I have long been what can best be described as a passionate advocate of the spa at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. My first visit to that dimly lit slice of heaven helped me decide to move my family to Central Florida almost four years ago. And yet, I had never set foot – let alone spent the night – in an actual guest room at the luxury hotel until recently.
As you can imagine, I had high hopes when I checked in.
I stepped into the cavernous marble lobby for the first time on a Monday morning. The elegance was understated but everywhere, from the ornate furniture placed every few yards along the walls to the single flower blossom atop every visible table. The decor on the lobby level, which included a lounge area and bar, was beautiful while remaining quietly in the background. I found myself speaking and even stepping more quietly in response.
Despite having arrived well before a respectable check-in time, the woman at the desk confirmed a room was available for me. After handing me my key, she escorted me to the closest elevators while explaining that I’d be staying in one of the newly-renovated rooms.
The hotel is about halfway through a renovation that’s scheduled for completion next fall. The project includes a replacement of the furnishings and decor in the guest rooms and a makeover of the hallways on guest floors. One of my favorite things about my guest room was the powder blue chaise lounge that has been added to king guest rooms as part of this overhaul, which I noticed immediately when I entered my room. (I would spend most of my evening in that chair curled up with my Kindle. It’s just as comfortable as it looks!)
In addition to the perfect spot for reading, my room also included a large desk and work area, granite-topped dressers and entertainment stand, flat screen TV, balcony overlooking the lake, spacious bathroom, and a king bed with linens so luxurious I had to rely on Twitter to talk me out of taking them home with me. The theme of refined details that I’d noted in the lobby was repeated in the room.
My only complaint about the room was the towels. In a hotel with bedding that encourages a late checkout, I was surprised to find the soaking tub and marble-tiled shower stall outfitted with white towels that felt over bleached and rough. It’s a minor complaint, but everything about the hotel and the room seems designed to soothe the senses; the sudden scratching on my skin gave me a temporary jolt back to reality. Fortunately, I had only to get dressed and make my way down to The Vineyard Grill to be quickly lulled back into a fantasy land.
The Vineyard Grill is one of nine dining options at the Grande Lakes resort and I was fortunate to enjoy a breakfast there with the property’s PR Director during my stay. In the evening the vast restaurant is a steakhouse, but it serves an impressive buffet for breakfast and Sunday brunch that includes made-to-order omelets and a sinful array of pastries. You’ll also find fresh salmon, local fruit and a variety of classic breakfast staples continually replaced by an attentive staff.
No matter where you are in The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, you feel a sense of both peace and refinement. That calm extends beyond the thick walls into the surrounding grounds. The citrus garden provides a beautiful spot for quiet reflection or a romantic wedding ceremony. Lounge chairs and stone statues surround the pool and hot tub, which looks more like an Italian fountain than a jacuzzi. The resort itself, including the attached JW Marriot, covers more than 500 acres and offers access to a golf course, private lake, and the headwaters of the Everglades. When you tour the property, it’s easy to forget that you’re just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of major theme parks and a large city.
I think that’s what The Ritz-Carlton Orlando does best – make you forget. You can forget about the rush and stress of real life, if just for a little while. Sure, you may be visiting to attend one of the many conventions and meetings held in the ballrooms, but deep relaxation is always just a moment away at The Ritz. Head to the spa, have a drink in the bar, or simply enjoy the view from one of the floor to ceiling windows; you’re sure to find exactly the kind of escape you need.
I received a complimentary room for an evening at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando.
Photos courtesy of Ritz-Carlton and Britt Reints