Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
By Ronda M. Parag
A drive to Orlando offers endless opportunities for fun and theme park mania. For an escape from all the usual Disney, Universal, Sea World hustle and bustle, plan an escape to Grande Lakes Orlando. The 500 acre wooded and manicured landscaped property offers a 582 room Ritz-Carlton and 1,000 room JW Marriott, along with a Greg Norman championship golf course and award-winning spa. Each of the hotels, restaurants and amenities are available to guests of both hotels.
Known for its incredible service and luxury appointments, the Ritz-Carlton Orlando delivers on the impeccable Ritz brand. The hotel U-shaped tower hotel overlooks the pool, lakes, landscaped lawns and golf course, and each room has its own balcony. The Ritz-Carlton Club Level is available for additional charge and offers personal concierge service and five daily food presentations in the Club Lounge. From breakfast to late-night desserts and coffee, the options for delicious tastings and drinks seem endless. Of course, the famous Ritz cookie box is always stocked with double chocolate chip, oatmeal, and peanut butter cookies for a sweet treat.
Whether it is a romantic escape or fun with family, the Ritz-Carlton offers a variety of services and amenities. There is an extensive Ritz Kids program based on Jean-Michels Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society for children to teach kids about Florida’s wildlife, ecological systems and landscape. The kids are completely supervised and offered activities such as gardening, arts & crafts and even old-school ping pong. For a special treat, In-Room Camping is offered for little ones. For extra adventure, Ritz-Carlton offers Adventure Experiences including Fishing Excursions, Eco-Tours, on a canoe or kayak, or a Sunrise Safari. The Adventure Experience can be arranged with the hotel concierge.
There is no need to leave the resort for dining options. From Chef Norman Aken’s fine dining restaurant, Norman’s, serving “New World” cuisine, to the casual and hip, Highball & Harvest three-meal a day restaurant, there is plenty to choose from. The southern-inspired cuisine of “H&H,” sources locally harvested ingredients and from the resort’s own Whisper Creek Farm.
The cocktail lounge area serves a tasty variety of bar appetizers including house-made beef jerky and spicy wings. For dinner, don’t miss the chicken and waffles and the Parker House Rolls. On select nights, local musicians perform in the lobby area of “H&H.” The Lobby Lounge on the main lobby area offers a wonderful place to relax with a craft cocktail or wine selections from around the world. Afternoon Tea is available on weekends.
The ultimate escape includes a treatment (or two) at the award-winning, 40,000 square foot, The Ritz-Carlton Spa. Set among the beautiful and tropical landscaping, the Spa offers a retreat and tranquility based on a philosophy of sanitas per agua, or “health through water.” The Spa menu includes many citrus-inspired rituals to reflect the Florida location. The 40 treatment rooms provide space for facials, massages and body treatments. After a treatment, guests are welcome to spend the day relaxing in the sauna, steam and private pool area. Vitale, the Spa Café, offers a healthy selection of smoothies and sandwiches that can be served poolside. M
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