worth the extra money -- Grade Lakes’ manmade lakes aren’t as grand as their name implies.
Besides standard rooms, the Ritz has several suites. The Presidential and Royal Suites are the hotel’s premium accommodations, with more than 2,500 square feet of opulent living space. Executive Suites are smaller, but more popular, with 960 square feet, separate bedrooms and living rooms, and large outdoor balconies that overlook the golf course.
The Ritz Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes offers excellent amenities, but it does charge a daily resort fee (by comparison, the Four Seasons Orlando does not). The resort fee covers resort charges like Wi-Fi, daily one-hour bike rentals, access to the driving range, two hours of kids' club activities for two children per day, and (pre-arranged) shuttle service to SeaWorld, Disney World, and Universal Studios. The resort fee does not include parking, which incurs additional daily charges.
Guests can upgrade to the resort’s Club Level, which offer 24-hour access to the Club Lounge. The lounge serves lights meals, snacks, and alcoholic beverages throughout the day, and offers additional perks, such as personal concierge service, free kids' club activities, and photography lessons with the on-site photo concierge.
The clover-shaped pool at the Ritz Carlton is one of the most popular on-site amenities. Kids splash around beneath the synchronized fountains, couples rent private cabanas, and corporate types take business calls from their cushioned lounge chairs. Pool servers are on hand to adorn lounge chairs with fluffy white towels and offer fresh fruit and water to sun-drenched swimmers. Families with young children will likely appreciate the splash zone, a separate area with a wading pool, mini lounge chairs, and a jungle gym. Though the pool scene at the Ritz is a bit more subdued than the one at the JW Marriott, guests in search of additional aquatic action can head next door to check out the lazy river.
There are four restaurants at the Ritz Carlton, as well as a lobby lounge, coffee shop, spa cafe, and 24-hour room service. The hotel’s signature restaurant, Highball and Harvest, is a farm-to-table concept that sources many of its ingredients from the hotel’s own 7,000-square-foot garden at nearby Whisper Creek Farm. Its breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus feature southern-inspired fare, including shrimp and grits, pimento cheese spread, fried chicken, and beef brisket. A full American breakfast buffet is available in the morning.
Norman’s is a fine-dining restaurant and celebrity chef Norman Van Aken’s upscale take on Latin, Caribbean, and Asian-inspired cuisine. Bleu is an open-air poolside spot that serves a casual menu of burgers, salads, and sandwiches. Fairways Pub, located on the golf course, is only open for lunch, and is better known for its draught beer and scotch selections than its food. The spa cafe, Vitale, is (unsurprisingly) adjacent to the spa, and serves health-conscious options like salads and smoothies. A lobby lounge is an elegant spot to grab a drink and light meals in the evening, and it's quite popular with hotel guests and outside visitors. For a morning pick-me-up, an upscale coffee bar serves artisanal coffee blends, espresso beverages, pastries, and muffins. In addition to its restaurants and bars, the Ritz Carlton also has 24-hour room service.
Beautiful spa with an outdoor pool, health cafe, and modern fitness center
The Ritz Carlton shares a spa with the neighboring JW Marriott, so it’s located midway between the two properties. The gorgeous, modern spa has several treatment rooms and a long list of treatment options, including massages, facials, body wraps, and beauty services. The most popular treatment, the zero gravity massage, takes place in a hammock on the spa’s rooftop garden. Outside, the spa has a private pool where guests can rent cabanas for a tranquil poolside experience. The spa’s incredible fitness facilities include a massive gym with modern TechnoGym cardio and weight-training machines, as well as a regular schedule of free fitness classes, including boot camp, barre, indoor cycling, yoga, and Pilates.
The Ritz Carlton Golf Club Orlando, Grande Lakes is the hotel’s 18-hole Greg Norman-designed golf course. The course is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, so golfers can expect to see lots of local flora and fauna. The golf club has a seasonal on-site instructor, and kids under the ages of 17 can play with a paying adult for free. All guests have free access to the driving range (included in the daily resort fee).
With 47,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, 70,000 square feet of outdoor event space, and 107,000 square feet of meeting space at the adjacent JW Marriott, the Ritz Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes is a popular spot for meetings, corporate conventions, weddings, and other large-scale events. No matter the time of year, the Ritz and the JW Marriott always seem to be hosting large conferences and events, so the hotel is always buzzing with professionals. During our visit, the hotel was simultaneously hosting a wedding, a pharmaceutical convention, and an outdoor fashion show.
Ritz Kids is the hotel’s on-site kids' club. Though it isn’t entirely free of charge, guests receive two hours of kids' club activities for two children daily. Ritz Kids activities are appropriate for children ages 4 to 12, and include things like scavenger hunts, relay races, obstacle courses, arts and crafts, and karaoke. It also hosts daily programs that teach kids about environmentalism, world cultures, and diversity. Kids can also attend nightly programs for astronomical additional fees. Besides the club, children can make use of an outdoor game room with foosball, air hockey, and ping-pong, and a sports shop is available for guests to rent bicycles and kayaks.
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