Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes: An Unforgettable Family Vacation

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For the Ritz-Carlton, quality and service go hand-in-hand and employees are considered very much to be the Ladies and Gentlemen like those they are trained to serve and cater to. Through The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center, others can learn about the business practices that have led to The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. becoming a two-time recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (the Ritz Carlton is the only company to date to win such a distinguished award).

All this attention to quality leadership filters itself across the board, and most importantly, is felt immediately upon arrival to any one of their hotels.

I go on and on about this because though I won’t deny that the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes (where my family and I recently stayed) itself is gorgeous and truly representative of the utmost luxury, the level of attention and service my family and I received here has stayed with us long after our departure. It’s not something you easily forget. There are few places in the hospitality world that have mastered the level of customer service that most travelers would want, and quite frankly deserve – and I have yet to experience anything like the level of service and attention one receives at The Ritz-Carlton.

About The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes

The Grande Lakes area provides guests with exceptional views and access to beautiful terrain. Guest rooms feature a five-foot private balcony with panoramic views of the lakes, pool and gardens.

We had a combination of guest room and suite, which means we had one guest room with two beds, combined with a suite that included a living room with a king bedroom.  At the time of publishing this review, The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes is offering similar accommodations of a connecting double with a king suite as a Family Fun package starting at $514.oo a night). The guest room, as well as the living room and suite, had balconies overlooking the pool and lake. On the Sunday before Labor Day weekend, my family and I sat there to take in the beautiful fireworks display over the lake.

Driving up to the Ritz-Carlton Orlando is an impressive experience. “Oooh! This is fancy, right, mama?” asked my 5 year old, never missing a single detail. Yes, you can consider the torch passed on.

The minute you drive up to the front of the hotel the valet is attentive and you are immediately transported to the lap of luxury. Doors are opened, smiles and warm greetings displayed on the faces of everyone you meet.

Most parents worry in taking their children to a luxury resort because of the fear that it might be too uptight to tolerate children. For us at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando nothing was further from the truth. What I adore, and really what any traveling parent appreciates no matter where they stay, is that my children were catered to with the same level of courtesy and attentiveness as the adults were.

The Ritz-Carlton Orlando has made every effort to help families feel welcomed here with their Ritz Kids program offering a series of supervised physical and creative activities for children aged 5 to 12, seven days a week. The Ritz Kids Club is not just a little room in a corner somewhere. It is well-designed, colorful play room, full of entertainment and activity centers for kids to enjoy. Even my teen was able to take part in a Teen Night they had scheduled among the many evening activities offered to guests throughout their stay.

If you want to take your experience to the next level, then you must reserve your room at Club Level, where the attention to detail and service is further personalized throughout your stay. For us it was perfect, as this is where we had breakfast everyday (included with Club Level), the kids had their own little dining/play area, and we were able to stop in for refreshments and snacks any time we wanted – not to mention the wine and champagne being served pre-fireworks display.

The Spa

Of course, I had to check out the spa. With 40 treatment rooms, a private 4,000-square foot heated outdoor lap pool, a boutique and a café, this multi-level spa is a retreat within the a retreat. The menu of spa services is to die for, but even more of a treat is the Eco Garden Scrub Bar, where you can design your own scrub from the various natural scents and ingredients offered and mix it all up, right on the spot to take a piece of your spa experience with you!

Additional Activities

I’ve mentioned golfing, spa, kids activities, and nightly events. However, other fun things to take part in while at the resort are the cooking events held at the adjacent JW Marriott Orlando’s Griffin Cooking School. It is where I went to take my Grilling Class with Chef Chris Brown.

Another fun family event was the Eco Tour, lead for us by Michael Hawkins, who is also the resort’s fly fishing guide and who will soon be featured in The Ritz-Carlton’s upcoming series “The Art of The Craft” highlighting the individuals that represent the craftsmanship, quality service and care that help to make guests’ stays so unforgettable.

It’s fitting that Michael would receive such recognition as he navigated my family on canoes through the quiet swamp land that surrounds Shingle Creek and even talked us through a moment of difficulty as my teen and I struggled to find unison in our paddling. It seemed for a moment that the activity was a bust, but Michael worked us through it, helping transform a moment that started off a bit rocky into one where we were able to bond as mother and child (and family) and take in all the beauty around us, together.

I highly recommend meeting Michael and taking any one of the many tours he and his team offer at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, with or without the kids it promises to be a wonderful time.

The Food

Of course, I must mention the food because eating at The Vineyard Grill was our very last experience before heading home and it was the icing on the cake as far as overall Ritz-Carlton experiences go. Every single detail blew us away – the staff, the service, the presentation, and of course, the food.

One must-try dish is their award-winning Zellwood Sweet Corn Ravioli. It’s incredible the way it just melts in your mouth, the sweetness of the corn a creamy delight that takes over your senses. You literally have to close your eyes and slowly savor this dish, just let it take over your palate a little longer. That taste will be engraved in your Happy Place mental files for a long time, I assure you.

Zellwood Sweet Corn Ravioli

Tuna Carpaccio & Peruvian Style Ceviche with sweet peppers, white yam, citrus oil, cilantro and sea salt

This seared salmon with broccoli is a children’s menu option! Win!

When ordering the rib-eye, ask for all the sauces hand made by the chef himself. Choices are: House Steak, Horseradish, Green Peppercorn, Béarnaise, Chimichurri, Spicy Habanero (my favorite)

Also, stop by the lazy river at the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes for a nice, quiet time – though granted, traveling with my kids that is ever rarely the case.

At least we can always expect excitement, and thanks to the Ritz-Carlton Orlando and their team, our Labor Day 2012 visit to Orlando remains in our book of adventures one of our very favorites of all time.

Other fun we had in Orlando includes a visit to Universal Studios, a visit to Gatorland, as well participating in Orlando’s Magical Dining Month (annually in the month of September).

Check out Universal’s newest ride: Minion Mayhem!

There are more than just gators waiting to say “hello!” at Gatorland, FL

Many thanks to Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes and Visit Orlando and their partners for an unforgettable, fun experience.

The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
4012 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando, Florida 32837 USA
Phone: +1 (407) 206-2400


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Carol Cain

Carol is her happiest when on an adventure, either close to home or farther away. She's the mom to three fun boys and wife to a handsome Irish/Scot. She lives in New Jersey with her happy crew, but will always be a girl from Brooklyn. You can read her full profile here.

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