Orlando you glad to see me?
Avoid Mickey Mouse crowds. Enjoy Grande Lakes
By Laurette Veres
As a life-long Marriott rewards devotee, I’ve logged a lot of nights at hotels under this flag throughout the globe. My friend Bobby and I often text each other our view with the question where am I? On a recent trip to Orlando Grande Lakes, I texted him my view. His reply: Maui. That’s how beautiful this 500-acre Orlando resort is. Our balcony had a view of the sprawling golf course, beautiful lakes and most of Orlando’s famed parks in the distance. Heading to Orlando? Avoid Mickey Mouse crowds. Enjoy Grande Lakes comprised of The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Orlando. Guests at both hotels can enjoy all the facilities and services at Grande Lakes Orlando, including the 18-hole championship golf course, designed by Greg Norman, the 40,000-square-foot Ritz-Carlton Spa with total-wellness treatments and a rooftop eco-space. The lush grounds offer walking trails, nature installations and two grand pools, splash pads, and winding river.
Highball & Harvest
Grande Lakes has been dedicated to farm-to-fork dining for over ten years. Guests can view fresh herbs, vegetables and more in the Primo Garden, and taste them in their food at award-winning Chef Melissa Kelly’s Primo restaurant. The property also bakes all their bread in house and raises chickens at the Whisper Creek Farm coop. We met with Chef de Cuisine Mark Jeffers after the recent opening of Highball & Harvest. Having grown up on the water, the Daytona, Florida native pulls his culinary inspiration from his home state. H&H’s signature dishes: Pig-n-Potatoes, an all-day breakfast dish of poached egg, potato hash, and tender pork cheeks with sweet peppers, caramelized onions, H&H Hot Sauce, and hollandaise sauce. Smoked Lamb Brisket, Raw Oyster Bar with signature house-made H&H Hot Sauce. “The dishes we create at Highball & Harvest are designed to give restaurant-goers a sense of nostalgia while enjoying southern classics infused with regional flavors,” says the chef.
Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen
Showcasing a rustic yet polished design, The Kitchen has the vibe of eating in your family’s kitchen, with a variety of communal, high-top, sofa, outdoor, and bar seating. Menu items at The Kitchen feature seasonal ingredients from the 7,000-square-foot on-site garden at Whisper Creek Farm as well as fresh eggs daily from the farm’s chicken coop. The Kitchen’s sausages and charcuterie, prepared by the JW Marriott butcher, pair perfectly with The Brewery’s hops-laden creations.
Whisper Creek Farm: The Brewery
The first Marriott property to launch a nano-brewery, Grande Lakes has brought in a local Cicerone-certified brewmaster to lead The Brewery. The Brewery produces 28 gallons of beer weekly including five styles of beer created each season—Dark, Wheat/Light, Amber, IPA and a Special Brew (a seasonal made from the freshest farm ingredients). Signature Special Brew varieties will include the Maple Bacon Stout, Soup of the Day IPA, and Ghost Pepper Wheat.
The secluded lush gardens at the Spanish-Moorish style The Ritz-Carlton Spa Orlando create a relaxing environment. They surround over 40,000 square feet of spa facilities, including 40 treatment rooms. Unique to the Ritz are treatments in the outdoor Rooftop Eco-Space and herb garden. The Eco-Hammock Massage combines “zero gravity” and massage techniques including Thai stretching, deep tissue and Cranial Sacral (balancing the central nervous system through neck massage). Allow yourself to melt into the hammock as it rocks in a soothing, rhythmic motion. The therapist lies under the hammock and digs into your shoulders with her heels. Fitness classes include Yoga Stretch, ZUMBA, Tai Chi Qi Gong, INSANITY, Spinning and Cardio Kickboxing.
The grounds at Grande Lakes property are reason enough to visit. We spent hours walking and along the way, learned about local flora and fauna, butterflies and more. Perfect for families, or couples, there is something for everyone here. And yes, they’ll shuttle you to Disney World.