By Stacey Zable
On my first day during a long weekend stay at the 582-room Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, I quickly learned that superior service at the property is ingrained in every member of the staff. When I asked where The Ritz-Carlton Spa was located at the front desk, I was not handed a map or pointed in a certain direction. A staff member personally walked me to the door of the expansive spa building, wishing me a wonderful experience within its walls.
That level of service grows even further for guests who opt for The Ritz-Carlton Club Level accommodations. For me, the main reason to upgrade to Club is access to the Club Level Lounge and all the extras that come with it. The friendly concierge staff is ready to help with any request, whether it’s dining or spa or tour reservations. You’ll also be able to check out and settle your bill in the comfort of the Club Lounge and even print your return airline ticket.
The Club Lounge provides five food buffet presentations throughout the day, plus drinks and alcoholic beverages and such anytime snacks as giant freshly baked cookies and jars of favorite candies. Breakfast and lunch are also presented along with afternoon snacks. Stop into the Club Lounge pre- or post-dinner for a glass of wine with hors d’oeuvres before and desserts after your meal.
The dining experience within the Club Lounge is just part of the food frenzy of offerings with seven dining and lounge options at The Ritz-Carlton and eight more at the adjacent 1,000-room JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes. Depending on your mood, choices include casual to fine dining, varying cuisines and farm-to-fork offerings. The resort has its own on-site Whisper Creek Farm, a 7,000-square-foot fruit and vegetable garden plus a chicken coop and an apiary.
At JW Marriott’s Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen, dine on comfort foods and craft beers made at the hotel’s own brewery. The Farm and other local products are part of the ingredients used for The Ritz-Carlton’s Highball & Harvest’s Southern-inspired cuisine. JW Marriott’s Primo by Melissa Kelly serves dishes inspired by the cuisines of Italy, France and Spain using the resort’s own on-site Primo Organic Garden as well as its Whisper Creek Farm.
RELAXATION & RECREATION
Whether going for a spa treatment or to work out, the 40,000-square-foot Ritz-Carlton Spa with its 40 treatment rooms, fitness center, private lap pool, and spa cafe is a part of the resort you will find hard to leave. To truly treat yourself, opt for the spa’s signature 2.5-hour Grande Citrus Escape including a massage, scrub, wrap, bath, and scalp treatment. Add in time to enjoy the spa’s steam and sauna before your treatment. A nice added touch that once again demonstrates The Ritz-Carlton’s high level of service is a goody bag of shower items upon check-in. Small fitness classes include barre, meditation, yoga, boot camp, suspension training and more.
Pool time choices are a private pool for spa guests only, and one at each property, including one with a lazy river at JW Marriott. The new AquaCourse 360 at the JW Marriott opened recently and will keep kids happy, as will the Ritz Kids program. Within the property’s 500 acres is an on-site 18-hole Greg Norman-designed championship golf course, as well as a lake that backs the two properties. Guests can participate in fishing excursions and guided eco-tours on a kayak or canoe. A Sunrise Safari takes guests with a naturalist in a golf cart traveling throughout the property to spot animal life.
For more information on the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, visit ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/florida/orlando.
BEYOND GRANDE LAKES
The Ritz-Carlton is located 15 minutes from the Orlando International Airport. Day trips to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando, and the area’s other theme parks are only a shuttle ride away. The Club Lounge’s balcony even offers a view of Disney’s nightly fireworks. If a day of retail adventures is more of what you had in mind, outlet shopping is also nearby. Info: visitorlando.com.